24 Values in 24 Hours

 

     Here is an early holiday gift from my heart to yours. Please go to http://changingminds.org/explanations/values/via.htm where you will find a list of the 24 core values that have been documented by Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth but why, you may ask, would I want you to go there to receive this gift? Simply because ’tis the season of giving and what the world needs now more than anything is a reminder of the values and characteristics that live inside of each of us and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. To be able to pay those values forward to everyone you meet. May we all be blessed with a very happy, healthy, honest, prosperous, authentic, truthful, judgment free, spiritually uplifting New Year.

     The year of 2017 will not go down in my life journal as the happiest one of all but I did manage to extract quite a few great memories that I’m very proud to have experienced. Is anyone’s year on point 24/7? I would say this year has been memorable, head shaking, woeful, twilight zone-ish for sure. I’ve learned that happiness is subjective so please search your hearts for the happiness you are seeking to extract from all that this year has brought to your consciousness. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my soulful evolution, maybe it’s the pounding into my gut and brain that takes place day after day of the stupidity, valueless behaviors and moral corruption that seems to swirl like a tornado around me more now than ever before. I’m not sure what exactly it is that has left me so confused and truthfully so scared. What I do know is that my happy life moments are curtesy of that which I keep coming back to time and again, that which grounds me and helps me choose to restart and not give up;

VALUES

What are values? Simply put, if each of us were a house, values are the foundation on which we build our house. From the time our personalities start to develop at a young age, we are creating and forming our individual values; those pillars of core characteristics that declare what we live for, strive for and believe; a guiding light, what makes us authentic and real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

     Author Dean Koontz, who wrote, False Memory, showcases one of his fictional characters that says, “Reality is subjective. Values and truths are subjective. Life itself is an illusion.” I agree and disagree with this character, fiction based or not, because in my humble subjective opinion core values, the pillars of magic that we have been blessed to carry inside of us and summon up throughout our whole lifetime, are the building blocks of our legacy. In the Velveteen Rabbit, author Margery Williams describes through her character, Skin Horse, what it means to be REAL. To love and be loved, that is a real value and a legacy. When we allow reality to be subjective without objectivity we risk damaging truth and love and quite a few other core values. Once those values are damaged our legacy is damaged as well.

Our legacy is our “why” and while our “why” is personal and subjective the pillars of the core value system stand firm and true; the value system is real. How we put those values into action, build those values, leave behind the truths of those values as examples is subjective. Please remember that we live in a country where we are given the freedom of choice and the more choices we have to make the more our values matter most. Imagine a world where we all respected the fact that each one of us governs ourselves based on the same 24 positive core value/characteristics? What a great world indeed.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”Theodore Roosevelt

I Value You, You Value Me

“Values aren’t buses… They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are.”Jennifer Crusie

The understanding of values has seen a huge uprising since the introduction of positive psychology by Dr. Martin Seligman. Dr. Seligman looks at values as core character strengths that consciously and unconsciously carry us throughout our life and help us to conduct ourselves with regard and worthiness. Sadly, we have seen way too many times this year alone how values have been discarded, disrespected, destroyed or never used at all.

Dr. Seligman discovered 24 core values that exist all the time. In one 24-hour day we make choices as to which core characteristics, values, we use to influence our decision making processes and the world around us. The values list is a positive list of every characteristic known to the human species. A warning however, for every positive that is extracted from these core values there is negative and it is those negative interpretations that have humans so muddled and backwards.

CHOOSE FIVE

Here is my next gift for you: Go to www.authentichappiness.com and follow the prompts for adults. It is free and only requires you to sign in to take this insightful survey. If you answer honestly, your top five (5) values in action will tell you where your values hang out right now. The beautiful advantage of taking this survey is that there are no wrong answers, there are no negative answers, only insight into what makes each of us unique. Here you will find the gateway to the foundation of your house, your most important “why” and your legacy.

“The goal of a life purpose is not what you will create, but what it will make you into for creating it.” Shannon L. Alder

If you find that you want a value listed to be listed in your top 5 but isn’t quite there yet then you have the freedom and hopefully the time to devote to raising your chosen value (s)to a higher level. Just know that whatever your initial top five values come out to be, YOU ARE AWESOME!!

So, in 24 hours, how does someone go about purposefully putting their 24, or at least their top 5 values into action?

