The Untrained Mind, The Beautiful Mind: Wrestling with the Angel

Hello You Beautiful People!
Thank you for being here for this week’s installment in The Untrained Mind, The Beautiful Mind series!
The past few weeks I’ve written about becoming the expert of our negative thinking patterns as well as concept that we are not our thoughts.  Last week I left you by asking you to consider who you are if you are not your thoughts.  
This week I’m coming at these same issues (and a few others) but from a different angle.  
So often much of our suffering is generated by our resistance to difficulty and pain.  And the cause of our suffering is the way we think about difficulty and pain.  
In this post, I wanted to share Ranier Maria Rilke’s “The Man Watching” as a way of offering you a profound alternative to the way we usually think about the struggles in our lives.   
Reading and understanding the messages in this poem have helped open my mind and allowed me to surrender during difficult times and thus be transformed by the gift of the experience – instead of resisting the angel because it came disguised in shadow and pain.
“The Man Watching”
I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler’s sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.
 It also helps in struggle to know that you are not alone.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, I believe that if you found this blog, somehow our souls are hanging out and high-fiving.  Whether I ever meet you or not, whether I work with you or not, my soul is made for rooting for those souls who are out there, doing their beautiful work in the world and who, even and especially when they are knocked down and feeling beaten up, just keep coming back at it.  
Bringing our dreams, our visions, to life is what we are made for; this is how we grow, so we might as well do it together and with love (life is MUCH more fun that way! ;).
With love and high-fives, 
Leah
P.S.
If you’re a soulful visionary and whether something is whispering to you that 2015 is the year you finally take that dream inside of you and make it a reality, or whether you’re already well on your way to living your dreams and now you’re looking for world class support on your continued journey, then I’m your coach.  
It’s my vision to be the best coach in the world for soulful visionaries and, beginning in January, I’ll have openings for 4 more clients who want a personal champion for themselves and their dreams, someone who will be by their side every step of the way, from start to finish, for an entire year. Cost is $20,000 for 12 months and includes highly customized, “haute couture” coaching, 3 weekend retreats where you will have VIP treatment, stunning, beautiful experiences designed to restore and empower you in mind, body, and spirit (these will be utterly amazing, on all levels!), 24 scheduled private sessions, a bank of “I need to talk to someone right now!” calls, unlimited email support, plenty of surprises along the way (the very best kind! ;) ) and results you’ve only dreamed of…until now.   If you’d like to set up an appointment to discuss whether this is the right program for you, please email me at leah@leahcb.com.

The Untrained Mind, The Beautiful Mind: You are not your thoughts, You are not your doubts or negativity

Hello, dear readers!

I hope you are having a beautiful Monday!  It’s snowing here in South Bend, so although it seems a little earlier and a tad bit ominous (considering the extreme polar vortex we experienced last year), I’ve done some writing, art, worked with one client today, and now am writing to you as the snow continues to gently fall, so it’s actually kind of cozy…so, onto today’s post!

I told you last week that I have two things to spell out for you this week that are nothing less than life-changing…if you spend some time taking them in and letting reside in your consciousness for awhile.

In the very first post, I quoted the line from A Course In Miracles which states,

“The untrained mind can accomplish nothing.”

One characteristic of the untrained mind is that it believes that we are our thoughts.

The beautiful mind, however, knows this to be true about all humans – that we are a soul and not our thoughts.  The beautiful mind knows this to be true:

You are not your thoughts. 

The beautiful mind knows that we are deathless souls having a human experience and that thoughts are a function of the body we get to experience, but thoughts are not who we really are.

It’s easy to say, harder to do, but if you set your heart and your sights on knowing who you really are, then life will open up and begin to flow.  Things will start to make more sense.

And you can begin to understand who you are by becoming crystal clear on who you are not.  And who you are not is your thoughts.

If you are not sure who you are and if you’re being weighed down more often than not by negativity, I’d suggest beginning by meditating on this:

I am not my thoughts. 

Another way I’ve come to frame this first for myself and then for my clients is as this:

Do not take your doubts and your negativity personally.

Once you reflect upon these two things, inevitably the question will arise:

If I am not my thoughts….then who am I?

