GOOD IDEAS #9 2/20/16

Mr. Jack McMillan, 54, shoe salesman at Harry's shoes on 81st and Broadway, wears a suit and tie to sell expensive ladies comfort shoes to the women of the Upper West Side. Each morning, for 15 minutes, from 7:45 til 8:00am, he sits at the same table with the same cup of coffee and the same croissant, while the same # 2 train rambles past 3 times during his sit. Watching the coffee ripple in his cup each time is part of the comfort of his ritual. He is a man with everyday troubles, living in NYC, with 2 'on purpose' children and 2 "accidental" children, one of which is 'special needs'. It is a dirty old bakery with thick layers of red paint chipped and repainted and chipped and repainted in whichever shade of red paint was available at the time, and host to certain small native creatures that the patrons simply accept, like you would accept trees in a forest. Just brush the roach off the table. For all its raw NYC Harlem grit, the old school consistency served as a source of comfort and community.

Between his strained marriage, his difficult aging parents and raising 4 children in the shoebox of a rent stabilized nyc apartment, he feels the walls closing in on him. His 15 minutes in the morning is what saves him and keeps him sane.

 

On this particular dark downpour day, Mr. MacMillan has been tasked with a complexity of conflict, the likes of which he has not yet known. It is having an apartment that is too small for his family and the wheelchair, but too inexpensive to let go of. It is a passionless job but it covers the stabilized rent. It is the Insurance Company. It is the preexisting condition.

For the past few weeks he felt it was coming. The letter came. And now he sits.

Staring out the window, how will I resolve this?

The next day, staring out the window, how will I resolve this?

And the next. And the next. And many, many more nexts of his 15 minutes of self. Then time to go. Get to work. Sell the ladies their shoes.

 

Until one glaringly bright spring day when the sky was that crisp cerulean cloudless blue and he sat with his coffee by 8:42, out the window his eyes blankly stared, playing through every scenario, every possibility and with a sip of his black coffee...it dawned upon him, a la dues ex machina, every vivid detail of what he would do to fix his marriage, raise his children better and manage all the rest, and his cup came down to the saucer with a crash that was matched by the collision of two cars two inches from the window. The discovery was gone in a flash.

 

 

No one knows how many days, weeks, months...years, Mr. McMillan spent sitting in his window seat, staring. As with the everydayness of life, things that are customary become invisible and Mr. MacMillan was disappearing into himself, in an attempt to recreate the moment of discovery, in order to rediscover the moment, that moment where he knew, he knew how to fix his life, that epiphany that escaped him in the crash of cars near the window...he devolved. He slipped into the inertia of chasing the intangible.

The obsession with the ounces of coffee in his cup, the angle of the handle, the doneness of the pastry, the plate...the exact plate to replicate the moment he knew, his clarity. His tie had been slightly cockeyed, the light blue one with the navy dots. check. The stone on his wedding ring was turned slightly right. Or was it left? He tried it both ways. Every detail. Every day. Until they put him away. And still he tried to replay and managed to adapt through the details he could not control. It was a different cup of a different kind of coffee at a different window in a different suit...but he did manage to replicate the N/NW angle of his seat at 124th and Broadway when he had figured it all out.

 

Poor Jack.

His good idea got lost. Let his story serve as a lesson. Don't let this happen to you. Be prepared, be focused, have a pen and don't ever let a car crash distract you!

Jack's story came from a writing class I took in college. I do not remember the details of the assignment, whether it was a genre or scenario assignment, but it doesn't really matter. The story I wrote in 1994 encapsulated an idea I have long held precious. The idea of a good idea.

 

 

We all have good ideas: brilliant, life changing ideas. Look where we are.

 

How many times have you had an idea that made you stop in your tracks...an idea that could possibly answer a question, fix a problem, a dream that stuck with you, a moment that played over in your head, a string of lyrics you couldn't shake...and did nothing about it?

What if....we tuned in to those moments?
The moment that stopped you in your tracks...what words made that moment....how do you record them?

The dream...what if...you wrote it down?

The unresolved conversation....what if you spoke?

The lyrics....listen to the song. What is it saying?

The inklings we cannot shake are shaking us to pay attention. They are as fireflies and with curious hearts and open hands we have a duty to chase them, catch them, hold them, wrap our hands around our pens and record them. On paper these little lights string together to make a map. Let us follow the path.

How do we do this?

We begin with this conversation right here today.

It is as simple as carrying a pen and a notebook and giving yourself PERMISSION.

I am a big fan of paper over the notes pad on your laptop. The actual act of writing: the fine motor skill, the mindfulness of shaping lines to form letters to create words to express thoughts is your neuroplastic playground. I believe that to become more greatly present to our lives, to attend to our possibilities, we must cultivate the practice of stopping what you are doing - interrupting a conversation- waking up in the middle of the night to write the words that came to you. You have NO IDEA where that idea could lead.

 

 

Of course, there is a risk- always....someone will think you're rude, someone will not understand, someone will shoot you down. It's ok. How many times I have thought of something and shared it- only to be shot down? And then began to shelter those thoughts and then begin a conversation with myself about how the other person might be right...it's not a good idea and my ideas are not worthwhile.

 

 

And then you begin to close the door on an all your ideas when they come knocking. You say go away....while you entertain the person who said those ideas are silly.

 

NO NO NO

Those ideas ARE YOU

 

When I say

"Don't hold back on yourself- or you'll teach others that they can hold back on you too."

I am also saying listen to and honor your instincts.

They are screaming at you to pay attention.

Sometimes they hang around a bit waiting for you to look.

Sometimes, they run by quickly waving- catch me if you can!

