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A number of years ago, I was at an organizational development workshop where we brought in an improvisational comedy troupe to give us some training on improv techniques. I remember is being very cool and somewhat freeing, as the whole thing was about “Yes, and..”, which is sort of the equivalent of playing verbal hacky sack. You’re trying to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible, and it’s very light hearted. Also, you have to be very present about where you are and what’s going on, as you don’t know what’s going to come next and be ready.
As I have been doing my own personal development (as well as professional development) work, I’ve noticed that this concept can help you in all sorts of areas. One thing that I’ve said over and over is that I’m a firm believer in reality. I wish I were six feet tall, but I’m not, so what can I do with what I’ve got. I’m not going to be 25 again, so how can I be the best middle aged man I can be. You can’t deny what’s here, but it’s best to play with what you’ve got. It’s also accepting the personal power that you have within the situation. You are powerful if you have control over your own actions in the moment, and don’t give them away to others.
I was thrilled when I found the YouTube video of Jane Lynch‘s Address at the Smith College 2012 Commencement. In this, she expands on the topic of “Yes, and..” to state that we have to accept what we’ve got, and see what creative opportunities we can do with. I invite you to watch the video and see how you can think about including more spontaneity and possibility in your life.
So, when was the last time you said “Yes, and..”?
Hello blogging world!
I know, I’ve been a bit AWOL for a while. I’ve had an amazing summer where I was traveling a lot and had a lot of adventures. I went to New York State, New Brunswick, Provincetown (yes, there will be the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge post for that!), Kentucky, and New Mexico. I have not tended to be a big traveler, but this year was different, and I was trying something new. It has been a great experience with new learnings, and you will be seeing comments and pictures about them on this blog.
That being said, I’ve let you, and most importantly myself, down by not keeping up with blog posts. Writing down my thoughts and comments on spirit, passion, and career is not only a way to put my thoughts in concrete form and promote my ideas to you (and any potential clients), but also a spiritual practice. In the zen practice of every action you take can be mindful and promote your spiritual health, I’ve been blogging to keep myself focused and active in mind. I’ve been more active in body this summer with all the traveling, and I have gotten better with being more consistent with my yoga and meditation practices. That is a good thing, and I’m happy for that.
I can’t change the past, and it does absolutely no good to get down on myself for avoiding this, as I won’t be a better blogger now because I have a judgmental voice in my head. I can just be kind to myself and move on forward.
So, how are you being kind to yourself and acknowledging your past shortcomings?
I just had a great time in New Brunswick and Mount Desert Island, Maine on a trip to find some family roots. I had a lot of plans, and was recommended by a good friend (Thanks Scott!) to be more in the moment. Here are my thoughts on that in video form.
So, have you gotten a great opportunity just because you were present to it?
I just returned from my college reunion at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. I won’t tell you what number reunion it was for me, but I’ll just say it was “a big round number” as I like to call these things. We had about 30-35% of the graduating class back, and, while this is the third time I’ve been back to College Hill, it is the first time that I was there where I felt like I was fully present. I think that a lot of people step into sites that were scenes from earlier in their lives and they revert to the person they were there, and stop being the person they are now. I’ve done that in the past, and was working really hard to be present in the fullness of who I am now.
One thing that I think is the norm for any college reunion is drinking. I think I had more in 30 hours than I normally have in a month! I was lucky to be staying in campus housing so I didn’t have to drive anywhere. In some ways I think that is to numb yourself from feeling everything as well as to try to relive your old activities, and get away from the staid live of the present. I got to see a number of friends that I was close to while I was a student, including choir buddies (I sang most of my time there are was a
member of numerous singing groups), roommates (Eric, I swear I will go to Wellesley soon in the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge. Thanks for following!), suitemates (great to meet your family Dave!), and even people I never talked with while I was there. I even met someone who I never spoke with in my four years on campus to find he lives a little over a mile away and might be interested in my career consulting (yup, it’s a tax deduction right there!). I even got to go rock climbing for the first time in my life. They certainly never had that when I was on campus!