I would suggest not “trying” to answer that question, but just asking it, wondering about it, and notice what comes to the surface.  Nothing may come or a thousand things may come.  The point right now is not to find “the answer” but to create and experience the opening that the question evokes, and to just hang out for awhile in that wide open, “don’t know mind” space.

I’ll be back next week to expound on these points, so if you have any thoughts, questions, reactions to these statements, I’d love to hear from you in the meantime in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your beautiful minds and all the beauty they will create in the world!

XO-

Leah

 

May Your Life Have Wings – A Brand New Painting!

IMG_8018original painting, Leah Campbell Badertscher, copyright 2014
30×40 acrylic and ink on canvas

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
-Muhammad Ali

Better brew some fresh coffee or pour a glass of Cabernet (that’d be my choice if I were joining you on this cold, snowy night in South Bend!), because this, my friends, is one heck of a long post…

But, good news! It’s pretty much all pictures!

I didn’t have a chance, just because of the logistics this time, to take this one into a professional photographer, so the photo quality isn’t outstanding (it’s my iPhone), but I hope you get a feel for the painting.

The pictures are of my most recent painting- which I can’t tell you the title of yet because this was a very special commission and I’m afraid that  revealing the title would give it away for the intended recipient (and it’s to be a surprise!).

I can tell you, though, that it was very much an honor to create this one.  And from the very clear, vivid Inspiration that informed it to the way things just seemed to come together in this piece, I was  also grateful for the Guidance and Help in the creation process.

Speaking of commissions, I’ve had more and more inquiries about just how my commission process works, so excuse me while I give you the brief overview.  I paint intuitively, which means I don’t begin with a set idea or outcome in mind.  What I do with commissions is to get a lot of information from you about the intended recipient(s) and the reason you want a painting – for yourself or for someone else.  And then I let all of this steep, I do my ritual and prayer of asking God to let me remember that I am the vessel and not the source, and then I go to work.  Painting is tremendously spiritual, mystical, work for me and so the entire time I’m painting I’m also working to remain open to whatever Inspiration and Guidance arises.   I do try to get a sense for what is needed energetically and translate that into this medium, but I also try to stay out of my head and in a creative flow that is so much more than me.  Woo?  Yes, but that’s really how I do it.

As for the non-woo details, my going rate is currently $2.15 a square inch for paintings with dimensions 12×12 or greater and I ask for half-down at the beginning, the remaining 50% (plus S&H fees – I work HARD to keep those as low as possible!) payable at completion.  So, for example, if you order a 48×48 (which is a stunning, gorgeous size, in my opinion!) the total cost would be $4,953, plus S&H.  A 24×12 = $619.

If you have any questions whatsoever about a commission, please just send me an email at leah@leahcb.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, on to the photos!  :)

 

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I look a wee bit dorky in this picture, yes I do.  I was half-dazed from staying up late to complete it and then getting up in the wee hours with a baby with an ear infection!  (not that I’m never dorky when I’m operating at 100% either…;)  But staying up to paint and take care of a baby – really, blessings on both counts. And I am so thrilled with how this one came about and turned out!  I can’t wait to hear what the new owner thinks!!!

I went back and forth about whether to point out certain details and explain symbols and imagery in this painting (and I’d never give anything away that was personal), but in the end, I decided to let your imaginations play with it and create their own stories and meaning.  If something speaks to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Let your imaginations loose my friends, and let your lives take flight!

Thank you for reading!

With love,

Leah

Untrained Mind, Beautiful Mind: Become an expert on your own negativity

Hello, dear readers!

I apologize for my absence the last week.  Between family events (including sick children and traveling across a few states with said sick children!), finishing up a couple commissioned paintings, and working with new clients, I decided that the blog had to be bumped for the time being.

And now I’m back,  so let’s get started with our Untrained Mind, Beautiful Mind series!

Last week I asked you to monitor your thinking and, particularly, your self-doubt.

The reason this is so incredibly important is that in order to have a mind that supports and serves your creativity, your genius, your highest purpose, you must first become so awake and so aware of all the thoughts, all your limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns, that do NOT align with the best version of you.

If you are not currently getting the results that you want, if you are not currently living as the best version of yourself most of the time, then negative thinking is running the show.  The first step toward creating change by training your mind is to train the mind to become aware of of your thoughts.

So, this week, I’d like you to do the what you did last week, but this week we are focusing particularly on becoming an expert of your own negative thinking.  I realize that may sound counterintuitive.

“Won’t focusing on my negative thinking just attract more negativity?” you may be wondering.

It depends.

If you focus on your negative thinking in an indulgent way, and by that I mean you are BELIEVING your negative thoughts, then you will absolutely attract more negativity.

But if you bring an attitude of curiosity and compassionate understanding towards your thinking, paying attention to the negative thoughts you have can set you free and on the road towards tremendous empowerment and change.

For this week, to aid you in moving from the Untrained Mind to the Beautiful Mind, I want to suggest the following:

1.  First, I want you to not only pay particular attention to what self-doubt thoughts you have, but also to all negative thoughts (of which self-doubt is one flavor).

2.  Second, I want to suggest you assume the following orientation:

Become an expert on your own negative thinking.  

How would an expert approach the investigation of a subject about which she/he is passionate?  They would study it, but with fascination and objectivity (because, clearly, judgment and the self-loathing that results from identifying with your negative thinking are biases that would definitely undermine the study!).  They would take copious notes (i.e., journal, write down your thoughts as clearly as you can), they would look for patterns, they would be awake and alert to those thoughts that move so quickly through your mind that they hardly seem to have existed, and yet these can totally color your day with their potent toxicity.

Become an expert on your own negative thinking.  

Becoming an expert on your own negative thinking will give you tremendous insights into yourself and into exactly how powerful you really are.  You’ll see that your negative thoughts have been creating your less than desirable results!  This is good news!  If your negative thoughts have been creating negative results, your mind is in perfect working order!  You aren’t broken just because you have self-doubt or negative thinking, nothing’s gone wrong – in fact, you’ve been getting exactly what you’ve been believing!

Again, negative thoughts do not mean that you are broken.  Any thought, positive or negative, only has power if you believe in it.  

Again, we’ll get to turning this mind around in coming weeks, but it is imperative that you do not skip this step and that you do not try to skip right ahead to changing your mind by just thinking better thoughts.  It won’t work – in fact, without an awareness and acceptance (yes.  acceptance!) of your current negative thinking patterns, you’ll be working against yourself.  And when it’s you versus you, you’re perfectly matched – no one wins and you deplete and exhaust yourself.  

So begin, with extra heaping doses of grace and self-compassion and loving-kindness, to pay very close attention to what you are thinking, because:

You cannot change what you do not understand.  You cannot free yourself from that which you do not understand.

What we are doing here as a first order of business is the deeply sacred work of getting to know our inner-workings.  Approach this as holy work and also approach this will a robust sense of curiosity and adventure!  You are like an anthropologist on an adventure to unearth lost and buried cultures and riches – your own untold history.

I’ll be back next week with a couple things that we’ve touched upon already, but I’m going to spell them out loud and clear.  These two things are complete game-changers…life-changers, really.  So, in the next week, do your homework of becoming an expert in your own negative thinking and check back next week for the next installment in Untrained Mind, Beautiful Mind!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about how this process is going for you.  What comes up for you when you examine your mind and monitor your thoughts?  I think it can be particularly helpful to do this work with another person or a group, so I’d encourage you to find a friend or you are always more than welcome to share here on on the Facebook page – I promise to be a compassionate witness to your sacred work.  Thank you so much for being here!

Have a beautiful week!

XO-

Leah

 

 

A Beautiful Mind Mondays: Cultivating Awareness of Self-Doubt

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
-Slyvia Plath

 

Good Monday morning, my friends!

And since it is Monday, we’re going to be talking about befriending and training the mind! You can read about the introduction to this series about minding your mind here. I’m still trying to come up with the right title for this series though this title – A Beautiful Mind Mondays- is also inspired by my Mom, who not only is a beautiful person with a beautiful mind, but also because she’s been taking the master gardener course.  Gardening holds so many beautiful metaphors for cultivating a beautiful, health inner-landscape, that I like that association between being a master gardener and someone who is working to cultivate a master’s mind, which I envision as a very beautiful, healthy space.