 

CATCH THEM. YOU CAN.

 

What if John Foley never mentioned this idea?

Kitley Wasciek might not be running for counsel.

I might not be telling this story about ideas.

Funny thing, the idea that became Mantra Project was an inkling I can recount at least 7 years and 3 computers ago when I had an aol account. It started while writing the text for my first website.

The opening page said..."Listen to your inklings. They are there to guide you"

 

 

 

I invite you to cultivate a practice of being mindfully aware of hearing that voice if instinct/idea/ the lyrics playing in your head....the dream you had....the things that plays over and over....as a part of your being that is hoping you'll notice...like a guidepost.....to set you on track.

Carry a notebook

Carry a pen

Carry the knowledge of the worth of your words

Free yourself of judgement- you must be able to allow yourself to write without foreign voices and opinions. You must write like you are the only person in the world. You must write with a selfishness- Preserving your mental territory, claiming a sense of ownership

You must write like you trust yourself like you know you are worthy

 

 

 

Let's begin.

How many different ways could you finish the sentence "I AM...."

when it comes to your good ideas???

 

How many actions could you take today and beyond to facilitate any of those good ideas? "I CAN...."

 

Now make a sentence that declares as many possibilities as possible...." I WILL..."

 

And finally....string together a series of words that serves you to finish the sentence, "I DO..."

BEING PRESENT #14 7/30/16

part 1

Just one week ago I stood for many hours in many lines at the Louvre, the catacombs and twice at Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. There were virtually no lines at the D’Orsay. I believe this may be because the D’Orsay has banned the use of the ‘Selfie Stick’.

During my time in Paris specifically, I witnessed more people take more pictures of themselves in front of things- statues, building, paintings, places, facing away from the art, the architecture, away from the awe-inspiring beauty of the thing they came to see.

Approaching the Eiffel Tower there were hundreds of men walking around with selfie sticks branching out from their bags like reckless metal trees, offering them,

“FOR FREEE FOR FREEE- if you buy a plastic Eiffel Tower from me!”

Our dinner on the 58th floor of the tower had a beautiful view and the food was lovely and the conversation was inspired, until a massive camera invaded our space and a photographer started motioning for us to configure ourselves into contrived poses reminiscent of high school yearbooks.

At the risk of being rude, I said NO. Please, NO. The photographer didn’t know what to do and was clearly insulted and for that I am sorry. However, my desire to remain present in my experience with my friends bears equal weight. I realize this may seem strange and counterintuitive to tourist culture at large….and so it is.

At the Louvre I couldn’t get closer than 50 feet to the Mona Lisa, the Venus and Winged Victory on account of the throngs of people turned AWAY from the painting, taking selfies.

Now, to be clear, myself, my daughter and my friends all consider ourselves relatively skilled photographers, and we too walked around with our cameras and extras lenses and filters….for the express purpose of taking a few thousand photos while on vacation. That said, I observed that there were two kinds of picture taking happening, everywhere we went. There were those with the sticks taking pics to show they were there and then the photographs crafted from thoughtful observation that worked to define some fine inspiring detail of a stone wing, the chiaroscuro light in an eye, an expressive drape of fabric dripping from the fingertips of a hopeful angel.

These were moments of feeling truly present and truly appreciative of the time and delicacy of touch and frustration and focus and joy that configured into this ...thing...that I behold and breathe in... and work to wrap my eyes around.

At one point, my friend and I were both quietly working closely on capturing some distinct moments of an exquisite marble sculpture...when a young woman thrust her iphone right between us, to take a picture. We stepped off, offended from the invasion of space. She ran off giggling. Giggling.

While I found the selfie obsession disturbing, like thousands of Narcissi roaming around with mirrors in front of their faces, no selfie was more unsettling than the selfie before the bones of the Catacombs. I have nothing more to say about that.

part 2

You all know how I feel about Florence. She is, in my mind, the consummate artist. And you may have heard me talk about how in her concerts, she stops for a certain song and asks, in her earnest and unapologetic authenticity for us to LOOK UP, LOOK UP, to put our phones away and 'be here, with me now'. It is the same moment, sitting with my daughter on date night checking ‘one last email’. She said, "MOM, please, it’s date night." And she reached over the table and gently pressed my phone down. Of course I did. And I am grateful that she spoke up. It means she knows she matters.

Some of my favorite times with her are our spontaneous long walks. We may be out and about on a Sunday...and we may be waiting for a bus...and we just start walking instead. From the 125th street Metro North, through Harlem, through the changes in architecture and the energy of people, through Columbia University to the UWS…..From the lower east to chinatown to wall street...and together we observe and talk and the phones are dead and we are alive, together.

This is the time when she tells me things. This is time that shapes the future and seals the foundation of her character.

part 3

Now, Ireland was entirely phone free. (Oh wait, there was that group that held us up because they were strapping on the go-pro)...

Anyway,

by day four, I had finally found my trot. What started as a lot of mechanical thinking and confusion and frustration gradually found bits of grace, moments of connection, stretches of rhythm and finally, ease of movement. It was a remarkable process and has left an indelible mark on my heart. His name is Percy.

And on day 5 Percy and I trotted round lakes and past castles and ruins through the brush and forest to emerge at the edge of the property on a road that marked the line between the north and the south of so much history and then we stopped to see the vast expanse of the green of Ireland. I have seen a lot of beautiful things in my life but this, THIS.

No photo was taken. With all my might I memorized what i saw- the shades of green, the shadow of clouds and sleeping cows. When you’re not feeling well and they ask you to think of a happy place...this is it. And it’s not on facebook.

Learning to ride a horse will force you to be present, to check yourself...your fear, anxiety, your ego- all are felt by the horse and the horse simply won’t go because the horse knows.

