Begin Again: The Power of Acknowledgment, Gratitude and Letting Go

Laurie Seymour_photo_1What better way to bring 2014 to a close than to share the wonderful words of Laurie Seymour, creator/founder of The Baca Journey. Laurie has dedicated her life to inspiring those who want to know more about how life works and helping connect them to the power within — Inner Teacher and diviner of greater truth. 

There is something about the incipient New Year that activates both a desire to reflect on the recent past and to make plans for the coming months. It’s important to first dedicate time for the reflection part of this process before making your action plans. Reflection plays an essential role in creating action steps that feel aligned with your inner dreams. If you’ve been making choices that have not felt right, it’s time to pay attention.

What did I discover about myself?
What have I accomplished?
What were my successes?
What is finished?
What do I want to carry over that doesn’t feel complete?
Is there any place where I need to dig deeper to find the learning?
What do I feel grateful to have experienced?

Notice if you’ve been doing something that no longer works for you. Truth will hide behind whatever choice you thought was going to be the “answer”. Has a commitment become a struggle to continue? Have your resources shifted? It may be time to rebalance the scales so that you are not being depleted. Are you complete with a relationship, a place you’ve been living or with a career path? Perhaps you’re ready to release an old way of thinking that defined what was permissible. Let go, so a more aligned picture can become visible.

This year I walked away from the security of a lucrative corporate job, stepping (leaping!) into unbounded space so that I could claim myself as teacher, speaker and writer. It’s the second time that I left a career and livelihood. The first time was much scarier when I stopped being a psychotherapist. Both times I had known that I needed to make the break. Both times there were compelling reasons that I stayed…until I no longer did and I left. That moment of letting go to take action was true celebration, when I chose to heed my inner voice, to stay with my breath through each moment of hesitation and fear, knowing that my heart really only had the path forward.

In order to fully embrace your own story, you have to have immersed yourself in the pages that come before the newest chapter that is to be written. Claiming where you have come from is integral to moving forward. It seeds what you will become. All of your experiences, opportunities and learning get to travel with you—not as baggage to haul through the airport, but as wings for a new expression to take flight. Acknowledge with a feeling of gratitude what you’ve received this year; it will ground these gifts, spring-boarding you into your next step. Then notice what you are ready to release; this opens space for something fresh to begin.

New beginnings sit outside the edges of what you already know. Allow yourself to get quiet, giving space for something new to unfold. Take a deep breath. Feel it circulate through your body, imagining it going to every cell. Visualize your breath filling each of your cells with light. Let yourself sink into this great inner silence so that you can connect with what is unknown and unformed within you. This is the place where new possibilities begin to reveal themselves to you.

Aren’t you ready for something new in the coming year?

Rediscovering Poetry: Creative Inspiration for Your Life and Business

Creativity

I’m delighted to have business expert and author Dr. Minette Riordan as my guest!

January 1st is a few short weeks away. Many people, including me, are already turning our sights to the New Year, putting plans into place or dreaming about what is possible. Planning can feel fun or it can feel intimidating and overwhelming. Dreaming, on the other hand, is fun and open-ended. Creativity has a place in both planning and dreaming. When we tap into our innate creative spirit, suddenly the light shines brighter and new avenues of possibility are illuminated.

I want to stake a creative claim for the power of poetry to provide creative illumination for your life and your business. I have never been a big fan of setting goals in January. Too often those goals were really just tasks I thought I should focus on, not heart-centered experiences or achievements I was working towards. I have found that poetry can inspire both dreaming and planning for the future. The questions posed by some of my favorite poets over the years have helped me to break my heart wide open and experience a new level of clarity around where I want to be and where I want to go.

You may be thinking: “Poetry? Are you crazy?” Perhaps you are remembering your high school English class and the embarrassing task of being asked to interpret one of Shakespeare’s sonnets or decipher Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” I am here to encourage you to try again. There is something about reading poetry as an adult that is a completely different experience than reading it at 13 or even 21. Suddenly it seems accessible and relatable in way it didn’t in school.

I have always been a lover of poetry. I love to read poetry and would rather receive a complete anthology of Robert Blake’s poems for my birthday than flowers. I still find Shakespeare’s sonnets obscure and prefer modern poets like Mary Oliver and ancient mystics like Mirabai and Rumi.