Last week’s topic was on focusing your mind on your dream and today we’ll pick right up where we left off.  I had asked you to begin at the end by calling to mind your vision for your life or some very important goal you have and giving your mind the task of focusing on that goal.  

If you’re human and have a brain (and if you’re reading this, chances are both apply!  Halloween’s over and I’m not aware of having a zombie following on this blog… ;) ), then, given those two things, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some self-doubt in relationship to those dreams or goals.  And I’d say it’s exactly 100% likely you experienced self-doubt if you not only focused your mind on those goals but then also began to take action!

Self-doubt is the #1 paralytic of creatives and the reason most dreams die before we even give them a fighting chance.

But this does NOT have to be the case and it WILL NOT be the case if you train your mind.

The very first thing I want to say is to not wait for the moment when you are finally doubt-free to begin!  I’ll say more about this at the end of the post, but this is incredibly important – you can have self-doubt AND your dream AND be actively creating your dream.  Note the self-doubt and lace up your shoes, get out the door, and hit the ground running anyway.  Self-doubt will only have the power you give it, and if you begin to move on your dream, it will eventually be no match for your steady, humble, everyday devotion.

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
-Vincent van Gogh

So, while you continue to show up everyday for your dream and your highest-self, I also want to offer you ways in which you can train the brain so that self-doubt ceases to be such a potent source of struggle and toxicity.

This process begins by heightening your awareness of what you are thinking.  For today’s post, I particularly want to focus on you noticing how much attention you are currently giving self-doubt because  - I promise you! – developing an awareness of the role self-doubt plays in your creation process and the way you show up in the world will change your life.

Remember the quotes I gave you last week?

“The untrained mind can accomplish nothing.”
-A Course in Miracles

“The mind can be a wonderful servant,
but a terrible master.”

-Zen saying

These become extremely important to keep in mind as we discuss self-doubt because it is imperative to begin by acknowledging that the mind is incredibly powerful.  As the saying goes,

Energy flows where attention goes.

In other words,  your powerful mind WILL help you create what you focus on.

This is not to say that doubt is a bad thing.  In fact, I think it’s incredibly useful to think of doubt as “neutral.”  The only power it has is the power you give it (more on this next week).  In fact, as a constructive critical thinking function, doubt can be extremely useful if it helps call your attention to facts or intuitions you want to consider as you make decisions that move you closer towards your the life you want to live.

However, for the untrained mind, doubt is too often a destructive pattern we’ve allowed ourselves to indulge in, most often because we weren’t aware that we had a choice.

For many of us, the untrained mind, the one left to its own accord, will feast – GORGE itself- on doubt.  The mind as master- with you believing you’re at the mercy of its every whim and fancy- will use doubt to flog your confidence and beat your dreams to death.  Or maybe doubt just keeps you locked up, afraid to ever begin or, maybe you go through the motions of going after that life you want, but you’ll always, secretly, be holding back, never really risking, never really putting your whole heart and soul in the service of your dream or vision.

The trained mind and the mind as a wonderful servant, on the other hand, is very familiar with doubt, expects it, knows how to deal with it and still manages to maintain these sort of bi-focal focus on the big vision and also the very next step.  This kind of focus – locking your inner vision into alignment with both big picture and also the very next step – is something that I personally refer to as “The Clear Line.”  Anything other than “The Clear Line” is noise, and, in my opinion, for anyone who is following a dream that they really are about, most of the noise will be all about self-doubt = the reasons you can’t, won’t, will never, should never, do the thing the deepest, truest part of you absolutely is dying to do.

The way you can know the difference between whether you are running the show versus whether your mind is binging on doubt as a way to keep you safe or keep you miserable (or both), is to look at the results you are currently getting in your life.

If you are deeply satisfied with these results and you have a sense of trust and confidence about the path you are on, how you are walking it, and who you are becoming on the way to create those results, that’s a great indication that your higher self is running the show and that you aren’t letting doubt drain and derail you.

