Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Centering? What's that?

In Module 1 when we were first introduced the idea of Centering, I thought....

"Uhh....what the hell is Centering??"

What does it look like, what does it smell like? I never remember getting a set of "how-to" instructions of what one could do to center oneself. 

In fact, I avoided it for the first month and chalked it up to "procrastination." I realized, though, that I was avoiding it because I didn't know where to start. 

And now, several months later, I still don't know. But I'm learning. I'm practicing. 

And it's fun. It's great to even know that it's POSSIBLE to learn, to try new things, to see what works. 

I want to share my experience this morning and my intention to start off the day right.

I woke up with a few hours before I had to go to work. This is completely unstructured time, during which I hope to accomplish at least some of the dozen important tasks I have written down (by the way, blogging wasn't at the top of that list). These are plans and desires I have swirling around in my brain, bubbling up and competing for priority, and to be honest I habitually grapple with deciding what to do first. I feel anxiety and pressure in deciding, and these emotions provide cloudiness rather than the clarity I desire for my life. Although I'm used to the cloudiness, I'm no longer resigned to it. I believe it can be different. 

So when I awoke, and decided to get out of bed, I felt a strong determination to get centered. 

Before I even lifted my head from the pillow, I found a phrase to repeat, with pauses:

"I am grateful. 

I am grateful. 

I am grateful."

That seemed to get me started in the right place. 

I should note: I did NOT reach for my phone. That is becoming increasingly difficult. But I know it robs me of my brainpower. My autonomy. My vigor. It seems so damn urgent. But it's not. It can wait. 

The next thing I did was go outside. I mean, it's freaking 65 degrees at 10 in the morning, sunny with a light breeze. I would be crazy not to bask in that. Just go outside already, please. This is something I beg myself almost every day (or maybe my body is begging me). Please find an excuse to go outside. Need. Sun. 

So I sit in a chair outside and find myself just relaxing, not with the intention of getting "centered" yet, just enjoying being outside, and soon I start running conversations in my head. Full-on conversations with people at work, like I have everything planned out in my head, and I rehearse this repeatedly. Mind you, this isn't intentional. I didn't decide to do it. This pre-enactment happened automatically. 

I notice being lost in these thoughts, and then notice my body. It's tense. I can sense the hundreds of competing thoughts firing off in succession, and my eyes are blinking involuntarily, my face is twitching slightly. I have contractions and tightness in my face. Remember, overall I'm pretty relaxed, I'm not really anxious or stressed. And yet these exist in my body when I stop to notice them. Amazing what we live with and accept as normal.

I decide to let go of my thoughts, ground my feet, close my eyes, sit up in my chair, get comfortable, and let the thoughts go. I thank them, acknowledge them as they come, and then let them go. I do this for 10, 15 minutes. And I definitely feel a difference. I feel like I'm more ready to make clear decisions for my day. 

Before I open my eyes, though, I don't feel done yet. So I decide to breathe. Big breaths. Deep inhalations, letting them fill the body and my belly. I decide to go for 30, like Mike suggested in a Facebook comment months ago. These are breaths that we don't have time for, because we're in a rush to the next thing. And so as I breath, I feel the thoughts just washing away. The rush of oxygen creates a tingling sensation that originates in my brain and flows down to the rest of my body. And I feel lightness. I feel alive. I feel in "control" of my thoughts. It creates this powerful energy that swells up bigger than me and doesn't leave room for any other thoughts. 

I opened up my notebook to start my day and wrote down these words:

Good morning.  
I have breath. I have life. I'm grateful.


I want to share this morning's experience with all of you because centering is so important to what we do as coaches. And if you're like me, you're still figuring out what the heck that even means, and how to incorporate it in our daily lives, let alone our coaching lives. And how do we do it quickly? 

And so I'm experimenting. I'm trying things out. I don't think I have it pinned down, but I know I have some tools to start with. And as I notice what "works," I say, "Hmm, isn't that interesting?" Notice the phenomena, and go from there.

I hope you are finding ways that work for you. I hope you don't give up. I hope you find new times and new contexts to practice centering. At work during a meeting? Friday night in a bar? During dinner with the family? On your morning jog? Practice centering. 

I invite you to share some of YOUR experiences here on this blog (it's open for comment - be the first one :) Or on Facebook. We can all learn immensely from each other, if we only take the time to share. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My coaching starts with me

Let's do a current emotion check, shall we?

I just did this about an hour ago, and here's what I came up with.


Ahh! I couldn't contain myself. This was a big moment for me.

I'll share what my excitement was about in a moment, but first, I can't help but take pause. 

I want to stop and compare these feelings to where I was just one week earlier, and especially to two or three weeks prior. 

Do you all remember me the first couple days of the January conference? 

Sick. Sad. Resigned. Constricted. 

Many of you read my mood and body language, and described me as down, unhappy, that my "light seemed dim" that I had lost my spark. 

