“LIFE” – A new painting and it’s story

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“LIFE”
original painting by Leah Campbell Badertscher, 30×30 acrylic on canvas
Available Friday, June 20, 5-8 PM per silent auction, Floyd County, Iowa
value: $1,800, painting will go to highest bidder
If you are not able to attend the auction but would like to place a bid by proxy, please contact me at leah@leahcb.com.  Please note that if you win the auction and would like to have the painting shipped, there will be an additional $150 required for S&H.

 

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

-Mary Oliver (from the poem When Death Comes)

This is a painting that I created for a Relay for Life silent auction fundraiser in Floyd County, Iowa.  I was honored to be able to contribute something to this event.  Not only do I believe deeply in the cause but because I grew up in Floyd County (and was even once the Floyd County Queen!) it is extra special for me to be able to give back to the place that gave me so much.

I began this painting as I begin all my paintings – with a prayer.  I open my hands and lift my heart and ask God to allow me to remember that I am the vessel and not the Source.  I also ask that I be allowed to do the best that I am able to do and that it might somehow bring something beautiful and useful, necessary even, to others.  Sometimes I even write the words of my prayers onto the blank canvas so that that intention becomes the very foundation of the painting.  I also spend a good amount of time “gathering Inspiration” for any given painting and, again, I ask to notice the Inspiration I am meant to see.  This painting was no exception.

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I try not to have any preconceived notions about what my paintings will look like before I begin.  I much prefer to get lost in the process, carried away by the flow, and be surprised myself by what happens.  I did know, however, that one of my deep intentions for this painting was that it be so, so, so very full of life and a reminder of the miraculous, divine nature of the gift of our lives and this world.

I know cancer can cause so much fear and many times results in tremendous pain, loss, and nearly unbearable grief.  I have known too many people who have in some way been affected by the disease, either had cancer themselves or they have loved ones who have had cancer.  My grandfather died when he was 43, before I was born, of cancer.  I have aunts and numerous friends who are breast cancer survivors and I’ve also lost two family members in just this past year.

These people, those I know and love and those I don’t know and yet send so much love to, were very much in my mind and in my heart when I created this piece.  For them and for everyone who loves them, I didn’t want the emphasis to be on the loss of life or threat of losing life or fear.

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Instead, I made it my intention to come from a place of being heart-centered, true to my profound belief in the innate goodness and miraculous nature of Life, aligned with a deep joy of living and love of life- all of life.  I wanted to paint as a bride married to amazement! I even wrote those words (though they’re mostly hidden now) into the painting, and other words that, to me, represent and embody a similar energy of aliveness and love, words like ” believe in miracles,” “choose love,” and more…

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I was in the middle of contemplating this painting (meaning that I was holding it in my heart and being open to inspiration) when my family and I took a trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  As we toured the Egyptian exhibit, a certain symbol kept catching my eye.  I knew I’d seen it before but couldn’t recall what it meant.  I also had a hunch it was something I was meant to use in this painting even though I couldn’t remember the meaning.  I sketched the symbol in my journal and then looked it up when we got home.

The symbol was that of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic “ankh,” also known as “key of life.”  (If you google it you’ll get a much more in-depth and fascinating history).

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It was the inspiration for the vibrant orange symbol you see in the painting.  At first I thought it was something that would eventually fade into the background of the painting as I added more layers.  But I like to let my paintings speak to me and dictate the course of things and the symbol not only wanted to remain, but it demanded to be dominant, foreground, and a strong, vibrant, alive orange.

It also, as you can see, is not exactly like the “ankh.”  Whereas the “ankh” has one solid line bisecting the vertical line, my symbol has two shorter lines running perpendicular to the horizon of the painting – like an equal sign.  To tell you the truth, I have a hunch or two what this might mean, but I’m not entirely sure.  I had a strong feeling though that it was meant to be that way and so I’ve learned to trust those instincts and have left it.  I suspect further meaning will reveal itself in time – or perhaps it will speak to the viewer in ways I could never have imagined and could not explain.

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I love to leave room in my painting process and the paintings themselves for something unexpected and something unexplainable.  To me this is directly related to how I want to live – as if life is, at the origin and all through, something sacred and as such, something mysterious and ineffable.  I believe that when remember this and keep our hearts open to wonder, mystery, and love, that’s when we experience what it means to be truly, deeply alive.

My greatest hope for my paintings is that they inspire in the viewer a connection to the energy and experience I had when creating them.  I have a deep passion for helping people become more fully alive and flourishing – no matter the circumstances, I think at all times we are invited to choose love as a way of strengthen our spirit and our capacity to love and experience Life.  I hope this painting can serve as a reminder that when life delivers a very, very difficult hand, such as cancer, that one response available is to fall more madly in love with life and live, live, LIVE.

In the words of Mary Oliver…

Do not merely visit this world, don’t merely inhabit the world.  Marry yourself to amazement!  Take the world in your arms.

Live your life truly alive.

