coming together


What I think more than anything else is that I feel more alive than I had felt before, and the surprise has been that “alive” is not always euphoria.

Sometimes “alive” is a thin razor’s edge away from the cold, bracing wind of fear.

no case of the mondays

This post was written in December 2009. It documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.

I noticed this thing that happened over the weekend, on Saturday. Basically, as Saturday afternoon wound into Saturday evening, I started to mentally run through what was coming up next. The thought process was something like, “Okay, so let’s see: today is Saturday, tomorrow’s Sunday. What’s going on tomorrow? Anything I need to get done before Monday?”

There was this immediate dip in my mood as I thought about “having to” go to this job that I hated, and then remembering that in fact I am not teaching this upcoming Monday, and this caused an immediate lift, a sense of palpable relief. My work for the past year has been to notice that dip in mood every Sunday evening, and to remind myself not to give it too much power.

It occurred to me that I’ve been doing that dance with the weekend for a loooong time–far longer than I’d like to admit to the blogosphere, in fact. Some weekends I was able to not give Monday too much power, and other weekends, I was far less successful. There are a lot of dimensions of this that I could write about and will go into some other time–for now, I want to write about how strange it feels to realize that there is nothing for me to “push against,” work-wise, any longer.

Does that make any sense?

There’s this “thing” about work–people like to complain about their jobs. In fact, it seems to me that jobs are an easy dumping ground for most of life’s problems. Jobs become the thing that constrain our time and “suck our souls.” As a coach, I’ve noticed that each of us–that includes me–have our defaults for where we’ll put our blame/drama, and work is often enough the place where we put that blame/drama because job titles don’t get hurt feelings when you call them names, the way our loved ones would if we were blaming them (though for all of us at times, that can be another source of blame).

This Monday is the first Monday of the rest of my life. I have an entirely different set of questions to confront about my working life, namely about what it means for me to be/feel productive. ¬†There is no longer that thing to “push against,” in the work realm, so my work now becomes making sure that whatever tendencies I have to create drama or complain don’t get pushed into some other area just to fill the void.

I’m also sort of in awe of the spaciousness of that void–of how big it got. I don’t yet have words to explain what it is like to see what I’m passionate about move into center focus, instead of being something I work on on the sides. I’m already noticing that it feels really weird to manage my computer time–the computer is often enough a source of both work and entertainment. Where do the two overlap?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the steps it took for me to actually let go of my teaching job–because it was really, really hard–and realized that my coach and I approached it all in a very methodical way designed to be as in integrity as possible. I wrote down each piece and what I’m going to do is this–starting on January 1st, 2010, I’m going to post ten consecutive steps towards Stopping the Job Suckage. Stay tuned!

self-care is not a hamburger

This was written in December 2009, and documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.

Okay, funny title, right? But here’s what I mean–self-care is not a to-do list of stuff, achieved or looked at in a factory assembly line fashion (i.e., bun, condiments, burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, bun, voila! self-care has been achieved!).

Some people might look at that and go, “Well, that’s great, but I’m not really experiencing issues with self-care. I get plenty of sleep, exercise, I get time to myself, so if this course is working on self-care, I don’t really need anything in that department.” Others may think, “I’ve tried those ‘self-care plans’ before. I’ve read those books. I know, I know, I just need to be accountable. I just need to get off my duff and do it. Nothing new, here.”

As I work with coaching clients, I am not crafting it like a hamburger. Checklists that maintain accountability are a piece of the process, but they’re only secondary. I’m starting with the type of self-care that is about things like knowing that your life is fully in integrity.

Think of a time when you’ve encountered a difficult situation–perhaps, for instance, a time when you had conflict with a friend but no one was talking about it. Perhaps you felt icky and out of integrity because you knew you wanted to say something, but you were still working up the courage. Think of how much energy that ick feeling took–and think of how great it felt, how much lighter it was, when you finally did clean things up with that person.

In my coaching practice, looking at personal integrity and how to clean up situations where you don’t feel in integrity with others (because of withholds) or with yourself (because you know you have big dreams that you’ve been putting off) is part of self-care.

I remember how it felt before I found my life’s work–my attempts at self-care were that I’d decide that I was going to do yoga every day, or perhaps meditate, or whatever happened to inspire me in that moment, convincing me that I’d be “better if…”. It was great to take on that practice in that moment…but then it wouldn’t last. Why? Or sometimes I’d be really great at my to-do list, and yet I’d still feel empty and unfulfilled. Why?

From my perspective, I had that experience because there are other parts of self-care that were neglected. Self-care is so much more than eating our vegetables. It’s about integrity, personal choice, noticing, acknowledging, making conscious decisions.

My coaching work is about creating real, lasting change that is about a journey, not a to-do list of items to tick off.

I’m also really excited to announce that I have a few confirmed interviews:

Matthew and Terces Engelhart are co-founders of Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and authors of Sacred Commerce, The Abounding River Personal Logbook, and Plenty of Time: A 366 Day Creative Planner. These two souls are committed to abundance and gratitude and all that it can bring into your life, and I’m really excited to see what they share.

Yvonne & Rich Dutra St.John, co-founders of Challenge Day and authors of Be the Hero. Challenge Day has been featured several times on the Oprah Winfrey Show and a new reality tv show on their work will be produced by MTV in the coming months.

Christine Mason Miller: Artist, Writer, Philosopher. She’s the shining creative writer behind the book Ordinary Sparkling Moments and her work has been picked up and distributed throughout many galleries and stores. She is an artist who has truly shown that through dedication and hard work, artists do not need to “starve.”