What I love about poetry is that it takes me by surprise, reminds me to breathe and inspires me to create. I love to illustrate poems. I write them in my journal and use them as writing prompts. I incorporate poetry into many of my journaling and creative programs. Poetry helps to set the mood and to open people to the possibility of their own creativity. I share poems with my clients when they need a lift or reminder of their own brilliance. Poetry is a beautiful mirror of reality seen through the lenses of personal metaphor as captured by the poet. We all see life through the lenses of story and history, place and time. Poetry reminds us of our natural tendency to see the world in metaphors and highlights our natural creativity.

I want to share a couple of my favorite poems with you here as well as a process of creatively connecting to poetry. I invite you to just play. There is no pressure, no one will be graded on their work. Trust in the possibility that a poem will break your heart wide-open to the potential that 2015 holds.

The Black Cat

by Kenneth Colliercreative

We try to find a silent black cat in an empty, dark room. We blindfold ourselves –
maybe blindness will help us see in the dark.
We grope madly this way and that and finally
Declare with conviction, there is no cat.

Then we sit, still and silent,
and the black cat crawls into our lap and purrs.

The creative inspiration process:

  1. Read the poem silently and then read it out loud. Read it again, savor it.
  2. Take out your journal – write the poem in your journal.
  3. Add some doodles or illustrations or even collage. Tell your inner critic to take a break! Be playful.
  4. Now write about the poem. Write anything that comes to you.
  5. Finally, answer this question as you think about planning for 2015: where in your life are you seeking a black cat in a dark room and would benefit from allowing the cat to find you?

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

CreativeOne day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Repeat the creative inspiration process:

  1. Read the poem silently and then read it out loud. Read it again, savor it.
  2. Take out your journal – write the poem in your journal or just write the lines that strike you.
  3. Add some doodles or illustrations. This would be a beautiful poem to create an entire collage about. Tell your inner critic to take a break! Be playful and intentional.
  4. Now write about the poem. Write anything that comes to you.
  5. Finally, answer this question as you think about planning for 2015: what can you do to connect with that new voice that is uniquely yours? who might you need to let go of in 2015? what do you need to do to save your life? Take your time, maybe connect with a friend as you reflect on your answers. Remember to be playful and curious with your answers. Allow your own words to illuminate new possibilities, new connections that you want to make next year.

Images Creative Commons via Pixabay

Less Strategy Inspires Creativity and Flexibility

2015 Calendar and Pen smallI’ve always been a planner, thinking about what’s coming in the next year or five. Here’s the catch-22: I know what I want to achieve; I’m just not sure the best route to get there. That technicality results in my hubby teasing me mercilessly that my strategy consists only of the first step — done. Granted my strategic plan may leave some wanting, but not knowing all the details works for me. In fact, I believe that less strategy inspires creativity and flexibility.

In the corporate world, I observed that months (and in some cases YEARS) could be invested in developing strategy, only to have the strategy change repeatedly during execution to accommodate the unexpected. While I shook my head at the time lost, changing direction mid-course didn’t bother me as much as others.

Apparently not.

Perhaps the best strategic scenario for me is somewhere in the middle. I realize my strategy does need a framework, which I am in the process of developing. On the other hand, I don’t think the time invested will leave me shaking my head. The good news is that if I can get the strategy outlined early, I can spend the rest of 2015 doing what I most enjoy — writing!

In the year to come I’m super excited to bring back Police Chief Carl Johnson, from my first book Truth Runs Deep, to solve another murder. This time the crime scene is the moat at Fort Monroe, Va. I’ll also be writing the next book in my self-empowerment series, The Power of Living Joyfully: How to Beat the Fear of Failure.

Because I love inspiring others, 2015 will allow more time for coaching and teaching. This activity not only serves others, but provides balance in my life by keeping me in the real world. Otherwise, I’d spend every minute inside my head solving murders and kicking fear in the ass. My love for planning the future has given me plenty to look forward to in 2015. Moreover, I’m taking the strategic bull by the horns. While I’ve been telling myself that less strategy inspires my creativity and flexibility, it’s time to experiment with a little more structure.

*Wince*

The best part of having a 2015 strategy in place? Hubby will have one less thing to tease me about!

Sheila Callaham is the author of seven books. Her most recent publication is “The Power of Living Joyfully: Your Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals that Enrich Your Life.” A certified coach and effective facilitator, Sheila loves motivating others to be their best through her writing and coaching practices.