Category: Spirituality


Thriving in Chaos

Susan Maravetz, Essential Path Coach and Consultant

If you don’t feel we are living in a time of chaos, you haven’t been paying attention.  Many aspects in each of our personal lives are in flux; whether it is due to the political landscape, the workplace, a health condition or taking care of our families. A state of chaos means that which we counted on yesterday, can no longer be taken for granted.

Right now, all aspects of the “American Experience” are in a certain state of chaos.  Will I have health insurance? What will the economy do next? Will my basic human rights be revoked?  What are the global implications of the election results?

It is enough to keep me in bed, covers pulled tightly over my head.

Before you scratch your head, puzzled because you thought I was a more upbeat person; realize that perhaps chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Without chaos, we have stasis and life cannot change. So chaos is imperitive for change.

What we do within chaos is what determines our own ability to thrive. 

Here are some approaches I’ve taken the past couple of months, they’ve helped me stay grounded and allowed me to get out of bed each day.

Step 1: Stay Calm.  Recognize the signs of stress and take action to alliviate.  Everyone has a favorite stress management approach, make sure your approach is healthful and productive.  For me, meditation, focused breathing and journaling every morning is the best way to keep calm.

Step 2: Turn off the TV, log off Facebook and STOP having conversations that stress you out.  Do it for a day or two, see if you feel better.

Step 3: Appreciate everything that is going well in your life. It may be as small as “I woke up to this beautiful morning” or “I love a strong cup of coffee” – whatever you can do to feel a little better and enjoy your life as it is right now. 

Step 4: Do something nice for someone else.  Nothing improves your own outlook more than doing a good deed, sending a sweet card, expressing your appreciation for a loved one’s kindness.

Step 5: Get outside. Take a walk, sit in a park, enjoy nature. Do something that reconnects you with the natural environment and reminds you of the larger cycle of life.

Enjoy the day.  Embrace the chaos.

Appreciate the possibilities inherent in not knowing what the he** is going to happen next.

Remember, rollercoasters are always more exciting than the teacup ride.

 

 

On the Path to Happiness

Fifteen years ago, I started a personal coaching practice, which I named The Essential Path.  My vision was that I would lead my clients on a path to identify the key ingredients they wanted in their life to facilitate happiness. I don’t know that I ever actually used the word happiness, I suspect it was more simply implied as the obvious goal.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about goals, mission, intention, objectives, purpose.  Whatever you want to call your inner drive, the calling that leads you on your life’s journey. What I’ve come to realize for myself is that happiness is the true goal and the rest are accessories, applications, or pathways that can faciliate that drive toward personal happiness.

What will make me happy in this moment?

With that simple question, my path is opened up. My heart is open to answers. I am ready (and willing) for the response that will direct this moment and the next, and the next.

For many, including myself, fulfilling personal happiness feels scary, forbidden, selfish. We’ve been trained to make other people happy.  The customers we serve, the companies we work for, our spouse, the children we are responsible for.

To serve oneself is perceived to be self-centered, isolating and heartless. This is the simplest of rules by which most have been raised and live to this day.  This is the one perspective I dream of shifting in my clients, friends and family. Please, today, ask yourself this one question: “What would make me most happy, in this moment?” Get still. Listen.  Hear. Acknowledge. And take action.

Disruption & Innovation

Definition of disrupt

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a:  to break apart :rupture<three periods of faulting disrupted the rocks — University of Arizona Record>b:  to throw into disorder<demonstrators trying to disrupt the meeting>

  3. 2:  to interrupt the normal course or unity of < … disrupted a bridge game by permanently hiding up the ace of spades … — Scott Fitzgerald><can disrupt an industry with new technology>

Definition of innovation

  1. 1:  the introduction of something new

  2. 2:  a new idea, method, or device :novelty

Emotional Management

February 2017 will be five years since I was introduced to the Abraham-Hicks work.  Prior to that introduction, I had already tuned into plenty of  new age writers and ideas, I had watched The Secret and I was generally assured and pleased with my own “deep wisdom.” What was different about meeting Abraham, I finally understood the importance and prioritization of feeling good AND more importantly, that I was the only one responsible for the establishment and experience of those feelings.

Before I met Abraham, I had been certified by HeartMath as a 1:1 coach.  The way I viewed that work was a method by which to control my “flares.” I had often experienced (and released) intense anger toward other people and situation, and HeartMath provided me a system by which to better understand my emotions and eventually navigate to improved emotions.  But try as I might, it wasn’t foolproof, and I would find myself overwhelmed in moments of great anger.