And that was exactly true. I felt sad, lonely, sick and miserable. 

And now it's just two weeks later, and look at these emotions again.

Enthusiasm, Joy, Excitement. I'll say it again: Ahhhh! :D

Quite the difference! And it truly did start with shifts that started to take place at the conference. Day by day, bit by bit. 

Starting with many conversations with you. 

Conversation means changing together

I hope you were changed, but I at least know I was. 

I made declarations, and it turned to action

So here was the most recent action: Tonight I went to a salsa dance class and social. It was my first time going to this place. 

I heard about it from its owner Monica, randomly. A few weeks ago I was ringing her up at Trader Joe's. Before she left she handed me her card, which listed the salsa and bachata times. 

I said, oh, I love dancing salsa and bachata! She told me I had to come on a Tuesday. 

Well, tonight, I made it a point to show up. Monica was there, it was her birthday week, and they had a cake and dance for her. I re-introduced myself to her, and she remembered me and was really glad I came.

I started asking people to dance... 

And, man, can I say..... I was FEELING it!!


Slowly, as I danced, the moves came back to me...

I came back to the music, and just felt alive! I felt connected, dancing with this stranger to a beautiful rhythm. 

I was like, yes. 


It reminded me of what Michael commented after the centering I led on the fourth day of the conference. He told me that by the end of the song, "I was long gone! ...That was exactly what I needed!" 

Hah, yes. It's amazing when your heart becomes one with the music. :)

Later I got to dance with Monica, and immediately we just fit together rhythmically. I loved dancing with her. She's a beautiful, soulful person.

She invited me back the next week, and here's the exciting part - she asked me to teach the beginner bachata class next Tuesday!!

I said, OK, well I can help you, but you'll lead it, right? She said, No! I want you to teach it! I will help you, she said.


.....I'm going to lead the class! After only 1 time being there! (Cue all the emotions I was listing the beginning)

Now you can understand my enthusiasm.

And suddenly... it felt like I was right where I needed to be.

By trusting and taking one step at a time, by surrounding myself with such wonderfully supportive people (you all), it got me to where I belonged. To a new opportunity. 

It was Mitch who, while addressing me in my sick and downtrodden state, commented that when he pictured me, he saw me in front of a group of people. He said this after seeing me the lead the centering. That's where I'm most at ease, he said. 

It was, as is most of what Mitch says, an astute observation, and I took it to heart. I thought, hmm, there's something to that. 

I don't belong folded up in a corner somewhere hiding, which is where I feel like I've spent the last few months. 

But maybe that's where I needed to be during that time, so I can appreciate what it's like to be unfolded. Connected. Alive.

So what does dancing and feeling great have to do with coaching? Don't I need clients? Isn't coaching sitting across from someone having a conversation?

Yes, but coaching cannot begin there. It starts much earlier, with us. 

That's why we spent 4 months digging up our own sh**. Coming face to face with it. 

That's why we've spent weeks and weeks asking ourselves what the heck does it mean to center. Why does resolute feel so weird? Do I really need flexibility? 

And by wrestling with all these things - with ourselves - we pave the way to show up in a whole way for our clients. 

Not perfect, but whole. 

Complete, as in completely human. 

We've learned to (or are learning to) love ourselves, and our own journeys, in all their messiness and ups and downs; we're learning to embrace that we don't have our sh** together, and likely never will, because we're beginners, and that's the best thing to be in life. Beginners. Learners.

And so no, I don't have any clients yet. I will soon. But I'm investing in coaching by going out there and dancing, and trusting, and continuing to be me. 

And all this will only make me the best coach for all those clients who are waiting for me out there. 

So when that moment comes and our clients say, "I don't know, but I want to learn," they get to declare, "I'm a beginner." 

And we get to say, "Me, too."

"Me, too!"

This blog is dedicated to my fellow coaches

This blog is dedicated to my fellow Newfield White Belts. 

The conference in January was very impactful for me for many reasons, not the least of which was having the realization that we were now ready to be coaches. 

We have received our white belts. 
(...along with some bird seed, and water that spilled kind of all over, but we'll figure out those metaphors on a different day.)

This moment certainly doesn't complete any journey for me, but it did mark a milestone. This last year has been a long one for me, and to get to this point was truly satisfying. 

I'm a coach. 

And I'm a beginner. 

I find myself having so many insights and connections and applications each day, and I feel so excited to share them with the world, starting with my Newfield cohort. 

I thought this journey deserved its own blog, so I conceived of this idea and tonight I'm making it come to life.

This is for you. My friends, my colleagues, my family. To continue the learning we did at the conference, to continue to share all that this learning means to me. 

I felt tremendous care from all of you, so much so that I feel your love and light have breathed new life into me. I feel like you care about what I go through and value what I have to say, so it compels me to take the time to share with you.

So thank you. May we continue to stay connected as we walk this journey together. Cheers!