I'd like to talk to you about the difference between separation and cohesion. This is a critical concept because it is behind so many of our feelings of discomfort, pain, and unhappiness.
I’m absolutely certain that we have the power to design our lives, our businesses, our relationships, anything in our lives to align with our deepest dreams and desires - to align with who we really are, deep down. This idea of cohesion, of seeking wholeness and integrity within ourselves, is a throughline connecting all that I do in my personal and professional lives and in my business.
It's always top-of-mind for me yet I bring this up today because there are still times in which I notice a separation.
There are certain realms of my life in which I feel competent and comfortable. I've established a good body of evidence that I belong there, and that I can succeed in that domain area. What I notice is that when I begin something new I feel less certain of myself. I think this is completely natural and sometimes it results in me bringing less of myself or even fragmenting from what I really want, what I really think, or how I really would like to behave in certain situations. This is a lack of alignment or an incohesion. When I am not in alignment, I feel not-quite-right. There is a slightly off vibration within myself that is not resonating.
Sometimes (most of the time) it’s so subtle that I almost can't notice. I can say from experience, that if you stay in this state long enough, the misalignment begins to feel like your default state and you fail to notice it at all. It’s just business as usual.
I'd like to share with you a very simple, easy process that I began to implement in my life several years ago. When I say it, it will sound so simple to you, but I promise you that doing it will shift something in your life.
It will shift your awareness and it will shift your behavior, which then shifts your reality, your actual experience in the world. For much of my life I've struggled with not being able to clearly and deeply connect with how I felt or what I wanted.
I've spent a lot of time working through that, and one of the things that really helped is this: I began ending my workday differently. I would walk out to the parking lot, hop in my truck, and before I even turned the key, I would ask myself silently or sometimes aloud, how are you feeling right now? Just that one straight forward question. I would just take a moment to notice.
It took a while, but I started noticing when I was holding onto a negative or residual emotion. An important note here - many of the feelings we have are positive but I think we are usually able to connect with our positive emotions much more easily so it's typically the negative ones that I'm working to resolve. That said, noticing the wonderful, beautiful emotions is a marvelous habit to form as well.
When I first began, it was difficult to immediately identify and resolve these things but as I practiced, I realized that the vast majority of my feelings were pretty trivial. They're about some small, inconsequential situation at work. Maybe I was running late or I was not quite prepared. Maybe they stemmed from some interaction that was ambiguous to me but was still on my mind, even though I didn't realize it.
Once I can identify those things, they're mostly resolved. The important concept here is that if you don't stop and intentionally examine these niggling feelings, they continue to reverberate in your mind; they aggregate and build up in your body, which then leads to even more distress, anxiety worry, or fear. When you leave them lurking, they can sneak up on you unexpectedly at any time.
And your body has a difficult time telling the difference between the really important things and the small ones so they can begin to take on more weight and importance than they deserve.
When I'm not aware of these emotions, if I can't look them right in the eye and determine what the origin is, I can't address them.
There are some, every once in a while that are larger - the big biggies. I will realize that I have had an interaction with someone very important in my life that seems unresolved or that I'm not quite happy with.
Maybe I'll even realize that something I've said or done is not aligned with how I want to behave in the world. Those are realizations may take more thought and time to resolve, but once I know what they are, I can begin to work through them.
How to work through them?
There are various approaches to take and they often work together. Acknowledging them is the first step toward processing.
If you need something that's a little more tangible and with more action and closure, you can journal. Use your creative practice to work through your thoughts and feelings, or if it is something that needs to be needs resolved with the person, you can use your creative work to prepare for the conversation and when the time is right, approach that person and have a conversation or apologize, whatever the situation might be.
Using something tangible in the world, moving your pen across the paper, stroking paint onto a board, is a very effective way to tame these invisible, ethereal shadows.
This is about moving in the direction of cohesion. The whole process is about becoming more aligned with who you are, who you want to be, and what your desires and principles are in the world. I believe that many of us (maybe all of us), myself included, go through the world in a slightly fragmented or fractured way.
We're walking through the days slowly losing tiny, tiny pieces of ourselves or pushing them out to a distance because we haven't actually yet learned how to bring them back into unity. It's not a one-time process, of course. It's a continual, ongoing practice and it gets easier as you go.
It's like a muscle, it gets stronger when you practice. Remember that I said I used to come outside to my truck after work and have a little chat with myself? It was intentional, it was awkward, and it was weird. It didn't always bear results, but now, several years later, that process is very automatic in my mind and has been for a long time.
If I have an interaction, let's say at the grocery store, I don't have to go outside and specifically sit in the truck and ask myself how I feel. My mind now understands how to connect those dots, and because I have a regular practice in my life, I have a framework for working through these things.
My practice of choice happens to be a creative practice, and I highly recommend that to everyone, but whatever your mechanism is for processing, for being introspective, for analyzing your life, for setting goals, for holding yourself accountable, whatever that is for you, lean into it.
It's at my studio table, when I work on visual journals, when I paint, when I draw, or when I write poetry, that I find that my life becoming richer and this simple tool I just described contributes greatly.
Today I want to encourage you to consider where your life you have cohesion, where it feels beautiful, true, easy and aligned, or where you may be experiencing separation. If this is the case, no big deal. This happens on a regular basis. It's just part of being alive, being human, learning, and growing.
My dear seeking and dreaming friend, I want to let you know that my 8-week workshop, A Call to Create, is opening the doors again in March. I have had the honor to facilitate this particular workshop several times and each time it's more wonderful and delightful than the last.
I do a lot of things in my life, but this workshop is my favorite. It’s my passion project. This is where my heart is. The reason that I feel so strongly about it is it's about:
In this workshop, we're deeply exploring the very foundations of our lives and we do it hand-in-hand with a beautiful, supportive, and loving community. Creative work is the container to hold it all.
We delve into loads of really inspiring resources and we talk about how we can create ritual and celebration in our lives to support everything that I just talked about.
You can do this on your own - 100% and absolutely. If that's right for you, I sincerely hope you do. I'll be over here clapping and screaming from the sidelines as I watch your incredible transformation.
BUT, if you're someone who needs or would enjoy doing this with others, I would like to invite you personally to my next workshop.
In A Call to Create, we're building strong community and we’re designing our future. I promise you that doing this together and in a guided way is magical. There is strength and power in partnership.
If you'd like to know more, head over to my website. I'm currently adding names to the waitlist and very soon, I'll send more info.
When you visit the site, you'll find tons of detail about the workshop including examples of the projects, some of the topics we'll focus on, and tips on determining whether or not the workshop is a good fit for you.
I hope to see you there. I've gotten such positive feedback and I have a number of students eagerly awaiting the next release date.
One final point - if you 've already participated in A Call to Create, this is a reminder that you do not need to register again because all registrants have lifetime access to the workshop materials.
Regardless of whether you decide to join us for the workshop, I encourage each of you to seek cohesion, seek to mend and make whole, look for ways in your life that you can align your actions, your experiences, your days, hours, and minutes with who you are and who you are striving to be.
If you’d like some support and if you would like to join me on a fantastic adventure, go to the link to learn more or sign-up to be notified when the workshop is ready to launch. I'll welcome you with open arms. xoxoxoxoxo
PS if you have questions, I'd be happy to answer them. Drop me a line!
What if we applied all the love songs, all the passionate longings, all the hopes and dreams that we've had for others to ourselves as well? I know it sounds silly, but what if we gave ourselves the same grace, the same leniency, the same chances that we give to others that we love, - our friends, family, husbands, wives, and kids?
In fact, heck, sometimes we give more grace to a stranger in the market line than we do ourselves.
Have you heard Miley Cyrus's new song? It's called Flowers. and it's all over the internet right now.
I love it by the way. I like the message, I like the music, I like the beat, but more than anything, I wanted to talk to you about what it made me recall.
As I was listening to this song today, I remembered a day when I left work in a chaotic rush. I ran out to my truck and then had to fight traffic across town to get to my therapist's office on time. It was ironic that every time I went to this woman's office, I ended up there a chaotic ball of nerves.By the time I got there, I was probably not in the best frame of mind to calmly, rationally sit and discuss my life.
Anyway, I'm driving that day and instead of listening to a podcast or an audio book, I put on music, probably a playlist on YouTube. I had this sudden revelation as I was listening to the music just mindlessly playing. As I was driving, I realized that most of the pop culture songs that are out there are actually talking about very dysfunctional relationships.
Let's face it, most of the songs are about romantic or sexual relationships, you don't get a ton in there about families and friends although gosh are they important. Maybe a little here and there especially in the country genre, but for the most part, it's wild, romantic, passionate, love that we are chasing out there as a culture and as a society and our music reflects that.
So as I'm listening to these songs, I realize that in many of them it was unrequited love. A person had lost themselves because they didn't have the person that they wanted in their lives. They were rudderless, they were directionless. They were not okay without the other person. It was very codependent kind of love.
They would do anything - turn their lives upside down or become a person that didn't align with who they really were - to get this person, get this person back, or keep this person. Another type of song that I noticed was focused on sex. They were devoid of any real,deep meaning or connection, but primarily about looks and down to business.
Of course, I rushed into my therapist and talked to her about it and we had a great conversation. That was the start of my noticing and once I started, I couldn't stop. I began to notice it more and more and often. I'm not opposed to pop music. I love music actually, but now I hear it with a little bit of a different ear. I can still enjoy the songs, but a lot of times I realize when I hear the words that those are not behaviors that I would like to emulate or even speak into being in my life.
Today I'm thinking - what if we began to notice the messages we surround ourselves with? If you're listening to music, consider - what if you were singing these songs to yourself?
If someone is speaking to the love of their life via music, is trying to get to know someone better, seeking to connect with them, even thinking they are fantastic looking and hot, why can't we begin to think those things about ourselves?
Can we begin to notice the ways that we seek attention from others, that we seek knowledge about others, and that we offer them things - love, time, attention, grace, and service?
Can we turn that kind of love on ourselves?
I'm not saying that whatever relationships we have in our lives aren't important. Of course, they are. If you're married, in a long-term relationship, dating, or you just have family and friends around you, we want to maintain those relationships as well.
But what if we added to it? Romancing ourselves, getting to know what it is we really think, love, and want. Have you ever been dating someone or been in a relationship with them and when you find out what their favorite food is, you can't wait to invite them over for a homecooked meal? You want to provide them a beautiful, peaceful, nurturing, and caring atmosphere and meal.
Let’s get that interested in ourselves. And not just the surfaces interests. Let’s go past the first or second date and find out the really important things.
Do you know what you love and truly desire? What if instead of pushing our own voice to the side, we took the time to notice?
I hope you’ve been hearing that I'm using the word notice a lot. That's my theme for this month. That's what I'm really focusing on. I'm not even concerned about taking action yet. I'm just noticing because the more we notice, the more we can see patterns, and the more we can begin to understand how we're behaving in the world, whether it's in conscious or unconscious ways.
The more we start to notice where we have inconsistencies or incoherence between what our heart really wants and the ways that we are behaving in the world, the better chance we have of addressing them. My call to action for you is to begin to notice all of the ways that you care for others, and then ask yourself, is there a gap?
Am I caring for myself the same way? Do I even understand what it is that I want or what I'm about? What are my true dreams and desires?
I have a free five-day creative challenge going on right now. You are not late. You can start any time.
The reason I bring this up is that writing , diving deeply into what's in your heart, is a perfect way to get started with this habit. It's a way to get to know yourself better, friend.
Take my word for it, the better you know yourself, the more you can succeed at whatever it is you are doing - raising a family, creating a career, running a business, etc.
You will benefit. Let’s do this together.
This is really important. Thank you so much for spending time with me today, and I'll see you in the challenge.
Who am I?
I’m a systems engineer and creative coach living in ABQ, NM. I believe that we can intentionally design our lives to align with our deepest dreams and desires.