  1. Keep the top 5 list with you at all times so that you can check in at least once per week. If it helps, expand the list you carry to 10 top core values.
  2. Take notes throughout the week to see how you are using the values that are listed. Do you notice that you are using some more than others most of the time? Do you notice that you are using a value that you initially answered as a less prominent value?
  3. Throughout each day make time to remind yourself of your core values especially when confronted with a challenge that requires putting your values to the test.
  4. Find a colleague or friend or mentor or coach or spouse that you absolutely trust and discuss your observations. Ask for help from these trusted people in your life to keep you on track toward your evolution.
  5. Create an avatar, a song, a design, a rotating screensaver or a static picture/drawing for your home screen or on your phone or on a large post-it note, one that represents your top 5 or top 10 values so you can get in the zone of becoming in consciousness what you know in your heart.

What an incredible opportunity you have to start the new year with hopeful purpose and deeper understanding of being your best self not only for you but for everyone around you. Just knowing that the values you choose to concentrate on are always right for you is a very freeing, wondrous journey. Remember that each of the 24 values exist in each of us all the time. We decide which ones we use most. If you need a go to person to help sort it all out just give me shout. I will be happy to help.

CALL TO ACTION

Where do your core values fall?

What characteristic (s) do you use most of the time?

How can your values list become your “why”?

In what ways are your values your legacy?

6 Steps to Developing Success Characteristics

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” –John Wooden

I wasn’t going to do this. I promised myself that I wouldn’t go here again. I told myself that I have already explored this topic to death and there just isn’t anything more to say about it. I have cried and recovered and cried some more. I tried so hard to move on from this but here it is, again, asking me to face a new perspective on an old issue.

That’s what I do you know, as a life coach, I help people find new perspective on old issues. Sometimes I am required to hold up a mirror, sometimes I am required to speak the plain, harsh truth, sometimes I am required to take a meandering walk through thick forests where there is little light to guide the way until, together, we find the beginning of a clearing. The hard part for me is knowing all of this and applying these steps to myself, my life, and my issues; changing MY perspective. I’ve come to learn that it absolutely takes practice and time and it makes no sense at all to fight that process. Patience is absolutely a virtue here.

One of the very first assignments I ask my clients to do is to tell me about their character. What makes them tick according to them, what is it they know for sure about themselves that is a constant truth no matter what is going on in their lives. In defining character it is important to understand that character is a moral or ethical quality of a person or thing. It cannot be contained or stifled or created. We all have character as part of who we are. At any point during our lives we make choices to encourage different parts of our character or to let them sit idle. The core components of our character are those that we use every day no matter what we do or who we are with. There are usually at least 5 core character traits that we use every day but it could be as high as 10 traits. The top 5 traits are the ones that get used simultaneously and interchangeably throughout our day and interactions with life.

Why am I talking about character? Last year at this time I wrote about my oldest son going to test the waters of independence by moving far from home with some friends, to see if he could make it on his own. Life intervened and he came home after one very long month but he learned a lot and had a new perspective on his priorities and outlined a plan toward his success that would include him living back at home.

In less than one year he is moving out again, alone this time and will not be coming home in any foreseeable future. He is determined to make this work in his favor. He just has this indefinable needling inside of him that he has to answer. What is apparent this time that was not so apparent last time? His character. In the coaching world we call it character strengths. In my coaching practice I call it success characteristics. So what do I know for sure about him now that I didn’t know as well a year ago? Well I know about his courage, his determination, his zest, his authenticity, his humility, his kindness, his honesty and his optimism.

These are the success characteristics he brings with him in everything he does. Not all of them play at the top but most of them get engaged and used throughout his day. If I had to pick his top 5 I would say humility, authenticity, optimism, determination, and open-mindedness.

There are 24 critical human character strengths that each of us has inside of ourselves. Knowing what your strengths are is very uplifting and helps better define a life purpose. But know this, just because one strength is listed at number 24 doesn’t mean that strength is in a bad place it just means that it isn’t exercised enough. It can move up in ranks if you work hard at making yourself aware of using it.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller

(Anything worth having is worth working hard for. That’s an oldie but a goodie.)

So he is leaving on Friday and while as his mom I feel devastated to let him go because I will miss him with every fiber of my heart and soul, what I have come to really, genuinely, wholeheartedly realize is that he is not mine and he never was mine. Let me explain…..