I also tried to do some thing that are being true to me. There was a yoga class that I took, and I first did yoga on campus where I was the only student to an upperclass woman from Brazil. That, and the health food store in the village of Clinton were things that got me to think about health issues and set me up for the 26 years that I’ve been a vegetarian. These were the seeds that grew to make me who I am now.
A really new thing for me was that I got to attend a GLBT Alumni gathering. I was not out to myself then and very few people on campus were. Now they have a building where they have programming and are very visible on campus. In talking with a number of the current students, it sounds like it’s not always the easiest thing, it’s a lot different than my time. I also got to meet other GLBT alums and find out that there’s a GBLT Alumni group! It’s amazing to think of being all of myself there. (Note: another gay alumnus of Hamilton wrote a great article for the New York Times about his experiences at reunion, which mirrors a lot of what I’m saying here.)
There are three things that really struck me while I was there:
- One of my fellow alums was there who really made an impression on me. I didn’t know her that well while I was on campus, but we knew each other enough to say hello and chat. She’s obviously had challenges in her life as she was walking with a walker and utilized an iPad to type out what she had to say that couldn’t be relayed in hand gestures. She was in yoga class with me, and was everywhere during the weekend. I know that she had some assistance, but she was very self determined and was definitely showing up fully as she is today. I didn’t get to speak with her much, but I did tell her she if a very strong woman.Thank you, Classmate, for your presence.
- A friend of mine that I’m still connected on Facebook asked me what it was like being gay in college and if I was out, did I hide it from people, etc. She said it must have been very difficult and she felt badly that she couldn’t have done something to make it a better experience. This was totally unprompted and really made me feel cared for. It was something small, but made a big difference in my heart.Thank you, Friend, for your presence.
- While I was not out in college, there was a guy who was. He was an athlete and well liked, and was really the first colleague that I had that was out. I didn’t have the words for it at the time, but I realize now that he was the first guy I had a crush on. Unbelievably, he was there and I got to say thank you to him for being out, and that it made a difference to me even though I didn’t come out then. He said it was awkward, but he knew that he had to do it. I wish I could have been that brave.Thank you, Role Model, for your presence.
I was working hard at being present and being me authentically while I was there. This is difficult in lots of situations, but by forcing myself to do that, I gained some strength and that I can be more me in any situation and can take that into my future.
So, are you being present even when it’s tough?
It’s past Memorial Day, so in these parts it means that summer is officially in session. I know that many people have a reading list for the summer. I have not been one of those people. I don’t tend to read books as a “start here, finish book, start the next” type of reader. I tend to pick up about four or five books and read them spottily and sometime finish them, sometimes not.
My bookshelf has been crammed with books that I thought would be great to read, but I’ve never gotten to them. In the quest to be more intentional and to actually do things that I say I want to do, I’ve decided to publish my summer reading list and write a review of each book after I’m finished. I don’t tend to read fiction and as you’ll see most of them have something to do with spiritual, career, or productivity matters (or all three at once!) I wish I liked to read fiction, but as you see they are all non-fiction
Here are the books that I’ve decided I want to try to finish this summer:
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This book has been suggested to me more times that I can imagine from so many people, and I understand this is about how we can be with our creative selves.
Transitions by William Bridges: Career development is all about changes, and this is the standard book in my field. I’ve never read it before, so this is sort of my “good medicine” that I really need to experience.
- Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone: I, like so many, have some internal issues to work though, and this book was recommended by my friend Elsa (a mental health counselor) as a good resource for looking at this issue.
- Planets in Work by Jamie Binder: Another recommendation from Elsa. I have been researching archetypes, and I’ve been looking at how those show up in astrological readings. This looks at how astrology could be used in career development decisions.
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: This book was given to me by Casey Miller and he read this many times on his cross country bike trip. I’ve seen videos of Tolle speaking, but never read any of his works. It’s about time.
- Awakening in Time by Pamela Kristan: I was at a presentation Pam gave at the Theosophical Society of Boston, and Pam’s work has to do with the intersection of productivity and spirituality. As you can imagine, this is right up my alley. I had to see how I can incorporate her ideas into my work.
- Living & Loving Well by Joseph Stuczynski: Joe presented at Easton Mountain a few years ago, and his work focuses on getting clear with our values in order to make good decisions in our lives, especially about our personal relationships. This is more of a workbook to clarify your goals, so this should be a quick win in getting it done!
- Mastering Respectful Confrontation by Joe Weston: Joe is an amazing human being and presenter, and I have been to numerous workshops that he has done, and this book puts done in words what he preaches. Joe’s main concept is that the concept of power in our culture has gotten to be connected more with physical strength and power over others, and he bases his alternative vision on Easter philosophy as the power within and with other people, and how we can have conversations that empower everyone and don’t deny our own needs. This is great stuff!
- Making It All Work by David Allen: I have been a “Getting Things Done” (GTD) fan for a number of years, as David Allen’s philosophy about personal productivity is all about how to free yourself from the stress of life and having a “mind like water” so that you can easily accomplish things in your life without fretting about them. I was lucky enough to attend a seminar last year that David personally taught, and Making It All Work is the continuation of those theories.
- How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek: In 2008, I was part of an online weight loss challenge through RealJock.com (which I won!) and DIAKADI Body was the exercise consultants on this. Though continuing to follow their great advice, I found out about Paul Chek’s work, which integrates the concepts of health, exercise, and nutrition with a more holistic & spiritual sense that really attracted me. I don’t know it so well, but have liked what I’ve seen.
- Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: This book was given to me by my boss back in the early 1990′s, and while I’m obviously interested in it, I never finished this book that was one of the first on the subject. It’s time. Thanks Dave!
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: Dan’s research into what makes us really happy (as opposed to what we say makes us happy) has been really enlightening to me, as I work with people to get at the core of their happiness.
- Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good by Manuel Villacorta: In the aforementioned weight loss challenge, Manuel’s crew at MV Nutrition in San Francisco was invaluable to giving me the knowledge to eat better and lose weight. This is a new book that just came out last month, and again, I need to read it to remind myself of all the knowledge that I’ve learned (and maybe forgotten!) I highly, highly recommend that you pick up this book!
I might not get them all finished by Labor Day but it’s an intention (not at goal!).
So, what are you reading? Do you have any comments or experiences with any of these books?
Like probably many of you, I’ve had a busy and rough spring, and with the coming of Summer (yes, it’s coming!), life is starting to slow down a bit. I’ve been joking that I didn’t need a Mental Health Day, but a Mental Health Week. I was feeling so frazzled that I really needed some reflection time.
Beware of what you ask for. Last week after a major responsibility, my whole body just seemed to collapse with a flu. It started with just exhaustion, but soon moved into the stuffy head and coughing fits. It’s been about a week, and I’ve been forced to really stop my regular schedule of events and work and just stay home and take care of myself. It’s really been about pressing the reset button for me. This has been a pattern for me in that I run myself into the ground, and then am not available to do anything for a while. This time, I tried to see this as a gift (what other choice did I have?) Instead of just laying about and bemoaning that I was so sick, I looked to see what I could do different this time and listen to my body to see what I could do to help it heal.
I’ve been doing a lot more journaling, done a lot more sitting quietly instead of browsing online (which is a lot easier now that I have an iPad!), and just listened more and thought about what could really benefit me. I got sick for a reason, and I have been trying to see the underlying patterns that have gotten me sick, and questioned if those are good for me right now. I feel like I’ve uncovered some things about myself that are good lessons for the future. Rest assured, those things will probably come out in future blog posts.
I’m almost well, but am going to try to keep these learnings in my day to day life. While I can’t take three hours to get ready every morning to go out (how I wish!), I can see what aspects of them I can take and incorporate into my daily routines. More work to do.
So, have you ever had a time that you were forced to stop, and what did you learn from it?
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a program at the Theosophical Society of Boston by Pam Kristan, and the subject was “Awakening in Time: Practical Time Management for Those on A Spiritual Path”. Pam’s presentation was on thinking about how to manage your time and consider how it fits into your spiritual context. The most interesting thing for me was concept of Sufficiency Practice. Just like yoga or meditation being a practice, Pam mentioned that we need to think and consider what we’ve done already in order to appreciate it before we go into the next thing. This is also the work of my friend Gina LaRoche and Seven Stones Leadership.
Just like in any presentation, the standard set up for that is an introduction, presenting the content, and then a wrap up. Too often, we completely forget about the wrap up. The following is another video blog on my concepts on this.
So, are you noticing what you’ve already accomplished?
It’s January 26th, and the sun is in the same spot it was many years ago when I first arrived into this world. It’s usually the coldest day of the winter (some years, the high temperature is 6 degrees Fahrenheit!). It’s Australia Day (where it’s much warmer), and also Eddie Van Halen, Wayne Gretzky, and Ellen DeGeneres‘ birthday! Auspicious all around!
I’m right now riding a bus, returning from New York City where I facilitated a networking event (which went very well, by the way) and got to get together with some friends there in New York, and I’ll soon be having dinner with a number of friends as soon as I get back. I’ve also been blessed by social media by getting literally over 150 birthday wishes, and a number of people have stated how I’ve helped them either their career development, or been there for someway personally. It’s such a blessing to be a part of these people’s live and have them in mind. I’m counting my blessings.
As many of you know, part of writing this blog, in addition to promoting my ideas about how your spirit affects how you show up in the world, has been to try out some concepts that I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ve personally been trying to “walk the talk” and do a lot of personal development work, and get clear on past demons and other things that have been holding me back. I now feel like I’ve ended one chapter of my life, and another one is starting. I know what I want, and it’s time to move forward.
This birthday is a big even number (but not a momentous one with a zero at the end) and it just feels solid to me. I’m grounded, know what I want, and have a blank slate of life ahead of me. In my retreat in the Bahamas, I was able to get some clarity on some intentions for 2012 (as opposed to goals), and one of them was to be more adventurous. I need to stretch myself and do some more daring things, travel to places I haven’t been to, and to be bolder in my own life. It’s a brave new world, and I’m starting it now.
So, what bold new things are you planning for the future?
Greetings from the Bahamas. I’m on a little vacation, and have decided to do a little video blog instead of a written one. Enjoy!
It’s the third day into the year, and already a number of New Year’s Resolutions have bit the dust.
I have not been one to put a lot of weight into making resolutions as it seems like people think this is the only time of year that they can make changes to their lives, and I like to encourage everyone that we can make a new life for ourselves at every moment. That said, it is a great time to reflect on things and see how you want to move forward in this moment.
I was lucky enough over the New Year’s weekend to have taken a few workshops at Easton Mountain, namely in gratitude, attraction, and mindfulness. They overarching message to me in these leanings was one in intention. Too often in our busy world, we are doing things that we have trained ourselves to to without thinking. While that serves us well in some fields (like driving a car) it’s not as good when we are trying to have a conversation with someone or packing for a trip. I have personally experienced many a time when I had to clean up or take extra time when I did something unmindfully.
Another concept that I’ve picked up from my recent studies in Tantra is the concept of intentions vs. goals. I’ve spoken to the idea of goals here many times and I still think that there’s a great use for them, but also have discovered that sometimes it’s better to have an intention about something. To really mix metaphors, I also have realized from my study of GTD that there’s a difference between a project and an area of focus. A project is one where there’s a clear end point (e.g.: re-tile the bathtub) where an area of focus could be something you’re responsible for, but you can never really say is ever completed (e.g.: keeping a healthy body). A goal works for a project, but not as well for an area of focus.
Therefore, I don’t have a resolution (goal) for this year, but I do have intentions. If I were to have a goal, I’d succeed or fail. I want to be more present all the time towards an intention instead. For most of my life I’ve been very goal oriented (and will never be without goals!) but I’m realizing done areas of my life need me to be more mindful in each moment and striving toward something, and intentions seem to be a better fit for that.
My intentions for 2012 are to be more present in each moment and consider what is in my best interest. As you can tell from this, I can’t have this be a success or failure; it’s just a continual striving.
So, what are your intentions for 2012?