As our wise old Irish Orla taught us in the ring….If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right. If it does, then it is. Know the difference and make it right!

It is a process and if you haven’t ever had the experience, I promise, it will change your life by creating a point of reference for managing emotions...because horses, like humans- feel each other….

And this my friends, again, is how we become present.

Sometimes being present can be uncomfortable.

For if we can be in this space and resist the distraction and allow the thoughts and feelings to be- that we- discover things. We may not like everything we discover, but this right here is the key, in that space is honesty and in that space is our authenticity... our true lives.

Avoiding being present is as living beside yourself or behind yourself- and watching, observing your life from the outside…..and what kind of life is that?

……..

And now let’s bring it back to home.

Have you ever taken a class where someone is checking their phone throughout?

Have you ever gotten on the bike and been beside yourself with something?

Have you ever been on the bike and been unable to release your ego from the leaderboard, from the great meaning endowed on numbers?

Have you ever been driving and made a wrong turn on a route you know by heart ?

Have you ever had a massage and spent the entire time thinking with your forehead in a knot?

Time is precious. Let’s be present so we don’t miss out on our lives.

Put down the phone. Be clear about being HERE. Listen and HEAR. Look and SEE. Touch and FEEL. Smell and TAKE PAUSE. Taste and SAVOR



 

Let’s write……

With all this in mind- how do we complete these sentences?

I am...What is your state..right here, right now...what hurts, what is the true latitude and longitude of your current state of being? Like Mapquest, we can only get directions by entering our point of origin.

I can...Think possibility, what CAN you do about where you are, and getting where you want to be….to be present. Make a list...what are ALL THE THINGS YOU CAN DO?

I will-...who do you need to be more present for? Are you, yourself one of those people?

I do...Declare it. Make it real, here now. By writing it and speaking it, the alchemy of change has begun

THE WALL #11 4/16/16

 

I had a dream.....I was walking down a beautifully appointed hall of offices: mirrored walls and glass with men in suits and shiny shoes in high stride with serious faces and side blind eyes: me unseeable...

I stepped upon a broken compact dropped from another womans purse. the shards had splintered into the sole of my shoe.

I sat upon the marble bench to pull the shards out of my so(u)le.

A flash of light from a watch face caught my eye. Through the glass walled office, across from the bench, sat that lawyer, that lawyer who wouldn't look at me. Lounging in the black leather upholstered chair, gold framed certificates, wife and kids, he cracked his laughter into fancy phone and played with the admirable glean of his watch.

I waited to see if he might notice me, for ten minutes. Would he recognize me? Would he remember what he said to me?

My face reflected in the glass, stared straight back at me, and his face, behind glass, his downcast eyes aligned with mine, still not looking at me...

 

That night I dreamt of pulling those broken pieces of mirror out of my so(u)le. As I wedged each piece loose, they grew in size and shape. I propped them up on chairs and tables, a makeshift shrine that encircled me. Standing naked at the center...I examined each reflected piece of me in an attempt to gain the viewers eye. Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt threatened- by all the faces and opinions and distortions- gross distortions of the (w)hole. I couldn't see myself, it was just a blur.

I want to dismember and invert, climb into the mirrors and wipe the dust off from behind the glass and clean the crust out of my eyes.

 

 

Look into the mirror. Every angle. It is hide and seek. with she and i and her and me and that. the best place to hide is in the shadows of fabric-cated doubt)

From where I stand- I see at least three reflections:

- the face of fault, the face shame the face of blame

And in other more shadowy shards I see,

-the face of hope, the volume of voice, the sound of proud

And in the mirrors behind my eyes I see

-a knowledge, a truth, a trust of self

 

 

 

 

Who are you when there's a wall in front of you? Do you talk about how big it is, or do you find a way to go through it? What is made of? What is it worth? (maybe end the whole with what is worth more- you? or the wall?

 

 

The funny thing about walls is that most of them we put there ourselves. The good news is, if we put it there, there is a good chance we can remove it.

like
a mirror .....or a scale. I think that it might be worth mentioning - that the mirror is the thickest of all walls. But it can broken or taken down.

Take the mirror down.

 

It's the obstacles we didn't put there that are of another concern altogether. Those are the diagnosis, the loss of loved one, the lay off, the external circumstances. I'm thinking of Shirley Alvarez, Wendy Tarlow, Adele LaTourette, Laurie,

And

there is another wall. It is in the battle between the twisted stitches of nature and nurture.

 

No matter what your wall is made of, your WORDS are the power tools that break through it. This is not to say you can cure cancer with words, but through careful cultivation of words that serve you, one can craft ones management of that wall, whatever it's made of.

 

 

"Someone once told me the world can me any shape you like. So I troed to make imine a square and then a triangle- but o could never get a truly sharp corner on it- like a change in life.......so I smashed it into my hands and kneaded it and pulled it apart into 4 pieces.....I am, I can I will I do

 

 

 

Lets frame our fill in the blanks with some firmly defined corners

 

 

 

REAL RESOLUTIONS: SUSTAINING INSPIRATION, MAKING NEW RITUALS #7 1/1/16

 

I had planned on a different introduction but based on current events, I am compelled to share this story instead.

 

Last night I attended a New Years Eve party. The invite read: Down home New Orleans Anti Black Tie Event.

As instructed, I dressed casually. Clogs and socks.

Upon arrival, it became abundantly clear that I was out of place. All the female patrons could either not follow directions, or willfully ignored them. All of the women were wearing incredibly tight, small, see through and sparkly items with very high heels.

Shockingly, I (finally) happen to be completely at ease with myself (mostly) and so was not troubled at all that my friend and I were as a couple of homeless people stumbling into Diana's wedding.

This was a fascinating anthropological observation. One couple in particular really struck me. A very small woman bound in a very bright elastic iridescent mermaid color dress with high heels and luxurious waves of hair was draping herself upon her date....a simply dressed, disinterested, young man. All the while she was looking over her shoulder at herself in the mirror, checking every detail....flat stomach, cleavage sitting properly,  managing the arrangement of her hair while also practicing her glossy pout. With her arms clasped around him she still managed to spend most of her time observing herself, as narcissus gazing in the pool.

It is such a private moment with oneself- to gaze in the mirror and manipulate ones appearance.

I personally became distressed at this public display of her private relationship with herself. It was blatantly clear that her confidence and self worth is rooted in her ability to manage all the details about her appearance in order to gain his eye.

This could start to sound catty, if you missed my point.


If you have ever thought, I will be happy/attractive/vaulable/worthy/loveable after I lose the weight, then you are whom I am talking to.

 

 

If you have ever had that moment of inspiration...and hung onto it for an extended period of time and thought "THIS TIME" the change is for good, you know what I'm talking about. Eventually, usually by February if not sooner, the inspiration fizzles. The negotiations begin...."Ill get back on track....next week. There are 2 birthdays this week and I want to enjoy myself". (WHAT DOES ENJOY YOURSELF MEAN? Eating and drinking into oblivion? And then punishing yourself? FUN TIMES) Then several weeks pass and pretty soon you forget that you actually had a resolution in the first place. And when you remember, you are racked with guilt and disappointment. You have bad feelings that then cause self-sabotaging behaviors which can be worse than the behavior you wished to change in the first place.  And then you give and you're back down the rabbit hole.

 

 

The only time in my life when I sustained a "LOSS" goal for over a year was during a crisis period of divorce. BINGO. It was a time that felt so emotionally out of control, that the ONLY thing that I felt I could control was what I put in my mouth, how many pounds I lifted and how many pounds I lost.

I weighed 150 and had 16% body fat.

 

 

My physical proud was empty pride. I was miserable and self-consumed. How could I be present for anyone else if I cared only about how many more crunches would flatten my abs? I had a jacked figure and a broken core.

There has to be more to life than an existence predicated on the size of our thighs.

 

The idea that we should all want thighs fit for skinny jeans, that our self-worth, ability to attract a mate and even our deservingness of happiness is at stake is a trap of a consumerist social structure built to keep us failing.  There is something innately/ integrally/logically and viscerally wrong with setting a goal for loss.

We are never thin enough, young enough. ENOUGH. ENOUGH. ENOUGH!

-----

 

What do you want? What do you really want? Let it be bigger than a smaller pair of pants. There must be a book you want to write, a change you want to make, a risk you want to take, a truth you're scared to death state, put THAT on your finish line.....I promise, your pants will fall into place.

 

I think that when we allow our inklings to shrivel by ignoring them, when we allow unresolved scenarios to nag us and fester....we are missing out on ourselves, living, if you will- beside ourselves...behind ourselves and this causes a great deal of inaccurate living.

 

When we stop wasting time running in circles chasing our tails down the rabbit hole in the mirror, when we stop trying to lose and shift our focus to gain moments that make us proud, we find our true size. It is in the weight of our words and the impact of our actions that the mass of our matter takes its true shape.

 

THIS is how we sustain inspiration.

 

Remember your most proud moment to date. Close your eyes. Recall.

Now stand up. You too, at home. Stand up. Arms raised. Strong fists. PROUD.

 

You've got to get that proud thing in your body.

 

Write down

5 good ideas that are bigger than a smaller pair of pants

Something you need to say someone

An activity you've had an inkling to do

You are obligated to obey your inklings. These are your instincts and they are screaming directions at you. Listen. This is why we close our eyes. So we can hear ourselves.

It is by following our instincts that we begin to truly live OUR unique life and find fruition of the self...you have no idea who you will touch or how you may touch them when you are living your truth.

 

5 good ideas

1. hang gliding

2. tell your mother........

3. put that phrase on a t shirt and sell it

4. stand up for an injustice

5. draw a boundary

 

Take one- the most prominent, pressing piece and lets have it inform how we build our new mantra to sustain the change we wish to make:

 

AN OCCASION WORTH RISING FOR. HOME RIDER INVASION #12 5/21/16

 

It is all at once with a child's giddy elation

running the beach barefoot giggling

kite flying high in the sky,

feeling the dance in the hands and the tension on the string

from the wind that lifts the fabric of the beautifully colored delicately structured thing...

and AND

it is

with a face full of well earned lines

with sober knowing feet planted firmly in the sand

and hands that see and a voice that has learned, earned gravity

and a quiet pride that withstands winds

with roots tethered in the weight of words -

that I find myself standing here before you-

asking you to know that you are an occasion worth rising for.

 

Now stand up.

Find your feet.  Feel your weight

Say it.

I am an occasion worth rising for.

I am an occasion worth rising for.

Third time is a charm.

 

I AM AN OCCASION WORTH RISING FOR.

 

Ok thank you- lets have a seat.

I would like you to write that in your journal.

Let this be the first line of your new book

i am an occasion....

 

Now watch this;

Play film.

 

thank you. I am honored that you have shared your words with me. it was chilling going through these. I express my gratitude to you all. I know how difficult it was for many of you to do this...if you didn't see your mantra this round...stay tuned......round 2 is happening....and round 3....we have started something here

Watching these, knowing how much you all put in....Carol especially (please hold.  everyone stay tuned for that).....I know how hard it was.......like walking into the cold ocean.... BUT once you get in...you feel how warm it really is.

