Shifting seasons into Summer brings more light to us in the Northern Hemisphere. With increasing sunshine and more daylight, there is a lightening up of much more than the atmosphere. The dresses and shorts are out! School is out of session, people of all ages are invited to holiday and spend time outdoors with family, friends and community. There are barbecues and festivals, farmers markets and concerts. Invitations to mix it up from the sometimes monotonous day to day routine are everywhere. Summer reminds us that engaging new-ness is the spice of life. Whether during a specific season of the calendar year or particular stage of life, turning off the auto pilot and choosing something unfamiliar or out of the norm is revitalizing and invigorating.
As the light increases in the physical world, there is a readiness in me that is also rising and growing in visibility.
I’ve been waking up to what’s next for me. I feel changes happening and more coming. Have you, too? The call to spice up the routines and roles has me identifying intention, setting goals, and exceeding them in many aspects of life. Professional opportunities are finding me, new clients are seeking me out, my skills are wanted and being valued, the courage to discontinue habits and patterns that no longer empower me is strong, personal relationships are flourishing, I am inspired creatively, the list goes on.
I’m living some of what I only hoped for last season and beyond. How did it happen?
I mixed it up! The art of trying something new is the spice of life after all. I was ready for a change and stepped into it. I was became ready for something new to set off a domino effect of other new and fulfilling experiences. I realized to get something new I’ve got to do something new. Pretty simple, right? It took me a bit to grasp onto just how profound this statement is when put to practice. Letting go of the familiar routine can be challenging, scary, unsettling. I know!
Recent example: I was invited on an impromptu camping trip to a place just outside of Yosemite National Park. Beautiful, majestic, all inclusive trip away for a few days.
Who would turn this down, you might be asking. The answer: me. My initial reaction was, “I can’t, I would have to find a place for the dog, cancel this, reschedule that…” Excuse, excuse, excuse to stay in my comfort zone. The auto pilot answer was sure to get me more of the same: staying home in a routine that was fulfilling in areas and also ready for some major revitalizing. Who couldn’t benefit from a holiday?
Before answering, with what can only be described as a habitual reaction, stopped me in my tracks. “Just say Yes” swam through my head, drowning out the excuses for long enough to get my attention.
So I listened. I said Yes. I have learned to trust my gut through some painful lessons of ignoring this wise inner guide. Saying yes meant letting others support me, to give up control. I allowed others to watch the dog, packed a bag (well, two and some bedding to be exact – I am not the lightest packer, but who is really?) got out of my comfort zone, gave the auto pilot five days off and had a peaceful, meaningful and play-filled getaway with family. For days I was I was fed in ways nothing else could: new experience. I rarely looked at a clock, read on grass surrounded by trees three thousand feet above sea level, wrote pages and pages of the book I have been grappling with more recently that is due out by Fall (can you feel me smiling from here?!), soaked in some sun, hiked by streaming water, listened to bull frogs, tag teamed my nieces with sunscreen and mosquito spray, and laughed. The simple choice to try something new, to choose a different route and expose myself to unfamiliars, brought me face to face with the power I have to mix it up. Saying yes to getting out of my comfort zone is key, while maintaining basic safety, necessary boundaries and self care of course. I chose to be teachable, to let go of control, to open myself to unfamiliars, to practice flexibility. I spiced it up!
How are you called to mix it up and let the new swing in?There are ways to do this available to us all, everyday. Here are a few methods I use to spice things up on a regular basis:
What might enter in when the art of trying something new is nurtured? Go ahead, spice things up. What’s the worst that could happen? Letting out a few laughs, showing those pearly whites, maybe shedding some tears, looking silly or strikingly brilliant while creating new neural pathways (our brains love them some learning, after all). It’s what we’re here for so go out and get it, you spicy thing you.
This article is published in Simply Woman Online Magazine here.
Balance: How often do you hear, see or say this word? I, for one, hear it a lot. From childhood learning, to meal planning, health magazines, doctor offices, board rooms, food labels, therapists, teachers, bosses and world news, the term is widespread. We can use the word often, but when it comes to defining it, I find many are at a loss. As a Balance, Wellness and Movement Coach, I guide others in the quest to define and create their life on their terms. Rediscovering and defining for ourselves what some basic terms and concepts mean to us as individuals is the key to living authentically and meaningfully. This balance thing is no exception.