If, on the other hand, you aren’t satisfied with your results and you feel like you spend more time locked in struggle than getting anywhere and doing anything meaningful – and meanwhile you don’t like who you are becoming or how you are living along the way – I’d be willing to bet that your mind has been subsisting on a steady stream of doubt – or some of its many variants.

If this latter scenario is the case and train your mind so that it aligns with and supports your highest self, rather than chronically wrestling in doubt which drains you, here is what I’d encourage you to try for the next week:

Pay attention to what you pay attention to. 

There is so much more to say on this topic, but it is so extremely important that you really get this first step, that you realize you have an awareness and you realize that it is always focusing on something – either because you direct it or because you fail to direct it.

Again, the exercise for this week is simply to heighten your awareness of where you direct your precious and powerful attention.

You can do this by just noticing – with kind, curious fascination and without judgment (because remember, we are befriending our minds, not trying to loathe or beat them down!) – what thoughts you give the most attention to.

Pay particularly close attention to how much energy you are giving to your doubts….

versus…

how much energy you are giving to what you want and your belief in your ability to get the results you want.

This is so, so important because the more energy you give to your doubts, the more likely it is that you will create doubtful results.

Likewise, if you focus (and refocus and refocus….a thousand times, with kindness and trust!) on your vision of what you DO want to create and who you DO want to become, then your results- immediate, short-term, and over the long haul – will be ones that create feelings of deep satisfaction and will inspire greater confidence in yourself.

So, this week, pay attention to what you pay attention to, and then write it down.

If you want to do the MASTER MIND version of this exercise, I’d suggest the following exercises for this next week as well:

1. Every day, write down the three thoughts you think most often.  Also, if you suddenly are aware of certain thoughts that surprise you in any way, also add those to your three most common thoughts for that day.

2. Begin to notice how you feel when you think these thoughts.  Write those feelings down as well (and try to keep the feeling description to 1-3 words, at most).

3. Keeping in mind how these thoughts make you feel, notice what you tend to do when you are feeling any one particular feeling.  Write down the actions you take when experiencing a certain feeling.

4. Bring these observations back next week for the next post in the Master Mind series and I’ll show you what’s next!  If you have questions in the meantime, please leave a comment below or start a conversation on the Facebook page – I’d love to hear from you and what you’re noticing when you pay attention to what you pay attention to!

Also, I’d be fascinated to hear what your experience with self-doubt is.  What are your most “doubting thoughts” about yourself and how are you currently continuing to work towards your dreams in spite of those thoughts?

And that question is very much related to the last thing I want to leave with you today, if you take nothing else away from this post, please know that self-doubt does not have to “go away” or you do not have to “rid yourself of self-doubt” in order to begin and continue working towards your dreams!  DO NOT WAIT for the elimination of self-doubt before you begin.  That is one of the most dangerous and tragic mistakes I see people make.

Know that you are big enough, vast enough, to hold both self-doubt, note it, and keep your eyes on your dream and take that very next step, and then another, and then another.  Keep your head up and your feet moving, your heart open, keep creating, and self-doubt will eventually not be able to keep up!

To your dreams and your beautiful mind!

XO

Leah

PS- It is totally possible to work through self-doubt without hiring a coach and I want you to keep on keeping on!  Also, in my own experience, I believe I have dropped a decade – or a few - from being mired in self-doubt  by hiring the right coaches and mentors.  I now invest in myself and my dreams this way on a regular basis because I believe it is so important to my ongoing success and also just the health and vitality and effectiveness of my spirit.  If something is calling you and something is also calling you to work with me, I’d love to hear about these dreams and intuitions!  You can schedule a free twenty minute consultation by emailing me at leah[at]leahcb[dot]com.

 

 

 

Love What You Love Friday: REIN Juicery

IMG_6209Giving yourself what you love is like jet fuel for your spirit.  It’s is an excellent way to draw out your muse and evoke your greatest potential.  Hence the candles, colorful painting (my own!), live plant, my favorite kind of journal, and one of my favorite juices from my favorite South Bend business – REIN Juicery!  

I am a big, BIG believer in reaching for what you love and what is going to nourish you in mind, body, and spirit.  In fact, that belief is the impetus for this Friday blog series “Love What You Love.”  My intention is for you to become fascinated about what it is you love and then to give yourself permission to explore and give yourself those things – and then stand back and watch as your life begins to grow and flourish!

Nourishing yourself does includes giving your body nutritious, delicious food and also, for me, means deliberately filling my day with encounters with people who have a lovely, uplifting, healthy energy –  which brings me to the subject of today’s Love What You Love post….

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REIN Juicery!

(Located in the beautifully bold lime green little building on South Bend Ave., right next to The Breadsmith, address: 2035 S. South Bend Ave)

In my humble opinion, REIN Juicery is one of the most awesome things to happen in South Bend in recent history. :)  I love to see creative energy and entrepreneurship come together in a way that brings goodness and vitality to a local economy and community and I think they are such a great example of this.

Their product – delicious, fresh, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and an amazing coffee drink (my recent favorite!), their store, and they as people embody so many things that I love.

From the colors of their juices (their line-up of juice looks like a lot of my favorite palette for painting!) to the way they source their ingredients locally whenever possible, to their bright, shining, authentic enthusiasm and passion for what they do to the vibrant, clean, healthy way their juice makes you feel…all of these things make them an obvious choice for a Love What You Love post!

If you haven’t stopped in yet and you live in South Bend, you definitely should!  My favorites are the Peariffic Smoothie, Gangster Green juice, Purple Rein D-Tox, and the Kuppa Koffee (coffee blended with grass-fed butter and MCT oil= delicious and also incredible creative fuel!), but I’ve tried many others and they are all amazing.  I’ve even picked them up for clients to try and will definitely be treating friends and clients that come to town to visit.

I’m so excited to have this kind of place and these kind of people in South Bend!  Their energy is fresh and so kind and, whether it’s them or the juice, I definitely feel healthier, more energetic, happier every time I stop in.

How about you – do you have any businesses in your area that you adore?  And, what in your mind, makes them so special?  Is it the product or do you believe, as I clearly do, that the energy with which you serve, create, and contribute makes worlds of difference?  

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on my Facebook page about the products, businesses, services you would promote shouting from the hill-tops – and just what it is, in your opinion, that makes them tops?

Have a Happy Halloween, a Blessed All Saints Day, and a BEAUTIFUL weekend!

XO-

Leah

 

 

 

 

Tuesdays with Fran: The Wise Revise

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M
y notes from this week’s session with my poetry mentor, Fran Quinn.

Fran has taught me a number of things about the process of editing and revision that have been priceless – life changing, really, if you are someone who is devoted to your art, whether it be poetry, painting, or countless other mediums (like LIFE in general!).

What I’ve come to realize is that there are wise ways to revise.  These are ways that can help you develop your craft in profound ways, as kindly and compassionately and gently as possibly, while moving a particular piece along from start to completion.

The OTHER ways to revise, the not-so-wise-ways, are those in which you flail about, grasp about blindly for solutions, bumping up in a completely disoriented state against all sorts of obstacles and walls along the way.  

You’ll know you’re employing the not-so-wise-revise if the process of bringing a creative project to completion creates dread (and ulcers) in the pit of your stomach, induces you to procrastinate in every conceivable way (hello clean closets and a scrubbing the kitchen floor on your hands and knees!), until you finally bring yourself back to the page, to the canvas, to the keyboard, at which point it feels like throwing yourself headlong into a brick wall again and again.  The not-so-wise-revise and I go way back, if you haven’t guessed…

But, now that I know better, we are, in the words of Taylor Swift, “never, ever, ever – getting back together!” ;)

Revisions used to stall me, stop me up, and throw me for one doozey of loop.  I often struggled with bringing things along because where it seemed that in the first round of creation, I was riding this wave of creative flow, when I went to revise, I could feel my rational mind entering the picture way too much.  Things that initially had felt expansive, fascinating, surprising, mysterious, rich, complex, would start to feel cramped and contrived when I tried “to finish” something.

Enter the understanding of knowing when to employ vertical revision versus horizontal.

