Creating Dynamic Balance

Living Your Life in Dynamic Balance!

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Why do so many people come to coaching seeking balance in their lives? 

Many people I help with making career transitions also feel that it's a great time to open the picture of what they really want in their whole lives. When we explore this in more depth, they see that they want more than just a new professional direction or position. They want to affirm the importance of living in such a way that there is time in their lives for the synergistic richness of meaningful work, caring relationships, health and fitness, personal development, creativity, and simply being.

When you feel your life is out of balance, what happens is that too much of yourself is being absorbed in ways that are no longer fruitful. Living in dynamic balance is about how to refresh and renew yourself within the forces that shape and energize your life— with work, family life, friendships, creativity, spirituality, and well-being.

As Gregg Levoy asks in his dynamic book, Callings, "What is the feedback your life gives you? Is your energy growing or shriveling? Moving or getting jammed up? Is your life deepening?"

Suzanne was a 30-year-old woman who'd moved several years earlier to Portland, Oregon, with her husband and young daughter after several years working with an international corporation in Washington, D.C. She started coaching with me because she felt her life was very much out of balance. While happy with her family, her contract work was unsatisfying to her, she felt isolated from her friends back east, and out of rhythm in her life as a whole.  She definitely felt her energy was "shriveling" and "jammed up."

As we explored what she wanted to do and how she wanted her life to be, Suzanne  realized how much she wanted her life to include teaching yoga again, expressing herself through writing, taking courses at a psychotherapy institute, reaching out to her women friends, and re-connecting with her spirituality. She soon found a studio to teach yoga for disempowered women, took a class in neuropsychology, and reached out for places to start publishing articles about living spiritually.  

Now her energy was "growing" and "moving"! In fact, Suzanne found so many areas of compelling interest that she then had to look at how to fit them into her busy week. Then she took a week-long meditation retreat that profoundly opened her core desire to live authentically, from her heart. 

In this spirit, Suzanne accepted a part-time position on a project she particularly cared about with the organization she'd left several years earlier. She negotiated ways to work as part of a team, even at a distance, so she wouldn't feel isolated working from home.  She also organized a "hub" for herself and some of her women friends as a place to come together to do whatever work each of them was engaged in, as well as connect socially.

In these ways, Suzanne has begun to build on her growing awareness of what it is to live her life in dynamic balance. She no longer tries to make her family life and all her new interests fit perfectly together. Though she plans time for her work routine, including teaching yoga, she's learned to appreciate shifting and re-balancing her energy by following where her curiosity and her caring lead her during the week.  She's learned to trust in herself the evolution of an "inner compass" on her own authentic path. 

Most importantly for Suzanne is connecting with the alive, passionate part of herself in everything she chooses to do now.

Living in dynamic balance is about just that— understanding where your energy needs to go in order to grow and nourish your soul. Living in dynamic balance requires a periodic shifting of your energy from the outer shape of your profession or relationship or creative path to your inner knowing that assesses their meaning and value for you. This, in turn, allows you to re-design your work and other life commitments so you can breathe and go forward, freely, with happiness and with purpose.

Fundamentally, our lives are not jigsaw puzzles that we take apart, then put together again in the same ways. Whenever you create change in some aspect of your life, your whole life changes, as if you're dancing with the universe. This is the “dynamic” quality of “balancing” your life!

             What is the dynamic balance you'd like to have in your life now?

The Wave That Carries Us Forward

As you pass over the threshold of another year, feel the impetus inside you that has brought you to this place, this time— the ending of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.  Have you drifted here in a natural way, as a leaf lets go of the tree? Have you moved purposefully toward this place, like a dancer in the final movement of the dance?  Or have you felt a shaking from within that impelled you forward, from still water into the arching crescent of a wave?

For me, 2014 was truly like launching myself into a huge wave with the coming out of my book, Success with Soul— Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance. In fact, as you can see, the cover of my book is derived from the famous print, “The Wave,” by the Japanese woodblock artist, Hokusai.

When I chose this image for the cover of my book, the wave appeared to be facing backward, as my colleague and friend, Tamara Alfaroff, noticed. Thanks to the magic of technology and the skill of my book designer, Mark D’Antoni, the wave on the cover now faces forward— carrying all before it with its supreme power, energy, and elegance.

What is the impact of the image of a huge wave— cresting high over your head and just about to crash— for you?

As I searched for an image of what would convey the experience of helping people find work they love and learn to live in balance, that of an enormous wave seemed to say it all. I mean, it takes energy to find work that genuinely nourishes you. And “living in balance” to me means learning how to nourish yourself through cultivating and enjoying the energy in all that is important to you. So the giant wave indicates dynamic balance, like real life— like the seeming stillness of the ocean that is, however, constantly shifting and rarely static (even though there are times when we’d like it to be that way).

As you can see on my book cover image, the wave is just about to complete its arc— rising from the sea, encircling the air, and about to touch the ground. There is completeness here on the wave’s elemental journey back into its oceanic source. Even the fire element is there, embedded in the wave’s upward surge of power.

How can you access your inner wave of energy and power to manifest the dream you want to live out in 2015?  If it’s not clear to you, please contact me for a free consultation about how coaching can give you the clarity and support you need to do just that. You can also read my book and check out my website for free reports, earlier blog posts, and other information about how to work and live authentically and well.

May 2015 be a time of deep fulfillment and happiness for you!

Why Work and Live in Dynamic Balance?

If you’re reading this post during the week, what kind of day did you have?  How many tasks did you attempt or complete?  How many people did you interact with?  What kind of time pressure were you under to get things done?  How much control did you have over your professional and domestic agendas?                                 

And now, check in with your breathing and the sensations in your belly, chest, and throat.  What are you noticing?  Are you at ease in your body?  Or tense, constricted, and pressured around your back, neck, shoulders, eyes, belly?

Recently, I watched a new TV series from England called “Silk”-- the informal name given to English barristers (court lawyers) who attain the prestigious title, Queen’s Counsel (QC), due to their professional success and political acumen-- who are thereby entitled to wear silk gowns in court.  In this series, two barristers, a man and a woman, from the same chamber (law firm) are locked in a cutthroat battle to be nominated as QC.  

The woman’s life, in particular, is a mad dash from one courtroom to another, alternating between flashes of brilliance and forgetfulness, followed by evenings of drinking and politicking with other lawyers and judges, then reading new legal briefs until the early hours.  Only in moments does she come out of her work round to acknowledge support from a colleague or her longing for a child and a whole life that has relational warmth and depth.

Granted that this is an exaggerated scenario, “Silk” speaks to a way of life that is on serious overload re emotional and physical health and life balance.  This is a story I hear often as a coach and somatic therapist from people who overwork and give themselves away on the job-- and as parents, spouses, partners, and parental caretakers.  Trying to live up to other people’s expectations, they lose their connection to their own spirit, passion, and sense of self.

In my ebook, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I describea movie called Enchanted April that I absolutely have to see every year for its beautiful depiction of the shift from resigned hopelessness to the richness and wonder of being alive.  It starts with the meeting of two women in post-World War I London on a dreary, stormy day.  Together, they make a radical decision to stop “being good” to everyone else at the cost of feeling “miserable” and depleted themselves.  

I’m talking here about lives out of balance and what happens when too much of yourself is being absorbed in ways that are no longer fruitful in your life.  I’m talking about how we can stay refreshed and renewed-- in dynamic balance-- with work, family life, friendships, creativity, spirituality, and well-being-- forces that shape and energize our lives.

Why are so many of the people I coach seeking balance in their lives, particularly when they’re considering shifting to a new career?  A number of them have worked as almost as strenuously as the woman barrister in “Silk” in their 20’s and 30’s, only to realize in mid-life that they’re missing out, not having a primary relationship or actively participating in their children’s lives or even taking care of their basic health and fitness needs.  In seeking a new way to work, they begin to realize that this is exactly the time for them to evaluate what possibilities are available for creating a more satisfying, holistic quality of life.

Otherwise you will reach the point where, as a doctor in her early 50's-- concerned that her sixty-hour-per-week position was adversely affecting her relationship with her teenage daughter-- told me: “My well is running dry.  I have no more to give out.  I am no longer capable of superhuman exertions!”  This is exactly the risk of working and living without being in a more natural balance.

Now take a little time here to notice and feel the dynamic balance and energy of your own life by considering and responding to these questions:

• What does the rhythm of your life look and feel
like when you’re at ease and not under stress?
Close your eyes and feel your body sensations
and breathing just as you are now.  Now visualize
yourself in a place that is totally relaxing to you.
Again, pay attention to your body sensations and
breathing.  Notice any images that arise as you
visualize and feel yourself coming into more
natural balance in your body, mind, and spirit.     

           • Does your work embody this balanced rhythm in
any way?  If so, how?  If not, why?   

  • What is one step you can choose to take that will
let you incorporate this more balanced rhythm
into your current work situation or your plan for
a new career?  

  • How can making this one change help create more dynamic balance in your whole life?

Remember that even if your life feels profoundly out of balance, yes, you do have a choice in developing a whole life that is more in rhythm with who you really are and wish to be.  In fact, you’ve taken the first step towards positive change if you’re noticing your physical, mental, and emotional discomfort in a state stuckness and imbalance.  Learning to create the balance in your life revitalizes the way you work, feel, and relate with others!

The Soul of Successful Career Change and Lives in Balance

[An excerpt from my forthcoming book, Successful Transitioning to Work You Love-- Inspiration for Those on the Path to Heart-Centered Livelihood and a Life in Balance]

  “The more deeply our work stirs imagination and corresponds to images that lie there at the bedrock of identity and fate, the more it will have soul . . . Most of us put a great deal of time into work, not only because we have to work so many hours to make a living, but because work is central to the soul’s opus.

                 -- Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

What is the soul of success? What does soul look like and feel like to you?

Since most of my work is with people seeking fulfilling work and/or lives balanced by rewarding relationships and well-being, Thomas Moore’s words stir me with a sense of wanting to know more about being soulful. When we say something has soul, like joyous music, we mean that it grabs our spirit and sings out to us.  When something feels soulless, like certain work environments, on the other hand, we have a feeling of deadness or lack of energy in its presence. 

Soul is a feeling of life and vibrancy that we can feel within from our experiences and relationships in the world. Soul is real and tangible, and it deeply affects our ability to feel satisfied with the work and lives we create for ourselves. 

Soulfulness also involves both the dark nights and the illumination that comes from going deeply within ourselves about the changes we seek. Soul asks that we extend ourselves into all our senses, our hearts, and our minds. Soul is being vulnerable and open enough to risk making the changes we need to work and live fully-- and therefore is about creativity and change. 

When you step outside the bounds of what you have known, you must find a different radar to guide you in choosing new directions for work, relationships, or generally how to live. In my experience, it is your awareness of energy and vitality-- soul-- that is the crucial guideline. Almost invariably, my clients seeking new career directions are, underneath that, asking for work that is energizing and adds to their sense of purpose and breadth in their lives overall.

For example, Moore suggests a radically alternative way to exploring whether your career options have enough to engage you in an ongoing way. He suggests asking questions, which I’ve paraphrased below, about the “soul benefits” of different options/directions for your work, such as: 

What is the spirit of how or where I want to work?

Will I feel I’m contributing authentically as a person?

Will I have a feeling of community in how I work?

Do the people I’ll be interacting with love their work?

Is what I plan to be doing and producing worthy of my time and energy commitment? 

I knew two women-- one who had a position in a nonprofit group with me and another in a public relations firm-- who were both dissatisfied with their work in these places. However, I didn’t really understand that until they both started their own businesses and began simply radiating happiness. Then I realized how pinched, critical, and dissatisfied they’d both been while working in environments that lacked purpose and satisfaction for them. What a difference it made for them to take charge of their own professional directions, and feel they were contributing authentically and doing what was worthy of their time and energy! Like the Ugly Duckling, they blossomed in the environments appropriate to who they really were.

I’ve worked with many people who’ve come to realize that in their quest for satisfying jobs and careers, they’re really looking for what will make them feel alive and empowered for the significant amount of time and energy they will be spending at work. The connective feature among them all is clearly the desire to live and work with what energizes their spirit-- with soul! 

If you’re interested in creating a soul-ful career change with a plan for balancing your life priorities, join me for my two-part teleclass, “Successful Transitioning to Heart-Centered Livelihood and Life in Balance”-- on Wed., June 6th, and Wed., June 13th! Click here for further information and registration.

Creating Space for Action-- One Step at a Time!

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Tuscany with my extended family of friends from Sweden and England, including my two goddaughters, all living together in an old country house a little north of Pisa. Living together for a couple of weeks in a relaxed style in the foothills of the Alps brought home to me the great quality about vacations, which is-- no matter how easy-going or strenuous they are, they let you live fulfilled while doing just one thing at a time. You may be mountain climbing, sightseeing, writing a novel, or cooking pizzas in an Italian bread oven, but whatever you’re doing, that’s it. Just one thing at a time. 

            This is a pattern I keep noticing in every aspect of life where you want to act more effectively, confidently, and with more ease. Give yourself some space so that you deeply relax inside. From this place choose one step or one direction in which to move forward, and you will do it with a sense of purpose and power.

            I was working with a man in his 50’s who was in transition from his engineering career and struggling with all he had to do, as he saw it, to get his new business under way. He felt tense and exhausted, seeing no end to his to-do list-- and no way to relax either, have an intimate relationship, recreation, or just time off for himself. 

            So I challenged him to put on the back burner five items from his list for a month. For a few minutes, he was appalled, feeling that his life now would have no structure and that everything would simply fall apart.  Then he re-examined his list and noticed that he didn’t really need to create a new page for his website or even start a blog. What he really wanted to do was take the time to establish some new connections with possible partners for his business venture. Suddenly, he felt energy rush through his body and a sense of possibility! He also felt renewed enthusiasm for reaching out for a relationship on an e-dating site.

            All of which brings me to a post, “Just One Thing,” that I receive from Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of Creating a Buddha Brain: One Step at a Time. I love his ongoing suggestion that we can make powerful, positive changes to our outlook on life and in the actions we take by approaching every challenge one step at a time. I know now, from my own experience and that of others, that this approach really works!

            For those of you who’d like to be more effective in making a career or life change that matters to you, please join me for my free teleclass-- “Creating Space for Action-- One Thing at a Time!”-- on Wednesday, December 7th, 9 - 10 AM Pacific Time. Click here to register for this free teleclass now!

Envisioning 2011 -- What Will Open the Door for You?

The beginning of the year is when people particularly feel that there are possibilities for incredible things to happen-- at work, at home, in their personal lives.  Visioning workshops and seminars are popular, from individuals seeking support for personal development to executives needing to call forth their leadership potential.

Last night, I participated in the first meeting of the year of San Francisco Coaches in which we were invited to share our vision for our businesses in 2011.  As I was taking the subway from Berkeley to San Francisco for this session, I pulled out my trusty copy of-- no surprise here to readers of my blog postings-- The Art of Possibility.

Opening the book at random, I found I was at p. 169, “Vision.”  Speaking of synchronicity!  A couple of the criteria for “vision” caught my eye immediately:

  • A vision articulates a possibility
  • Speaking a vision transforms the speaker.  For that moment the “real world” becomes a universe of possibility and the barriers to the realization of the vision disappear. 

During our visioning session, I could feel the support of the group in hearing the possibilities within each person’s vision for the development of their businesses.  I particularly felt an expansive energy moving within the group when we focused on the personal transformative possibilities within the business vision  Two men were planning early retirement from corporate jobs to create their own coaching businesses.  One of them was already anticipating the shift in his whole life as he moved from a schedule focused primarily on corporate goals to one in which he would have the time (and would need to take the responsibility) for his health and fitness, a quality relationship, and a sense of balance in his days.  “Speaking a vision” was indeed transforming the speaker! 

            I’m committing myself now to “a universe of possibility”-- that the work I do in helping professionals find careers that inspire them and lives that are rich and rewarding overall will create an infinitely expanding community of people supporting the well-being of society and our planet.

     Join in the Discussion! 

  • What is the door of possibility that wants to open for you right now?
  • What is your largest vision for yourself and your life in 2011?
  • Where is the support for you to live out your vision?

Perspectives on Transitions as Transformation

As a life transitions coach, I’m intrigued by Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author, Eat, Pray, Love) new book, Committed, in which she explores the multiple meanings of marriage to people at different times and places in history.  She has a compelling reason for doing so, since, in order to live in the United States with the man she loves who is Brazilian, she must marry him.  However, since both she and her partner have gone through painful divorces, neither has wished to remarry.  Only the demands of the immigration laws of the U.S. make them consider that marriage for them is a necessity. 

            So here is Liz’ dilemma about this situation:  We must (due to legal requirements) get married.  However, we have concerns about whether marriage can sustain the loving connection that is the basis of our relationship.  She is now 15 years older than when she was first married.  This is a transition that tests all her conscious and unconscious assumptions of her individual and woman’s rights and desires against the background of societal/familial needs for order and continuity.  Is it OK to insist on love (not just security or being “well-matched”) as the foundation for one’s marriage?  Is it all right to love someone and want to live with him and yet not want/need to have children?  Can marriage sustain a woman being a working professional who loves what she does? 

            As I read this book, I thought to myself, “I wish I’d had coaching before I got married!”  I thought of all the questions and concerns I’d had about formal, societal commitment to another person.  I truly wish I’d been able to work with someone who could’ve guided me through a process of exploring what I really wanted in my life (my purpose) and what kind of person I wanted to be.  It would’ve been good-- for my whole life-- to have looked more fully at how marriage fit in with my own personal needs and vision.  Or how the structure of marriage might provide a catalyst for growth and development.  It would’ve been helpful to feel that I’d looked at different perspectives beforehand for such an important transition in my life-- and that of my husband-to-be, as well. 

            Recently, I wrote an article (“Purpose and Renewal in Life Transitions”) for a website dedicated to issues around transitions (www.FindYourFooting.com). In it, I came to the conclusion that“transitional periods can feel less chaotic and more valuable if they’re experienced as part of a natural flow towards self-renewal and living with purpose.  To stay fulfilled, resourced and balanced as you move forward in life, it’s vital to stay mindful of the powerful need and movement within yourself to unfold into your full potential.” 

            When you learn to approach transitions-- marriage, career, retirement, creative projects, etc.-- with the conscious intent to “unfold into your full potential,” something comes alive in you that makes the output of time, emotional concerns, and energy well worthwhile.  For those of you who are interested in exploring your current transitions as transformative opportunities, I invite you to join me for my upcoming free tele-class, “Career & Life Transitions-- Am I in One?  What Do I Do Now?” on Wednesday, October 6th, at 9 AM Pacific Time.  For further information and to register, please go to http://www.kailaslifecoaching.com/?id=presentations.

Spiritual Living and Coaching-- Going for the Bigger Picture!

Imagine that you’re awakening early and joyfully to a new day, with the sun shining gold over steep rock walls-- and the only sounds that of a river rushing over stones in the background, bird calls piercing the air, and intoned chanting from a nearby meditation hall.  This was my experience last weekend at the Zen monastery retreat center of Tassajara in a canyon below Los Padres National Forest in the vicinity of Carmel Valley, California.  

            For 48 hours, I just soaked in the exquisite pleasure of walking, bathing, swimming, eating, and simply being in the harmony of sensational natural beauty combined with Japanese-style architectural simplicity.  My spirit soared out of the confines of city and daily life.  Sitting in an outdoor mineral water pool, with the scent of bay laurel in the air and complete tranquility around me, I felt beautiful and radiant, inside and out. 

            So-- how do I bring this all home so I can live every day in the expansive Tassajara spirit?  How do I market my work as a coach and somatic therapist at the computer, and still feel my spiritual self that resonates to natural beauty? 

            Fortunately, I had a wonderful coaching session for myself (yes, coaches benefit from getting coached, too!) from “metaphysical coach” Keri Lehmann, MCC, who helped me affirm the value in being more purposeful about who I really am.  For me, this means acknowledging my connection to the spirit of nature and the universe that is larger than myself and animates my body, my life.   

            A new practice I developed with Keri is this: Before beginning my social online marketing in the morning, I go outside and connect with the air blowing around me, the passion of the sun (even if behind the fog), the clear presence of water in the Japanese stone washing basin, and the firmness of the ground under my feet.  I rest in my conscious connection to what is beautiful in the world around me and in myself.  At that point, I’m ready to begin again to connect with the work I do and the rest of my daily life with its meetings, errands, and other focuses.  I feel the Tassajara spirit and know I’m carrying the larger picture of my life within me, whatever I’m doing.  

                                JOIN IN THE CONVERSATION! 

• What is it to live in the bigger picture? 

What is your image of living with aliveness and expansiveness? 

• What are some steps you’ve taken to live on purpose with what is alive in you? 

Claiming Your Voice for Successful Action!

“In the Hans Christian Anderson classic, The Little Mermaid, Ariel gives up her beautiful voice in exchange for legs . . . Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with change or variety or newness or with improving our condition.  The catch is when we are asked to give up our voice in order to move freely, when we are asked to silence what makes us unique in order to be successful.”   (Mark Nepo)

             I was reading this passage and thinking of clients of mine whose concerns around being professionally successful are really issues about the loss of their voice and of speaking their truths.  I wondered, do you really have to give up your voice (the ability to speak your truth) in order to have legs (success and mobility in the world)?  That’s an odd condition, I feel, that you would have to exchange one for the other, when, in fact, you need both to make changes that are fulfilling to you.

             I’m thinking of one of my clients, a woman in her 50’s who was in a transition from stay-at-home mom to becoming a professional.  Her goals in coaching with me were all about becoming successful in her career. 

             Then during one session I commented on the lack of inflection and expressiveness in her voice.  I knew she was enthused about her new career direction, so what was this about? I asked her.  From this question came a surge of responses from deep within herself that she hadn’t expected, mostly reflecting the way she used to give and do for her family, without questioning what was important to herself.  When her youngest child finished high school, she allowed herself to go for a meaningful career, but still found herself giving time and energy to relationships that gave little back to her. 

             She hadn’t recognized that while she was changing outwardly, she was also changing inwardly-- and that she needed to re-create the conditions of all of her life to move forward in her career path.  She needed to create boundaries in certain relationships and become more open in others.  She needed to use her voice to claim what mattered to her-- WHILE she used her legs to go forward professionally.  Now I can hear in her voice the enthusiasm and engagement she was experiencing in the work she has chosen.  She has brought her voice in alignment with her legs and her energy to living a full, rich life of her choice.

             In my upcoming, 2-part tele-class, “Coaching 101-- How to Make Career & Life Changes That Matter!” starting July 14th, I’ll be helping people like you begin to create the professional and personal changes you wish by claiming your voice and your energy to move forward.  If you’re interested, please click on this link-- http://www.kailaslifecoaching.com/?id=classes_presentations#current.  If you have any questions, please contact me at eve@kailaslifecoaching.com.

                       PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES--

 1) What holds you back from asking for what you need and want?

 2) Is it necessary to give up speaking and living authentically in order to be successful?  Why?

 3) How have you created a fulfilling lifestyle by expressing your voice and using your legs?

Career Development & Life in Balance in The Netherlands

This week I’m in The Netherlands, visiting my younger goddaughter, Gabriella, a law student at Oxford University in England, who’s spending a year studying international law at the University of Leiden this year.  It’s wonderful to see how she is broadening her scope as a lawyer-to-be who will probably be working in Europe, engaged in a new culture, making new friends and contacts.  Since she’s still exploring the kind of law practice she’d like to be part of, she’s also busy setting up mini-internships with barristers and judges in London during the summer.

     I’m also enjoying meeting in person for the first time Louise-- one of my favorite people from my certification training with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), which was all done by phone.  It’s so great to get together at last!  I so admire the way Louise brings a very relational quality to her corporate coaching and training business-- and how she is building a wide network of professional contacts to enrich the quality of her work and expand her clientele potential.

      From both my goddaughters and Louise, I also find a wonderful European quality of life in balance.  For one thing, there are so many scheduled holidays in the northern European countries.  Also, people stay connected with their families and share many activities together intergenerationally-- holidays, child care, dinners, and trips.  Even when people are very busy with work, there is a structure in the culture that mandates more time with family.

      In my coaching, I see many people wanting to connect more and build stronger relationships within their families, have more quality time together.  It’s wonderful over here to see that happening more organically.

      What do any of you readers feel about my perception that northern Europeans seem to have a better balance between work and family/personal life?  I’d really enjoying hearing some of your thoughts on this matter.