I was tasked with the unimaginable pleasure and miracle of being his guide. I was given a gift and I was asked to take care of this gift to the best of my ability with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my might. I was not asked to own him like a trophy won or to control him like a radio active toy. I was asked to help him grow and learn and achieve his own success as he can and is able to do and to give back to the world he lives in. I did that. Was I successful? I don’t know. Part of me wants to say yes because look at him; he is embarking on this scary, adventurous, “I want to make something of myself” journey, alone. He is not hiding at home or letting fear of anything get in his way of becoming the man he envisions for himself.

In the end my son will have to be the one to answer the success question when he can. Did I feel successful? Sometimes. I’m not perfect and I can think of many times where my imperfection reared its ugly head. The success part will come along when I sense forgiveness for my imperfections. Will he choose to come home and visit? Will he make a point to keep in touch in as many ways as are available to him these days? Will he love the ladies with genuine reverence and respect? Will he choose to love any gift of children and be reminded at that time of all the ways in which he was loved as a child and young adult? These are the answers to success as a parent, in my humble opinion.

I’ll share with you my top 5 success characteristics and explain how I use them in dealing with my son leaving.

1-      Appreciation of beauty and excellence

2-      Gratitude

3-      Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness

4-      Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness

5-      Love of learning

What I know for sure about my son, what I have learned from day one is that the way in which he is choosing this path is very authentic to whom he has always been. His nickname, since he was 8 years old has been tank, given to him by his football coaches at that tender age. He plows through what needs to get done whether that be getting through his days at school or at his job, a specific task, football, you name it. He is doing that now by plowing through to the essence of his life and not wanting to wait through anymore schooling or for the “right” age to start a life. His strength of character and his courage of self is what will see him through. Patience is not yet a virtue of his but life will undoubtedlyteach him that lesson.

My appreciation of his beauty and excellence from the inside of him to the outside of him is key in letting him go with encouragement, faith, and a hopeful heart. My gratitude for the privilege of being his mom is solid and unwavering and grows every day. My open-mindedness in understanding his need and his determination and helping him to know how deep my faith runs inside of me for him.

I have done all that I can do face to face. I can fight this move or I can trust in him and encourage his faith in himself and silently, facelessly be the strength he needs when the times will get tough. It is ultimately his own perspective of his life events that will determine his strength of character and which of the 24 traits he will need more of and less of at any given time. Perspective is everything.

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.” – Aniais Nin

I was reading an article recently about how to create a strong character arc for writers who want to create fictional characters for their stories. What I learned from that article is also something that rings very true to real human beings.  How does someone create personal character?

Find your drive: What motivates you? What drives you to do what you do or drives you to want what you want? My son wants to get on with becoming the man he envisions. That is his drive and motivation to getting up every day.

Get Active: Make a plan and execute the plan. Some days your actions might be in small ways and some days your actions might be huge, remarkable pushes toward your drive. Start taking charge of your life by practicing who you want to be.

Get out of the box: Somewhere along the road of growing up you just knew it was time to bust out of the routine of living at home and embark on the adventure of calling your own shots. Break free of the routine you find yourself in and shake things up. Test your limits as safely and wisely as possible to see just what you are made of. Travel, take a class, learn a new skill, or meet new people. Whatever is not in your normal comfort zone is where you belong now. If you have fear around trying something new then by all means try something new.

Learn all you can: Grow your mind, your brain, and your spirit; grow your character strengths. Find a new interest, a new hobby, and a new way of being happy. Find what creates sparks and learn all you can about it. You never know what doors will open up to you once you set out and explore your possibilities and explore your world.

Release the gremlin: The ego is a dangerous thing. In coaching we tend to call it the gremlin. That little voice inside that always talks smack to you by putting you down, making you doubt yourself, instilling fear where there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. The gremlin is all about making you feel small and it feel supreme. Let it go and stomp on it every time it shows itself.