For a long time the concept of balance eluded me, too. To be honest, sometimes it still does. I have often wondered "does this balance thing even exist? And if so, who has it?" This initial curiosity has set me on a journey that continues daily, no end in sight yet.
In looking more closely at this all elusive state, I discovered some of the ways I have defined balance. I have equated to stillness and calm, success and perfection. This is a nice theory, a grand ideal, and a trap when I attach to it. Balanced living might include all of these things, though it is not dependent on them. Balance is not a state of complete stillness, as I have thought most of my life and until now, assumed, and become quite frustrated over. Looking at this belief now, it appears more like death to me. Accepting that I had been confused in previous interactions with balance allowed me to rediscover what it is in my life.
If balance isn't what I thought, what does it even look like? How will I know when I'm living it? Am I just waiting for someone else to tell me I have arrived at it?
Asking the question "what is balance to me?" while weaving in the tool of curiosity brought even more questions. Question, question, doubt, frustration, question, comparison... and then I had a revelation.
Sitting on one of those almost too fun to exercise with bouncy balls of all places, I noticed how when I got still and found my center, to remain there, upright and erect, I had to make continuous small adjustments to my legs, back, abs, and arms. A lot was being asked of me: my breath and focus were required as I kept these systems working together to keep me “balanced." This working to stay centered did not feel stressful or agitating, it did ask me to focus and stay committed. "This was it, balance!" poured from my lips, and then I tipped off and met the mat. I had met balance for a moment. My physic al body was not completely still though it might have appeared so from the outside. This moment on the yoga mat remains with me. A simple exercise with profound teachings.
Balance is not what I had previously thought. In an instant, my definition broadened and so had my experience of balance. No longer stagnant and fixed, I was free to explore balance in new terms. Stay curious and the answers will come.
Such is the way balance shows up in my day to day life. Accept the imbalance, ask meaningful questions and assess the situation from the inside out. Bring to awareness one area of your world that feels a bit off kilter. Get in touch with the situation or relationship and apply these questions to it:
Feel into these statements and practice how it will be to actually strike the balanced life you so desire. In celebrating the process of finding our own balance, new insights become available that were hidden from view when we were in resistance mode.
The idea that balance has to look a certain way will keep it in our future, never in the here and now. And who wants to wait for balance? I know I don't. Some equilibrium now and ongoingly sounds wonderful. As long as we stay in the "if...then" and "when...then," our power to choose the reality we live remains in the hands of others: other people, institutions, and circumstances.
My definition of balance is one that continues to grow, change and reveal itself in new ways. While I still wonder how balanced my life actually is, when I ponder on the balance thing there is a peaceful presence that definitely hasn't always been there. Putting to practice the tools of acceptance, curiosity, assessment and application (trying things out) have changed my relationship with balance into something rich, menaingful and rewarding. Balance is something unique to each of us, undefinable by anyone else. Continuing to identify what balance means to me has become fun as I've taken the pressure off and given myself a break for not being perfect. Both of these are daily spiritual practices. I might not be perfect, I definitely tumble, and there are areas of my life that are beautifully in balance right now. These are worth celebrating! And learning from for that matter. Where we are in balance can direct us to find balance and live it in the areas that are ready for a newfound centeredness. Take a moment and learn from your successes. Practically applying what has worked for us before is a simple and efficient way to attain our goals.
Ways to communicate with that balance thing and strike it where you want it include: make small adjustments, look for what's already working, practice adaptability, flexibility, patience, letting go of assumptions, have trust in your process, take the lens off other people's balance or lack thereof, shake the constantly available opinions of others, following your intuition, ask those you admire how they strike the balance they do.
Explore these concepts and apply them to your day to day when you want to find balance again. Remember, balance, like us, are continusouly growing and changing. Allow the balance of yesterday to transform into something equally satifying.
Remember, there is no one way to live in balance. Freedom comes from knowing what works for someone else might not work for you. We are all in this together and only you can discover that glorious formula for balanced living perfectly tailored for you! Question those assumptions, explore your world, stay curious, get on the bouncy ball, be gentle with yourself and find your way to balance as it is showing up today.
Ready, Set, Go, I believe in you!
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas