Category Archives: discipline

Letting Go for the NEW New Year

Did you know that the Romans celebrated their New Year on March 1?

Mars, the God of War, oversaw the start of their calendar. Makes sense, because ROMANS.

terminalis statue wikipedia

As part of their ritual, they celebrated Terminalis, the God of Borders, Transitions, and Neighbors

I came across these facts randomly several years ago, and had the bright idea to use a random holiday as an excuse for a party.

It was great in DC, so I repeated it in Portland, as a way to meet my neighbors in the rather cold, anonymous apartment complex where I live. It worked out okay a couple years ago, but was less pagan-ritual and more corporate-ice-breaker vibe…

cheesy corporate icebreaker trust fall

So this year, in line with my intention to be more open to the mysteries, I deliberately invoked the pagan side of the holiday in my invitation.

I invited people I thought would be into rational discussion of neighbors. Borders. What being a good neighbor meant. What having a border meant.

My definition of neighbor expanded to include those within a few miles, since the people I’d met two years ago had moved on. We talked about the definition of neighbor.

IMG_7130

I got 4 No’s and 2 Yes’s and 5 Lack of Responses. Portland.

My two Yes’s showed up and we had baked goods, wine, tea, and enlivening, enheartening conversation. It was brilliant. More evidence that quality over quantity is what counts.

It also affirmed my intention to Let Go of the effects of my generosity this year. For 2017, one of my intentions is to offer what I can, without the expectation of returns. This means not holding onto disappointment when no one comes on an outing, not seething with resentment when someone says they’ll come then blithely doesn’t show, not refusing to offer my generosity because I don’t get the feeling I desire.

It’s hard, but I’m learning. And my two Yes’s helped that little monster in my brain relearn the importance of a few deep connections, rather than the buzz of a crowd or the validation of popularity.

What borders around you need tending? What neighbors could you invite to your (metaphorical) hearth?

 

Images via Wikipedia, Expert Beacon, and property of Margaret Pinard

Luminaries: Laura

This is the fourth in my 2015 series called Luminaries, about people I’ve met who seem to be guided by their own inner light. I’ve been inspired by them and here relate some of the wisdom I’ve picked up from each one. See Interview 1, Interview 2, and Interview 3.

quasar luminary wiki commons  We have a bit of a switch-up at this juncture!

Laura Stanfill, gracious interviewee #4 for this series, tugs the covers in the complete opposite direction from my other subjects in terms of life path-taking.

If Ward is on one end of the spectrum, with his do-everything curiosity for life, Laura is on the other end, with her insane commitment to being the best writer she can be, no matter the assignment, no matter the time pressure. But let’s start at A Beginning…

Our beginning was at Stumptown Lit 2014, where I was having my first book exhibited as a member of Oregon Writers Colony — so exciting! I was searching for less-cliche, less-network-y ways to engage with people at the event, so when I arrived at the Forest Avenue Press table, I asked Laura, “What made you decide to become a publisher?”

And she had a wonderful, self-aware answer, johnny-on-the-spot. I made a mental note: this gal is the Real Deal. So I was over-the-moon delighted when she agreed to do an interview for Taste Life Twice. I was also delighted to find out that her own publishing career started off with a series of similar interviews with a wide variety of writers in the Pacific Northwest (Brave On The Page).

Coincidence??? I hope not…

laura stanfill pub photo red chairLaura has achieved success in every arena she has entered. That comment I made above, about “no matter the assignment”? She once had a freelance job writing for a school district that needed more funding from the local Board of Supervisors. She turned it into a 296-page school district masterpiece, resulting in the Association of School Business Offices’ Meritorious Budget Award, but more importantly, the first time the schools received what they asked for in recent memory!

When I sat down to pelt Laura with nosey questions last month, I realized that she must possess some sort of crazy magic substance (like lembas) to sustain such a drive for excellence and constant innovating: from overachiever school newspaper editor at Vassar College to Publisher of her own press for the last four years, it’s always been about writing. She neglected to mention a source for the lembas (darn!), but said that she’s been a perfectionist forever, and motivated to exceed people’s expectations since before that.

Thankfully, as a parent, she’s learned to turn on her personal ‘Creativity Valve’ when she has a spare ten minutes in order to edit, write, report, or otherwise grow her business, an effort that has always been about strengthening the literary community here in Portland, her adopted city.

One of the points that some of the other ‘Luminaries’ have expounded upon is the breaking away from other people’s expectations as a break for freedom. For Laura, it seems to be more of a synthesis: when the expectations align with her own desire to write, she puts love into the project, and great things happen.

Lucky duck!

laura stanfill pub photo zany authorOne of the most important questions for Laura was the one about balance: What balances you out in life? At first, she couldn’t think past her perfectionist tendencies. But then the little things, those activities that can seep into the cracks of life, showed themselves. Reading for pleasure. Writing her own fiction. Knitting (in a community of knitters). And oh, what’s this in my back pocket?

That’s right: an annual retreat with a few women writer friends, where they isolate themselves in individual cabins for several days, coming together for lunches and dinners to discuss their current works.

Doesn’t that sound divine? (If you are interested in such a thing, DO NOT HESITATE to contact me. I’m totally starting my own!)

One of my other regular questions is about a defining moment, some memory that points the way to what you know you’re meant to do. For Laura, this occurred very early on, and she had a beautiful anecdote about how her passion was lovingly reinforced:

For a 4th grade writing assignment on an everyday object, she chose a red rubber ball. And what did it do? It went on a journey to the Black Forest of Germany and had adventures. The Schwarzvald, people! The teacher conspired with the school librarian to get the story ‘published’ for the school library.

Ms. Stanfill has been writing ever since.

laura stanfill pub photo blue hat

 

Images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Laura Stanfill

Luminaries: Danielle

This is the second in a new series called Luminaries, about people I’ve met who are guided by their own inner light. I’ve been inspired by them and here relate some of the wisdom I’ve picked up from each one. See Interview 1.

danielle lefebvre whole bodhi consulting

Danielle Lefebvre

You know those fireballs of energy that you see in life? On a stage, on the track, at the podium? You can sense they have an inner fire burning, giving them energy to dazzle the rest of us with their words, or dance, or speed.

Danielle is a fireball. One that is balanced out with thoughtful discipline and cheery goodwill. I met her through her amazing vinyasa classes at Yoga Space NW in the summer of 2013, and count myself lucky to be still in her circle of influence. You may too, after reading!

I asked Danielle some pointed (i.e. nosey) questions about how she came to be such a sustained, balanced person, and some themes emerged from the experiences she related to me.

Constant Change

Whether it was a rut of routine exercise gigs or the destruction of a relationship, one thing that Danielle has been able to show again and again is that when you are presented with a wall, strength is finding a way around or through it.

It starts with accepting that your life is going to be a series of changes, and not fighting to get everything perfect and then relax. It continues with being aware of those changes as they come at you, and taking the time to adjust to them and make decisions based on love rather than fear.

For example, Danielle told me about a moment when she was feeling very unfulfilled, despite having a steady job, a new house, a caring boyfriend… it sounds perfect, right? But the feeling was there, and she had to pause and figure out why. She’d recently left Nike as a trainer and Pilates instructor to go into event planning, but realized her work in event planning was not filling her cup of happiness, as it were.

That missing feeling prompted a ‘cathartic meltdown,’ and after a lot of hard introspection, she knew she had something new to teach, and could return to the yoga/fitness world she’d left, with much more to offer. This happened a few years back, and I can see why it felt like one of the hardest lessons to learn. However, on the positive side, later iterations of the same lesson then become easier to recognize!

For me, my catharsis happened in DC after similar elements combined to make me feel like I was at a dead end: stagnant job, remnants of torn-down relationship, but hey! financially stable!

when your life begins bob moawad quote

And it was a light bulb moment: I’m responsible for this? I can make any choice I want? Well then let’s get this effing show on the road! And all the blips since then have been easier to weather, knowing that I’m doing this solopreneur thing because I love myself, and don’t want to be living someone else’s life.

Slow and Steady

captain picard make it so

While we might want to make changes, we often wish it was as easy as saying, “Make it so.” But it’s not. When we try to improve our lives by adding a daily habit or getting rid of one, there are slip-ups, excuses, and self-talk to battle against.

Danielle has found her own brand of ‘slow & steady’ that keeps her grounded and focused in her work and her life. It involves using carefully selected teachers in different parts of her life that help concentrate her effort to learn, for example in yoga, in yoga therapy, or in the personal therapy arena.

It also involves a specific time management strategy. I imagine there is a fancy term for this in the workout world, but essentially the technique is to “do a little bit of hard work at a time, then take a break.” That way, you’re challenging yourself to confront the new and scary, but also giving yourself breaks to the familiar so that you don’t burn out. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s getting you closer to your goal.

cycle of routine and excitement pinterest

I like this technique a lot.

Business Decision-Making is Never a Breeze

We talked a fair bit about the relationship between money and stress and decision-making. As solopreneurs whose service and/or product bears directly on our ability to pay the rent, there are a lot of emotions tied up in that analytical process. We may feel like we need to say yes to an offer of a side gig, when if we worked out the costs of gas and the stress of traffic, it’s a lose-lose situation. (Commuters on the West side of Portland may know what I’m talking about!)

It’s important to consider money, time effects, and one final factor: learning for value. This encompasses doing things that yield nothing tangible in the moment, but trusting that they may have results in the future. For me, this is another way of saying MARKETING (yes, I said it).

One of the things Danielle and I totally agreed on was that marketing for solopreneurs can get us all confused emotionally; we have to promote ourselves as our brand, but then not feel criticized when our efforts don’t gain as much traction as we want. I think the perfect answer here is measuring your impact by effort put in, not results coming out.

Know the difference between enjoyable and beneficial

When I asked about balance in her life, Danielle made an interesting distinction: enjoyable vs. beneficial. Amid all the earnest goal-setting, healthy eating, and exercise, we do need an opposite sort of activity, one that doesn’t require our brains to be ‘on’ in the same way, one that gives the Ego or the Driving voice inside a break.

We could do this by zoning out in a Netflix binge, but that would be enjoyable in the moment, not beneficial to our overall well-being. This is a line of demarcation that may take some getting used to, since we are so centered on our screens these days, but one that deserves attention. What can you think of that is a go-to activity for you, but might not be beneficial?

I am still pondering this one. I know that watching old movies from the library or Youtube videos of unavailable British comedy is one way I turn my brain off, but it feels like such a release!

Social media, I admit, is a slippery slope. I realize this every time I get on Facebook, only to look up 20 minutes later and think, “What did I get on here for?” So that one, I do monitor more closely these days. But the videos, when used judiciously… I’m not sure I would say they’re not beneficial. What do you think?

whole bodhi consulting danielle lefebvre yoga balance pose

Cultivate Your Own Community

In addition to the screen addiction, there are many other ‘modern society’ behaviors that may not be beneficial to you, and it’s your job to sniff those out. Know thyself, in order to figure out how you work best (#howiworkbest).

I asked about what parts of modern society Danielle chose to opt out of, and here was the list:

  • Facebook
  • iPad
  • Smartphone worship
  • News (in the form of an NPR alarm clock!)

Agreed! The sort of false connection you get when connecting via social media or on our smartphones is beneficial neither to us nor the world, so why do it? Rather, hunt for and find like-minded individuals who share your priority values, and build your tribe. Maybe even start an intentional community. That could be really beneficial, helping you live your life according to your examined values.

Do you have any questions for Danielle?

…Do you want to come take her class? Told you this would happen…

 

Images via Andion, Pinterest, and Whole Bodhi Consulting