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.
Have you ever played with dominoes? Something I have been mesmerized by since childhood is creating a path around the living room and beyond, setting up hundreds of dominoes in a winding line. The pieces wrap around the room, circling furniture and man made obstacles, all lining up one after the other. Forming the path is a process, setting intention and planning out the route ahead only to tip over one piece and see the path change. One domino sets the rest in motion, the power of that one small piece fascinates me still. When one piece is touched, the whole line is shaped and shifted. The slightest touch of one domino changes the game for all the others.
We all lead by example. We all set the path in motion, like the lead domino we influence hundreds of others in any given day. There is no way to know how one small choice, action, word, thought, intention, smile, smirk, wave or tear will influence the world as we and others know it. Every choice matters, however small it seems. Each of us has a responsibility, to live with awareness and choose the example we will lead with. Having such awareness can seem daunting sometimes, as can the reality of personal responsibility. The wonderful part of this domino effect thing is that it comes as much from doing what gives us joy as it does doing the conscious and responsible thing. There is so much room for joy. Haven't you been around someone who is enjoying the moment so much it rubs off on you, too? We touch one another every day. How we do this is ours to choose.
Our domino effect is never ending. The choices we make, how we treat ourselves and others, is shaping our path. Acknowledging that I have a responsibility to the world around me is humbling and empowering. I am part of a greater whole, what I do matters and I am just one among many. I choose my attitude, I lead by example, I how I effect others is mine alone and I can always choose again. I have no idea how much my choices influence others. What I do know is that I’d rather err on the side of kindness. If my smile will help someone else out, why not smile? After all, it takes less effort to smile than it does to frown.
What you do matters. If you knew your choices in this next thirty minutes would alter the lives of others for many moments to come, what would you do? Thoughts and intentions create our experiences, so choose wisely. Take a minute and ponder, explore, & decide how you’ll tip the stack o’ dominoes in front of you.
Go ahead, it's your turn.
I can barely wait to see what you set in motion,
"Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." -- Scott Adams
Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is what it means to have an open heart. This is no real surprise in February, the month full of reminders about love, and that I will be leading a workshop on just this topic next week. Heart shaped everything, flowers, red and pink galore filling the aisles and inboxes. There have been many years where I am unenthusiastic about Valentine's Day, chocking it up as a Hallmark created holiday that brings more pressure than relief to people in regards to their love life. This year is different. I am noticing the abundance of love all around me. This has come with a pretty simple shift: I have broadened my love definition. The advertising and decor has not changed. My perspective has. Expanding the idea of love from the romantic kind (that this month commonly brings into sharp focus) into the universal kind has opened my heart in new ways. With this shift in focus, I am really enjoying this month with all its splendor and taffeta. Stepping back from the idea that romantic love and partnership is the end all be all for happiness (yes, I am popping that fantasy bubble yet again), that anyone not in a relationship is excluded from having fun this month (false!), is a pastime. Acting on these beliefs will surely close the heart.
It is natural to close the heart, especially when there has been hurt. I know this as much as anyone. Who hasn't felt disappointment, loneliness, heartache, sadness, despair and frustration about love? There is a time for stepping away from the buzz of the world, going within, licking our wounds, shedding tears and nurturing the inner self. Closing the heart can be an act of protection and safety. It is when the heart stays closed, caring for the self turns into hiding from the world, and the mind shuts to new possibility that life lacks vitality and meaning. From here, a closed heart becomes a death sentence of sorts. We must reopen to life, dare to experience love again, and step out from the familiar realm of isolation. When it is closed, there is no space for healing to enter. When the heart is open, healing happens and joy can flow easily.
Making peace with where you are, single (or "an individual" as my dear friend Lura once proclaimed) or in a romantic relationship or satisfying partnership with another person, is a step in the direction of enjoying this day dedicated to love. Acknowledging the pressure this season can bring about how things "should be" and choosing to see from another angle can lead to a place of softening, a liberation, an open heart. I know it has for me. This relaxing into what is has put me in the perfect position to see the many ways love is present in my life. This shift in perspective has become a wonderful game of noticing the love and joy strewn throughout the world right now. The smiles on my nieces' faces, laughter with co-workers, the curiosity of my dog, growing gardens, bundled up walks on the beach, gorgeous sunsets, jumping in puddles during the rain, the door held open by a stranger, holding my Grammi's hand, the list goes on.
In asking the question, “What does it mean to have an open heart?" these are just some of the answers that come to mind. When I look at love from the lens of daily miracles, things that bring me a sense of comfort and connection are countless. There is more than enough, more proof of love and reasons to be than I can count. There is so much love, to give and to receive. With an open heart, I am taking notice of the beauty and joyous potential in current situations and circumstances, counting blessings and celebrating the experiences within life now. From this perspective, I have stepped into a kind of romance I didn't know possible. I am letting life love me and I am loving it. I am choosing to have an open heart. What about you?
Is your heart open to enjoy how love is present in your world today? What will it take to open your heart and let luscious love in a little bit more?
If you want to open your heart more today and need a boost, here are some of my go to's you might try:
- ask different questions
- look at familiar things with new eyes
- act as if you are what you want to be
- wear something fancy "just because"
- be with animals
- be with children
- just laugh
- order something new on the menu
- move that body: yoga, dance, etc.
Living with an open heart is a courageous act. There are risks of saying Adios to shutting life out. The satisfaction, bliss and joyful play that come when we open up make the potential risks worth taking. Don't you agree?
Love is all around,
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas