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.

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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.




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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

The Trifecta of a Magical Morning, The Formula for Getting Your Day off to a Brilliant Start

st. mary's lake at dawn

I stopped during one of my runs this week to take this pic of the sun rising over St. Mary’s Lake on the campus of Notre Dame at dawn.

While I believe of making the best of any day in any circumstances, I can’t deny there is this magical trifecta that, for me, never fails to create an amazing morning and sets me up for a brilliant day.  (I’d even go so far as to say it I feel utterly magnetized by this kind of morning and I have plenty of stories to back that up, but those are other posts for another time.)

Here is This is the trifecta of a magical morning for me:

Early Morning + Nature + Movement = Magic

Also, there is another topic that is related to this that I have been dying to talk about but as of yet haven’t figured it out how to say it succinctly in one (or several) blog posts.  My clients have been hearing more and more about this though and it is something I’ve been pouring out in my book writing.

But I think I’ve narrowed it down to a place to begin sharing it with you, so that what’s up next on my blog post docket – another magical trifecta!  So, stay tuned…

Until next time, have a wonderful weekend!  And, if you get a chance to give my magical trifecta a try, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Also, if you have your own go-to practice that sets you up for amazing days (and an amazing life), please share that as well!

P.S. Beginning in October I will be accepting a limited number of new private clients for my new coaching program.  This is going to be Epic.   I’ve had some incredible, incredible experiences that have clarified and intensified my vision about the work I’m doing, including the people I’m meant to coach.  This next round of coaching is about this work and is for these people.

I will share more details in the weeks to come, but for now I will say that this coaching will be for people who feel they have a capacity for creating something really incredible in this world, they feel they have the potential to be a creative, soulful genius but that, for a number of reasons, they haven’t been able to tap that source of creativity or wisdom effectively or in a sustained and successful way.  These people feel they have a star rising within them, a star just reaching for the dawn, people who may have been holding back but want to dream again, and dream big and who are willing to dare and hold nothing back in creating that dream.

This program will be for people who are ready and hungry to learn how to tap, embrace, and follow their own unique vision for their life and their world.  These people must be ready (or at least ready enough to leap in and) do the greatest, most amazing, profound work of their lives in a spirit that embraces and masters the art and skills of playing to one’s edge,  dropping the drama of struggle and playing small, and instead creating and living from a place of flow, ease, joy, elegance, power, and authenticity.  Coaching will begin in October, will be nine months, and I’ll begin taking applications for clients in two weeks.  If you’d like to get on the waiting list, please send me an email at leah[at]leahcb[dot]com with “Epic Coaching” in the subject line and I’ll make sure you are the first to receive information about how to apply!

As always, thank you for reading!  I love that you’re here.

XOXO-

Leah

 

Go with All Your Heart!

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I just received this card in the mail today and I can’t think of a more perfect message to share with you today.

For almost a decade now, I’ve been on this inner-journey of following my heart and doing so with ever-intensifying honesty, enthusiasm, and courage.

In the past few years, following my heart has also led me on several literal journeys. I’ve traveled to numerous workshops, trainings, retreats, and conferences, all with the intent of unleashing my own potential and honing my skills and my craft as a coach, as a writer and artist, and as an entrepreneur.

This past year I’ve traveled more than ever (in just the past few months I’ve been to Napa twice, Telluride, Durango twice, savored an idyllic week on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan with my family, not to mention a number of trips back to visit our families in Iowa and Nebraska) and the adventures have been rich, profound, beautiful, magical, and just plain crazy-fun!  Up next, I’ll be traveling to Paris at the end of September.  There I’ll get to spend a week living my dream of doing work that blends my loves for beauty, empowering and inspiring others, being a life-long learner, food, wine, art, deep friendships, belonging to a community of kindred spirits who dream big and walking their talk and are doing incredible things in the world, exciting adventures – and more!- in a city my heart fell in love with when I was a college student studying abroad in San Sebastian, Spain. Though I haven’t been back to visit the City of Lights in the fifteen plus years since and am an Iowa farm girl (born and raised!) something about this upcoming trip and everything that has led up to it feels like coming home.

Which is what I think inevitably happens when you follow your heart.

There is no where your heart will lead you that will not, in the deepest part of you, feel like home…even if the road there is raw, uncertain, one upon which you frequently overhear yourself saying, ‘this is the hardest…and most amazing…thing I’ve ever done…,” one upon which you’ll often hear bystanders hurl their judgments, doubts, and criticism your way, and one which can, very often (in my case, anyway), be just as terrifying as it is beautiful and exhilarating and deeply satisfying.  It can hold a deep peace of knowing you are doing what you are meant to do…and it can, nearly simultaneously, make you want to curl up in a ball and hide – from the world and from your own biggest ambitions and deepest dreams.

And this brings me to the real message I had for you today – the whole reason I wanted to share the message of, “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart!”

Because every single time I have said yes to my heart and said yes to going with my whole heart, I have felt some degree of terror, from a twinge to profound trembling, the next day my body often seized with regret and wracked with the urge to vomit just thinking about what I’d committed myself to doing.

And I can honestly tell you that every single time it has been so, so worth it.

For so long I’ve been wondering why saying yes to my heart and following through on it created such a life or death response in me.

I think it’s because every little opportunity you make to listen to yourself and to choose the next step that is right for you and your life, it is a small-death – a death to the you that was living by default and according to other people’s plans and expectations for you (no matter how big, small, or nonexistent they were, no matter how big, small, or nonexistent other people think YOU are).

And each of those decisions of following your heart is was saying yes to you, the REAL you, to your life and your commitment to really, truly LIVING it.

If you want to really, truly begin not only listening to your heart but following it no matter where it takes you – and going wholeheartedly- you will want to stay tuned in the days and weeks to come as I release more information about some things I’ve been working on, quietly and behind the scenes, for the last several months.  I have never been so excited about the work I’ve been doing (in all areas of my life – coaching, art, writing, mind/body, lifestyle, family, spirituality, adventure/travel/experience, beauty), the progress that I’ve been making, the things I’ve learned, and I cannot wait to share it all with you!  This has been a year of many breakthroughs for me and I am so on fire to begin working with more and more clients who are ready for their own breakthroughs and miraculous shifts, who are ready to realize and realize (really live!)  more and more of their own true potential.

Again, more details will be coming soon, but in the meantime, I can tell you that I’m nearing completion of my book (something I’ve always wanted to write about and is also the final criteria before I receive my MASTER Coach certification); nearing completion of a free three-part Soul Revival coaching program; nearing completion of my first downloadable e-product (an in-home retreat entitled “Your Seven-Day Soul Revival”), a brand new program for one-on-one coaching clients (the most exclusive and EPIC way to work with me yet!); and also researching several options for one-on-one or small group luxury retreats (think super fun girls’ spa weekend away meets badass breakthroughs on a variety of topics – body/business/creativity/relationships/wealth/lifestyle meets breathtakingly beautiful locations meets soul-stirring conversations over bottles of wine shared during gorgeous, sumptuous dinners that last long into the night…all which will give way to meeting yourself-and life- in such a way that you will go home a changed woman, and yet…you’ll have the strangest, most delicious feeling that you’ve never felt so much like yourself in your whole life…).

If you’d like to stay in the loop and not miss out on these offerings and others, you can just sign up for my free newsletter in the right sidebar by entering your email address.

So, please do check back for more details and in the meantime – go with all your heart, my friends!

XOXO-

Leah