With love and deep admiration to all affected by cancer,
and with a special dedication and in loving memory to my father-in-law, Roger Badertscher, and our nephew, Braden Badertscher, who lost their battle with cancer this year and who we will always remember for the way they lived  and loved-

Leah


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A letter from a client…

lotus close up

I’ve also taken some time away from my blog in order to finish several paintings.  This is a close-up of a detail in the most recently completed, “The Lotus and The Rose.”  (sold to a beautiful owner and off to live in Canada!  Exciting, eh?! ;) )

 

Dear Friends-

I’ve been away from my blog more than I’d like, but it’s been to make room for a lot of exciting opportunities and to do some deep, meaningful work – including coaching clients in some of the most transformative, profound work I’ve been blessed to do yet.  For those of you who would like to know more about my coaching, I’m posting a letter here from one of the amazing women I’ve had the honor of working with this year.  I give anyone who writes a testimonial for me the opportunity to remain anonymous as coaching can be such close and private work, though the woman who wrote this letter also said she would be glad to serve as a referral and speak to anyone who is seriously interested in working with me.

***

I met Leah through a continuing education class for coaches.  She was one of a dozen women whom I met with via phone once a week and communicated with daily over email for three months.  Initially, I thought of Leah as just a fellow coach looking to build her skills and her practice who also happened to be a talented painter.  Sometime over the course of that 12-week course, however, I noticed that Leah often had stunningly poignant insights on the issue we were discussing with the group.  She said and wrote things that made my ears perk up or my mind do a backflip or the hair on my arms stand up.  I started wanting to hear more from her…

Somewhere along the way, I also discovered that she was a lawyer, although no longer practicing as I hoped to be one day.  Still later, I realized that she was not only a painter but also a writer, as I hoped to be one day too.  How had I missed this information for the past 10 weeks?  I couldn’t have imagined such a perfect mentor but luckily Life did and I asked to work with her.  The next 12 weeks working with Leah directly followed a similar pattern:  I started to notice things that had been right in front of my eyes that I hadn’t seen before; things about my past, my work, my loves, my writing — mostly about myself.  I often came away after speaking with her or after reading one of her tremendously generous emails asking myself:  “How did I not see that until just now?”

I have worked with many coaches, taken dozens of classes, read hundreds of books and listened to thousands of hours of audio and I’ve learned something from most of them.  My experience with Leah was entirely different.  Working with Leah doesn’t feel like learning. It feels like knowing.  It is the experience of seeing something and, having seen, no longer being able to look in the old way now that it has revealed itself to you.  And just to be clear, I am not talking about the typical “Ah ha” moment that everyone is so fond of and that I’ve had plenty of myself.  Leah’s work goes much, much deeper.

It’s as if while I was myopically groping in the dark corners of a cave, Leah was quietly tending the fire and painting a picture on the wall  –  a picture that Life has been wanting me to see for a long, long time.  This is not to imply that Leah is afraid of dark corners.  Just the opposite. She told me at the outset of our work together that the very reason she was here was so that I could “dig with both hands” while she held the lantern.  That’s also what it feels like to work with Leah — like someone at a kitchen table in a place you’ve never been is keeping a light on, steadily holding that lantern.  I still have this sense with me today and I doubt it will ever leave.

Sometimes I have to give it to Life for a hand well-played.  Of course the “coach” I always needed was a visual artist.   How else could I have seen?  Who else could have helped me draw the map or flesh out the picture of what Life and my own heart wanted me to know?

Beauty

Love

Grace

Goodness

Surrounding me

In me

Of me

 

These things can’t be taught.  They can only be seen and thereby known.  For that, you need far more than a coach.  You need a very great artist.  I am blessed beyond words to have known such a one in Leah.

***

If this letter speaks to you, and you think I might be the coach you are looking for – whether to evoke your creative spirit, develop your inner artist, realize your potential,transform your career, reignite a spark in a relationship, create more abundance and wealth – with ease and integrity, or simply to learn how to really, truly wake up every day and fall more deeply in love with life, please send me an email at leah@leahcb.com.  If you’ve been waiting for just the right person to help you live the life you know in your bones you’re meant to live, I offer a free 20 minute consultation and we can see if we’d make the dream team you’re needing to start living a life that exceeds your boldest and most beautiful dreams.  Don’t wait and don’t let your gifts remain trapped inside of you – I’ll hold the lantern and the exciting, deeply rewarding work of inner-excavation will begin!

With love,

Leah

“AWAKE” : The story of a painting

BOLD BLOSSOM jpeg“AWAKE”
40×40 original, acrylic on stretched canvas
Leah Campbell Badertscher, 2013, All Rights Reserved

$2,500
(+S&H)

sold
(prints still available by contacting me directly and  prints and canvas reproductions available through my Society6 Shop as well)

 

Does this piece speak to you?
If yes, this letter is for you.
 