I had learned to write lists of gratitude and practice meditation, but my good feeling emotions were always in reponse to the immediate experience in my path.  Meaning, if I was doing something I enjoyed, such as a yoga class, I felt good. If I was doing something that was annoying or frustrating, such as being stuck in traffic, I did not feel good.  I could eventually navigate to feeling better by being aware of my emotional responses and deciding not to put myself around those annoying people or in those annoying experiences.  This led to quitting jobs, avoiding social events and generally hiding from unpleasantness (impossible).

The experience I have had more recently with the help of  Abraham, is to establish a process of unconditionally feeling good. It is such a different mind-set, it is difficult to explain, but I can explain how I get there.

My day begins with a 20 minute meditation session. Then I journal. During my journaling, I list the emotions I want to feel NOW, immediately.  It usually starts with Ease.  And I breathe, relax, and feel Ease.  Then I will add, Flow.  And I breathe, relax and feel Flow. Perhaps Love.  Perhaps Joy. Maybe go back to Ease.   And from there, the emotions usually start unveiling themselves on their own.  The momentum has begun and I am in a groove.

This morning routine can take 5 minutes, it can take an hour. I let the momentum and inspiration start the thread and then I ride the ride. I may be inspired to write a Thank You Prayer. I might decide to explore some Pivots. Or I might simply write my A,B,C’s of emotions and feel great satisfaction in that process.

What I have noticed from this process is the general sense of overall wellbeing that I feel, on a daily basis, for no good reason and, even better, NO Flares.

 

 

 

 

Strengths and Weaknesses

I’ve been following Gary Vaynerchuk for the past couple of months, I like his practical ideas and his “get sh*t done” attitude. After downloading many hours of his YouTube videos, I felt like I should actually purchase something from his arsenal, so I took advantage of a Udemy course that he was delivering “Building a Personal Brand”.

I’ve made it through the entire course once, but it is so dense in material and ideas, it will take a couple more passes for me to really digest what Gary has to offer. However, one exercise in the course did stick out for me, and I wanted to share a little self-discovery.

Gary believes that self-awareness is your greatest asset and that most people fool themselves about who they really are and what they are good at.  His exercise for clarity involves asking 5-10 people who know you well, in various contexts, to list 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses. You can do this either in person or via email, whatever works best for you.

I did it via email and asked 8 people from my life, some who know me professionally, some more personally, but I felt all would be honest and provide insights.  Predictably, my most responsible friends and family made the fastest responses, however, several really struggled, and felt uncomfortable providing any negative feedback. I hadn’t really considered that this would be a problem, but I realized that while I am always open to providing my own critical feedback to others, other people aren’t as comfortable with that dialogue.

So the feedback itself? Interesting. Some positive themes emerged, such as my strong organizational skills, my ability to communicate in an articulate manner and my project-oriented focus.  And some negative themes emerged as well, primarily my perfectionism, personal rigidity and need to control my environment.

But what I realized, is the feedback was highly subjective, based upon how the person had experienced me and what they personally held of value.  So it was good feedback in understanding that individual,  and how we interact together, however I realized that I am a different person based upon the context and the relationship and so universal themes weren’t that available.

What I also came to realize was that often the perceived weaknesses were actually decisions that I make about what I want to experience in my life. For example, a weakness I was offered was that I take on alot of different projects, tasks and work, overcommiting myself. This could be true, especially when viewed from the outside, but for me, it is empowering, engaging and interesting to juggle many different topics and projects. I get bored quickly and I like to have something new to focus on, learn about or create.  It would be a weakness if I never completed anything, but since I have a strong project-completion drive, for the most part, if I don’t complete something, it is because I decided not to, that after beginning I realized it wasn’t for me.

So strengths and weaknesses? I am not sure if that is as valuable an inventory to take as recognizing subjectivity and perception and working through those lenses with your own clarity and self-awareness of your why.

img_6011I will leave the update post where I explain where I have been for the past couple of years for another day. Today, I feel compelled to express my thoughts about freedom. Not the flag waving, “God Bless America” kind of FREEDOM, although I am all about that too, but the personal freedom that we don’t even know we have or understand or appreciate or realize is gone until we give it up for another value that may or may not be more important than our personal freedom.

Actually, I am going to back up and remove the “we” from all the statements above. I am going to talk about the personal freedom that I didn’t even know I had or understood or appreciated or realized it was gone until I gave it up for another value that may or may not have been more important than my personal freedom.

For context, it is important to start with where I am now. I am living on a tiny sliver of land on the very edge of the North American continent and in between gigs (recently laid off) and trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

My layoff occurred in March. I was graciously provided outplacement services by my former employer, which should be a good thing, but instead simply moved my daily focus from my job responsibilities to the job search “shoulds”.

“You should update your resume, it should only be 2 pages long, you shouldn’t mention how old you are, you should remove your college graduation year, you should go to networking events, you shouldn’t tell people you are only interested in a virtual office, you should work on your search 5-7 hours a day, you should keep a spreadsheet with your contact points”.

I could go on. I am not saying any of this isn’t valid or important, but it makes one huge assumption – that I want to replace my last job with another job just like it and that I “should” be taking specific actions to make it happen. To be honest, when I started the job search, I was under that assumption myself. But I have found myself resistant, feeling less than inspired by the job openings available and not sure what I want to do next.

So that brings me to this morning and why where I am living now is important. I’ve taken to walking 5 miles around the island every day; my loop takes me about 90 minutes. As I was walking, I was appreciating the beauty of the island, the general vibe of wellbeing that pervades the neighborhood and the fast energy exuded with the fresh tourist season. And a thought popped into my head.

No one, not a soul, (well, except for MapMyFitness) knows where I am, what I am doing or when I will be back. No one is looking for me or expecting anything from me, or telling me what to do next.

What freedom! What relief! What exhilaration! After 30 months of being highly scheduled, highly responsible and highly accountable, it feels amazing to realize that no one gives a damn where I am or what I am doing.

A MOMENT OF ABSOLUTE FREEDOM!!!

Now I realize for other people this might sound disorienting, scary or sad, but you have to understand that I am genetically programmed for independence. My mother often says that as a baby, I insisted on holding my own bottle to feed myself and I think that perfectly details my personality. I prefer to take care of myself and provide for myself. I don’t enjoy being told what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. I like to figure these things out for myself; even if it means I trip and fall sometimes, get a little lonely or feel confused about what to do next.

So what does this all have to do with personal freedom? What is the ultimate freedom? Is it physical freedom, the ability to move around this world as we choose? Is it mental freedom, the ability to think our own thoughts, make our own choices and create our own beliefs? Or is it emotional freedom, the capability to manage our own feelings, decide how we want to feel in each moment and choose how we want to respond to the world around us?

For me, it means paying really close attention to the thoughts and emotions I am experiencing and exploring how true they really are. Are these beliefs actually valid? Or have they been introduced via societal indoctrination, organizational expectations or social media click bait? Many times, I have found myself choosing to take actions (completely unsupervised) from a “should” perspective – I should get up early to start my day and be productive, I should make 20 calls before I do anything fun today, I should send out that email, I should…… fill in the blank.

It was that tiny glimmer of recognition that I can do whatever in the damn hell I want to do right now that felt like freedom and felt like fresh energy moving within me. It was realizing who I really am without all the protective mechanisms that keep me “safe” and “responsible” and sadly, unfulfilled.

I am not suggesting that everyone needs to go to the very edge of the country’s landmass to be reminded of their personal freedom, but if it is the only way to shake off the external voices and belief systems so pervasive today, I highly recommend it. Toes in the sand and an unfathomable ocean before me is as hopelessly optimistic and unfailingly free as I can BE. My hope for you today is to find one tiny space of personal freedom and appreciate the heck out of it and maybe find a little bit more tomorrow and build on that until you are feeling equally full of yourself and unapologetically FREE!

Hello Old Friend…

Don’t look at me like that…I know, I’ve been an absentee creator! It isn’t that I didn’t miss you, I’ve just been crazy busy. You know, traveling, criss-crossing the US to far flung cities and states on a weekly basis. I can’t say it hasn’t been fun, it has, and I can’t say I haven’t thought about you, I have, but I knew you would be just fine without me for a little while.  And truth be told, without the ocean outside my doorstep, I haven’t felt as inspired as I once was.  Which is fine, sometimes we have a season of creativity and then we move into a new phase, when another urge presents itself.  However, today I was inspired to look you up, old friend and felt compelled to say hello and promise that it won’t be so long between visits. I promise!

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