           

It bears weight to note that when prompted to finish the sentence ...I AM...

the one thing heard most is STRONG- that through-line that we feel compelled to declare that we are stronger than we think, stronger than we know, STRONG... implies to me that there must have been something that happened at some point, somewhere, that made us feel less than strong, and this moment has led us to realize we need to stand up and defy that.

 

I would like to point out also that I believe every one of you here is innately wired for strength and that is validated by the fact that you are here right now. If you did not think you were worthy, strong and capable of transformation, you wouldn't be.

 

 What is the story (or stories) that made us think we were anything less than strong?

 

I have always kept a journal. I have a collection of stories kept in journals from as far back as I can remember.

The first one was a Holly Hobby pink journal with the gold metal lock on the side and the key. You had to find a hiding place for the key in order to get the privacy.

It was with absolute freedom of speech that I allowed myself to write anything and everything that came to mind with my favorite purple pen with the purple ink in large looping purple letters and swirling hearts for dots on the 'i's'

I took great care to write beautifully and thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the ball point to the paper.

I wrote things like-

This X-mas I got everything purple. Purple legwarmers, purple underpants (hehe), purple socks and a purple bear....

The following year I moved on to more sophisticated concepts like unicorns and rainbows. (I knew I was on to something- You can find all matter of this imagery on a variety of items in Urban Outfitters.)

As my journals progressed to the paisley and plaid fabric kind you could find on the spinning display at Barnes and Noble- the subject matter moved onto bigger things like thinner thighs, recurring dreams and kisses.

There are

journals where I wrote in teeny tiny perfectly controlled cursive

journals where I scribbled middle-of-the-night-notes on whichever page I fumbled to find in the dark- usually on top of something already written there- to be deciphered later.

journals of pictures and sketches and paintings and poems and photos all kept as record because one day, when I grew far enough away, I would have my proof that change was possible. One day I would have the proof that I had not become my mother, that I had not become anything other than the utmost evolution of MY self.

Periodically I'd pick up a book.....and see a cycle....in odd numbers.

At 11 I got my period

At 13 an eating disorder

At 15 self harm started.

At 17 hmmm.

At 19 no.

At 21....oh no not again

At

And this is why I write.

 

Leafing through pages....

No - not again? How did I get there?

Like Oedipus- every step

I took to avoid repeating looped me back again to where I was to begin with. All of these curled letters just looping my life into circles...HOW DO I DRAW A STRAIGHT LINE to carve a truly new path? HOW DO I FIND THE JUMPING OFF POINT, THE MOMENT TO LAUNCH INTO A NEW TRAJECTORY......A TANGENT????

 

 

How do we resist the inertia of that

momentum of emotion

that drives us to replay a cycle of weakness,

from urge to actions of self sabotage?

How do we cultivate the ability to catch ourselves before the URGE becomes ACTION that usurps our strength?

How do we then become skilled at catching ourselves?

...become ARTFUL MASTERS of catching ourselves and begin to spend more time exploring the space between the urge and the action.....so much so that we eventually no longer suffer urges and start spending our time making GLORIOUS choices?

 

And this brings me to a vocabulary lesson.

 

Please write this word in your books; P-E-R-P-E-T-E-I-A

 

Aristotle's view

Peripeteia is the term- in Greek drama for a theatrical device in which a sudden change by which the action of the story veers round to its opposite occurs. Think of Oedipus.

It is the moment of recognition...when a voice in your head has been trying to tell you something and you finally hear it and listen.

It is Kori and her marathon ( the broken foot is irrelevant....the point is you decided something)

kitley running for office

carol being brave

donna declaring her truth

When you tell you someone you are going to do something, you've put it out there in the world and suddenly your accountability increases by virtue of its presence in the minds of others.

This does have the capacity to induce a great deal of anxiety when we become beholden beyond ourselves. However, it can be a tremendous tool as well.

Let us practice simply starting with declarations to ourselves.

 

What do you DO? ...Who do you tell? Who will hold your declaration precious?

 

I DO...

We are all storytellers. Stories are an arrangement of words fashioned through experience and imagination carried into the ears of others on the vehicle of a breath with a voice. It is in the heads and hearts of those within whom the story lands where the moment of possibility is sparked.

We all share so many of the same stories and somehow, through our fantastically crafted culture, we have been convinced that perhaps our stories are not worthy...that our stories, if exposed, potentially make us vulnerable. Our thighs, if not thin enough, make us less valuable. Our biceps, if not big enough, make us less relevant. Our age, if not young enough, makes us less visible.

There is a through-line: we get to choose the words that make our story. You are stronger than you think. Your peripeteia is in the words you speak.

You are an occasion worth rising for.

 

 

 If the words in your head are not serving the forward propulsion of your dreams, then you can change your chatter from 'I can't' and 'I'm not' to " I AM, I CAN, I WILL and I DO". 

 

We are all at once the child running kite in hand beach free and wistless

and the wizened one ...as well

as long as we listen...learn to listen....to ourselves

 

the catching of oneself

 

I AM aware of my habits-

I CAN CULTIVATE THE MOMENT OF READINESS TO SHIFT MY HABITS THAT DO NOT SERVE ME

I WILL BE PATIENT

I DO KNOW THAT THE KEY TO ME IS IN THIS PROCESS

I WILL CAPTALIZE ON MY DECISIONS

I CAN IMAGINE THE CHANGES EVOLVING

I AM AN EVOLVED PERSON
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHOICE NOT CHANCE #13 6/18/16

    

1. March 2006 My then husband and our then 6 yr old daughter arrive home from a rare lovely dinner out.  “Mommy and daddy- dinner was so nice tonight- i am so proud of you both for no fighting. If you can do that again tomorrow I will buy you dessert”  God came up from my belly and with both hands shook my soul and peeled my eyes open from the inside.  I was not happy.  And I was teaching my daughter how to function in a state of unhappiness. I was teaching her how to avoid choices  Quiet her voice To simmer her discontent until it boils over. To drive with no brakes until the wall is hit  and the situation resolves IT- SELF by default. We learn later that The pain of avoiding choices  is far greater than making the choice.   2. That extra glass of wine did not make me proud. When i woke up in the morning- I felt a little off. For what? It was not about the calories. It was not whether or not the scale tipped one direction or another. It wasn’t hangover regret. I was mad at myself because it served no purpose. I enjoyed the glass before the last and there were no further gains to be made from the addition. I would have been more pleased with myself if I had not missed the moment of choice.   There is a very heavy foot on the gas from the head to the hand to the bottle to the lift to the pour to the glass to the mouth to the sip to the finish. Its starts off as a certain kind of ritual- the beautiful corkscrew, the feel of the blade making a smooth cut in the foil around the top. The push of the screw into the cork, the scent, the swirl, the bowl of the glass. The pass- out. Where was my voice? My choice?  It was sitting in a blur.   3. In light of current events, the concept of Choice versus Chance takes on great weight.  We are made painfully aware that tomorrow is not promised.  Every day- that you have the opportunity to rise you have the opportunity to decide  and define your day.  I spend a lot of time talking about cultivating the catch point  to make space between urge and action-  to expand the place where the choices happen….. Today I want to sit IN THAT SPACE and  And examine the landscape  To Locate and take note  Of all that lay before me Of my compass and it’s gravity   I have, of late, set in motion a new trajectory  By employing a singular tool: the choice to speak my truth.  While at times terribly uncomfortable-  It is exceedingly more uncomfortable to live in the alternative.  It frightens me, having been there multiple times.. as it has been my personal mythology  to reenact that scenario  Of making myself smaller Of swallowing my truth in a series of epic kowtows…… And non-choices… completely forgetting that I am a part of the equation….. Of my life and its potential radiance.  This- THIS right here….this practice  of monthly curating a story and drafting and crafting the delivery  and sharing and speaking and writing has pushed ME to a new way of living.. of living differently than I ever have before….. a way of living in which I cannot deny,  it is impossible to ignore,  the loud sounds of my instincts.  The voice in my gut becomes the voice in my mouth.  The voice of my choice, of my greatest of clarity.  I listen and listen and listen until my innerears are electrified with what I know is true,   And here is what I know, I am worthy of my dreams  I can achieve them without compromise I will forge ahead with all of my tools  I do have my truth intact   I chose this;  Announcing that myself, #iamicaniwillido and the name mantra project are now two separate entities.  My former business partner will be taking that name and launching her own venture while I will continue on my path with you of storytelling, chatter changing and mantra making. I wish the her the highest level of success. I am relaunching the website under my own name christinedercole.com. No need to come up with some ‘brand name’. There is no ‘brand’ of what WE are doing here.  This is living authentically. Speaking truthfully. Taking ownership, crafting the curve, sculpting the clay, making a way.  So when it comes to our choices there are plenty of things that we do not have choice over. When the subway will come. If it’s going to rain. A diagnosis. The actions of others and Acts of nature. Acts in Orlando.  But along the way there are countless moments wherein we DO have a choice.  How do we handle the subway delay?  Getting caught in the rain? Our response to the diagnosis?  The acts of others  and acts of nature….and unspeakable acts of violence The choices run the gamut from the seemingly mundane to the hyper critical... And yet we often we miss the moment… we blur it because those moments bear great weight…. And that can be scary  because once you make a choice The choice calls upon you  to be accountable to it   The irony is that the choices you make are the shape of your life. Like a chisel every yes, no and maybe carves a different line. How deeply do you define? With this fact in mind- that tomorrow is not promised, how do you fill in the blanks? How do you amplify what you know to be true about YOU? How do you use words to drive your life in the direction of your intrepid dreams?  Let us begin…

I AM CHOOSING….

Please write down ALL the things you have been choosing. The things that have served you and the things that haven’t served you. Everything. The only way to move from where we are to where we want to be is to be entirely vulnerable and authentic about the true longitude and latitude of our current state of affairs. GO  

I CAN IMAGINE…

What? Allow everything. Think not what blocks you. Envision possibility. You do need permission. What CAN you do about your choices…… GO  

I WILL….

you get the idea. What will you do about it TODAY? Tomorrow? Give yourself at least of week of declarations….What WILL you do?  

I DO..

.Take everything that you put in the future and make a sentence that makes it REAL HERE NOW.  Declare it as though it IS. 

MOVE TO CHANGE

 

August 17, 2014

Movement is a powerful vehicle for change. So much of our obsession with health and fitness has to do with the outside. We want to look fit, appear thin, and we pin a great deal of our confidence on the size of our pants. In my classes and through my apparel I aim to cultivate a different approach. These appearance-based goals have much deeper roots. Confidence, self-esteem, self-respect and pride that are rooted around one's waistline are roots that will not live long. There is nothing to nourish these roots. I believe that in order facilitate sustainable confidence and happiness in our bodies, we must think bigger. Put something far more powerful that a flat stomach on your finish line. Of course it is a hard sell to say- don't worry about buttoning your pants when they don't fit. But what if we took the time spent hyper-focused on self-loathing and considered what we REALLY want to do with our lives. Is there a book you want to write, a film you want to make, some truth you've been needing to speak to someone? Let's try putting that on our finish lines. Start moving towards it. Visualize the details. Imagine the first step. Close your eyes and flesh out the process. Do this while in movement, do this this while running, riding, swimming, and the experience goes beyond the physical. It is through moving our bodies, literally moving our blood, our breath, our brain that we can move our lives. By moving our bodies we learn how to move our spirits in the direction of our dreams, towards our best lives. And when this movement is supported by positive self-talk, we learn to stay on track. I talk a lot about “changing the chatter.” It is crucial to identify the thoughts in your head that you tell yourself over and over again. We all have them. "I’m not good enough. If only I could. What if I can’t. What happens when we repeat things over and over to ourselves is that we start to believe them. We may not even be cognizant that we are listening to these words like little dictators. They become our accidental mantras. What if we caught ourselves, changed that chatter and we told ourselves things that lifted us up? Things that helped us soar and made us believe that we are bigger, braver, stronger, bolder, louder, fiercer, wiser, taller than all that chatter? What if the things we said in our heads were "I can, I am amazing, I am powerful, I am strong"? What if the chatter in our heads told the story not of how little we are but how big? What if, instead of focusing on taking up less space with our bodies, we focused on taking up as much space as possible with our words, actions, integrity and positive impact on the world around us? What if our own wonder and power became our mantra? Our bodies are tools for our minds. We must use them wisely with care and love and devotion. Take your body out, get into motion. Move. And you will find roots that will grow, as well.

I am

I can

You are

You can

We do 

 

“What If….” #10 3/19/16

 

 

What if...we played a game. Let us play the hand clap game- Miss Mary mack... do you remember how it goes?

 

What if you can’t remember the steps? What if you mess up? What if ? Seriously, what is the worst that could happen? Weigh your answers. And, What if you CAN remember?

So what happens- we have a good laugh sharing the experience of trying to remember something we did for fun as children. We made eye contact with someone and smiled. We may also have thought...what does everybody else think of this group of grown ass adults playing a kids clapping game? OY. What if you got embarrassed? What if you were able to decide to not care what anyone thought?

What if it doesn’t matter whether or not you remember the game?

What if what DOES matter is that you PLAYED and you did a little something to promote the neuroplasticity of your brain?

What if...I just put you in a situation as a social experiment in order to bring your attention to how you speak to yourself?

WHAT IS YOUR BIG WHAT IF?

What if I was thinner, taller, how much happier would I be?

What if….you could not change one thing about your appearance right now...

and this is what you’ve got….how will you come to peace with this and become bigger than your smaller pair of pants?

What if I- what if can go both ways-

What if

What if….you let it go?

What if….you spoke the words you’re afraid to say? To the person you’re afrid to speak them to...

What if you said the words anyway?

What if you wrote the words down?

What if….you started to write the book?

What if you didn’t

What if you got up and danced?

What if….you got off the couch right now and moved your body? just reach to the sky...

What if...you allow yourself to imagine possibility

What if...you challenged self-limiting chatter and blasted through the doubt ?

What if...you turn heretic on the fears you’ve served and turned your confidence up loud?


Every wordshop comes down to one thing: becoming keenly aware of and totally responsible for how we speak to ourselves.

We spend far too much time speaking poorly to ourselves, Unconsciously boxing ourselves in, Mistaking our dislikes and dismissals as the definition of our character.

It is not true- When we say, I don’t do that, I can’t do that.

Really?

What if…..you did?

SING DANCE MOVE SPEAK ASK TELL QUIT TRY TRAVEL FLY DO...

That thing that sits upon the shelf in the back of your head...

make the Radical choice to ask what if...


 

Let’s play another game.

 

What if Carol didn’t quit her job. What if kitley did not run for office?                                        

Explore every angle of your WHATIF

 

WHAT IF i don’t say anything

                                                WHATIF I do

 

What is the worst that could happen if I do..

What is the worst that could happen if I don’t…

What is the best that could happen if I do…

What is the best that could happen if I don’t….

HAND OUT WHATIF PAPER                                

What if….

Instead deciding who you are…

You allow yourself to be curious about your capacity for the unknowns within you

You have no idea of what you are capable when you ask… what if….

You are capable of things unthought of

 

Be mindful of how you allow yourself to shape the letters that make the words that take the thoughts that create the sentences onto the paper and out to the world

Now fill in the blanks.

Here’s mine;

 

1. What if… I truly trust that everything will work itself out, as long as I listen to guts and trust my instincts.

2. What if… Even if I am afraid to say something, I take a deep breath, and say it.

3. What if… I practice more listening.

4. What if… I take that risk.

5. What if… I finally incorporate meditation into my daily practice

Share your ‘What if’s” with us. I bet we have more in common than we realize.



 

Allow yourself to consider EVERYTHING

Imagine….. PLAY

 

What is your dream

 

Ask not what is your job

Ask what your passion

What if

 

Allow yourself to imagine the dreaded conversation...in all it’s anxiety inducing detail?

 

What if you stood your ground

What if you cast the die and take charge of the shape of your life?

What if….

You did something different?

What if you said no?

What if you said yes?

Our NO bears equal weight with our YES and carves out our path the same definition of purpose…..

Meaning it is equally - if not more powerful to put your foot down and stand your ground for what YOU want….and not make your own SELF SECONDARY

All i am asking is that we ask ourselves the question- WHAT IF….and see how the opener might inform our thinking...and hence our believing….in who we are and what can happen

 

We MAKE things happen - either by ACTING or REacting. 

 


 

PAINTING

 

August 17, 2014

I bought a canvas. 72 inches square. I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I only knew I had an urge to create. It was an inkling. I have been working very hard to LISTEN to these inklings and allow them to guide me. The canvas sat, folded up in a corner for a couple of weeks. Every time I saw it I had the desire to get my hands on it and DO something. What exactly I would do, I had absolutely no clue. And I didn't want to have a clue. I wanted to see what would happen.

Finally, just a couple days ago, I laid it out on the porch, filled various containers with water and made palettes out of dinner plates. My brushes are all stained shades of red and rose from last years pink elephant water colors. I wondered- should I clean them? No. Use what you have. The tubes of paint strewn about, I chose to start with a yellow ochre. I have a favorite brush, the oval mop. Slopping and swirling the pigment into the canvas, I wanted to make it take up more space. I looked everywhere for the flat wide brush I purchased just for this. It was nowhere to be found. I did however find the cheap plastic bristled brush that I got to clean the sand out of the car, and so that is what I used. Sweeping the paint from one end of the canvas to the other, adding, blending, lunging to cover space, reaching, stretching, sweating, I was completely immersed in the process of PLAYING and time flew. I would step back to observe my 'work' and decided that I needed more or less of of something somewhere. What were these determinations based upon? Some kind of instinct. How would I know if it was done? Some kind of instinct.  I noticed at some point in my sweeping, that it was a perfect physical metaphor for where I am in my life right now. Sweeping away things and thoughts that do not serve me, to make room for those that do. I noticed that there was a meditative quiet to my thoughts. I was free from the mental chatter and anxiety that keeps from sleeping nights. I was experiencing joy as I practiced- PRACTICED- no self judgement.

Humans need to play. I'm not sure at what point we stop playing, but this experience was a tremendous reminder that 'play' time- is very valuable time spent. 

Listen to your inklings, your instincts and urges to create. We are all creative. To think we are not is a self-judgement, a fear of failure, which serves neither you nor your potential positive impact on other people. As my amazing life-partner, Kate says in her 'work' with children; "PLAY" to learn. 

 

BALLERINA THIGHS #1 + #3 8/24/16

 

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a ballerina. After years of dancing I finally became aware that I was never cast in any piece that was costumed in a short tu-tu. I was cast in the roles with the skirts than fell below the knee. This was because my thighs were twice the size of all the other little girls around me. In spite of trying to minimize myself by almost any means necessary, I simply could not drop under 112 pounds on my 5 foot 6 frame. I was big-boned, as they say. August 19, 2014

Somewhere along the line I fell in love with my bicycle. I could ride and ride and ride for hours. I would get lost and end up on highways, to be escorted off of the highways by the state police. I felt like I was flying. I felt I could be daring. I found a new way to dance, balanced on two slick wheels, swerving and swirling and squealing downhill.

I took my bike to college. Impatient to wait for the campus bus, hating to be dependent on public transportation, I rode my bike to campus. And all over Pittsburgh. I brought my bike to NYC during a year off from college. Afraid to ride the subway and to be caught confused trying to read the signs, I learned Manhattan above ground.  It made sense, needing a job, that I should try being a bike messenger. One of three girls on the road that year, I discovered an entire sub-culture swimming through traffic, obsessed with their bikes and bearing super-hero names. I was called "LEGS". Funny that. And I was fast. And my legs were thick. And I started to become a little less embarrassed about my thighs.

Back to college. Messengering summers. Graduating. Back to NYC. Messengering and auditioning for acting roles between runs. My dress folded up under my jacket, my bag full of packages, I locked my bike, let down my dress, removed my helmet and applied some lip-gloss and prayed the audition wouldn't take too long. 

"Hey LEGS! You gotta answer you pager! Where've you been? The client is calling for the package! That was a RUSH JOB!"

"So sorry man, I got a flat. I'm on it!"

After work, riding 8 hours a day, a few of us would take a couple laps in central park, in the dark. This was thrilling. We would go around three times, dodging each other and randomly someone would call out "SPRINT!!!!" We'd all surge forward. I surged to the lead enough times that some said I should race. So I did. And I won. 

Within a year, I wasn't acting anymore. Within two I was sponsored and racing against girls four years younger who had been racing four years longer, and keeping up nationally. 

Fast forward another year to motherhood and weighing in at 190- after the baby. So here is where it gets tricky. I comforted myself with knowing I had experienced the unexpected athlete within me. I had ridden right through the wall of my body-image issues. I was strong. And now, I was going to fully embrace my plus-size self and become a model. 

I got a gig with a TV shopping network. The only thing was, that in order to work, I needed to purchase padding. WHAT?! I wasn't big enough! They needed me to bulk up from size 14-16 to 20-22. I was astounded. I was always too big. Now I wasn't big enough. Mind blown.

Before heading onto the set, I always checked the outfit, checked my posture and smiled at this padded version of myself. After a year of mechanically smiling at myself in the mirror, something clicked. I had confused 'settling' for 'acceptance'. These are two different things. At that moment, a voice in my head said, "This isn't your truth. This is not your authentic self. Your body was meant to move. Let's do an experiment. Lets see how strong you could be. Forget this padding. You want to stand free of any padding, naked and strong in your true self". So I finished on set that day and did not go back. 

Fast forward a year. I'm certified to teach Indoor Cycling. I get strong again. Fast forward five years. I race a few times. I take 3rd place overall for the season. The following year I decide to commit. I go to Masters National. I take a gold and a bronze. Again the next year, two silver and a bronze.

These thighs that consumed my thoughts and fed my shame finally became the thing that made me proud. It is one of my deepest hopes that someone might be inspired by my journey to truly embrace, accept and build on your natural gifts. We are worth so much more than a smaller pair of pants.

In