Dear Kindred Spirit,
I created this piece for a woman who is on fire to live.
For a woman who believes life is worth giving our blood, sweat, tears, heart, and soul.
An on-fire woman who believes in the deeply sacred work of being AWAKE to our lives.
I made this art for someone who would recognize it when they saw it.
I made this piece for someone like you.
Someone who wants every day to be meaningful.
Every time you walk through your home and your eyes touch this piece, you’ll know you’re seeing something that’s a powerful physical manifestation of your interior landscape.
This piece will help you, every day, to wake up and remember who you really are.
I want you to be able to have that.
My teacher once told me
“You need to believe in yourself more than anyone else.”
That was an awakening of its own.
I took that home and figured out how to grow that kind of belief in myself and embody the kind of love that belief requires.
This painting is a direct embodiment of some of the best things I have learned. To be able to  tap into what it really means to be AWAKE, to believe in myself, to love myself, and to believe in and love what I have to offer the world.
In all my paintings, I write a message or messages. A message you can see if you look very closely, hidden beneath the beauty. In this painting, one of the messages is: My Whole Heart (you have it).
I know you have tapped into what it means to live wholeheartedly. Felt in your bones and with every fiber of your being that there is a powerful reason you are here and that you have so much - so much - to offer the world.
That’s why this painting speaks to you. Touches you.
I’m an attorney turned artist.
A doubter turned believer.
As I created, I doubted (my potential, myself, God) and struggled (against expectations, my own fear, my lack of experience) and through it made something beautiful.
Through the years, as your eyes land on this painting in your home, you will also doubt and struggle and I want you to know that, inevitably, you are creating something beautiful.
Together, through one piece of art, through my hours of creation, and yours, we will be connected.
We will be collectively connected to each other and the women who share the experience of original sacred art in their homes.
Your most sacred and intimate space deserves something not just stunning to look at, but imbued with energy that travels through your eyes to touch your heart and soul.
There’s power and magic and life in surrounding yourself with the original work of human hands backed by a human heart.
That’s what AWAKE is– sacred functional art.
AWAKE – on fire, on purpose, all in.  The fragility of the blossoms (of a human life) but the incredible power, and bold, fierce beauty of the AWAKENED mind and spirit.
Do you absolutely need this kind of art to live?
No.
You can get by without it.

 

But you aren’t the getting by kind.

 

Love,
Leah
 
P.S. If you are interested in AWAKE or any of my original pieces, you can contact me at leah@leahcb.com
Also, I’m very excited to announce that I am creating something very special for the collectors of my original pieces!  Everyone that buys one of my originals will (if you like) receive the story – the personal history- of their painting and become part of a special community of my art collectors.  I’ll offer exclusive benefits and first-hand looks at new pieces and behind the scenes videos and information about my creative process and my art.  You’ll also be able to become connected to the truly amazing community of people who have my art in their homes and lives.  This is about more than pretty paintings – this is a movement I like to call Joy Rising.  If you are a modern day Renascence woman or man, I’d love to have you join us!   XO- Leah
 
 

Guest Post: The Power of NO…with Susan McCusker

Hello, Dear Readers-

Someone once told me that saying “No” when it’s what you really want – it’s your truth- is not a rejection of the other person, but staying in integrity and saying yes to yourself.

That was a huge moment for me and I love, too, and so when I saw that the radiant Susan McCusker was blogging about “The Power of NO!” I asked if I could share it with the readers of my blog.  You can learn more about Susan and her great work at http://www.susanmccusker.com. Enjoy!

Love,

Leah

The Power of NO…

MARCH 25, 2014

no

Hi Lovelies…

This week’s post comes as the result of a lot of emotional suffering, blood, sweat, and tears.

In the past month, I’ve agonized over two “big” talks I had to have.  Both of them involved me saying NO:  No, I can’t. No, please don’t.  No, I don’t think so.

Hard stuff.  I am a people-pleaser.  Saying no can feel excruciating for me.  I can’t even tell you the number of times I have found myself in a situation that I cannot even believe I’ve allowed, simply because I’ve been too scared to say no.  I have spent money I didn’t want to spend.  Gone on trips I didn’t want to go on.  Ate food I didn’t want to eat.  Accepted invitations to things I didn’t want to attend.  Concocted crazy lies, excuses, and stories.  All this, to get out of one simple little word.  All this, to avoid speaking my own truth.  All this, because I’d rather “protect” someone else’s feelings, or avoid their judgement.  All this at my own expense.

That last sentence is the most painful to write.  Because it’s so totally true.  When we don’t say NO to the things that we don’t want, the only person we hurt is ourselves.  We basically tell ourselves that we are not worthy of actually saying what we want.

The two incidents that I mentioned above were both things that in the past I would have said YES to.  I would have said yes, gritted my teeth, paid my money, or given my time.  I would have done all of this rather than look two close friends in the eye and say: NO.  Not this time.  I don’t want to.  I super appreciate it, but I can’t.

It took me almost a month to work up to saying no to the first friend.  It was a month of emotional dread.  I thought of every way to say NO.  I decided exactly what I wanted to say.  I rehearsed.  Yet time after time, when faced with the perfect opportunity to speak my mind, I didn’t.  I postponed.  Avoided.  Decided to talk to her at a “better” time.  Essentially, I put it off.  Again and again.  So, it sat on my emotional radar for weeks.  So much suffering.

The funny, and of course unsurprising thing, was that when I finally had this conversation, it took all of two minutes.  And my friend was completely OK with my response.  All that turmoil was so unnecessary.  Inspired by this, I had my second difficult conversation the very next day.  The result was the same.  My friend was very understanding.  She even told me that she agreed with what I was saying.

I am flying high right now my friends.  I have spent so much of my life afraid to say no.  And truthfully, it feels amazing to put myself first.  I know that not every “NO” will go this smoothly; the risk of saying NO can be hurt feelings, and maybe hurt relationships.  And for the first time ever, I think I am ready. I am willing to put myself in the driver’s seat.  Speak my truth.  Say the NO word frequently.  And see what happens.

I’m calling the next week “The Week of No”…I’m going to be saying NO to as many things as I can.  Join me!  Let me know in the comments below how you feel about saying no.

 

 

Subscribe to Susan’s blog!

 

Susan McCusker is on a mission to create the perfect life. Failing that, she can be found avidly reading self-help books, teaching classes, and hanging out with her family. A native of South Africa, she considers herself a global citizen and currently resides in Cincinnati, OH. She is a certified coach, and holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. You can check her out at http://susanmccusker.com

 

REVEAL: An inside, close-up look at my coaching

For those of you, dear Readers, who are either curious about what it is I do as a coach or you’d like to know because you’d like to work with me, below is a recent excerpt of some email coaching was doing with someone.  I think it offers a beginning taste of what I am about, why I coach, and the kind of coaching you can expect from me.

Always feel free to send me an email if you have questions or would like to inquire about private coaching. I currently have three openings remaining for new private clients. (leah[at]leahcb[dot]com)

******

I also want to offer this:

I sense two things when I read your five items above (and drawing on some other posts) – vagueness and carefulness (tell me where I’m wrong)- sometimes they overlap and the carefulness creates vagueness.

I think vagueness (wanting clarity) is a corollary of believing you are confused – and you are not.

But I think the carefulness is also contributing to the sense of confusion.

So, if you take the Top 5 Outcomes exercise as being this – imagine that you are at the end of your life – let’s say 90 – what would you want to be able to say to yourself about how you lived?  How would you want to feel looking back over those years?  And how do you need to be living (thinking, feeling, creating, doing) to be able to feel that way?

Just an example, sometimes my visualization of this changes, but I want variations of this:

“God damn, you did it girl.”

I want a deep, deep sense of satisfaction.  I want knowing I always played to my edge.  I want to know I dared.  I want to know I never dreamed too small.  I want to have had exquisite every days and extraordinary experiences.  I want to have been not a small, polite, nice presence in people’s lives – but a big, fat, powerful blessing.  I want people’s worlds to be better, their lives, because of our encounters.  I want to give, give, give.  And I want to know that I just kept on doing this all even though some people did not like what I had to give, did not like me, didn’t get it or me, or even had a strong distaste for me.

I imagine I’m sitting on some hilltop I’ve hiked (and yes, I’m 90) watching the sunset.  What comes to me when I put myself there and look back over my life are:

I’ve pioneered a movement for a generation of women – Joy Rising – is the undertone I get.  It’s because I sensed this swell of something – some kind of great love/joy – divine energy, divine feminine energy, even- that wanted to come into the world and it wanted to come especially through the increased realization of the potential of women.  And through the increased realization of the potential of these women (they were no longer obsessed and held back by their small selves and small self problems), they went on to love, create, heal, lead, and be in the world in all the ways in which the world wants to evolve.

The way I did this was through communicating this message and energy through my art, through my writing, through my poetry.

I did it grass roots – one woman (or man) at a time through my coaching, or several women (men) at a time through workshops/retreats/teaching classes at universities.

I did it through training other coaches/artists/healers/leaders/mothers/fathers – so that the ripple spreads.

I did the blood and guts work of creating it in my everyday life – with my family, my most beloved, in my home, in my community – I treasured and cherished and savored and fell deeply in love and created and channeled inspiration even when it was so easy to feel uninspired and daunted.

I lived FULLY ALIVE.  I loved, danced, I swam, I ran, I yoga’d :), I hiked, I adventured, I laughed, I saw and tasted and drank in the world and its many experiences. I looked for places in the world I hadn’t been – and went there.  And looked for places in myself that I wasn’t sure existed – and explored them as well and discovered that the boundaries of myself kept moving out and out and out. I loved it all and it loved me.

And sometimes I’ll play with this Top 5 Outcomes and imagine that this is the last day on the planet.  How, then, do I live today so that I still get to know I did what I came to do?  I once really believed I was going to die (guess you’d call that a near-death experience) and it was clear in that moment what I was about.  I have lost beloved people, including a close friend who had been very influential in my life, and sat through their funerals and in those moments it was clear what I was about.  If thinking about yourself at 90 is still too vague and careful feeling, bring that deadline really close in – like tomorrow.  What would you be doing and how would you be doing it today?

I don’t know what your response to this will be:

I am sharing, though, because I don’t believe in accidental encounters.  I believe that if I have the opportunity to coach someone (and think of all the things that had to happen for you and I to be brought together), that it is because they need my kind of coaching.  And my kind of coaching is to realize potential – like potential with a capital P.  My coaching is to help people discern, to intuit, to connect to their highest and most sacred call.

My coaching is like this badass but also grandmotherly guardian angel spirit who really, really, really wants to create a space and a scenario in which your soul is drawn out and leads you in the world, that you start to operate from that big, higher self.

