Archive for the ‘coaching’ Category

Ode to Serena and the Mastery of Power

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Serena+Williams+04

I’m a big tennis fan, and so Wimbledon on TV was a bonus during this time of recovering from foot surgery. Feeling rather powerless and in need of some inspiration, a second bonus was spotting the invisible battle going on while Serena was winning the singles championship at 33.

Watching the outer battle…I mean, wow. The woman is a national symbol of the potential for feminine power. I remember watching her play with her sister when they were teenagers, the only black feminine faces in a privileged white sport. Not only have they both risen through the ranks, Serena has navigated the politics of sports, become an international star, and now has maintained and surpassed herself. She has overcome injuries, illness, inevitable aging, incredible competition—and is dominant in the world of athletics. That’s power.

Still, in her final match I watched her battle the personal demons that have come out to haunt her on international television in the past. As she admitted in her interview, her biggest challenge is not physical, but mental. Despite all her achievement, training, hard work and success, mastering herself is the hardest work of all.

I have compassion for her in this struggle. Tennis was my sport, and my biggest enemy was myself. I could rip myself apart faster and more viciously than any critic could have managed. I never did master myself through the crucible of tennis.

Watching Serena reminded me of the Hindu story of Arjuna, Krishna and the chariot. Lord Krishna drives a chariot onto the battlefield and Arjuna is a passenger seated in the back. Arjuna represents the embodied individual soul and Krishna, the higher Self– going into the midst of a battle between the armies of our “lower nature” and our Divine nature, on the inner battlefield. The reins are the mind, the horses the senses. And the whole operation works depends on collaboration between them all. (https://chandrugidwani.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-significance-of-the-chariot-with-krishna-and-arjuna/)

I saw Serena’s real battle was to harness and channel the huge power she has amassed. It can be used, like all power, for destruction or for good. The bigger the power and the more fully we enter the bigger area, the more intense the tension gets. Looking through my lens it was not, “Will Serena beat Garbine Muguruza?” as much as it was “Will Serena let Arjuna keep the reins?”

Under pressure, we are all tempted to regress into the habit of allowing our ego or smaller self to grab those reins, triggered by whatever bugs us the most. When Serena’s serve goes sour, it must feel like her power is betraying and eluding her. Her ego must want to scream out obscenities and try to force the issue.

The maddening thing is, the opposite is required. The real battle is to create enough quiet to remain the neutral witness, to listen to higher instruction, to trust that magical flow is just outside our reach, possible once again if we relax and allow it. Letting go over forcing the chariot. Trust over fear.

It’s a mighty challenge for every one of us, collectively and individually. And at the top level of sports, we see the truth: that in a battlefield where every top player has already achieved top fitness, strategy and skill, it comes down to the inner stuff.

What we’re all after is Realization, or whatever you’d like to call it. Peace, happiness, joy, flow. We’ve all had it, and we’ve all lost it. Every one of us is on that battlefield and the skirmishes won’t stop, whether we’re playing on a tiny neighborhood court or in the halls of Washington.

Who’s driving your chariot, or piloting your plane? Are you even acquainted with that higher Self? You’ve met her in those moments where the magical flow just swept you along through difficulties you didn’t think you could master. That’s what I’d call your Arjuna, your Divine Self. You could just call it The Friend. I call it Big Pam, as opposed to Little One.

How can you allow the Friend to take the reins again? Well, I think the first step is always, Just STOP. When anger or panic or pushing or striving or forcing has got you by the throat, just STOP.

Now breathe. Just breathe right into the feeling, wherever it lives in your body. Give it a chance. Give it a little space, a little pat. It’s just your own private angry toddler. Surely you won’t let it drive. You know how that ends. DUI’s or worse.

Now ask. Ask your Self, your heart, for help driving this unruly vehicle. Ask, and it shall be given. Maybe you won’t win the match. But you will have practiced your power serve. You will be one step closer to what I see Serena mastering: authentic power.

Finally, thank your inner Self, your master charioteer. Serena thanks her Jehovah God, which used to annoy me. But now I get it. “It is His strength I rely on,” she confessed. You can call your charioteer Joe if you want, or Delilah. But when you have surrendered the reins and harvested the reward, give thanks and then try to keep doing that.

Your inner crowd will stand up and cheer.

 

How to Make a Great Decision

Monday, February 9th, 2015

path

Sitting in sacred circle with a group of women, I listened to stories told by a group ranging from 19-90. Do you resonate with some of what they shared?

“I’m bursting with energy, but confused. How do I prioritize all I want to do?”

“I have a list of things I love, but I’m not doing that list.”

“I’m so distractible, interested in everything. I need to focus.”

“I have physical symptoms that tell me I’m not on the right path, and it’s still hard to trust doing what I love and know to be true.”

So what is the theme? It sounded to me like the question, “How do we see our path, and then how do we follow it?” This is an important and recurring theme that follows us through life.

Is the answer to discipline ourselves? To crack down and force ourselves to focus and choose? I think not! That is the old way.

This circle, facilitated by dear friend Elise Collins Shields, was an honoring of St. Brigid, descended from the Celtic goddess of the hearth. And so I asked Brigid to whisper in my ear about what we as women leaders, who are immersed in complexity, need to do. How do we discern in the new way? Here is what I “heard:”

As goddess of the hearth, I say, build a fire within to warm and bless your heart’s home–the place inside where you are who you’ve always been and always will be. This is a place outside time and space, a place only the heart knows.

Sit by the hearth, the place of warmth, comfort and safety within your heart and have a fireside chat.

Say to the Universe, “In this great journey where there are so many possibilities to manifest, I wish to liberate myself from outdated stories and beliefs and embody the IAM, The One, the Beloved, the Truth.

Now ask–no, command that the Truth within you enter this room with eyes open, head held high, and speak what is next for you. Listen and “take it in.” Embody that Truth.

Then, rooted in and embodying that Truth, you will conduct a mediation with the mind, which will be a great help to the Truth in working out the third dimension details.

This is the right order of things.

This message from Brigid has stayed with me, and it reminds me of some important things I want to remember:

  1. The heart is the first place I want to go when making any decision. That is “the right order of things.”
  1. The heart is fearless about moving forward and telling me the Truth, and that will always come in Love.
  1. My mind is useful as well, and is a wonderful implementor. I don’t have to worry that my heart will lead me down a scary or impractical path, because the mind will always help with the strategic, clever and practical ways to manifest the heart’s truth in the “real” world.
  2. We all know more than our mind admits. So another question to ask   myself is, “What if I just did what I really know is next?”

This kind of discernment and decision-making is a great gift for a heart-centered leader. It will save time in the end, and move us forward in important ways.

Will you join me in making decisions in this way? Try it and let me know how it works for you.  I look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

Re-defining Power

Monday, November 19th, 2012

flower power

What is your relationship to power?

Last time I sat in sacred circle with my Advanced Flying Lessons group, I marveled at the experience we had when we asked the spirits of the universe to help us step into authentic power.

World events continue to teach us all–regardless of political persuasion– about some types of power we just can’t afford any more. For instance, exerting power to manipulate or force or restrict another unjustly is an old form that just doesn’t work well any more. Being conscious of what we don’t want to do opens a space for us to re-define power.

Our group agreed that the old forms of power in the outer world are mostly based on fear. And we all were ready to let go of those in favor of the kind of inner power that is sourced in love, truth and joy.

And so, we journeyed together and experienced the natural power that resides in us all. Like a seed, this power that is borne within us can grow and flower and create new life. It can produce fruit and blossoms that nourish others. It can heal old wounds. It can change the world. It can fuel lives that are more meaningful than any generation’s lives have been.

This is the moment, and we are the ones.

And so, we want to nourish this seed within us. What will be our fuel? What is the premium fuel that works for you? Flying Lesson #2–Bring Enough Fuel for the Journey–is all about this exploration.

I invite you to put your hand over your second chakra on your abdomen. Imagine a seed of power there that is alive, dynamic and growing already. When you contact the life force, the power of love and purpose within you, you bring it alive. It wants to be seen. Feel the energy of it–that is a way of “seeing” it. Whenever you do this, it becomes more visible and practical in your life.

If you can trust that you already have all the power you need within you, and if you can trust that your power is not only sufficient but good, then you can let go of fear.

“Allelulia!” as one participant in our group said. Time for Thanksgiving.

May you feel the gratitude and power within you at this holiday time.

with Love and Light,

Pam

Creating Beauty as a Safe Landing Space

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

It’s so easy and delicious for me to sink onto a place of beauty in nature and feel safe in that “All Is One” feeling. Next to ocean, or stream, or wind through the pines I am reminded of the life force that courses through all things. I am in my safe landing space at those times.

And then we know there are other moments. Moments that suck. Moments that are almost intolerable. Moments when we don’t want to be here. Moments when we feel like life must be against us. These moments do not feel like safe landing spaces.

So what to do? Especially since those ‘other moments” are when we need a safe landing space the very most.

Well, I say we create beauty. We must.

I love to talk about Victor Frankl, because he is the most extreme example I can come up with of a human who could create beauty out of the most meager ingredients. A concentration camp survivor whose whole family was exterminated, he credited his survival to his decision to find meaning in every day.

If he could do that in those circumstances, surely I can do it in mine.

But how, in those moments of despair, frustration, fear, or anger do we create beauty? There is a lot of ugliness in the world, after all.

I think it’s a choice. About how to see.  Without being a Polyanna, without denying, we can choose to see beauty.

I can choose to find the beauty in an ordinary task like peeling a vegetable that God made, or even cleaning a toilet I’m lucky to have. I can choose to find beauty in weeding a garden where I’m making room for new life. I can choose to seek out the beauty that accompanies some of the worst tragedies, where in the midst of great loss there is some moment of exquisite love. I can choose to not be blind, but just to see “through a different lens.”

Maybe this is part of our work on earth. At least it makes our journey here more lovely.

Do it for you. Create beauty just to make your day better.

Do it for someone else. See if that doesn’t make your day better too.

See if when you create beauty, it doesn’t make you feel safe somehow. Safe in the fact that you are a creator. Safe in the fact that there is beauty in the first place. Safe in the fact that creating beauty is a well-worn path. A sacred one. One which has eternity in it.

Ah, now you have landed. In a beautiful place. On solid ground.

Choosing Oxytocin

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Last weekend I surprised myself by getting scared on a routine flight with my husband in our Cessna 182. He had purchased a new gadget to increase our safety and he needed to test it. That meant I would be the co-pilot and observer, looking for traffic while he did some maneuvers.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to go in the first place. I knew when I asked him what maneuvers he’d be doing.

“Just some stalls,” he answered.

Stalls.  The S-word.  Especially accelerated stalls, my nemesis.

To practice a stall, you fly along and raise the nose higher and higher, ignoring the stall horn, which sounds when you’re about to force the airplane to stop flying. You keep raising the nose and then you can feel it fall, feel the airplane stop having lift. It’s not very comfortable.

Accelerated stalls are more uncomfortable than power-off stalls, because you’re going faster and the plane’s reaction is faster and more intense. My terror in flight training was not recovering fast enough and entering a spin.

Now, I trust my husband Jon as a pilot with every fiber of my being. An ex-Marine F-4 pilot who flew over 230 missions, he is fully capable of all these maneuvers, probably with his eyes closed.

But. It’s been 11 years since I had to do these stalls myself, and never have I had to sit in the right seat and be the passenger while he does them. So I didn’t like it. My stomach was rising to my throat and I felt light-headed and sensed a big lump forming in my throat.

“I’m not doing well,” I said. An understatement.

“It’s just a stall. Just breathe and get into it. You’ve done these a hundred times.”

“Not as a passenger,” I retorted, probably a little too sharply. He must have looked at my face, which had no blood in it, because he stopped.

There was no talking me out of it, because the fear reaction had already cascaded through my body. Adrenalin. Tension. No resuming a confident air at this point.

I tried my litany of techniques. “I’m just feeling fear,” I told myself silently. “I am not fear; I just have fear right now. I am the witness, the one observing myself having fear.” I shooed the fear energy away, asked it to return to earth.

My body didn’t buy this at all. It wanted to go home and take a nap. It wanted relaxation. It wanted oxytocin.

Oxytocin is the chemical we love to feel when we orgasm, or when we feel any other kind of intense pleasure. We can invite oxytocin instead of adrenaline by doing what Ellie Drake of Braveheart Women calls an “oxytocin breath.”

Right now, take in a big breath and feel it all the way down into your abdomen, which should rise. Now as you let it out, sigh your exhale out loud. Feel your body “let down,” releasing tension.

This is an important notion for me as a two-time cancer survivor. I believe the story Anita Moorjani tells in her book, Dying to Be Me. Her wondrous healing from a near-death experience taught her that fear not only stops us from performing; it can cause cancer. Or at least create the environment that allows cancer.

My advanced flying lesson was probably related to what I wrote about in Lesson #7, “Give Way to the Winds.” To recover from a stall in an airplane, you do what is counter-intuitive: you release pressure on the controls, even though your impulse is to keep pulling back, since you want badly to go UP.

To recover from a stall in life, you do the same. You release pressure.

I had to risk disappointing my husband, appearing to be  wimp, or suggesting to my critical self that I no longer had any piloting skills. I chose oxytocin.

“If we’ve done enough maneuvers,” I said to Jon, I’d like to go back now.” As I breathed my oxytocin breaths and took care of the “little Pam within,” the one who had regressed to the pressure of flight training a dozen years ago, Jon suggested I cure my ills by flying us home.

Dear Jon.  Getting back on the horse is a man’s method. That would produce more adrenalin. I choose to give way to the winds. I choose oxytocin. I need the feminine way. And so, I believe, does the world.

It doesn’t mean I won’t go flying again, or that I won’t ever be the observer when he does a stall. It just means I choose to allow my body to recover now, instead of pushing.

By the way, he’s forgiven me. It took me almost an hour to return to a relaxed happy state, and I think I was a lot nicer after that.

(Want more “flying lessons?” Order the book at FlyingLessonsForLife.com)

What motivates the creative artist?

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I’ve been away from blogging for awhile, and I’m aware that it’s partly because I suspected I might just be whistling in the wind. Even though I get some nice comments from people, I don’t have a great deal of evidence that a lot of people read my blog.

Which brings up the question, what does a creative endeavor mean if no one is receiving it?  Or another way to put it is, what does a creative endeavor mean to the artist if there is no evident feedback? This has been a dilemma for artists of all media for millenia.

I’m really not complaining, because my ego got stroked big time recently when my book, Flying Lessons: How to Be the Pilot of Your Own Life, received a gold medal IPPY (Independent and small press publishers) award in the self-help category. I have to say, that felt really good! And, many readers are telling me how much the book means to them, and even buying copies for friends and family.

In reflecting on the boost this award and reader responses have given me, I’m wondering what role outer feedback plays in our success. I’m musing now on flying lesson #5, Communicate with the Controllers. In this case, the controllers would be the audience, or buyers or critics who give the artist feedback on the “worth” of her creation.

Should those opinions define us and be the bottom line measurement of our creative ability? I sure hope not, since there are books on the best seller list at this moment whose literary value I would question, for sure. And, there are some fabulous songs out there that aren’t being played on the radio.

But we can’t honestly discount feedback, either. Even when we’ve evolved beyond acting out of ego into a desire to serve, the audience counts. What “controls” the creative artist is a mix of his inner drive and desires and the way in which the world receives his offerings.

It’s the same, I suspect, whether we are mothering, making lattes or selling large scale paintings in a gallery. The motivation comes from inside. And, if the creative person is not “seen” by others, it’s easy for the spirit behind the work to wane.

Hopefully, these two forces work together. The woman I can’t forget, who used to work at the Starbuck’s in my local market, is someone who added to my life. Her smile, her humor, her energy came from a place within her that clearly desires to connect and enrich others’ lives. That spirit motivated me, of course, to buy more drinks from her and to emulate her way of being with others. A win/win.

And so, armed with my gold medal and nourished by that positive feedback, I’m back to blogging. I look forward to trying to serve you some nourishment that will quench your spiritual thirst, make you think, urge you to smile, perhaps bring a tear to your eye, and bring out that spirit within you that longs to create and connect.

Communicating with a Controller

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I remember flying along this gorgeous coastline in Baja, Mexico, with my husband Jon. It was before I got my pilot’s license, and so when he urged me to stop photographing and take the controls, I got instant butterflies. 95% of me wanted to fly, but the 5% that was terrified had the capability of ruining everything.

This makes me think of the beginning of my career, when I was a classroom teacher worried about maintaining discipline. Even on days when I had 95% of the class involved and focused, I was always afraid of that 5% that might take those controls away from me.

If “flying” is a metaphor for the 95% of us that knows how to break free of gravity and soar, we still have to learn to deal with the 5% that suspects we might crash at any moment. I call this “communicating with the controllers,” which is Lesson 5 in my book, Flying Lessons.

The challenge of this lesson is dealing with negative feedback. That might include the kind of inner voice I heard when my husband urged me to take the controls and I was afraid I couldn’t do it. Or, it might be outer feedback, like the kind I would get from disruptive students.

I would submit that our reaction to both kinds is fear: fear of the fear we feel, or fear that we will not be able to stay in control. Or fear that we were incapable all along; thinking we were was just a lie. And fear can hijack a good intent, a calm mind, an open heart and a good experience.

The lesson I learned from Clio, my flight instructor, was about discernment. Which voices are telling the truth that will keep you safe and set you free? And where is your true voice, which you need to use when standing up for yourself is the answer.

Here’s a summary of Clio’s advice:

1. Be kind. The 5% may be afraid. Fear can make them (whether they are outer or inner voices) say terrible things. Take that into consideration.

2.  Be fair. Remember, they are the 5%. Are you listening to the 95%, or are they just invisible, their hands folded politely on their desks, their voices muffled behind their modest smiles…What if you asked them to raise their voices in song?

3.  Ask for help. Ask your partner, your friend, your angels, your guides, your God, whomever you trust the most for help. For listening. For caring. For hugs. For company. The 95% of the controllers are trying to help you survive.

4.  Keep the whole journey in mind. Remember, it’s this part that is hard. The big picture journey probably has a much more beautiful arc to it.

5.  Remember, everything is relative. You sometimes think the world is coming to an end. When yours looks like that, so does the larger one. Still, there are those other times when all is glowing, when the leaves of every tree are on fire with sunlight, and when the moon is huge and white and all-knowing. When life is holy. When you are perfect, just as you are.

 

The soul bird

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

“The soul-bird is waiting inside. Even if you have locked it in a cage, it is waiting to fly.”
from Flying Lesson #4

Lesson #4 contains a key moment, when you as a participant in the story, or the coaching or the retreat process, realize that there is indeed a soul-bird inside you who is longing to fly, and who was born to fly and knows how.

Next you realize that as a normal human, you have protected this soul-bird by building a cage around it, and have spent a lot of life strengthening and polishing the cage. At some point you may have forgotten that you actually ARE the soul-bird. You may have forgotten to the degree that you thought you were the cage.

But, no blame. This was just a mistake, not anything unchangeable. You’re right on time. It was just part of your development to concentrate on the cage. Now you are called to do and be something different.

Here’s the good news: Since you constructed the cage, you are the one who can open the door.

Now is the moment of choice.

Can you trust that little soul-bird to do what it came here to do? What adventure will it embark on when it spreads its wings?

This is what you’ve longed to do and be.

Open the door.