In vertical revision, you stay with the particular piece you are working on and go deeper and deeper into the piece.  It’s likely that you even pick out one aspect of the piece that is really juicy for you, one which you have some interest of exploring more deeply, and you “follow it in” and go deeper with it, continuing to mine and excavate down through layers and layers, probably discovering more rich deposits of inspiration ore along the way.  (If you’re interested in exactly how to go deeper, you can read this AND let me know and I can make exactly how to go deeper a subject of later posts).

In horizontal revision, you check in and see if it feels like you’ve ridden a particular wave of energy as far as it wants to take you today for a particular piece, and then you set that piece aside and work on creating the next piece.  If you do the opposite, and try to keep digging in a piece after the energy is gone, chances are you will create a lot of confusion and overwhelm for yourself and give your ego/inner-critic too much of an opening to dive in and tear things apart.  

Realize that there are some pieces that need to continue to gestate in the back of your consciousness and on your hard drive or in your journal.  It’s great that you got the initial thought captured and out into the real world.  Now move on to continue to let the creativity flow and, inevitably, things that you learn in the following pieces will expand your consciousness, hone your skill set, and will end up informing, naturally and organically, how to proceed with that piece you put to the side.  

Horizontal revising can also, I think, be like outsourcing revision, temporarily, to some silent, deep interior artist-workerbee within yourself.  In other words, even though you’ve put a piece to the side, it is still in your consciousness so, even without knowing it, I believe parts of you keep working on it, parts of you are awake and scanning the world the for missing bits of information or inspiration that will help it all come together.  It’s like you’re delegating part of the creative process to quieter, deeper parts of your consciousness and they continue to work on it while the upper and more “frontal” layers of thinking (this is how it feels it works to me, anyway) go about creating the next piece.

This was a process that I intuitively stumbled upon when painting.  When I first started painting intuitively, I was often overwhelmed and confused by my own paintings.  I followed a hunch, however, that I was trying to cram too many paintings into one painting, and I allowed myself to work on not just 2 or 3, but MANY canvases at a time.  This allowed me to channel as much creativity as possible and I realized that what I had thought was “overwhelm” was really this pressure of built-up, pent-up creativity inside of me and I was only allowing it to come out through one little straw (i.e., one canvas at a time) when it was wanting to gush and gush, with the energy of Niagra Falls.  Giving myself this latitude, this space, figuratively and literally speaking, with painting as facilitated so much more ease and flow in my painting process.

I didn’t draw the connection to using this same technique in writing, however, until Fran pointed out, not long after I first started working with him, that it seemed like most of the poems I was sharing with him were really three different poems all crammed into one.  He suggested paying attention to when I was being given “short poem” energy and to allow myself to stop when the energy seemed to stop – and to not force myself to write epic-length narratives.

Fran, picking up on the fact that I have one nasty inner-critic, also prescribed horizontal revision versus vertical for me in revising my poems.  In other words, once I finished one poem and felt I’d gotten down enough of the details to create a complete-ish picture of what I felt the image/rhythm/language were trying to convey inside of me, then I was to not immediately begin editing and revising that one, but instead was to continue to create the next.

This has been a TREMENDOUS breakthrough for me.  It has allowed me to stay with my creative voices longer, ride that healing and inspirational creative energy longer, rather than what would happen when I slowed down long enough to revise.  And what would happen then was that slowing down to revise gave my demons and other inner-nasties a chance to catch up and I’d end up getting bogged down and beaten down by those overly-analytical, overly-rational voices and their down-right destructive energy.

My fear with horizontal revision early on was that I would never go back to complete things.  My concern was that I would just only love to start things and would never learn to be someone who finishes.  Turns out this fear was unjustified.  What really happens once I give myself some freedom (from a piece and from fear), is that having a little distance from a piece helps me to become detached and objective – and I can better let go of the results because I know it’s not the results I love, but it’s being creative that is absolutely vital to my health and happiness, in mind, body, and spirit.

