Calling on intuition

Transforming Fear into Heart-centered Ways to Work and Live

Recently I spent a few days exploring some of the high desert terrain of the Mojave desert in southern California, enjoying the experience of being in space inhabited by massive stones and a surprising diversity of flowering plant life given the extreme limitation of water.

Being in the desert in springtime and seeing wildflowers emerging from spiny cacti or growing at the feet of enormous, ancient boulders made me think of my work in helping people move out of limitation and blossom into new ways to work and live. We humans have so many talents, skills, and creative abilities, it's such a loss that we spend the time we do feeling limited in what we do, how we love, and how we live our "wild, precious" lives— until we learn to wake up and feel our intuition guiding us in new directions.

What I've noticed is that when you try to limit change in your life— mostly out of fear— you hold back from your own intuition that tells you when you’ve outgrown a particular path and would do better to move on in a new direction. We get intuitive promptings every day about what we want to do and don't want to do. Many times we ignore them, because we're afraid they might tell us that we're tired of certain ways of living and working— and that we could risk losing what we've already got.

Ongoing stress, pain, and illness are common body signals that you're not in balance or that you're losing touch with what you're doing in your life. Emotional signals such as burnout and disengagement with your usual activities in your career or in other places in your life can also indicate that fear of a necessary change is present.

And when you ignore spiritual messages such as significant dreams, or a lack of spirit or purpose— you risk over time damage to your health, wholeness, connection with others, and pure sense of aliveness.

Because I know how important it is to become aware of our fear of change in our desire come alive and bloom fully and successfully, I'm now making my webinar— Facing and Transforming the Fear of Change (based on my book, Success with Soul— Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance)— available for purchase.

In this webinar, I describe why and how fear holds people captive from enjoying the work they do and the lives they lead. With special exercises, I help you connect with your awareness as the first step to transforming fear into the energy and focus you need to move forward— towards living and working authentically and well.

This 45-minute webinar is sponsored by Living Forward— a heart-centered coaching & training group in Chicago developed by my wonderful colleague, coach and trainer Suzanne Ness, MS, CPCC. For more information and to order, please click here.

"When you hold back, [your life] holds back . . . But when you commit, it comes on like blazes."    -- from Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

 

Re-negotiating Time-- Creating Refuge for Change

We do not gauge the value of the seasons by how quickly they progress from one to the next.
Every season brings forth its bounty in its own time, and our life is richer when we can take time to savor the fruit of each.   — from Sabbath by Wayne Muller

My clients who have made significant changes in their careers and lives have learned the value of taking periodic refuge in a timeless place of not-knowing, where the big questions arise— What is the meaning of my existence? What is my purpose? What am I offering to the world? This is a vital part of the process of making conscious changes as we discover what is meaningful to us and how we want to live. Time may seem to stand still or move very slowly. It may feel as if you're treading water. What will it take to know what I really want to move toward next? Finally, however, we acknowledge the need to allow time for timelessness to guide us towards the next opening in our lives.

Transitions that lead to deeply satisfying changes come from making time to watch cloud patterns shifting in the sky, from moving with no fixed direction— and letting our thoughts, feelings, and dreams drift up naturally into our consciousness. The experience of slowing down, internally and externally, is not only helpful, but absolutely necessary to reach a safe place, a refuge, to gain confidence in our own authentic choices and directions in life.

From this refuge arises the question, "What is it that wants to unfold in my life now?"

Last year I had surgery for a potentially life-threatening condition where part of my right lung was removed. The large organ protected by my ribs that makes the breath of life possible was disarranged. My life, too, felt disarranged.

As I came out of surgery and for many weeks afterwards, I felt as if time had slowed down, as if I were drifting and without the defined goals that had characterized the way I worked and led my life before the diagnosis and the surgery. Even as my body continued to heal, I felt the structure of my life was loose and permeable, like trying to walk without gravity.

Sometimes I just followed the movement of my gradually expanding breathing, and that was enough. Talking with my life coach, Ian White, I said, "I feel as if my life is moving along without any direction from me, as if something inside were re-negotiating my relationship with time. I don't know where I'm going, and I don't know what I need to be doing."

In subsequent coaching sessions with Ian, I identified two aspects to this re-negotiating and slowing down of time as my body healed and my life re-integrated—

"Drifting" — A timeless space where you feel undefined by what you're doing, without a focus on the future. In slowing down, you create refuge for yourself, a safe place where you can wander and meditate without goals or direction. You can explore uncertainty and the loosening of old attachments. Support from a trusted other is helpful in holding this very open, unstructured space.

"Allowing"— Emerges from the process of "drifting." It also has a slow tempo, but is more intentional and leads effortlessly to intuitive knowing of what you want. Your hand is off the tiller, and you relax with wherever the current is taking you. As you allow change to happen, you open to new possibilities without pushing and striving. You're in the flow, consciously attuned to signs and synchronicities.

Eventually, I began working and engaging in my whole life again. In allowing myself more time for working out, hiking/biking in nature, and getting together with friends and family (in person, not just the internet or phone), I found I was putting my energy where it really mattered to me. My coaching, too, gained in depth and fearlessness.

I saw more clearly that following my passion and making conscious choices based on the energy of that passion affirmed for me my authentic path as a whole person. Living in this way has meaning and purpose for me, and is spiritually nurturing.

In her warm, engaging book, My Grandfather's Blessings, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., shares stories about heart-opening encounters she's had with people on the edge of some of life's deepest mysteries. One story is about a young doctor who's always been aware of the suffering of others. Feeling this way was such a strain on her that she takes a timeout from her busy life to be in a spiritual retreat for doctors facilitated by Remen. During a walk there, the woman picks up a pine cone that's split in half, and feels it is a sign. She shares it with the group and says that's how her heart feels. She doesn't know why people come to her with their suffering, wanting healing from her when her heart feels so broken.

Later, allowing herself time to walk a meditational labyrinth, she recognizes the split pine cone in her upturned hands as a sign that her wounded heart can be transformed into an open heart. "Suddenly she understood why others had come to her for refuge since her childhood. The suffering she was able to feel had made her trustworthy." It is literally in her own hands, to accept the gift she was born with and allow her larger dream as a healer to unfold.

What is it that wants to unfold in your life now?

Successful Choice-Making— Taking the Path Not (Usually) Taken

Reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath— Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, I was struck by his statement that "a choice may not be between a best option and a second-best option . . . [but] a choice between two very different options, each with its own strengths and drawbacks." I realize that Gladwell neatly stated a situation that I often encounter with coaching in career transitions.

Making a choice in such an important area of one's life as a career change is usually the outcome of a considerable amount of thought, research, conversations, and soul-searching. Quite often, it feels like such a big leap that a usual decision is to go for a similar position in a larger organization or head a different division within the same corporation, probably for a larger salary and more perks.

That was certainly my line of direction, following my resignation from a small, education-based non-profit group. As I saw it, all my skills only translated into director positions at other, larger nonprofits. Yet, each time I went for an interview at such an organization, I felt a sinking in my belly and a dramatic drop in energy. If I could have coached myself then, I would have had myself pay attention to that drop in energy. What did that have to say about my next career choice? What options might I have that I hadn't yet considered? What did I really want to be doing? How did my work reflect the kind of person I really am and the qualities I value?

As Gladwell writes in David and Goliath, "the same qualities that appear to give [certain choices] strength are often the sources of great weakness." For example, my mindset about developing my career led me to the initial decision that I obviously needed to grow my current skill set to make a higher salary and to be seen as a skilled professional in an area in which I'd worked for almost a decade. But the strengths that I had in this area were leading me to a choice that didn't feel right to me, that was energy-draining and "a source of great weakness." And yet, I kept pushing myself in that direction, trying to convince myself that I had no other options.

Then I had an epiphany! As I wrote in my book, Success with Soul— Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, on the spur of the moment, I went to the movie Dirty Dancing "a film that just blew me away with the sheer energy and enthusiasm of its performers! Entrained by the passion of that free-spirited dancing, I felt my energy soar to another level altogether. Considering my career direction again after seeing this film, I realized I intended to do something radically different. I was going to explore the possibility of becoming a somatic therapist."

It then became clear to me that I'd been considering this possibility at a subterranean level for some time, ever since I'd had my first glowing experience of what this kind of alternative healing could offer. However, I'd kept rejecting it, since I knew I didn't have the skills required, and even questioned the value of moving into a (literally) hands-on profession. As I wrote, "Nothing in my upbringing, education, or work experience had prepared me for the professional path I was claiming." Based on this particular analysis, I kept rejecting out of hand the possibility that I could or should learn the necessary skills to make such a career leap.

However, I kept feeling the energy and drive to do this kind of work— and follow the path not (usually) taken. Seeing Dirty Dancing simply pushed me over that precipice into this new path. No doubt, too, I was inspired by seeing the drive of the heroine of the film (who also planned to be a doctor) to learn working-class-style sexy dancing. She and I were both becoming Gladwell's "underdog" and "outlier," simply by paying attention to our new callings, and learning that "The fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable."

If you're experiencing a sense of delight about following a choice you once passed by, or one you've just discovered, remember that this can be a wonderful way to "open doors and create opportunities" for yourself now! If I can be of any assistance as a professional "change advisor" in supporting your momentum in finding and claiming your new choice, I'm always glad to be a resource for you.

Into the Woods-- Finding Possibilities in Hard Choices

I recently saw the Stephen Sondheim musical, “Into the Woods”-- a re-creation and intersection of well-known fairytales-- and was struck by this image of going deeper into the unknown to find the path to yourself and your true desires.

Into the woods
To get the thing
That makes it worth
The journeying.
Into the woods....

Sondheim’s Cinderella finds herself running away into the woods-- ball dress, golden slippers and all-- from the prince she thought she wanted to marry.  Intuitively, she knows she wants something different both from her current life of drudgery and from being swept up into another of which she knows nothing.  At some deep level, she knows there is no escape from being the person she really is.   

So she sits in the woods, not knowing what to do, and seems to do nothing.  But is she really doing nothing?

In my book, Success with Soul, I look at different ways in which clients of mine, other people I admire-- and myself, as well-- have had to learn about the process of change, otherwise known as “transitions.”  To make changes that feel right and rewarding for you, you must spend some time in the free-floating “formless form” between one way of working and living, and the next.  In this zone, you will connect with what your soul really longs for-- and this will be the foundation for your change into work you love or a way of living that resonates with who you are becoming:

If you stay aware and receptive with this unexpected gift of time between an ending of something no longer satisfying to you and a new beginning, you can learn to navigate the chaos of not-knowing by surrendering the need for action or definition.  Finally, you will begin to feel the knowing from within yourself arising as your whole self prepares for action . . . When you go through the inner experience of transitioning from an outgrown way of working, relating, or creating, to one that opens your possibilities and your heart, you begin to understand the meaning and power of “transformation.”  

Or, as Ruth Chang, professor of philosophy at Rutgers University, said in her recent TED talk about making hard choices:

Far from being sources of agony and dread, hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the the human condition, that the reasons that govern our choices as correct or incorrect sometimes run out, and it is here, in the space of hard choices, that we have the power to create reasons for ourselves to become the distinctive people that we are.

What I’m interested in here is what Chang calls “the space of hard choices” in which yourun out of “reasons” for how to make a challenging choice.  Often, you must go deeper, “through the inner experience of transitioning from an outgrown way of working, relating, creating.”  You must go back “into the woods” on your journey towards understanding of who you really are before you can take action.  

This is the place where rationality does not hold sway, where you must find your new bearings through feelings, creative impulses, silence, and intuitive awareness that pierce your defense against change and let you emerge into a new form of being. This is the discovery that will let you come back and make what may be a hard choice, but is the right one for the direction you are called to now.

Learning to listen to your deep intuitive knowing is a good practice, because as you grow and develop lifelong, the opportunities for making new, challenging choices will reliably keep coming your way!

So--

Into the woods,
It's always when
You think at last
You're through, and then
Into the woods you go again
To take another journey....

  -- Stephen Sondheim

The High Cost of Ignoring Your Calling-- or Why to Work and Live Authentically!

Following the recent publication of my book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I’ve received more inquiries from people from a wide variety of professions, from medicine to engineering, from architecture to the food industry, in non-profits and private companies, about their deep desire for authentic work and lives in balance.  The blog post below on this topic is based on a talk I had with Gregg Levoy, motivational speaker and former journalist, and is excerpted from my book and from an article published in 2011 in the International Coach Federation e-zine:

Gregg Levoy was a journalist who got the call, but, as he writes in his book, Callings-- Finding and Following an Authentic Life, “Like most people, I will not follow a calling until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so.”  In his own case and those of others he has interviewed, he has noted that “the more we make a claim for our own vitality, the more we help others do the same.”  And what is vitality?  Vitality is our energy and passion to live fully, to discover our purpose, to awaken to the gifts we have to offer and not just get by -- on the job, in our relationships with others-- in the short amount of time we have on this planet.

Drawing from American Medical Association research findings that “the majority of heart attacks occur around nine o’clock on Monday mornings” (when many of us are going back to work after the weekend), Gregg noted that many people are, ”more precisely, going back to work [they] don’t like, work that doesn’t match [their] spirits, work that can literally break your heart.”

What fears have locked you into a corner-- loss of income, what others will think of you, no future security (rather less of this these days), no longer belonging to a certain group, losing prestige?  When is the cost of ignoring your own inner promptings for change too high?  How much do you have to suffer or stuff down in your body and spirit before you listen to your own true needs and take the first step towards liberating your self, your work, your life?  How much suffering are you causing others by not heeding your own call for professional and personal fulfillment?

I shared with Gregg the story of a man I met many years ago at a weekend retreat on “The Genius of Place” by my friend, Bob McGahey, in the Quaker-based community of Celo, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville.  Jim was new to the area and rather quiet, but when Bob talked about listening to the calling of one’s spirit and the land, he stepped forward, turned paper white, and fainted on the spot.

Following this dramatic scene, Jim told us that he had been a salesman for many years in Los Angeles, driving thousands of miles a year, and was feeling burnt out.  So he began exploring alternative places to live and work in the United States.  Over the past year, he said, he had been having an insistent feeling inside that he was “dying” by living in LA.  So he began exploring alternative places to live and work in the United States.

On a hunch, based on some reading he’d done, he came out to Asheville, saw an ad for Bob’s retreat, and felt that he was called to be there.  Shortly thereafter, he gave up his job and home in LA, and moved to Asheville to begin a new way of working and living that let him be part of a more accessible, smaller-city environment.

I remember Jim often because of his visceral response to Gregg’s question, “How do you know if a call is true for you?”  Jim’s call was so powerful that it resonated in his body and soul.  In his book, Callings, Gregg described the impct of a major career risk he took:  “I was scared to death-- and I knew I had to try it.”  So did Jim-- and it worked.

So if you’re feeling on the edge, uncomfortable in your career despite material advantages, or as if you’re just coasting through life, not living out your potential that wants to be expressed, just listen, truly listen within yourself.  You may well be feeling a calling to wake up and take the step that can make all the difference in your life now!

The Presence of Confidence - Standing in Who You Are

Lack of confidence in yourself is one of the most elusive barriers to making satisfying changes at work and in significant relationships. It lies beneath most of the reasons I see people for coaching.  It is a fear that if you stand in what you truly know-- about yourself, about what you do-- it will not be enough.  You will not be accepted as a full partner at work or in an intimate relationship.  You are not complete.  This is the kind of fear that can keep you off-balance and not knowing how to create or hold a new direction.

One of my clients, a woman in her mid-30’s, a professional psychotherapist, accepted a managerial position with a large non-profit organization that brought her a regular income, benefits-- plus a lot of concern that her skills as a supervising therapist were not adequate to her new position.  She actually did well on the job, as evaluations of her work attested, but kept feeling uncomfortable, that she was expected to have a more commanding personality than was her style.

In one of our coaching sessions, I asked her to stand facing me, lift her arms, and press her hands against mine.  I leaned my weight from my arms into hers, and asked her to press her weight back towards me.  I noticed that instead of pushing her hands forward directly into mine, she kept moving her hands with mine in circles. She did not push back directly towards me.

After doing this for a while, we talked about the feelings we’d both experienced during this exercise.  She said she’d felt as she usually did at work-- that she was trying to stay aware of how all the people she worked with were thinking, and that her mind was going all over the place.

I told her that I’d felt that she wasn’t fully present to me, that she wobbled and I couldn’t rely on her to be there with me.  What I needed, I told her, was for her just to be in her own knowing, and let me feel her presence and the weight of her hands directly against mine. I could tell that she knew what she needed to know, and she didn’t need to press hard to communicate that to me effectively.  She just needed to feel her confidence in being herself, and communicate directly with me by being presentto her own body and personal style.

The poet, Mark Nepo writes:  “[Psychologist Michael Mahoney] traces confidence to the Latin confidere, “fidelity,” and understands self-confidence as a fidelity to the self.  Indeed, it is only a devotion to that sacred bottom beneath our moods of insecurity that brings us back in accord with the center of the heart which shares the same living center with all beings.”

It is from this “sacred bottom,” this “non-judging state” as the poet Rumi calls it, that you can learn to connect authentically and effectively with others.

Japan and the Effects of Trauma - - Healing by Being Heard!

Several weeks after the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor near-meltdowns along the northeastern coast of Japan, newspapers here and in Japan are still running daily articles about the quality of the Japanese character in the ability of people there to absorb the overwhelming stresses of their overturned lives with “patience, persistence, and acceptance” (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/28/11).

What is less well-known is how well the Japanese directly affected by these disasters are coping emotionally with the huge magnitude of grief and loss they have been experiencing.  Trauma, to paraphrase Freud, is a breach in one’s barriers-- somatic (of the body), psychological, and societal.  The devastating events in Japan recently affected people in all these areas.

Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing™ for healing from trauma using body-based techniques, uses the term “copability” to describe a person’s ability to draw on inner and outer resources to survive, emotionally as well as physically, overwhelming events.  If a huge wave, earthquake, and radioactive leakage have suddenly destroyed your family, home, and livelihood, your ability not only to survive, but heal, may very well depend on your sense of personal power to act to support yourself and others-- combined with feeling heard and supported by safe people in your life and even your society.

One thing I’ve noticed recently are articles highlighting Japanese people speaking out concerning their feelings about what has been happening-- beyond their immediate concerns (whereabouts of family members, food, heat, shelter).  In the New York Times of March 31st, is a poignant photo of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko sitting in an intimate setting, listening to evacuees from the Fukushima area whose grief and fear are etched on their faces.  Though their role is largely ceremonial, the emperor and empress embody the essence of Japanese society.  If they are listening to what their people are feeling, it is a model for a people in a publicly stoic country to follow in helping others who are suffering in Japan to heal.

As a career/life coach and somatic healer, I know from the personal and professional successes of many of my clients that the power to recover from trauma and serious setbacks is entirely possible.  While it will take some time, support-- and is a definite learning curve-- being able to speak and share your feelings in a safe environment is a big step towards becoming empowered after grief and loss.

“Answer, if you hear the words under the words--
otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges,
difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones”

-- Naomi Shihab Nye

Career & Life Transitions-- Following Your Intuition Towards Fulfillment!

A few weeks ago I read a blog post on the Stanford Alumni LinkedIn group about Steve Jobs‘ inspirational commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005.  Listening to it on YouTube, I was really taken by Jobs‘ awareness of what it means to live out fully one’s career and life transitions.

By transitions, I refer to William Bridges‘ definition from his book, Transitions-- Making Sense of Life’s Changes, where he says:  “. . . Change is situational.  Transition, on the other hand, is psychological.  It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life . . . Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t “take.”

Returning to Steve Jobs‘ talk to graduating students, he mentions a huge transitional time for him when he was 30, had set up the wildly innovative and successful company, Apple computers-- and then was fired by the Apple board, who felt he was no longer the right person to lead the company.   He was devastated and blindsided.  As he said, “I felt ashamed, I didn’t know what to do.  I’d been rejected, but I was still in love.”

During his dark night of the soul-- the necessary, psychological “chaos” period during this major career-life transition (because his life was so connected with his work)-- his lifeline was discovering deep inside himself that no matter what, “I loved what I did.”  Not knowing what else to do, he followed his intuition using “beginner’s mind,” and started Next, still doing what he loved to do.  And Apple rehired him, with Next technology becoming “the heart of the Apple renaissance.”

One thing especially stands out for me in his talk, when he says-- “You have to trust in something-- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  Believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path.  And that will make all the difference.”

As a career & life coach, I often work with people who have a heart-felt intuition that they’re ready to take a leap off the well-worn path of how they’ve been working or the style of life they’ve been leading.  Often in our coaching work, we spend time together holding the space for that intuition to ripen into an inner knowing that carries them forward towards where and who they really want to be.

As Jobs says, “It’s impossible to connect the dots going forward.”  So you have to have a way to hold the faith that your intuition has the seeds of who you are becoming and what you need to do in this life.  This is my joy as a career & life coach-- seeing how people blossom and are fulfilled when they are supported in going through inner chaos to personal and professional fulfillment!

Creating Life Satisfaction by Designing Fulfilling Relationships

I’m feeling so energized from the tele-class I presented earlier today--

“Creating Life Satisfaction-- Giving an A to Possibilities”!, which was based on the inspiring book, The Art of Possibility by Roz and Ben Zander.  A wonderful group of people joined the class who stepped forward and shared their own experiences about what’s involved in creating relationships that lead to fulfillment at work, at home, and overall in their lives.  We also experienced what it is to create-- in the moment, with each other-- ways of relating that are positive and lead to satisfying outcomes. 

            One woman shared her story about the mutually supportive and expansive relationship she’s had with her current boss.  What made this possible is each of them finding ways to reach out to each other--  being open to what each other has to offer, and also finding ways to express appreciation for the work they do together.  This woman particularly admired the way her boss fully supports her and has helped her move ahead professionally. 

            I was intrigued, as always, with how much more you get from a topic when you explore it with others.  For example, I had researched and planned this tele-class and was fully aware of its content.  However, as some of the participants were talking, I realized that there was a very important quality to creating dynamic relationships that I had assumed but not articulated: that is, the people involved must have the intention to make them positive and rewarding.  Relationships that add value to your life engage you actively.   

            Continuing this theme, we explored what it means to use your intuition in designing quality relationships that show appreciation of each other and lead to satisfying outcomes.  Some great tips that came up were: 1) really listen to the other person; 2) assume that the other person is able to do whatever they really want; 3) ask if the other person wants advice-- help him stay empowered; 4) be curious and sensitive about the other person’s feelings-- notice when you may need to ask further questions; 5) anticipate the needs of the other person; and 6) assume that everyone wants to make a contribution-- so help open the way for that to happen in your relationships. 

             At the end of the class, we mutually agreed about the value of taking time out to look at what is deep and nourishing for ourselves in building relationships that matter. As we look for how another person wants to be acknowledged and given space to open her heart and life, we open our own heart and life too.  In reaching out to others, we receive the gift of other points of view that expand and enrich our own.  

            “When we give an A, we can be open to a perspective different from our own.  For after all, it is only to a person to whom you have granted an A that you will really listen....”  (The Art of Possibility

                                          Join in the Discussion! 

  • How do you use your intuition in building quality relationships? 
  • How do you actively show up and engage with others?
  • In what way have you been empowered by someone reaching out to you in a caring and interested way?

The Change Crucible -- Taking the Time It Takes

I’m more and more attuned now to the alchemical quality of creating rewarding changes.  As in the alchemists’ hermetically sealed crucible, transitioning successfully from one stage of your life into another requires time apart from daily living-- combined with the initial fire of desire, awareness, and consistent intention-- for the elements of your personal journey to gestate and re-emerge transformed. 

            What I often notice at first with coaching clients wanting to make career or other life changes is a natural wish to make as quick a leap as possible from an unsatisfying place to the start of a new job, a new relationship, a new plan for the future.  Once we begin exploring what they’re really wanting from their lives, however, they begin to notice that their initial goals seem limited-- a way of getting from here to there without noticing the context of their whole lives.

            To find this wholeness requires giving yourself to the process of feeling the inner heat of transformation in the alchemists’ sealed vessel-- or, what William Bridges, author of Transitions, calls taking time out from our daily life to empty out and go into what is calling you from within.

             As he states, this “neutral zone” is a difficult state to tolerate in our western society because in general we don’t value emptiness, non-productivity, and alone time.  And yet, transitions that lead to deeply satisfying changes require this alone time to watch clouds drift and do nothing much but be with our inevitable discomfort and fear that we don’t even know which way to go.  Finally, however, with time and support for this unexpected experiencing, you develop a new connection with what matters in your inner self.  This is what leads to new directions in your life that are inspiring and productive.

            From a poem I really like, “In Impossible Darkness,” by “spoken-word artist” Kim Rosen, you can feel this powerful theme of alchemical “melting” away from everyday life just before the transformative new beginning: 

. . . Do you remember
what happens
inside a cocoon?
You liquefy.

There in the thick black
of your self-spun womb,
void as the moon before waxing,

you melt . . .

conceiving
in impossible darkness
the sheer
inevitability
of wings.

            Are you feeling challenged by a sense of discomfort and confusion as you go through a career or personal transition?  If you’d like validation that this is a normal process that’s worth the time to explore for making rewarding changes in your life, please 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.