I will say that while I’ve read your posts and listened to you on the phone, I sense myself doing this, “waiting, waiting, waiting….”  Like I can feel this part of you that is here for a very specific reason and I’m waiting for you to just come out and say the thing that is in you really wanting to be said.  It’s there, I can totally feel it.  And I know this sounds audacious, but I really don’t doubt myself on this stuff anymore.  It’s there.  What is it?  What do you really want?

Lots of love to you, Love-

Leah

 

Inner-Pilgrimage: On Trust

ATTEND, UNFOLD, Stained Glass Magnolias Painting, Leah Campbell Badertscher

STAINED GLASS MAGNOLIAS
48×48 original acrylic on canvas, Leah Campbell Badertscher, 2012
TRUST and light/sun/shining motifs are recurring themes in my life.
More and more they make their way into my art.
And now Trust is the practice I’m employing to venture more deeply into my writing.


Inner Pilgrimage Resumes on the Topic of Trust:

While I catch up on things here on the blog, I thought I’d share this painting and post from the archives of my former blogsite, http://leahrenascence.blogspot.com (June 4, 2013).  You’ll see the theme of Trust has been with me for awhile!



my shining, your shining life draws close, draws closer, 
God fills us as a woman fills a pitcher.


Those lines are the final lines from a poem called “Trust Me,” written by Jean Valentine.

I could live off those two lines for weeks.  I have, in fact, been reciting them to myself for weeks now and they just get better and better.  Not only are they so achingly beautiful, but when I read them, they so perfectly and profoundly express something I am both seeking and yet also already know to be and in a such a visceral way that it seems to me that I am not just reading someone else’s words but that it is a reverberating truth coming from deep in my bones and vibrating, reaching out.

The entire poem is powerful, if not a little difficult to begin with, but in a fascinating, mysterious, mystical sense – not a cleverly obtuse one.  It’s a wonderful illustration of a creative process that is anchored in the sublime, and a perfect context for discussing how to tap into a deeper, more profound wisdom and creative voice, something that my mentor Fran Quinn calls “the Second Voice,” the “voice” (or creative energy) that can move you beyond clever but the rather boring personal level to creating something more profound and universally meaningful.  It’s a topic I’m writing about in greater depth in my June newsletter (which, if you are interested, you can sign up for at www.leahcb.com).

If you haven’t already, you might try finding a time to be alone and reading those two lines aloud and then allowing yourself a long pause after you finish.  You may have to give it several tries and makes sure you are really connecting, as a whole (not just intellectually, not just reading the words) with the poem.  See if you don’t feel some sort of change in the quality of silence that follows and a powerful resonance within yourself.



my shining, your shining life draws close, draws closer, 
God fills us as a woman fills a pitcher.
 
 
 
 
 
With love, and drawing closer,
Leah


Inner Pilgrimage….Your Silent Companion Speaks!

Hello, Dear Readers and Fellow Travelers!

I wanted to let you know that I have not fallen off the Lenten path, but the last week has thrown some things (including a tech issue that meant my computer/internet access was really limited) for the last week.  I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers and will return soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a quick exercise that is helping me stay on track with my own inner pilgrimage so that I know, even though it doesn’t always go as planned, it was all the journey it was meant to be and I learned and experienced all I was meant to learn, letting go of getting it done perfectly by asking, asking instead that what I do is what I am meant to do…

Imagine you are standing at the end of your Inner-Pilgrimage and answer the following questions:

1. How do I want to feel after having completed this forty day experience?  Do not hold back.  Express your true, true heart-felt desires.

2. List the three things you know you need to think, do, say, experience daily in order for that to happen.

3. List three things you need to let go of in order for that to happen (can also be something you think, do, say, experience).

Thank you for continuing to walk with me although I’ve been a silent companion these last several days.

Love,

Leah

Inner-Pilgrimage, Day 14: Trust and Mystery

A Lenten Pilgrimage, A Devotional Practice

Day 14: Trust and Mystery

I think our relationship to mystery can tell us a lot about our relationship to our Soul, Life, God – about our trust in the Divine and the divine in us.

Today I wanted to share a line from David Whyte that never fails to inspire me to let go of the illusion that if I can just work and worry harder, somehow I can micromanage life so it all goes “my way.”  It allows me, instead, to open to life living me…

“Life is a mystery to be lived and not a problem to be solved.”

-David Whyte

 Where in life might you be so focused on problem solving that you haven’t really been living?

Maybe you can think of one area where you’ve had a tendency to worry and stress about getting things to turn out “just right” – maybe you’ve told yourself that not until you’ve arranged the left side of the equation just so will the right hand side yield = “now you’re worthy, now you’re protected, now you can enjoy life and really start living.”

If this sounds familiar, for today just pick one area of your life where you suspect you have a tendency to do this and in that area today, consider:

What if the equation is all just an illusion?  What if you can put the obsessive problem solving aside, put down the weight of the world and all it’s problems and stride forward, heart open and arms wide, into the mystery.

Life is not a problem to be solved.  Let it live you (it’s been doing it all this time, anyway).

Love,

Leah

Day 13: Trust AND Leap

A Lenten Pilgrimage, A Devotional Practice

Day 13: Trust AND Leap

I said yesterday that the theme for this week is “Trust” and so I am including my most recent newsletter article (for those of you not on my mailing list) because it is very much aligned with Trust.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, but Trust without action (though sometimes trusting means not  acting is what is called for) is, in my view, not really trust.

It’s been my experience that Trust requires consummation through action (or deliberate non-action).

What would you do if you were able to Trust?

I share a few of the things I never *thought* I could do below, and I have some big things this year that I’m undertaking and look forward to sharing when the time is right.  If the time is right for you, I’d love to hear what things you never thought you could do…but that are possible if you Trust.

Love,

Leah

Do The Thing You Never Thought You Could Do

March 3, 2014

Do the thing you never thought you could do.

Last week a colleague and I taught a workshop on “Listening to Your Inner Voice” to a group of Notre Dame students as a part of a discernment course entitled, “The Intentional Notre Dame Experience.”  (I had the opportunity to teach in the pilot run of this course last spring and then, happily, found out the course was being offered 3 more times this semester.)  I wanted to share with you what I think is one of the most important take-aways from that workshop.

Do the thing you never thought you could do.

You’ve heard this before, right?  Pretty and pithy and pretty pithy.  And maybe you were like me and thought, “Yeah, yeah, that’s old news, I’ve got that figured out.  Dream your dreams, believe in yourself, go out there and make it happen!”  Maybe you’re also like me and imagined this meant something like, “Skydiving!  Tattoo! (haven’t done either, btw!) Talk to that guy/girl – ask them out!”

True, but only in part.  I think there are layers of more profound meaning to this however.  In fact, when I switched from reading this phrase as “inspirational advice” over to “read it like poetry” I was gobsmacked by the meanings and textures that emerged.  (A lot more than I can get into in one newsletter, but I’ll be doing a video blog post on this so please check the blog for that coming soon!)

A little background…I spent some time thinking about the major concepts I wanted to introduce to these college students, first lecture-style and then also the things I wanted them to have an opportunity toexperience during the workshop component.  The kind of learning experiences I am most interested – in being engaged in and creating – are those that are not just informational (knowledge transfer), but have the potential for being transformational (hence the hands-on, breakout portions of workshops I love to do).

Here are the top three take-aways I wanted to share with the students:

1. There is an inner voice (also could read, “soul,” “intuition,” “God-connection”) and some of the ways it “speaks” to us.
2. The top ways to strengthen and deepen your connection to your inner voice.
3.  The top ways we shut up and shut down our inner voice – ways that I refer to as “disconnection defaults.”

I think, though, that we could easily dedicate an entire class, if not an entire course, to disconnection defaults – the ways we shut ourselves up and shut ourselves down.  In fact, I have a hunch that if we dedicated a lot of our first attentions and energy to this, that the first two would take care of themselves.  The voice wants to speak and wants to be heard.  In fact, it’s speaking all the time.  You don’t have to go to a lot of effort, there’s nothing you have to “make happen” when it comes to this.  It’s always there and it just flows.

Therefore, if we were simply aware of the specific ways we disconnect, we’d begin to notice them more and more.  And each time we notice is one more time that we become aware that there is, in fact, something from which we are disconnecting.  And each time we become aware that there is something from which we are disconnecting, we’d notice the discomfort, pain, even, of that disconnection.  The loss and heartache caused by disconnection would come more into our consciousness, whereas before it may have just been long stuffed beneath the surface, buried beneath a pile of a mixture of strategic denial and immediately gratifying, and yet ultimately empty, comforts and accomplishments.

And once you are aware of the ways you’ve been sleep-walking or anesthetizing yourself, it’s only a matter of time before that becomes intolerable and you start to dig through that pile, flinging debris far to the left and right, intent on uncovering your own suffocating heart…which has, fortunately for all of us, kept right on beating and breathing, waiting for you to do the necessary work.

Of the many ways we deny our callings, disconnect from our inner voice, the single one I wanted to address today when we don’t do what our hearts are calling us to do.  We might not even have realized a sacred call is there, so quick is the mind to ramp up and cover it up (because there’s usually something in the heart’s call that the mind/ego finds very inconvenient and even threatening).  One of the minds best secret weapon is simple but deadly effective, and that is to use the thought:  ”*I* can’t do that.”

*I* can’t do that.

I can’t do that because…
I haven’t earned it yet.
I’m not good enough.
I’m trapped in current XYZ situation.
I don’t have enough money.
the economy is bad.
no one believes in me.
everyone will think I’m crazy/dumb/a fraud.

or….

I can’t do that because
that’s just not me…
I’m a lawyer, I’m not a poet.
I’m a type-a, I’m not creative.
I’m a nice girl, I don’t rock the boat.
I’m a parent, I can’t be “selfish.”   (note that there is a difference between “selfish” and “you matter, too” that the mind likes to gloss over in its arguments!)
I’m too old, I should’ve started this decades ago.
I’m too young, no one will take me seriously, .
I’m too busy, I’ll wait for when I have more time.
I’m spiritual, I shouldn’t care about things like that.
I’m not spiritual, I shouldn’t care about things like that.
I’m too big too fail.  ( sorry! ;)  couldn’t resist, that last one just really wanted to be in there!)

Your mind will come up with endless reasons why it *thinks* you cannot do this thing.  If you have thought more than three times in your life, “I can’t do X”  (and X isn’t something that lands you in jail, or, simply, makes your heart sick – your inner voice may make your mind crazy-uncomfortable, your stomach may want to empty its contents, but even when it’s difficult, even when it may, in part, break your heart to try,  it never makes your heart or soul sick), then I am willing to bet that that particular X marks the spot for you.  Dig beneath that “I can’t do X” statement and you will find your heart’s treasure.

Don’t be discouraged if you find this kind of heart and soul inner-excavation difficult or frightening.  I am a crazy-passionate advocate about asking for guidance and support during this kind of work.  Find those that have gone into similar territory before you.  Find someone who loves you enough to carry an extra lantern to cast light, warmth and provide an encouraging presence and words.  You can find comfort and help in the written word (books, blogs, etc), and that is wonderful, but please go beyond that.  So much wonderful, loving, generous support awaits you if you only ask. This can include asking for invisible help, asking for your own soul’s help (invite it in!  invite it to walk towards you as you take steps towards it), praying, but also please reach out to help that lives and breathes – ask a trusted friend, think of enlisting a team, whether you need a sitter, an MD, a nutritionist, a massage therapist, a yoga teacher, or maybe you want to hire a coach, therapist, or  join a mastermind or support group.  Although I was too long too resistant in asking for help, I’ve since learned the tremendous power and -lovely surprise!- joy and love that can come from asking for help, whether it be from family or friends or colleagues, and in investing in myself and hiring exactly the kind of guidance and support I needed.

For example, at another part of my life, I really wanted to join this mastermind group of amazing women that another remarkable woman I knew was assembling.  I knew I could really benefit from this kind of community and from some support and coaching to help me work through some of the ways I’d been getting in my own way, but I didn’t *think* I could justify the time (I was a new mom at the time) and I didn’t *think* I could justify the financial investment in myself.  One of the reasons I wanted to join the mastermind was to have help and support so I could take the steps I needed to take to be able to make a living doing what I loved.  I’d been making some progress, though sometimes halting and slow, doing what I love, but I still just had my toes in the water and was definitely a long way from making a viable living from all that dabbling.

In those days, there was a huge part of me saying, “You can’t justify an investment like that until you’ve proven yourself!  Paint some awesome paintings, publish some stories, make some money, PROVE YOURSELF and THEN, and ONLY THEN, can we talk about joining groups like this!”

Long story short, I joined that group (about five years ago) and it became a catalyst for further unfurling (and, at times, I believe an acceleration) of my journey.  That group helped me see myself in ways that was more like a remembering of who I really am and that group rooted for the things that were near and dear (and often so closely guarded) to my heart.
Although I’d been a “seeker” and knew I was on a different life path than the one I’d mapped out in my late teens and early twenties, it was the experience of taking a leap (a financial investment, a difficult conversation with my husband, difficult just because he’d never heard of a mastermind before and it sounded sort of wacky to him, the risk that I might do this and then still not “have anything to show for it,” take this leap and still might fail…) like this that was the springboard and catalyst for more growth, unfurling, deepening, and amazing experiences in the next five years.  In the last five years I’ve had three beautiful babies, grown as an artist and writer, launched a coaching practice, began selling my art, deepened my relationship with my husband, and, for all these wonderful things that are there to be seen, I can honestly tell you that there are nothing compared with how I love life on the interior as well.

And it’s been possible because, more and more, I’ve gotten so much better at allowing my heart and soul to come forward and lead my life.  Rather than leading with my rational mind, I’ve learned to not shut down that inner voice, even, and sometimes especially when it says seemingly wild and irrational things, for “the heart has reasons that reason knows not!”  (Blaise Pascal)  I don’t have everything figured out – far from it.  But that no longer matters so much and I’m learning to really and truly love and embrace the mystery and adventure of living this way.  I trust that if I do that thing, to which my thinking warns/admonishes/scolds/threatens/argues, “No!  You cannot!” and yet to which my heart says, “Yes!” and listen to and act upon my inner voices wisdom, that all sorts of forces and resources, of my own device but also of others and Other, if I leave room for them, will converge and help make real those things I never thought I could do.

I totally believe and subscribe to the wisdom and science of making goals and making plans.  I also believe there is a way to approach this spiritually and as an art form.  One of the exercises we did with the students is this awesome practice my friend, colleague and co-teacher, Wendy Angst (you can follow her on twitter ;), introduced me to called “The Life Journey Map.”  As Jim Rohn has written, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”  This is very different than opening your self to SOMEONE ELSE’S PLAN and WHAT WANTS TO HAPPEN.   If you approach the practice of designing your life  coming first from the orientation that you Trust and you are allowing your choices to be guided by your inner voice (as opposed to your ego/mind strong-arming the process) and informed by your highest calling, you will have a better chance of synchronizing your plan with that sacred plan…which is very different than just playing the lotto, leaving it all to chance, or letting someone else hand you what their map for you.

