Love What You Love Friday: Just as the Winged Energy of Delight & Something EPIC

st mary's lakeOne of the ways I’m stretching myself these days is to get back into prime running condition.  My goal is to once again be able to run a 5 minute-mile.  Something I haven’t been able to get to since having children and then recovering after an ACL-tear.  So, as I work towards this, I’ve been running a lot of circles around the lakes on the Notre Dame campus – and the beauty of the fall makes the runs so much sweeter.

What I’m letting myself love -and own, totally unapologetically- this Friday are the following lines from Rilke AND….(something else you’ll have to keep reading to see!):

Take your well-disciplined strengths
and stretch them between two 
opposing poles.  Because inside human beings
is where God learns.

(from “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight,” by Ranier Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly)

WHOA.  Wait a minute – what?!?!  How could I have lived my whole life without hearing this line before: “Because inside human beings/is where God learns.”?!  

That should be taught to children as soon as they can talk! (Working on it with my boys now!)

I first read this poem sitting on an airplane in Chicago’s O’Hare, waiting to take-off for Paris on September 27, 2014.  I will never forget that moment.  I think Emily Dickinson said something like “reading really good poetry can make it feel like the top of your head is going to come off.”  

YES. That’s EXACTLY what it feels like.

And that’s exactly what reading this poem feels like to me.

Nowadays we are little more crude and just toss around the word “mind-blowing” without really thinking about it, but this is definitely a mind-blowing poem, in all the most amazing, miraculous ways.  Read properly, this poem is a spiritual experience…every single time.  So many of Rilke’s shorter poems are like this.

There are these beautiful words, energy, imagery and yet I also feel like someone just pulverized me, gutted me, cleaned me out- in a very good way :).  These poems feel earth-shattering- again in a very good way.  Afterwards it’s like the scales have dropped from my eyes, mind, heart and I just want to sit for awhile in my stunned silence and new found cleaned-outedness (yep) and let the truth ring through, settle in, take hold, and begin to change me, again, from the inside-out.

“Just as the Winged Energy of Delight” is one I’m learning by heart – not memorizing, mind you – but learning BY HEART.  I try to take the poem in, digest it, let it become part of me, so that it can grow up through me, so that I can feel it from the inside-out every time I need it.

I cannot tell you how often I’ve referred to these lines in just the past few weeks since learning them to help me gain a better orientation to all the ways in which I’m trying to learn, grow, and be who I am meant to be…. “Because inside human beings/is where God learns.”

This brings me to the second thing I’m letting myself love these days – and that is my next coaching program – EPIC!

These lines from Rilke are very relevant to EPIC.  I will be very honest with you and admit that I had some hesitation about naming it EPIC, even though it felt like an intuitive decision and my gut and my heart were definitely all-in.

I was concerned that EPIC sounded too cool and flashy, too coachy, too much like all the flamboyant jargon/marketing noise that is crowding the interwebs.  I was concerned that it would evoke manic, desperate goal-chasing, feelings of “not-enoughness” and FOMO, and attract people who are not really aligned with their deepest truths and who have no interest in becoming aligned, but who are just chasing the next biggest thing as a way of shoring up insecurities and “getting ahead.”

These were the concerns, I should say, of the nay-saying voices in my head.

Noted.

Then I went back to the deep, quiet, calm voice that gave me the idea in the first place.  It told me that EPIC will be defined by the grounded yet powerful intention that I give it.

What is that intention?

Before I tell you that, consider first an earlier stanza of “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight”…

Miracle doesn’t lie only in the amazing
living through and defeat of danger;
miracles become miracles in the clear
achievement that is earned.

My intention is that the experience of my EPIC coaching program will create for my clients the miracle of becoming their true selves.  Of NO LONGER WAITING to be who they already are and thus no longer waiting to live the lives they are meant to live.

I am absolutely convinced that the people we dream of becoming and the lives we dream of living, are so, so, SO much closer than we lead ourselves to believe.  I’ve proven this to be true for myself – several dreams that I thought were years and years out, I actually achieved and experienced this year – from painting to travel to family-life to business and physical health – and so many things in between.  To do this, you have to get a stronger and stronger sense of who you really are – and then you begin to really, truly “get” that you are not your limitations.

To have had this be the case definitely felt miraculous, but not in some fairy godmother waving her magic wand and hocus-pocus, presto-chango, POOF!  suddenly life is all rainbows and unicorns (though I do love those things) – kind-of-way.

But miracles in the way Rilke describes- miracles that become miracles in the clear/achievement that is earned.

I definitely did not do these things on my own: I joined a high-level mastermind, I worked with the best coaches out there, my husband and family were incredibly supportive, and all the time I was working my behind off, I was also constantly deepening my invitation to the Divine.  I was constantly reminding myself to surrender my small self, align with my sacred call, and allow What Wants to Happen.

This is the kind of coaching work I am going to be doing with clients this next year.  I made the decision to tighten up my roster, am taking fewer clients at a time, and I’m requiring a greater commitment of time (a minimum of 6 months) and a greater financial investment.  I made these decisions after it became clear to me over the last several months that I want to focus my coaching work with individuals who are dedicated to doing the great work of their lives and who are ready to not only dream, but to dare, and to follow through…and who are also wanting to have the time of their lives!  This is deep, intense work and, frankly, I don’t think you can get through it if you aren’t someone whose willing to have a lot of fun and find the beauty and joy in things along the way!