Tidy up: If you are determined to find your drive and get into action with your desires then make sure that your life around you looks the same. If you tend to be sloppy in appearance and surroundings then clean up your self and your area. The outer you should reflect the inner you even while you are making the changes and strengthening the character traits you want to let define you. Inner growth reflects in outer growth.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about 9 requisites for a contented life. Here is my interpretation of his requisites in a wish list for the best possible life you can create:

I wish you health enough to make work a pleasure

I wish you wealth enough to support your needs

I wish you strength enough to battle the difficulties and overcome them

I wish you grace enough to forgive yourself as well as others

I wish you patience enough to work hard until some good is accomplished and realized

I wish you charity enough to see some good in the people around you

I wish you love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others

I wish you faith enough to make real the things you imagine

I wish you hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future. We have no control over what will be so make the most of what is right now.

How fitting that all of the memories of sharing life with my son should come flooding into me while he takes on his life on Memorial weekend? Weird kind of happenstance or karma? You decide….

So while I am desperately hugging and kissing and saying good-bye to my son I want to leave you with this last thought: What we think is what we become. From the vast menu of character strengths to choose from choose authentically (with a side of humor.)

Call to Action

What do you think are your top 5 character strengths?

How do you use them throughout your day?

What character strengths would you like to start using that you are not using right now?

When was the last time you knew you were ready for a mind growth breakthrough?

As I will say to my son, Journey On……

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

4 Pathways Through the Triad: Truth, Vulnerability and Courage

The Greek word for truth is aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” When was the last time you yourself were absolutely truthful in the presence of someone else? When was the last time you candidly chose to not hide something from within you?

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

The number one coaching rule: Don’t trust me (the coach). Does that sound backwards? Why, you ask, should I not trust my coach? Because the person you should trust first and always is YOU. Trust deep within you that what you seek in life and spirit and wisdom is what makes up your truth and carries you through into everything you do.

When you enlist a life coach to help get you up and over and through the forest of your life you will be asked some really tough, hard to answer, hard to face questions AND you will be held accountable for the answers that you give and for the actions you take toward the outcome you hope to achieve. Think you are ready for a life coach? Think again and again and again because a life coach will expose your vulnerabilities and will challenge your courage. A life coach will ask for YOUR TRUTH and if you are not prepared to face your truth, if you think you need to hide behind a mask of perfection or arrogance or half-truths then you are not ready. Friends, spouses, community leaders, teachers, etc. all ask you for your truth. How honest have you been? How vulnerable have you allowed yourself to be?

In her amazing book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene` Brown talks about vulnerability at length and before you are through chapter two you know for sure that vulnerability is truth. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” (pg. 37 DG).

Examples of how vulnerability feels range from:

“It feels like taking off the mask and hoping the real me isn’t too disappointing” to “You are half way across a tightrope, and moving forward and going back are both just as scary” to “Letting go of control” to the ultimate analogy, “Vulnerability is like being naked onstage hoping for applause rather than laughter.”

What is the truth of your vulnerability? Do you know where your weak spots are? Are you courageous enough to admit to those weak spots, out loud, in front of a crowd, metaphorically naked?

My husband and I have been staring vulnerability and truth in the face this year and it has been a very, very tough time. The kids are getting older and starting to spread their wings so our time together as a couple has been more than we have ever been used to. Having so much time together has put us in a position of talking more, seeing each other in different ways and not always liking what we see. We never took the time to invest in the bank of our relationship while raising our children. We thought that the kids were the number one responsibility and that we came second to their needs. I believe this is the point in the relationship where a lot of couples look at each other and say, “Who are you?”

Sure it would be easy to just get busy with outside things and avoid alone time with each other especially when we seem to feel like such strangers with each other but we are choosing to face this hard time and speak our truth instead of hiding behind the mask of busyness and work. If ever I thought that in my life I have always been an honest, truth telling person I am here to tell you that there is no vulnerability and truth like what you experience when you choose to be open and honest about yourself and your relationship with your spouse.

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it is served up.” –George R.R. Martin

It’s been a few months of this kind of routine, of coming together and talking and being honest about where we each are at in our lives and on our own life road. Our agenda is to see if indeed we are meant to stay together or have we exhausted our purpose together? There have been tears on both parts and there have been times when we needed to separate away from one another for a bit just to breathe and get our bearings but we seem to manage to come back together and pick up where we left off. It feels like we are breaking each other open like an egg and pouring out from the comfort of the shell and exposing ourselves to the elements. It has been scary and tender and in a way kind of beautiful because we are seeing each other in a new light.