Tools for Taking Back the Pilot’s Seat

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Sometimes I cringe when I meet someone who asks me what I do. Answering either “life coach” or certainly “energy medicine practitioner” or for sure, “shamanic practitioner” can lead to immediate Eyes Glazing Over Syndrome.

Sometimes I do better when I tell a client story, but the best approach is asking questions. Like, “Have you ever had the feeling that something is missing in your life, even if you’ve read a lot of books, had therapy or tried meditating?” (At this point, I am checking for “Woo Woo, Checking Out Now Syndrome.)

But I persist. “Do you ever feel confused about your purpose? Or feel that your passion for your life has gone flat?”

Even though such complaints are vague, most of us have experienced them. Someone who says “Absolutely not” would probably not want life coaching or any personal development enrichment.

In reality, we have all experienced feelings that some might call burnout, and others might describe as being out of balance. Even someone who has never quite found that path, that center, usually can recognize these symptoms. The vocabulary isn’t important. And so…what?

I would call the feeling of being in our center, on our path, feeling passion and purpose “the pilot’s seat.” And I would say that the one who has taken the pilot’s seat in such moments must be the essential self. The one who is all about our life force, or soul.

Sometimes the essential self manages to take the pilot’s seat “by accident,” or really without our effort. In those moments we might call grace, we simply know and we simply are.

When you’ve been there, it’s painful to be dislodged from the pilot’s seat, or to have it commandeered by sub-personalities, or by the ego, who is not well-connected to essence.

Sometimes just the awareness of being off-center is enough to correct the situation. Other times, we need help. We need tools. Here are some to consider:

  •   Deep talk, soul sharing with a friend or advisor who listens well
  •   Traveling into invisible realms for guidance, through meditation, prayer, dreams or shamanic journeying—or my Sand Spirits Insight Cards!
  •  Any breathwork or meditation system that leads you back into your heart
  •  Asking the Great Mystery for help
  • Work with changing old beliefs and releasing old patterns

If any of this resonates with you, I invite you to call me for a complementary phone consultation. Or if this has helped you remember your own tools, please add your comment!

Taking the Pilot’s Seat: Controlling Airspeed

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

When I walk on the beautiful land in the Sutherland Valley, beneath the Catalina Mountains, the land reminds me that Mother Earth has a heartbeat, a rhythm. Being in nature attunes my body to her rhythm and reminds me of my own natural pace. So does meditation—it is a way of stopping to check in with the Source, and with my own body/mind, and re-calibrating.

I need to change my “attitude,”—an aviation term for the angle of the airplane– to pull the nose of my airplane up a bit and slow my speed.

When I think of the idea of slowing my pace, my “small mind” immediately panics at the thought. What will I miss? What will I not accomplish?

Fortunately my “larger mind” responds by asking, “Where are you going so fast? What is your destination or goal that is so crucial? Isn’t the journey the point?”

My small mind says nothing.

I remember Thich Nhat Hahn’s cautions about our pace, his advice about mindful walking and mindful eating and avoiding multi-tasking.

My small mind points out how many things I accomplish by multi-tasking. Is that really true? Recent research points out that our brains don’t operate at maximum efficiency when we do more than one thing at a time. Maybe we are sacrificing focus, intensity and depth of thought, excellence in problem-solving.

Perhaps I suffer from the aviator’s dreaded plague, “get-there-itis,” the disease that leads to unwise decisions like flying too late, or into bad weather, or when sick, or in conditions outside our expertise. If we crash, we might ask ourselves what was so important about that destination and how much time we really saved.

If I take time to gaze out the window, perhaps I’ll really see something like the scene in the photo of the water and cloud formations along the Sea of Cortez. What’s the hurry, really?

These are thoughts each of us must bring to consciousness as we pilot our way through a year that may challenge us to drop old patterns, to take responsibility for our own energy, to ask treasured family and friends to support us as responsible pilots who have taken the left seat. We may not be able to manage the strong winds of life, but we can manage ourselves.

What are your thoughts?  Interact with us at Facebook.com/FlyingLessons!