So, whether your dream is to write your book, quit your day job to stay home with your kids or start your company, move across the country, fall in love, get in the best shape of your life, complete a Ironman, win an Ironman, make (a lot) more money, travel the world, learn to love being in your own head, no matter where you are and no matter what you’re doing…and learn to be a better human being along the way…let this be your year.

Decide what would be epic for you and dare for this next year to be that epic year, commit to it being the time of your life.

Whether or not you are interested in having the best support imaginable (that’d be me;) along your epic journey, I would love to hear in the comments below or on my Facebook page what an EPIC year would look like for you!  Don’t hold back – there is nothing too big, nothing too small; nothing too outrageous, nothing too “ordinary.”  I can’t wait to hear what epic means to you!

Thank YOU for being here and for reading – I’m so glad you’re here!

Here’s to all of us on our epic journeys – and the good company we keep along the way!

XO-

Leah

P.S. If you are interested in being one of my EPIC coaching clients, I have 3 spots available for coaching beginning at the end of October.  I’ll have 3 more spots opening up January 1, though my rates will be increasing at that time.  You can email me at leah@leahcb.com if you are interested and I will send you the info sheet with details, including investment, benefits, and more.  Thank you!  

 

 

 

Tuesdays with Fran: Follow the Image

I had another great session with my poetry mentor, Fran, this Tuesday and I wanted to share the creative insights with you.  Whether you’re writing a poem, a screen play,  working on a painting, or your next business offering, I think this insight applies to creatives working in all mediums.

Back to Tuesday’s session…

Sometimes when I’m talking to Fran, I just can’t believe it because I have this incredible feeling like I’ve been waiting all my life to have conversations like this.  If you’ve ever had a friend, colleague, or mentor who “really got you,” then you know what I’m talking about!

Here’s a snippet from this week’s conversation that occurred after I had read a first draft of a new poem…

Fran to me:

“You’re following the energy so much better, this is good, this is better….but, what I want to know is….your imagination can go to some of the weirdest, craziest places…I want to know why you don’t follow it there?!  I mean, your imagination will give you some wild stuff, and you note it, write it down at least, but then you just walk on by!  Follow those images that you get!”

This all happened within the context where references to a human heart, a quartz, a cricket, stars, galaxies, and my Muse showing up as St. Michael the Archangel and then The Winged Victory of Samothrace (apparently my Muse has no problem cross-dressing) all occurred within a handful of stanzas.

None of this stuff would have fit into any of the boxes I tried to cram myself into for so many years. So now, to be able to have an outlet for my imagination and not in the kind of little imagination in that I’m just making sh*$ up, but that I’m tapping into faculties I barely knew I had (because what is IMAGINATION, but the creating of images = VISIONING) but to have someone to talk to for whom this stuff is just the everyday (and for me it is the sort of mysticism + discipline + creativity + meaning + beauty that I absolutely cannot get enough of!), is just such a gift.

I mean, I’ve always known my imagination can go some weird, crazy places…but now that I have some guidance and instruction in how to decipher the potential meanings beneath these things (and how incredibly fascinating to discover you can know things you didn’t even know you knew?!) and be able to connect them, string apparently unrelated stars into constellations that suddenly reveal a myth, an ancient human theme…stars that tie you to history….now that weirdness is feeling like a good thing.  A very good thing.  It feels like home.

This is not your everyday creativity.  I know it’s not for everyone, but for me, I love the kind of creativity that is deeply bound up in the workings of my soul, the kind of creativity that brings me into deeper relationship with myself and God.

How about you?  Are you receiving inspiration for your next creative works?  Do you feel like the flow of inspiration continues – or does something else happen next…like you become confused or lose the thread?

If you are an artist, poet, or writer – I’d be fascinated to hear where your inspiration comes from! And does it come as music, as rhythm, as a feeling, as imagery, as words, or something else?  Sometimes words come to me, but so often it’s a feeling (like music but without music, if that makes any sense) and in imagery.

I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on creativity and spirituality.  Are they related for you?   How about imagination – useful for you in your everyday life?  Or not?

Let me know what you think in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook!

Until soon….

XOXO

Leah

Some Thoughts on Failure, Inspiration for Getting Unstuck, and a Coaching Audio


leaves

One of my favorite ways to get unstuck is to get outside and MOVE.  I did this yesterday and not only did it work, but I was rewarded with beauty.  Beauty all around me, including beneath my feet.  As I stopped to take a picture, I thought about all the times we are “stopped” in life and the power of what we make that mean.  For example, when I stopped to take a picture of the leaves, I could’ve made it mean I was “failing” to complete my run as I should…but, instead, I took it to be a beautiful part of that run.  What if, as we’re lives, we look at the times we get “stopped” to mean not that we are failing, but as beautiful opportunities to pause and take in the meaning that is being offered, to take a breath, to relax and live…until we want to move again.  

I think what keeps a lot of us stuck is fear of failure, fear of ridicule.

I have a lot of compassion for feeling stuck and I am very passionate about helping people get unstuck, moving, and actively creating and living their dreams again.

I hope you aren’t feeling stuck these days, but because it happens to the best of us, here are a few things I hope will help get you moving again the next time stuckness gets you down..

Three quotes from people who knew a thing or two about living your truth despite facing daunting circumstances…

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

 “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best that one knows.”
-Buddha

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Finally, here is an audio of coaching I offered to those who asked questions on my Facebook page about getting unstuck and achieving their goals and dreams.  If you’re interested in receiving free coaching, submit a question on my Facebook page and I’ll answer it there and, depending on the number of questions I receive, I also may have the opportunity to address your specific question in an upcoming audio.  I really believe in the effectiveness of these coaching tools and want to make them available to a wider audience, so if you have questions or comments, please leave them below or join the conversation on my Renascence Co. Facebook page!  

 

Here’s to you, doing your work…no matter what…and using those “stops” and “failures” as opportunities to learn and create meaning in your life. 

Until soon…

XO-

Leah

Let Yourself Love What You Love Friday

me on the streets of paris

This is me, strolling down the streets of Paris on the way to dinner with friends, so wrapped up letting myself love what I love that I didn’t notice my travel companions at the end of la rue, taking my picture.  Something that I so loved while in Paris was the excuse to get really dressed up – for no reason at all – and those Tieks you see there.  I really love those Tieks.   One of the all-time best shoe purchases… ever!  I easily put fifty miles on those flats during that week.

I’m noticing a pattern in my life.

All of the most profound results I have experienced have come through embracing and living the most simple concepts.

Maybe the simplicity is why I overlooked this particular truth for so long -

The power of letting yourself love what you love.

I suspect this is so powerful because it is directly related to another truth is related I know you’re already very familiar with, and that is:

“The Truth will set you free.”

I’ve taken leaps and bounds and my life has opened up in incredible ways since committing to unapologetically, passionately, letting myself love what I love.

As these things work, not only have I opened to the world, but I swear that the world has opened up to me.  I have a very blessed life, but the blessings since practicing loving what I love have just increased exponentially.  It’s like a blessing monsoon around here.

Which is why I wanted to share this with you and to start a Friday series about allowing ourselves to love what we love – and unapologetically so!

Maybe you know this truth, too, but you’ve held yourself back, consciously or unconsciously, for various reasons.

We can talk about those reasons more later (including in the free coaching I’m currently offering on my Renascence Facebook page -join the conversation there!), but you don’t even have to understand the reasons to begin practicing this powerful technique.

I’ll launch this series with something that I think will touch upon the reason many of us don’t embrace loving what we love – and thus we block the flow of joy both from us and to us.

The reason that stopped me for so long, and that I see stopping many clients and friends, is that we harshly judge what we love as silly, superficial, shallow, not spiritual, not important, not practical…etc., etc.

I’ve gotten over this, though, because I’ve come to trust that what I truly love is a gift – one to be honored and one that will guide me, like an inner North Star, if you follow through.

So, for today (and I’m sure this will be a repeat topic on Fridays now that I’ve made this confession! ;), the thing that I did not let myself love for so, so long but that has brought so much joy to my life that I can’t believe I waited for so long…

Style and Fashion.

us at crazy horseMe with a couple of my lovely and super-stylish cohorts.  Paris is the perfect place to play dress-up- red lipstick, strapless velvet leopard print dress, and black suit coat?  Oui!  Of course!

As a little girl, I absolutely loved to play dress up.  Somewhere along the lines, I started to put away the “glamorous” play clothes and I only let myself express myself in clothing for special occasions – a homecoming dance, prom.  Then, in later years, as I was a student in business school and then law school, it seemed even more inappropriate to care about what I wore – surely, modern, intelligent, sophisticated, professional women didn’t care about such things?!

But the truth was, I did.  My best friend in college and I used to reward ourselves for productive study sessions with an hour of designing and drawing our clothing line on coffee shop napkins and in the back of our notebooks.  But then we’d put it away in order to get back to “the real world.”

A love of beautiful clothing, the architecture of it, the art of it, the energy it expresses and the allure it creates kept coming to the surface of my consciousness and popping up into my life, but I kept pushing it down – especially once I became a new mother.  Mothers have all sorts of “reasons” for not allowing themselves to love clothes, I totally get it…

And yet, there came a point when I wasn’t getting it anymore.  And I just decided, here and there, to buy the gorgeous though “impractical” shoes.  To wear a dress – even though it meant I was all dressed up with no place to go.  I wear more skirts, allow time in the morning to do my hair and make-up – even if I’m working from home and am with the kids all day long.

It seems crazy, maybe, but it works like magic – letting myself dress up for the day, helps to make it a special, magical, fun day.  It absolutely delights me to have put together an outfit that is “just right” and with a pop of something unexpected.  Maybe I don’t have anything “special” planned for the day, but I truly believe I create a special day by bringing a certain intentional energy to it.  

In short, allowing myself to love style and express myself in this way gives my heart this infusion of pure joy.  I’ve also found that the creative expression makes me feel more open when I come to my other creative pursuits – whether it’s the canvas, the blank page, or a coaching session.  I find I’m more likely to bring more color, more love, more vibrancy, more humor, more joy, a more adventuresome, pure spirit and a brighter, clearer mind to the processes.

IMG_7641

I was very aware in Paris of the power of paying attention to details – and, for me, the power and energy that come from infusing even the smallest moments with beauty and joy.  What I was trying to capture for myself in this photo – in yet another amazing Boulangerie/Patisserie –  was  one of the realizations I most wanted to take home with me…and that is that there are no throw-away, doesn’t-really-matter-anyway moments.  Anytime you can infuse something with a little fun, a little decadence, a little beauty, a little kindness, a little something extra, ESPECIALLY if it’s unexpected and unnecessary…make that choice and follow through!

Dressing in Paris was so incredibly fun.  First, you’re in a foreign country so there’s that liberating factor (which helped me see how much I reign myself in at home – good to know!).  Secondly, I felt like Parisians are so accustomed to people playing with style, that they either don’t give your choices that “up and down” second-look, or, if they do give you a second look, it’s often accompanied with a smile or even a kind compliment.

This is definitely something I have been trying to bring home and keep alive since coming home – to play with fashion, to express myself through style…and to do so with some that amazing flavor of passion and bon vivant that I tasted in Paris – one that is all my own.

If you are already all onboard with the power of expressing yourself through style, or if you’d like to be but aren’t yet there, I’d love to hear your thoughts about loving what you love, whether it’s in fashion or some other area of your life!  You can leave a comment below or, again, join me on my Facebook page to start a conversation or, for a limited time, receive free coaching.

As always, thank you so much for reading.  Even if I haven’t yet heard from you, I think about those I’ve heard from who read my blog regularly and wonder about who is reading this now that I don’t even know (yet!).  I’m grateful that you are here.

To you and loving what you love – and creating a beautiful life, from the inside – out!

XO-

Leah

 

Tuesdays with Fran

poetry journals

Words & Paper
(Two poets I love and my favorite journals)

I’ve been working with my poetry mentor, Fran Quinn, for a few years now.  It is not an exaggeration to say that one of the best things I’ve ever done for creativity – and my life- was to attend his workshops and to work with him in one-on-one sessions.

I took about six months off our work together in the last year.  I was just finding that with a new baby, my art, my coaching, and building a business, that I didn’t have the bandwidth to also write enough.  I felt the absence though – of the writing, the regular reading of poetry, and the conversations with Fran – and couldn’t wait to start again.  We picked up where we left off a couple months ago and started working together regularly – every Tuesday, as it so happens.

Something about this regular attention to poetry and these regular sessions with Fran help set the world right for me.   Poetry has become essential to the kind of life I want to live- and to my desire to help others live the lives they want to live.  I feel so enriched by it, it opens worlds and parts of me like nothing else, and I feel like the positive effects spill over into every area of my life that is deeply precious to me – my relationship with my children, my husband, my painting, my coaching, my spiritual life, and, of course, my writing.

I wanted to document here some of the shining bits that I take away from my sessions with Fran.  Every single time I talk to Fran I learn something incredible – about poetry, about creativity, and about myself.  And after each session I find myself thinking that these are treasures that should be shared.  

Fran is one of the most remarkable teachers I have ever known and I know that there are people out there – like you, maybe – who are working to deepen their creative life, to enrich their life and the world in general – and I truly believe that the things Fran teaches can absolutely help you unleash the gifts and energy you need to accomplish and live out your dreams, your calling.  He has helped me in astounding ways.

I take notes from our sessions together (in between trying to listen very, very hard) and in order to provide inspiration but avoid overwhelm, I’ll highlight one piece at a time.  I hope that as you travel down your creative path, it’s like a shining bit of gold you find in the road signals to you which way to go, that enriches you as you travel along, and that reminds you you’re not alone and that someone believes in you and in the importance of your dream.

From this last week’s session, here is bit of wisdom that I think is genius and absolutely priceless.

Tuesday, October 15, 2015
Fran to me as I read and worked to revise a poem I have been working on for a few weeks….

“Don’t be discouraged if what you see on the page and then what you hear when you read what’s on the page do not match up to what you are experiencing inside.  If you aren’t liking what you are seeing or hearing, it just means that what’s on the page is not the poem.  

The poem does exist – but it is still existing mostly inside of you.  The fact that you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve written means the poem is still living mostly inside of you at this point, just waiting for you to bring it out.”

If you are creating something and not yet satisfied with the result, if you feel like the vision is still living mostly inside of you, I hope these words encourage and guide you.  If you’d like more support, I’m offering free coaching on my Renascence Facebook page this week.  If you are looking for on-going and intensive support, someone who will be the champion for you and your dreams over the coming 6 months to a year, I have a few openings remaining for personal coaching clients (for details, please sign up for my newsletter or email me at leah@leahcb.com).

Finally, if there are words and wisdom that have helped you unleash your own creative genius, please share in the comments below!  I truly believe that creativity is essential to our well-being and our ability to live our potential and the more we share information, celebrate, and support each other, the better off everyone will be.

Thank you for reading, my friends!

Until soon…

XO-

Leah

A Paris State-of-Mind

pink dress

This is me, photo kindly taken by a friend
after we had a lovely, leisurely lunch in

just yet
another gorgeous, historic, cobblestoned corner of Paris.
My friend is also one of my amazing clients -
I have to say it was so incredibly special and one of the highlights of my trip
to be able to celebrate her work and
journey with champagne toast…in Paris! 

I’ve been home from Paris just a few days and already planning how soon I can go back…

I’ve never been an urban person; I’ve always loved nature and quiet and wide-open, green spaces.  But when I visited Paris sixteen-years ago as a college student studying abroad, I remember thinking that while I’m not a city person, I could definitely be persuaded to be a Paris-person.

I was curious to see if I would feel the same way many years later…and I did – even more so, in fact.

So, while I continue to unpack my luggage and memories from this trip, I’ve also been reflecting on just exactly what it is about Paris that is so very special.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is that the magic of Paris is her ability to incite a certain state-of-mind.  For me, that state-of-mind is one of curiosity, wonder, adventure, gratitude, a deep appreciation of beauty, a sharpness of intellect, a lively wittiness, elegance, grace, sensuality, ease, and an effortless presence….a keen aliveness.

Until soon…

Au revoir!

XO-

Leah

PS- My next round of coaching – EPIC – will be beginning in just a few weeks!  Imagine having your own champagne celebration in Paris – what would you like to be celebrating at this time next year?  Dream it and then dare!  And if you’re up for unleashing your own version of an EPIC year, sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop or email me at leah@leahcb.com with EPIC in the subject line to put your name on the first-to-know-list (you won’t be obligated to anything, you’ll just be the first to get all the details!).  xoxo!

Get out of your own way

I used to be someone who was constantly, chronically even, in her own way.

For years, I dreamed about painting, writing, being my own boss and building my own successful business, traveling, adventuring, helping other people get out of their own way and live a life that exceeds their most beautiful and bold dreams, and working with amazing, inspiring, world-class, FUN colleagues, mentors, and clients.

I used to dream of these things but they seemed so far off and, frankly, often times pie-in-the-sky impossible.  Every now and then I’d get fleeting feelings and visions of what I was capable of and who I really was, and I’d be encouraged and inspired and work with renewed enthusiasm to create my dreams….but eventually and invariably I’d get in my own way.  

It began to make life feel less like life and more like a life sentence, one where I was to have these desires in my heart and sight and, most painfully, I had a very clear understanding that I was the one who had erected these prison walls yet I had no idea how to break free.

Fast forward to today. I am free and most definitely living a life that previously I only dreamt of living.  It’s not that I never get in my own way anymore.  Yes, I might get derailed now and then, but never for long because I trust myself to know how to get back on track.  After more than a decade now of studying and practicing what works and what doesn’t, there is a world of difference in my life.  I no longer feel trapped and confused, nor am I weighed down by self-doubt – and if I am, I know what to do.

Most days these days, I feel free, clear, focused and confident that if I can dream of something, then I will do it.

For example, this morning, I’m writing this blog post.  When I’m done, and I’ve had some sweet morning time with my family, I have a session with a world-class client.  Every time I leave working with this client, I pinch myself.  Dream job!

After that, I’m finishing up a couple paintings that I’ve already sold so I can have them complete before I leave tomorrow for Paris – for fun, for adventure, for meeting up with world-class clients, colleagues, mentors, and friends.

More pinching, more dreams come true.

On top of that, in the past year I’ve tripled my painting sales, my coaching business has quadrupled, I feel my ability to tap the kind of Creativity I know is available to me is only just beginning and getting stronger, and in the last several months I’ve been to Napa twice, Colorado twice, and, again, am headed to PARIS tomorrow.

I tell you all of this because if you are someone who currently gets in your own way, I want to do more for you then to state the frustrating obvious – GET OUT of your own way.  You know that.  If you knew how, you would have done it already, right?  (At least, that’s how I always used to feel!).

I wanted to write this in case anyone out there reading is feeling frustrated, stuck, confused, or despairing because they can’t figure out how to get out of their own way.  I wanted to offer you today three of my favorite ways for getting out of your own way.  And I wanted to tell you what the results have been for me because I know what it’s like to receive advice and yet you’re wary of trusting it because you don’t want to try one more thing that’s just left you disappointed.  

I’ve shared with you the results I am experiencing and now here are a few of the things I have done that have not only worked, but have been the most impactful.  Some of the effects are immediate and I can promise that the positive effects will just continue to snowball if you continue to practice them faithfully.

Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams but wholeheartedly give these three things a try.  They’ve worked miracles in my own life:

1. Learn to embody ease while doing hard things.  
Become a student of doing challenging things with a spirit of ease.  Your dreams will always require that you do hard things, but if you can learn to do hard things with ease in your mind and spirit, you will be amazed at the results.

An easy (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) way I practice this when feeling challenged and frustrated is to ask myself these kind of questions:

Where is the ease here?  What would ease do?  How could I make this easier?

2.   Ask for help
This seems obvious, but it was one that kept me stuck for years.  I didn’t like asking for help even when it was offered and free (especially if it was free as I hated to inconvenience anyone).

For example, I didn’t want to invest in coaching, mentors, or a mastermind community because I didn’t think I was “there” yet – as in, hadn’t earned it, wasn’t successful enough yet, wasn’t making enough money yet, etc.  Long story short, I finally got over this…and wondered why I had waited so long.

Enlisting the help of those who are the best at what they do who can help me become the best I am capable of becoming has been some of the best money I have ever spent.  Hands down.

Every single part of my life has improved tremendously since hiring a coach, investing in trainings, and joining masterminds.  Beyond the improvements, I also feel that I’ve grown in ways – and with a speed- that I’m not sure I would’ve experienced otherwise.  Yes, there were some duds in those experiences, but what investment doesn’t have risk?  Furthermore, every experience that wasn’t so good made me a more savvy and selective investor. And the cumulative return has been so, so worth it.

Spend time researching coaches and programs to find a good fit for what it is you are trying to accomplish- but be onto yourself if you find yourself in a long, holding pattern, “just waiting” for exactly the right time and exactly the right coach or program.  If you’ve been wanting to do it for over six months and haven’t pulled the trigger yet, I’d say chances are you are just making excuses.  In the words of Karen Lamb,

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”

I still find myself experiencing major fear every time I invest in a coach or something similar.  If I would’ve listened to it, I would’ve missed out on three life-changing experiences this year, not to mention countless other extraordinary and beautiful experiences and accomplishments.  There’s always going to be fear – expect it and trust yourself.  (A great coach can help with that, by the way).

I also wanted to share the example of hiring help for household chores and childcare because I know many of my readers are working to raise families and dreams side-by-side.  Although I had to work through feelings of guilt and wondering what other people would think, eventually I came to the realization that everyone must find their own way.   For me this meant owning that in order for me to feel healthy, happy, and at peace with myself, I needed a certain amount of time to paint, to write, to coach, and work on my business.  And to do this, I needed help.  

Now I am so grateful to the sitters who have so lovingly helped our family and the part-time nanny I currently have is a God-send.  Literally.  The harmonious and loving energy she brings to our children and our home has helped all of us is something I am deeply grateful for…and now it’s hilarious to me that it was something I ever felt guilty about and waited for so long to do!

3. Give up perfection and give yourself permission to suck at it.
I know this dream in your heart seems way too precious to let your work toward it, on it, in it, your creation of it be anything less than perfect, but consider this:

Perfect is impossible.  Therefore, aim for perfection and you have just set yourself up for inevitable failure.  Interestingly, a part of you knows this and that’s precisely why it’s insisting, “Oh no!  I have much too high of standards and this is way too important for anything to be less than perfect!”  Don’t be fooled.

Your dream is way too precious, way too important, for it to have to be perfect.  Perfectionism will kill your dream and your spirit.

You can do better than perfection.  Your dreams can do better than perfection.

I am constantly challenging myself and my clients to find what is better than perfect.

Here are a couple things to think about:

Done is better than perfect. 
(that one is allegedly a mantra at Facebook – seems to be working out okay for them…)

And, for those of you whose egos get sneaky and sophisticated and who claim you know perfection is impossible, but you just really want to be excellent — beware!

If aspiring to “excellence” has helped you make a TON of progress and you are honestly sitting in your dream life right now because “excellence” has guided you there – wonderful.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  This next part doesn’t apply to you.

If, on the other hand, you are someone who has been aspiring to excellence, and yet you are making little to no progress, you’re feeling very frustrated with what you’ve been able to create, and you’ve got miles and years to go before you get the results you want, this next piece is for you.  It’s something I picked up years ago from an article or blog post by Bungay Stanier and I have it written down in my journals and sometimes even write it on the wall of my studio to help me get unstuck:

Forget about being excellent.  I just want wanting to be f*&!ing amazing.

You can substitute whatever two words you like for the ones I’ve underlined.  These are the two that often work for me because I don’t ordinarily cuss, but when I do, I know I mean business.  This puts me in a space where I know I’m no longer messing around with my little excuses about wanting to be create something that is perfect/excellent/quality, etc.  I see right through those and just get to work doing the best I can with the best energy I have to offer.

 

***

Again, these three things, undertaken with a fierce, deep commitment to honoring myself and my dreams and my desire to live the life I know I am capable of living and to become the person I know I am capable of becoming, have honestly helped dreams come true for me.  It’s felt nothing short of miraculous.

And I’m still practicing them and putting them to use every single day (as I have a lot of life and dreams left!).   

It is my deep, deep wish and my prayer that you take them and work miracles with your own dreams and life.

If you have questions or comments about anything I’ve shared, or if you have your own insights about what’s helped you get out of your own way and unleash your potential, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s to getting out of your own way and getting on with the real work of your life!

XO-

Leah

PS- If you have a dream that you want to bring to life – but haven’t yet – my next round of private coaching (beginning in late October) may be for you.  It’s called EPIC and it’s specifically for people who have a vision for what their life could be and they are ready to ditch the waiting and commit to making this next year the year it happens.  It’s not just about the one career/relationship/financial/health goal or achievement either – this is a holistic program.  I want you not only to write your book, land the dream job, fall in love, get in the best shape of your life, travel the world….I want you to fall in love with the world and your entire life and have it be the most remarkable year of your life.

And that is why I’m calling it EPIC.  ;)  

Nothing less.

Because of the nature of the program and the intensive way we’ll be working together, I’m keeping the number of clients I’m taking for this work small, so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop or send me an email with EPIC in the subject line to be added to the first-to-know wait list.  I’d love to help you create a year that, when it’s all done and you’re celebrating, you can look back on and say, 

“YES. That. Was. EPIC.”

 

 

 

Keeping the Faith By Doing the Work

painting mess

I have been SO creative the past couple weeks.

I’ve spent more hours than I want to count writing and rewriting.  After initial rewrites and edits, I ended up with 40,000+ words.

Of those 40,000 words, I cut it down to 2,900 that I will probably actually use.  I sent a rough draft to a mentor and received feedback (very trustworthy, valuable feedback) that I need to cut it by at least a third.

I’ve spent hours and used lots and lots of color painting.  I have at least a dozen canvases going.  And It’s a pretty generous assessment to say that eleven of them are looking worse and more confusing than when I started.

At times it’s been a dream.  A day where I got to paint and write is a dream day in my book.  (But let’s be clear, the “and” is key there.  Just a writing day with no painting…not quite as dreamy.  Now you know where my bias currently lies!)

At other times, I would’ve called it agony except that I think I was too exhausted to feel agonized.  Mostly my eyeballs just hurt and I dropped into bed.

What keeps a person going when things just don’t seem to be going?

For me, it’s running, yoga, meditation, prayer (constant), mentors, the grounding love and immediate needs of my family, the voice of my mom on the phone, a call from a friend, wonderful care for the children so I have time for these things, a last minute, end-of-the-week and after-both-our-kids-are-asleep girls’ night out that involves a couple cocktails, a fire pit, and a beautiful September evening…

But if none of these things trip your trigger, here are some brilliant lines that also are miraculous to me in times like these…

“You are entitled to your labor, but not to the fruits of your labor.” (Krishna)

And the following from my man Rilke:

“I have faith in all those things that are not yet said.
I want to set free my most holy feelings.
What no one has dared to want
will be for me impossible to refuse.”

How can you not keep on keeping on after reading that?

“I want to set free my most holy feelings.”

YES.  That is what I want.  I want my labor AND if it takes 4 MILLION words and stacks and stacks of canvases, so be it. (tho let’s be clear, God – that’s not actually what my first three preferences would be….)

I’d love to hear how you keep the faith when up against your greatest challenges, creative or otherwise!  If you have something that you turn to, please share in the comments below.

Onward in faith and creativity-

Leah

 

My Mantra for Growing Soul

silver pink sunset on Lake Michigan

I absolutely love swimming in open water.

And I am also absolutely terrified of swimming in open water.

This has been the case all my life but it was when I was in my mid-twenties and training competitively for triathlons (I wanted to make it to the Olympic trials) that I had to face this fear head on and find a way through it. I didn’t make the trials but I did, eventually, become a stronger open water swimmer – even with bodies thrashing all around me, often times swimming over me and receiving many kicks in the gut, face, and goggles along the way.  I’ve swam in open water countless times and, in fact, it’s even on my “bucket list” to swim in beautiful, open water whenever I can.

I’m also absolutely still so terrified that I have to coach myself through almost every new encounter with the deep so that I do not panic and drown.

I’m sure some of you might be wondering,”Then why in the hell would you keep doing it?”

Because I love it.  There is something about swimming in open water that to me is healing and magical.

And I also do it because I know that at that place where a strong call or an inner push intersects with great fear and resistance is an opportunity to grow soul and to really, truly live.

I want to make a habit of saying yes to those opportunities.

But even more than it being a habit, I want to be someone who, as a rule, just lives by her inner Yes. 

So, this past July, during our annual family vacation to the western shore of Lake Michigan, I made it a special point to swim in the sunset every evening.  I love sunrises and sunsets so the beauty of the setting sun + the beauty of the Lake Michigan = too exquisite an opportunity to pass up.

On the first evening, I stood on the shore watching the setting sun beckoning me, even laying down a wake of rose light for me to follow out to the buoy.

It was glorious.

And I was paralyzed.

Something deep in me is inextricably drawn by the invitation to experience life in this way, the beauty of this opportunity, and yet so much of me – most significantly my body and mind- becomes involuntarily gripped with extreme fear.

Yes, part of the fear is totally irrational… I can talk myself out of my fear of a giant, man-eating carp lurking just below where I can see or a sudden rip current in perfectly still waters.

But the fear that I cannot reason with is the one that washes over me when I’m surrounded by water, the one that comes from the sense of the vast and profound, sublime deep and power of things that is easy to forget when you are on land but impossible to ignore when you are away from shore and your feet can’t touch bottom.  That kind of fear, the existential kind, gives a disdainful ha! and spits on logic.

What I am trying to get at is that there are always competing voices in me.  Standing there on the shore was the voice that says,

“Ignore the call of the sun, ignore the pull of the water, ignore the beauty, ignore the possibilities, just stand here where it is warm and dry and safe and you still get to watch the sun…it’s not such a big deal if you don’t get in and swim.”

And yet another part of me is taking in the invitation and whispers,

Yes.

This is life again and again.  Life opens a door, unfolds an opportunity, extends an invitation - and what do you do?

I don’t think we are punished for not saying yes, for turning down the invitation.  That’s free will.

And I don’t think things are easy once we say Yes.  I don’t think that means that that was the one act to cure our fear and clear the obstacles.

That’s not how it works for me anyway.

Like that evening on the lake.  I ran in, dove below the surface, and, for the first twenty strokes, swam like mad. I pulled and pulled with my arms, and kicked and kicked my legs, trying to get a head-start on my terror.  But it was still there, squeezing my lungs so that I had to swim awhile with my head above water.

After I was too tired to keep swimming like that, I slowed down, and then again slowed even more deliberately.  I went moment by moment, experiencing my hands reaching forward and dipping into the silvery pink water that also seemed to have the consistency of liquid silver.

IMG_6394

I swam in the trail of the sun, letting myself feel as much of that profound depth below me, all around me, as I could without it overwhelming me, and I let myself grow, expand and expand to hold all my truth in that moment- the love of beauty, the feeling my body moving through the water, the exhilaration of the experience…AND the terror.  And to be able to contain it all and keep breathing and keep moving and stay anchored to peace, I came back to the mantra that has been my unfailing companion and the source of much strength and courage, again and again, whether I’m swimming in the deep, painting, taking a leap in my business, mothering, bringing another part of my soul into the light of the world:

This is terrifying

and this is Beautiful.

 

This is terrifying

and I so want to do this.

 

This is terrifying,

This is Beautiful,

And I am doing this.

 

I am doing this.

 

I am doing this.




IMG_6392

 

Is there something beautiful that is calling to you that, at the same time, terrifies you?

If so, please leave a comment!  I’d love to hear about your experience and ways you have made your way through fear and into the land of truly living!

With love,

Leah

 


elijah 2My son Elijah.  He wanted to accompany me out to the buoy but he is still learning to swim.  Maybe he’s pondering that “someday” from the many times he hears “someday you can come along” here…

 

“The Lotus and The Rose”

The Lotus and The Rose copy

“The Lotus and The Rose”
Leah Campbell Badertscher, 2014
36×40 original acrylic on canvas

(The original has sold but you can find beautiful reproductions of this piece and my others, in a variety of sizes and materials, here in my Society6 shop.)

 

I have been meaning to share the final photos of this painting, “The Lotus and The Rose,” for awhile.  I actually finished this one- and sold it- this spring and then uploading this to my site drifted down my to-do list, but here I am today – better late than never!

I also wanted to include a bit of the story behind this painting.  I’ve heard from many people that they love hearing the story behind the art.  And what I wrote here also tells not only about this specific piece, but is revealing of my process in general (and I, for one, am crazy about hearing about other people’s creative processes!!).

What follows is an excerpt from an email I wrote to the lovely woman who inquired about this piece and then ended up buying it (and it is one of the best feelings ever to have a painting going to someone who loves it as much as I do!).

So, here it is, a little impromptu story about “The Lotus and The Rose”…
I love how this one has evolved – and its final evolution!  And I love that you love this piece.  There are many layers here – obviously the wings, the rose, the lotus, the birds, the words (including, “expand outward, expand beyond your limits, love, you are love, you are not your limits, you are love…”) These are all actually mantras I have adopted and practiced myself (including while working on this piece!) in order to continue to evolve from feeling like an artist in my soul to actually being an artist.  Mantras to evoke my soul – and I hope that energy translates and is imparted to the viewer and is something they can use on their own journey.
And I love to include words in my paintings because I think of them as “sacred functional art.”  They serve to remind you as you go about your daily life, in a beautiful and inspiring, loving way, of who you really are and how you want, then, to live.
To me, this painting is very much about a spiritual journey, is particularly evocative of and expressing divine feminine energy, is about the evolution of a soul…how do you go beyond your *known* limits…how do you “grow” wings…how do you evolve…you must have some sense that you are not your limits, that you are love, and be able to tap into that somehow…the painting isn’t just a representation of that but I actually feel like my best painting, like this one, comes from a place of letting go of my limited self and letting something else be expressed, embodying love, embodying something more than my limited mind has access, too…something greater than me but that also feels so much like the fundamental, deepest, truest me…
 The rose and lotus are, to me, particularly feminine and divine feminine at that, also representing beauty, unfoldment, awakening, allowing…  It’s surprising even to me what images “show up” because the way I paint these days is not to plan or conceive of ideas – it’s just to paint, and to feel, and to “see” what’s there or what seems to want to be there.  I think the wings for me, too, are my desire to make physical the presence of invisible support and love I believe/sense is there…and also to make physical our spiritual evolution as humans.  The rose and lotus, I was amazed to see and then not at all – I think it’s the natural marriage of east (lotus) meets west (the rose – the Blessed Mother…who I now understand in a radically different way from the way I was taught in my traditional Catholic religious ed classes growing up).  And then there are all the birds…I really have a thing for flight, birds, wings, soaring…  the motifs show up often!
And that is the long story short!  I’ve been working on this one for almost 2 years – it’s definitely changed a lot and I’ve had times of putting it away for awhile and then coming back to it when it (I) felt right.
So, believe it or not, I could actually go on and on (there’s a lot of time to think and not think when you’re painting!) about the stories in this one painting…and then there are all the things other people tell me THEY see and feel from it… but I will now get to the details you asked for!

***

You can probably gather from what I wrote in that email that this piece is a very significant one for me (they each end up holding a strong meaning for me, in their own ways…).  I didn’t mention it above explicitly, but “The Lotus and The Rose” has also been very emblematic of other breakthroughs I’ve experienced this year and am still experiencing.  I think, in fact, the very act of making that painting helped to guide me through some terrain and past certain of my own previously established boundaries, and then the finished painting felt like an important breakthrough in itself.  Then the fact that someone else was drawn to the very essences that I felt went into the creation of the painting was pretty flat-out-amazing.  And, again, each time someone loves a painting, buys it, owns it, and then tells me how much joy or magic or wonder or love or inspiration or miracles or peace or happiness it brings them…I just am moved to tears grateful.

Painting, at the best times for me, feels like being filled with the breath of God.  I have to believe that that doesn’t end with me or with the painting, but lives on through the painting to whoever enjoys it, stops to appreciate it, takes it in.

The themes of breakthroughs and big leaps keep showing up in huge ways in my own life and in the lives of my clients this year – in fact, so much so that it has very much informed the design of my upcoming coaching program – EPIC – which begins in October.  (Just sign up for my newsletter if you want to stay in the loop or email me at leah@leahcb.com with EPIC in the subject line to be added to the waiting list!).  

All of this energy swirling around breakthroughs and big leaps has me wondering – is this happening for you, too?  If so, I’d love to hear about that as well and how you are navigating that exciting though often challenging experience.

As always, thank you for reading and being in my orbit!  I love that you are here.

And for all of us – here is to continuing to move beyond and rise above our “limits”!

Love,

Leah