Finally, just a hunch (and, confession, informed by my own experience), but I’d bet many of your minds are telling you that the thing you thought you never could do was be happy until you had all the boxes checked that you think you came here to check (graduate from X institution, get X degree(s), have a family, have a successful career, make X dollars, travel to Y place, support Z charitable causes, buy THEE house, be the best and consummate whatever your soul is calling you to be) – while somehow avoiding checking all the boxes that you think should remain unchecked OR ELSE you don’t deserve happiness (never yell at my kids or spouse, never be impatient, never misplace my faith, never gain weight, never get out of shape, never put your foot in your mouth, never hurt someone else’s feelings, never make a mistake, never look stupid, never have a bad day, much less to say a bad streak of days…or weeks…)  I think it’s a pretty common brand of false belief many of us carry around – the “You can only be happy when you’ve earned it,” brand.

So, whether you’re looking for an initiation to inner voice practice or you’re a savvy soul-whisperer, here is a next step you can take in this practice of “doing the thing you never thought you could do.”

Know that “earning” is irrelevant in the language of the soul.  Love isn’t a commodity.  It just is.  It flows.  Just…

Be. Happy. Now.

And from that place, go forth, and do the next thing you never thought you could do.

(And drop me a line and let me know what you do!  I’ll be rooting for you!)

XO-
Leah

 

Inner-Pilgrimage, Day 12: Breathe in Trust, Embody Love

photo-13

A rising full moon this evening.  So much more big and beautiful than this picture shows – wish you were here to see it yourselves!  Someday I will do these kind of Inner-Pilgrimages in person and then maybe some of you will be able to be right there, watching the sunset and moon rise with me.

A Lenten Pilgrimage, A Devotional Practice

Day 12: Breathe in Trust, Embody Love

This evening I watched a full moon rising over a wide-open country horizon.  I breathed it in, savoring it and feeling that so deeply that in that moment, like all moments, I am right where I am meant to be.

This does not mean that everything is without heartache or pain for me.  But I am deeply glad that I get to be where I am at this point in my life – for difficult times and for those filled with laughter (and days like today, sometimes those things even happen gloriously and heart-wrenchingly simultaneously.  Remind me someday to tell you the story of what my incredibly spunky and awesome grandmother-in-law said that had her son, my father-in-law and I in tears and laughing…)

This feeling of deep rightness is so akin to Trust for me, and it led me to reflecting on what I wanted to share with you this week.  I’d had a feeling that I wanted this week to be about Trust.  Today seemed to be replete with signs that affirmed that.

This next week marks some very exciting new beginnings for me – beginnings which have their roots in Radical Trust and deep, deep Love.  These new beginnings are the result of me listening to and following my heart.  They feel risky.  Maybe they ARE risky.  I still haven’t made up my mind whether there is any such thing as real risk or not…but there is definitely the feeling of risk.

As for these things I’m undertaking, I couldn’t even tell you exactly how I envision this all panning out.  I can’t tell you that I’ve done a risk/benefit assessment and that yes, odds are in my favor.

But I can tell you, unequivocally, that I am listening to my heart as never before and following it with more trust and love than ever.  I know what is up to me is to make this journey as beautiful as I hope the destination to be.  And I know that while I make mistakes, I won’t regret these things one bit because this is me following my heart.  What more can you ask of yourself than that?

Perfection?  Well, then, you might as well go back to bed.

I know, more than ever, who I am and what I am about and why I am here.  I’ve got a grand vision, but I don’t, however, have a complete roadmap for how to get there or make that happen.  And I am better than okay with that. I trust if I’m coming from an authentic place, if I’m honest and earnest, then the next steps will be revealed.  And I know that I will be able to handle what comes my way, and what I cannot do, I will surrender to God.  What I can do on my own is so limited, but I believe what can be done through me is limitless and beyond my wildest imaginings.

And I want to let you know that all of you who have ever written to me or spoken to me to tell me that you follow my blog, my work and that it means something to you, is somehow useful to you, are with me.  At any time when I wonder why I do what I do, it gives me so much inspiration and encouragement to think that what I may learn – from my failures as well as my successes- may be helpful and inspirational to someone else.  Thank you for that.

So, yes.  Trust.

If you have any questions/insights/reactions to this theme, I’d love to hear from you.  If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to include that conversation here this week (and am happy to redact your personal information if you’re more comfortable with that!).  I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that if you have a question or struggle, that there is someone else out there with the same situation that would greatly benefit from your brave (even anonymous) sharing.

Finally, I was just texting a friend tonight about a reflection I will be offering this coming Thursday for a mom’s group (so close to my heart!).  She asked if I had an idea of what I might be talking about.

I went back outside to breathe in the moon and came back inside with this answer,

“Living from the heart: drop habits of worry and struggle, breathe Trust, and embody Love.”

She texted back the following, which I think makes a beautiful final offering for today’s post:

“I may have a new mantra:

‘Breathe in trust.  Embody love.’ ”

If you’d like, try on this mantra for a week and let me know how it goes…

Breathe in trust.
Embody love.

Love,

Leah