I have to say that I have never felt more in control of my life as I do right now in being as truthful and vulnerable as I’ve been with my husband lately. There is some kind of magic in all that vulnerability and honesty and it has kind of set me free. My spirit has power now that it never had before and my soul feels lighter and more spiritual. If we stay together or go our separate ways we will each be stronger, brighter, shinier and more self-aware than ever before.

I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we are actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we are suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before.” –C. Joybell C.

I won’t lie and say that coming together and holding each other accountable for our own truth is easy. Just as in coaching we try not to avoid or pretend a truth, whether in a relationship context or a parent context or a personal context. We do this by staying accountable and keeping each other focused on the thing we want to achieve. We have faith that whatever the outcome we did all we could to discover our truth.

It isn’t easy at all and as we go through each conversation we find ourselves that much deeper into a story started long ago but the point is that things can’t get better if we don’t start somewhere. Say the first word, write the first thought or question, or express the first feeling. Nothing can get better if the status quo stays the status quo.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

Truth and vulnerability summon courage to make a stand. Opportunity exists in the triad. If we stay shy and self-preserved or self-protective then anything that might have been, good or bad or better than imagined, stays locked away forever. The saying that “the truth shall set you free” is really quite remarkable when you actually experience it. The key, in my humble opinion, is that you have to trust to some great degree the person you are telling your truth to. You have to have inner courage to say what is real and what you need and what you want out of life. You have to be willing to expose your inner self to questions and comments and opinions but not be swayed by these things. Tough, tough, tough to do.

Dr. Brown says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

So how do we cultivate the triad: Truth, Vulnerability and Courage?

Show up fully loaded: Exist in a space that is solely devoted to another person. Leave your ego at the door and don’t allow it to come in, even when it starts pounding and demanding.

Stay engaged: The easiest thing to do would be to let go. Let go of the relationship, let go of the trying, and/or let go of listening. The triad asks you to stay engaged. Don’t let go, don’t give up until you have spoken and listened and experienced every truth, vulnerability and act of courage in the face of the adversity.

Enlist your tribe: There is no glory in going through life alone. We need each other. We were designed that way. How ironic that we try to avoid being open and vulnerable and truthful to the very people we need, whether in the short term or the long haul. “We need support. We need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us. We need a hand to pull us up off the ground when we get kicked down in the arena” says Dr. Brown.

Whether you choose the people for your tribe to be family, certain friends, coaches, therapists, or teachers it doesn’t matter just so long as you have that go to person for that all important moment when you realize you NEED help and encouragement to get back up and go again.

Make peace with the rules of living a wholehearted life: If you are truly, truthfully living a full and engaged life then there will always be vulnerable moments, weak moments, and moments where courage needs to be summoned. If you opt out of the things that scare you, push you, test you, challenge you, engage you out of your comfort zone then you are only living a ½ life. Even in those sheltered life experiences you set up so perfectly for yourself you will face vulnerability and truth.

Rule: If you are alive you are vulnerable. End of story. The band Rush says so well in their song “Freewill”, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Words like scared, judgmental, controlling, perfecting, unwilling and angry are all words you need to face the truth about. LIVE OUT LOUD. It is so freeing.

Journey On…..

Call to Action

Ask and answer for yourself:

What happens inside of me when I feel vulnerable or exposed?

What truth am I afraid to face?

What truth am I believing that could be looked at from a new perspective?

How do I self-protect when I feel vulnerable?

When do I think it is safe to take any emotional risks?

What circumstances challenge me toward inner courage even though I am scared to death?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building character strengths, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

Metamorphosis

Whispers from my Wallpaper

Metamorphosis

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On my very white, unpainted wall behind my desk top computer, surrounding my children’s elementary school art, rests taped rectangles and squares in myriad colors of inspirational and motivational words, phrases and quotes that resonate with me in a deep, personal, spiritually uplifting way. It is my wallpaper. It greets me every morning and whispers to me throughout my day.

Call it a mid-life crisis, or whatever crazy notion you can relate it to but I started thinking about all of these whispers of hope and empowerment that greet me every day and how I could start living the words, how could I start making all of these magical streams of consciousness apply to my life? Maybe it is the change of seasons affecting me but I had a need to transform, to change, a shedding of old skin, a metamorphosis. This need for change really started back in 2012 when so much of my life seemed to be at a precipice. I wanted to redesign my life, adapt it to the changes that were taking place all around me and within me.  So how was I going to start my metamorphosis and keep my spirits up and feel like I could move in a forward motion?

A few months ago I made up my mind to set out to metamorphose myself. I began with my wallpaper whispers yes, but I also asked myself some tough questions:

1)      What makes me come alive?

2)      What are the obstacles holding me back?

3)      What are the possibilities?

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering because it is familiar.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

When I first read the above words I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was one thing to know deep inside that I was unhappy but it was another thing entirely to see that someone had actually articulated the exact reason why I was staying unhappy. For many years I hated myself for feeling what I assumed was helpless unhappiness and yet when I read this quote I was comforted to realize that if my feelings were on paper then I was not alone in how I felt.

What would it take for me to break free of whatever “suffering” I was going through? What changes needed to take place in order for me to stop suffering?

The season of winter is a good example of using time to create a metamorphosis; to create a cocoon. Winter is hard. It keeps us coiled up like a snake trying to stay warm, to horde food and wood for those harsh, cold days ahead. Winter is lifeless on the outside and it’s quiet. Winter brings its own kind of suffering that we acclimate ourselves to. We hunker down, dig in and wait for it to end. However, winter is also reflective and it rejuvenates us and makes us contemplative if we allow ourselves to be. How can we use this down time to our advantage? We need some kind of cocoon we can hide in, contemplate in, and transform in so that when we emerge we will be a shiny, new person.

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“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”

Thank you so much Mr. Henri Bergson. You have given me my banner, my high flying metamorphosis flag to anchor in the ground of my new soil in which I can sow and grow. I allowed these words to whisper to me, wash over and through me and to push me.

I wanted to choose to courageously change and exist and find meaning to my life. I know I am changing all the time just by existing, every day that I am allowed to get up and start anew. My body ages; that is my significant outward change. However, a consequence to change is the development of maturity. If I never learn anything then my maturity is stunted but I know I am learning every day so therefore I am maturing not only in my body but in my mind. As my mind matures so does my creativity, my courage, my perspective, my authenticity, my perseverance, my gratitude, and my spirituality. This is true for you too, no matter what kind of change you are seeking. I realized that if I expand a bit further on this thought then the thought becomes like a road map for change and helps me set a course for whatever my mind can dream up.

On March 20, 2013 at 7:45am the spring equinox occurred. Not much to see in the way of a seasonal occurrence; most northern states ushered in the new season with snow. Winter prefers its suffering; it is afraid of the rejection by the masses to yield itself to the warmth and the longer sunshine filled days and the hope that spring brings, but it knows its time is coming to an end. While the darkness of winter grips us in its quiet, lifeless hold, the promise of spring creates a natural metamorphosis that takes place inside the earth, the trees, inside human beings. There is a co-evolution going on as we begin to emerge from winter to spring. According to www.morning-earth.org, “Co-evolution is the process in which species slowly transform together toward a mutual fit. Evolution is mutual, and it takes place in communities or groups.”

We are all familiar with the caterpillar that changes into a beautiful butterfly through the scientific process of metamorphosis. Similarly our own lives mimic nature in so many ways. One way is in how we are collectively ready to let go of the “suffering” of winter and step into the individualism and the welcoming hope of spring. We successfully adapt to the change of seasons. We are ready for our renewal, ready to blossom like the flowers.

I wanted to bloom like never before; I wanted to take a leap of faith. I was tired of watching my life from the side lines and not risking getting fully involved. I had reached a saturation point with my fear, my unhappiness, my negative frame of mind and my idleness.

Author and researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky refers to our saturation point as our set point. In her book the “How of Happiness” she talks at length about her research which suggests that we all have a happiness set point. No matter how happy we are we will level out to our set point; the happiness high doesn’t last forever. I took this idea and flipped it around, realizing that I had reached my unhappiness, my loneliness and my negative frame of mind set point.

Each of us must take a leap of faith to courageously walk into the new season of our lives full of hope and strength and energy to make the most of ourselves, for ourselves and for the world while the world starts to feel open and full of promise.

What did your winter metamorphosis yield? Are you ready to answer the tough questions? Are you ready to finally say YES or NO and declare your own happiness? Will you hold on to familiar suffering for fear of the unknown happiness you could have by letting go? Will you choose your natural, evolutionary right to change and see what you are made of, where will your journey take you…..will you take a leap of faith? Journey on……

lisa@journeyoncoaching.com