Choose love, and have it be that simple.

Crush your fear.

Become fearless.

An inspiring rallying cry in the personal development world.

Or is it?

Does it really motivate you to hear “be fearless,” when time after time your dreams and desires are shut down by fear? Or does the call to fearlessness leave you in doubt that you could ever be that bold?

Just because we hear something a lot doesn’t make it right or true, or even helpful. That it is believed and widespread doesn’t make it useful or effective in the reality of day-to-day living.

Because the truth I’ve learned is that becoming fearless isn’t the point; nor is mastering your fear.

That’s just ego talking, doing it’s best to stop you.

Fear has its uses – survival for one – and it keeps us from doing stupid things, but the thing we don’t often hear is that fear can even lead you to a positive outcome.

What if leaning into your fear is what sets you free? 

Hard to believe? Challenging your beliefs? Stay with me.

When I launched my business almost 15 years ago, I was afraid.

When I got married after heartbreak in my first relationship, I was terrified.

When I learned how to scuba dive, I was so scared I could hardly breathe.

When I faced a video camera for the first time? Heart-racing, deer-in-headlights fear.

I was wracked with fear every single time.

I certainly didn’t ‘crush it’ or eliminate fear from my life. Instead, I tested it, leaning in to see where it would lead me.

That video recording I mentioned?

Yeah, that happened recently, and I can still hardly believe I did it.

For some time, I’ve thought of doing video, every time coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me.

I’m not a video person.
I don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera.
I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.

A few my logical reasons for saying no.

Then I asked myself what was choosing to say no – love or fear?

Fear – deep and dark – a fear of being seen in a new way. Exposed. Vulnerable. I wanted to run and hide, get away from my discomfort.

So I did the opposite, leaning into it as far as I could. And the most amazing thing happened.

Love showed up and said yes.

Choose Love: photo credit - Sandi Amorim

Love for my work, and connecting to people.

Love for the friend who offered to record my first video, and help me face my fear.

Love for myself, and my desire to keep growing and stretching beyond what I think is possible.

I chose love, and it said yes.

Two hours flew by while we talked about life, and vulnerability, and why the general advice to be fearless is fucked. I talked about how scared I was to do this with him.

Two hours of recording that showed me that being afraid and being filmed (or being afraid while being filmed) was something I could lean into rather than avoid.

Instead of crushing fear, I chose love.

Can it be that simple?

Yes.

Simple, and not always easy, but I’m willing to practice.

Choose love, and have it be that simple.

 

p.s. Video to come, so stay tuned.

 

Get Off the Stage (a lesson in change)

The more I work with the process of change, the more I think we all need to lighten up.

We’ve just crossed the mythical 21 day marker in the 100 Day Promise and things are getting interesting.

Two important things have become clear:

  • Consistency helps you focus on what’s important.
  • Devotion keeps your heart fully engaged.

Because the process of change is a bit more maze than labyrinth.

It’s easy to slip, take a wrong turn, and find yourself back at the beginning.

That’s when we most want to give up.

We forget that a slip is just a slip unless we give it meaning.

Give up the meaning, and take another step forward, and another…until suddenly you’ve created a pattern of consistency.

“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviour, and our behaviour can change our outcomes.” – Amy Cuddy

You can change your outcomes.

Instead of getting pulled in by the emotions and drama of a slip, notice them as an observer.

Take in all the details, nod your head in sympathy and say, “Isn’t that interesting…”

Laugh at yourself. Let go of significance.

Lighten the fuck up.

You don’t always have to have the starring role in the drama of your life.

You can choose to walk off the stage.

Kinepolis cinema hall: photo credit - Anna

 

 

The Art of Defining Negative Space

In art school I was taught to look at negative space as simply the space between the objects I wanted to draw or paint.

No judgement. No right or wrong.

Just space – the area in between objects or parts of an object, for example, the area between the zebra’s legs. It’s also the space between an object and the edges of the canvas, i.e. the space surrounding the zebra. 

Zebra Legs Red

Negative space is simply the area not occupied by the object.

Which got me thinking about negative space in life.

What if we took the view that it’s space not yet occupied by our desires?

We are hardwired for negativity, so this shift may be a challenge.

Eckhart Tolle said, “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” 

It takes letting go of the judgment you have of the negative that shows up in your life.

Curse if you must, then move on.

Choose to see the negative as space.

“What does one do with experience? Do we react negatively, or do we (pro)create from the space of positivity?” - T.F. Hodge

Choose to take back your power and reclaim your freedom.

Choose to acknowledge the energy between you and the things you want.

It’s there. It happened.

Now choose.

 

 

 

Take What You Need

Take What You eed

“What do your words, your heart and art, need?” she asked.

When you ask questions for a living as I do, it’s easy to forget to ask yourself and like the cobbler’s children I sometimes go without.

In taking care of others, we ignore or suppress what we ourselves need so very much.

What do you need? 

For me, there are essential ingredients to this recipe of need. They are simple, and yet often just beyond my reach in the busyness of life.

time

silence

depth

touch

laughter

Because I need them, I expect them to be there naturally, auto-magically. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

My need calls for devotion, but that’s only part of it for as Isabel Abbott reminds me,

Devotion is not the answer, or any answer. It is orientation, a way of being in the world, of giving ourselves over to belonging to life, and letting life love us. It is a way of being here.

Here, where we might take our legion hearts and choose this life, again and again and again.

Again and again and again.

Ahh, sweet life, you bring me back to choice once more.

Taking care of our needs is a choice, but it’s not a one-time thing.

It’s the daily act of checking in with heart and soul, while giving the head a break.

Because it’s easy to ask what the head needs, and it’s quick to give a reply, an opinion, a judgment, usually focused on some aspect of survival.

Which is good except for this one important truth…

Your survival is rarely at stake.

Even during the most challenging, wrenching times of your life, your survival was rarely an issue.

Telling the truth about that will lead you back to your heart where your deepest needs are waiting.

“What do your words, your heart and art, need?” she asked.

My words need time and space.

My heart needs love, always love.

My art needs to remember.

Telling the truth changes everything.

 

*Inspired by Isabel Abbott’s: heat – 27 days of creative burn

 

On Devotion & Walking the Path

de·vo·tion 

(n) profound dedication; consecration; dedicate by a vow, promise solemnly

Visakha Bucha (Vesak) 4, Siam Square, Bangkok, Bangkok

What are you devoted to?

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” - Mitch Albom

Devotion has been on my mind and in my heart as I lead the 100 Day Promise.

Devotion as a Way of Living & Loving

I love the idea of devotion, but as a way of life it seems altruistic and out of reach.

Women are generally conditioned to take care of others, but it often comes with a feeling of obligation or responsibility.

What might happen if we shifted from taking care of others to being devoted?

Mother Meera comes to mind; a woman believed to be the embodiment of the Divine Mother on earth.

And I wonder,

From her site,

“Mother Meera has no interest in conversion or in changing anyone’s faith or creed. This is simply irrelevant for her.  She is simply a Divine Mother for everyone who turns to Her. “

Insight: The difference between being devoted to something and giving up your life is perspective. Create a context that’s worth showing up for every day and you’ll give up nothing.

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Devotion as the Foundation of Community

When we come from the heart life is simple; come from the head and things get complicated.

It’s easy to fixate on the minutiae and complexity of daily life, but devotion can’t exist in that space.

Devotion demands getting out of your head.

The best communities I’ve experienced thrive in simplicity and clarity of focus. Usually that’s because they’re devoted to an empowering mission. They may not use the language of devotion, but they are single-minded about their vision and what they’re here for.

Like electricity, the Light is everywhere, but one must know how to activate it. I have come for that.” – Mother Meera

Insight: When you devote yourself to a cause, make a vow or promise, you make space for clear actions that come from the heart.

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Devotion as the Path to Purpose & Meaning 

This is what life is about. Creating something out of nothing, leaving a piece of yourself in the process; a legacy that lives beyond your existence.

Where does purpose and meaning come from?

It’s not out there somewhere waiting to be found. True purpose comes from within.

Insight: If you make a promise to yourself to live the way you want to live, devoted to a purpose of your creation, your reasons and circumstances for why you can’t do what you want disappear.

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Devotion as an Act of Creation

My own 100 Day Promise began as a practice of writing every day, but it became clear very quickly that I needed more than a commitment.

When I began to see my writing practice as a devotion to the act of creating, my resistance fell away, and I was left with space. In that space my writing flourished, words and ideas flew from my mind to my fingertips in abundance.

Insight: The context you create makes a dramatic difference to how you show up. Giving my writing the context of devotion changed it from something I told myself I should do every day to a practice that has ignited my creativity.

“Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day.” – Nicholas Sparks

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Devotion as Ritual

Even tasks of our choosing become repetitive if we’re not present and mindful. 

But when we bring ritual to the doing, the energy of the act changes to one of ceremony.

What might devotion as ritual look like?

When I began experimenting with this, I found that auditory rituals were important to me and I found myself drawn to chanting and mantras. I love how Sanskrit mantras sound and how they make me feel, connecting me more deeply to how I want to feel in my life – cherished, sacred, free. 

My initial curiousity became a daily practice, a way of starting each day intimately connected to myself.

Insight: When you find the right practices – the ones that resonate with your soul – routine becomes ritual, and  repetition turns into devotion.

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Devotion as a way of living.

This path is one of integrating what I love and what I’m devoted to with my everyday life and ordinary activities.

Because everything offers an opportunity for devotion.

What’s your experience of devotion? Share your thoughts.

 

 

Your Resistance is a Sign

Resistance comes up when you decide to change something about yourself.

You create a goal, or make a promise bigger than you know yourself to be.

Resistance comes up because in that moment your identity is threatened.

A part of you must die in order for the new part – the change – to come to life.

This is the journey of resistance.

Don’t try to fix it, or change it.

Let it be, and let it move through you.

It can’t stay with you unless you feed it.

“Your resistance is a sign that your system is reconfiguring itself toward success.” – Todd Herman

Notice it, yes, because it’s there. Then turn your attention to what you want.

Commit each day to one action in service to your desire.

Do what you need to do to feel how you want the outcome to feel.

Deep in the work of creating a new program, I’ve developed practices to fuel my promise, and help me be with my resistance.

Because that’s all there is to do.

Day by day, resistance lessens and my promise deepens, filling in areas of my being I didn’t know existed.

“When you surrender, the problem ceases to exist. Try to solve it, or conquer it, and you only set up more resistance.” – Henry Miller

It’s a tricky dance: surrender to it without trying to fight or change it.

It takes practice.

Like true mastery always does.

 

 

The Myth of the Overnight Success

Transformations and overnight successes are common, especially in the online world. We see them all the time: blueprints, roadmaps, and quick-fixes to success.

We forget that there’s no one-size-fits-all path.

We live in a world of over-promising that has a negative impact on our confidence and ability to pursue what’s important to us in life.

The problem with stories of overnight success is that is we don’t often hear about what had to happen to get there, and we almost never hear about the effort involved to reach the successes.

We only see the result, which if you’ve tried and failed in previous attempts to change, only serves to trigger self-recrimination and judgment.

So how do we get there from here?

When you make a promise to yourself, it always comes from a desire to change.

The truth is that change is what most of us want, but we deny that we want it.

Maybe you think you should be more accepting of what is instead of focused on what is not, i.e. your desired outcome.

But change is natural and to resist it is…well, kind of crazy.

“Every single thing changes and is changing always in this world.” – Saigyo

Always in flux, nature is the greatest example of change.

A few years ago we had a violent storm in Vancouver that included howling winds, power outages, and massive damage to our beloved park in the heart of the city. About a week after the storm, we drove through the park and I cried at the loss of so many trees. Yet, driving through the park now, I can hardly tell that anything had happened, and what was once chaos is again beautiful.

Change. From something that was, to something that different, and new.

At the time however, the media focused on the destruction and judgment of what had happened. That judgment was human and had nothing to do with what had actually occurred in nature.

The same thing happens in our minds when we desire to change, and make a promise to ourselves to do so.

The problem isn’t that we want change; the problem is that we judge ourselves harshly when we fail to change the way we want.

This judgment creates a vicious cycle; an endless loop of disappointment and self-recrimination that colours any future attempt to change, sabotaging our promises in an instant.

When we really want to make a change, but feel defeated before we begin, is it possible to fulfill a promise we make to ourselves?

How Does Change Work?

Change is too often thought of as a dramatic shift, i.e. from unhealthy to healthy, from debt to riches.

We’re led to believe that if we’re given the right kind of training, information or education, change will be quick and inevitable.

Except if this belief were true, many industries (weight loss for example) would cease to exist, and sadly that’s not the case.

In Changing for Good, Dr. James Prochaska found (after working with thousands of patients) that there are natural steps we all go through when making changes in our lives.

Since a promise is creating a change in the future, this is a good place to begin. 

cycle_of_change_prochascka, Changing for Good

It doesn’t matter what area of life you choose, we go through these stages every time we declare a desire to change, every time you make a promise to yourself.

Unless you understand how it goes, the cycle will keep undermining your ability to keep your promise.

This points to the fundamental truth that the process of change is seldom a straight path.

That’s why the 100 Day Promise is effective.

You’ll walk that path armed with tools and strategies, in a loving and supportive community.

Join us.

Registration is open until midnight Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

 

 

The Making of a Promise

I love words. They inspire me to go past the surface to explore their origin and meaning.

An archaeologist of meaning – I like the feel of that. 

For the meaning we give things changes everything. Meaning also changes due to external forces like society, culture, and evolution.

Meaning makes all the difference to what and how we create in life.

Promise vs. Challenge

When I first started working on the 100 Day Promise, I knew what my intention was, and I knew what I wanted to deliver.

Initially inspired by the idea of a 100 day challenge, I loved what was becoming clear to me, but something about it didn’t feel quite right.

I wasn’t sure what to call it.

What’s a word lover to do but of course, turn to her dictionary, where I found that the origin of the word challenge was not as inspiring as I thought.

chal·lenge

: a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength; from Latin, to accuse falsely, rebuke

As an Aries, I love a good challenge, but I also resist feeling dominated. As I read the older meaning of the word challenge, I grasped what I had understood energetically, and why I resisted. 

Then I read the origin of the word promise.

prom·ise

: from Medieval Latin, literally, to send forth into the future; a declaration made about some act to be done or not done

“to send forth into the future” – this phrase gave me goosebumps, and I wondered what it would be like to give oneself 100 days to send a promise into the future.

Not as a commitment to act every single day, but as an intention to create the future.

That intrigued me, and formed the basis of the 100 Day Promise. 

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Why 100 Days

Mother Teresa said, “Life is a promise. Fulfill it.”

Break that down into manageable bits, and you have a life made up of many promises.

Each promise a seed planted in your consciousness, that with the right amount of time and nourishment, comes to fruition. 

Each promise deepening your relationship to your word and your capacity to create change.

“Reality making is reciprocal. You make it, while it makes you.” – Deepak Chopra

In the world of personal development, we’re too often inundated by challenges and blueprints; 21 day programs that promise to [fill in the blank__________]. 

Sometimes they fail because these programs don’t live up to the hype.

Sometimes though, they fail because we move on, failing to implement what we’ve learned. 

Is that a failure of commitment or a failure of inspiration? 

I looked for an answer, a solution; more importantly, I wanted a new way of being that could empower our intentions in the world.  Continue reading

Practice is an invitation to the future

The Creative Habit by Martha Graham, I devoured it like a delicious meal.

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit.” – Martha Graham

It reminded me that life is simple, and we complicate it. A lot.

Because whether it’s becoming more creative, or doing the work to change something that’s not working in your life, the essential ingredient, practice, is simple.

And most of the time, it’s not that easy.

This is an invitation to practice. 

Not for perfection, or external validation, but for deep, inner transformation.

“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” – Martha Graham

Practice because that’s what it takes.

To keep your word, and honour your promises to yourself, others, and life – an invitation to the future.

What helps is to shift your perspective.

From boring and routine, to devotion and ritual, an acknowledgement of your soul’s desire.

Because that’s what it is when you make a promise to yourself.

Your soul is asking you to act on something bigger and more meaningful than what you’re currently experiencing.

The 100 Day Promise was how I responded to my soul, and in doing so a new future was created.

That’s what I want for you.

100DayCircleFW: image credit - Sandi Amorim

Click to register, and begin June 19.

p.s. Register by June 13 and receive a bonus 1-1 call with me during the 100 days.

 

 

Lessons from the Birth Canal

As I wrote this post, Deva Premal chanted in the background; a prayer to Ganesh, remover of obstacles. This chant has been my constant companion the past month as I prepared for the business of birthing.

Creating. Launching. Birthing.

And exhausting – for it feels like I have given birth, and been birthed at the same time.

Yes, I love a good paradox.

ges·ta·tion  n.

1. The period of development in the uterus from conception until birth.
2. The conception and development of a plan or an idea in the mind.

In this case, the gestation period was two years.

In this case, the gestation period was two years.

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” - Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Continue reading