I still care about completion and want to finish things, but I’m no longer so wrapped up in that one piece because I’ve gone on to start others and am not dependent on that one piece “turning out right” and being the end-all-be-all.  I have the perspective to understand that for me, as an artist and as a writer, the important thing is not to have completed “masterpieces” but to have this on-going practice of these art forms. Having this perspective has shown me it’s the faithful devotion to continuing to show up to paint and write the best I can that brings me back to my deepest, true self and closer to God.

If there are any of you reading who struggle with revising and finishing things, I hope this information about the difference between vertical and horizontal revision can help liberate you from struggling with yourself as you work to bring your art along and become the artist – and person- you know you have the potential to be.

Also, if you have any insights and practices you use that have helped you make the process of finishing your creative projects a kinder, more gentle – and effective! – process, I would love, love, LOVE to hear about them!  Please do share in the comments below or on the Facebook page!  

I really believe the more we share with each other these practices that help us unleash our potential in loving and kind ways, the more we will be unleashing a potential that will help heal us all and make the world a brighter, more beautiful, kinder place for everyone.

To your creativity!

XO-

Leah

PS- If you’re deeply committed unleashing your creative genius and making the next year the absolute best year of your life…the one that sets the tone and will set you on beautiful trajectory for the years that follow, email me at leah@leahcb.com to receive all the details about my next coaching program – EPIC!

The Untrained Mind

“The untrained mind can accomplish nothing.”
-A Course in Miracles

For too many of us, education has consisted of being taught what to think and not how we think.  Still more rare is an education in which we learn how to think…on purpose.  And how to train ourselves use the mind so that it supports our higher purpose…rather than running roughshod over our dreams with harsh criticism and paralyzing our potential with self-analysis and doubt.

“The mind can be a wonderful servant,
but a terrible master.”

-Zen saying

I want to begin sharing with you at the beginning of the week posts about befriending and training your mind.  My intention is to share insights and inspiration – things that I’ve learned and things that I use in working with clients- that can help heighten your awareness and train your mind to work in service of your highest self AND experience more peace and more joy on a daily basis.

The first thing I want to share is simple, yet not easy.  Simple and yet so powerful:

You must focus your mind.

Make it a daily practice to focus your mind. I think of it as a spiritual devotion, even, but maybe you want to think of it as training for the race or performance of your life, or as an elite special forces training…for the mind.

You must focus your mind and one of the very best places to begin doing this is at the end.

Begin with your greatest dream, your greatest vision for what you could create, what you could experience, what you could contribute, and for who you could become.

Write it down.

And then, over the next week, pay attention:

How many of your thoughts, feelings, and actions do you think are supportive of, in harmony with, and aligned with your dream?

What are the rest of your thoughts, feelings, and actions?

Where is the majority of your attention and energy going?

If it’s not going towards your dream, just be kindly fascinated by that and ask yourself “why”?

You can only focus your attention one place at a time.

If you are focused on your dream, then that creates immediate alignment and that’s the direction in which you’re moving.

Use the dream to focus your mind.

Set goals that align with that dream.

Expect there to be obstacles.

And remember that the biggest obstacle is the untrained mind.

 

Please check back for next Monday’s post (and feel free to drop by for the posts before that, if you’d like! ;) ) and bring your work on dreams and your thoughts from this week because it will all be very relevant for next week’s post.

And I’d love to hear (in the comments below or on the Facebook page) what your biggest dreams are – and also what the greatest challenges and obstacles are that you encounter along the way to living out these dreams.  

Also, if you have any insights on how you create a mindset of kindness, beauty, health, love, success (however you want to define it), growth, and personal evolution, I -and others!- would love to hear what has worked for you!

Whatever your dreams are, I hope they include having a WONDERFUL week!

XO-

Leah

P.S. If you love the thought of training your mind to be in service of your highest self and your dreams, then you might like to hear more about my next coaching program – EPIC.  EPIC will be like an elite, holistic training – mind, body, and spirit – to help you become your own best friend, greatest champion, and help you to unleash your potential and create your dreams and a beautiful life.  You’ll work hard, but you’ll learn how to do so in a way where ease replaces struggle, and where confidence replaces doubt, and peace and deep satisfaction replace inner turmoil and dissatisfaction.  You can email me at leah@leahcb.com for more details. 

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