Category: Inspiration

How the practice of letting go of control can help us find the magic in life.

Some days I wake up and want everything to be orderly and predictable. That’s unusual, because I have a spontaneous, risk-taking personality.

When this happens, I notice that I’m feeling a bit unsafe, kind of insecure about my life. Maybe I recently had a disagreement with someone important to me or maybe I’m worried about my finances.  It’s some kind of anxiety, some form of fear.

This anxiety does not come from situations, but from our brains creating stories. So our need for control or structure is a reaction to our mind telling us that we have no control

But we are human and we all have a need for structure. Some of us more, some less. It gives us a feeling of safety, a feeling of control. Even though this sense of safety is an illusion, it’s ok; it’s a human longing in our changing world.

If you become too rigid, though, you run the risk of missing out on the beautiful things in life.

Rigidity or trying to control everything also contributes to depression and a feeling of hopelessness, like there is nothing left to look forward to.

Sometimes this inflexibility comes with age; sometimes it’s something within that you were born with. Sometimes it was created by your circumstances in childhood.

So it’s good to be aware of your need for structure, monitor it and change it up a bit every once in a while.

It’s not comfortable at first to change your routine, it probably even feels scary, but we only grow (and have lots of fun) when we step out of our comfort zone.

If you always do your grocery shopping on Saturday, for example and can’t accept an invitation for a get-together, you might be missing out on some wonderful experiences that only happen spontaneously.

Make yourself go shopping on Thursday after work maybe. It might make your day longer and maybe more harried, but what if you meet your next friend in that check-out line? What if your Saturday is open and you end up at someone’s backyard cook-out, where you have more fun than you’ve had in a while? What if you meet that one person who changes your life for the better?

Over-planning or controlling kills magic!

You will find the delightful, the magical, the enchanted in the spontaneous moment of life. They will show up in unplanned moments, and unexpected situations.

Let’s live fully.

Let’s be alive.

Let’s say YES to life.

Let’s go out today and do it differently than yesterday.

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Where Is Your Passion?

Do what you love. Follow your heart. Isn’t that what everyone tells you? It’s on plaques, in stores, in articles, in books. It’s the in thing.

What if you don’t know what you love?

What if you don’t think you have a passion?

What if the whole idea leaves you feeling miserable because you’ve spent your life tending to your responsibilities and to others?

You are not alone! In fact, the majority of people doesn’t know their passions and can’t find the door that says “here’s your heart”. There is no formula for finding your passion.

We tend to believe that we are supposed to have it all figured out by the time we are in our mid twenties at the latest. That’s a lot of pressure.

Very few of my clients know what they want.

There was a time in my life when I had no clue.

I was raising a family and running a business. When people asked me what my passion was I had no answer. I loved reading. That came to mind. I loved the sunshine. I loved eating chocolate.

Should I follow that? Was that my heart telling me to sit in the sunshine, eat chocolate and read?

Realistically that didn’t seem like a healthy path to go down, nor did it seem purposeful…..and who was going to pay me for that?

I spent weeks and months looking for signs that might point me in the right direction. I painstakingly went over my life up to this point to see what I might be missing. One day I remembered that from a young age I used to sit with older people discussing life and the human psyche. There were lots of older people in my life who didn’t seem to mind talking to me.

In a moment of clarity I realized that from the time I can remember I liked watching people and loved conversations about why people do what they do. Wow! I saw that I am intense. I don’t enjoy trivial conversations.

Realizing that was interesting, but I didn’t like what I found. I didn’t know what I should do with it. I couldn’t accept that I’m a serious person. Living in America I’m supposed to be sunny, charming, and light, right?!

I wanted to be liked. I didn’t want to be too different.

What I finally saw was that I had to befriend myself. I was forced to let go of some judgments. I had to find compassion for myself. I had to accept who I am before I could follow my passion.

You may discover that you like flying and have to take lessons to become a pilot. Maybe you enjoy baking and make the best little cakes, or you are great with numbers. The world is full of possibilities.

Take some time and reflect on your life, your childhood, your likes and dislikes and let the feelings bubble up.

Passions can change over time.

One of my friends loved photography and was always dragging a camera everywhere. She has a fantastic sense for great photos and made a living with it. The day came when she just didn’t want to do it anymore. She was done.

When that happens you may feel like the light went out. What are you supposed to do now? You wonder if something is wrong with you.

But the truth is, we don’t have to commit to things for the rest of our lives. We have the right to change what lights us up.

Life is all about change!

No guts, no story.

Take a breath and look for what inspires you most at this point in your life.

It’s ok if it’s more than one thing.

Some of you know that I love rehabbing houses in addition to counseling. I love to turn something ugly into something beautiful. It is so exciting to me that I am able to work long hours doing that. I’m filled with energy and time disappears.

That’s what I love for now. Maybe it will change in the future.

You can’t feel passionate about something you have never experienced.

Go out and try new things. Explore. Take a class, join a group, volunteer, try a new sport. Be creative, be courageous.

You really are never too old to do what you want to do! Google people who found their calling later in life. It’s inspiring.

We all need a sense of purpose, but don’t let the search for it overwhelm you. Don’t obsess over it. Just take the next step into what you feel most inspired by in this moment.

To be continued…..

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Finding Peace in Uncertain Times

If you feel confused and uncertain these days, maybe the words by Henri Juntilla https://www.wakeupcloud.com/ will resonate with you.

When I feel frustrated and stressed it is very helpful to remember that God, life, my heart, my soul or my higher self (whatever word works for you) knows and is at peace. Then I can surrender to this moment, this time of uncertainty and stay calm.

The last few years I’ve written a lot about confusion, uncertainty, and not feeling like doing anything.

That’s because I’ve been going through these themes for the last 3-4 years.

Naturally, I’ve had to deal with my own stories, my own fears.

I’ve learned to live with uncertainty.

Uncertainty doesn’t stop me from living my life, because I don’t navigate from my mind. I use my mind, but it’s not the captain of this ship.

I’ve also noticed old projects falling away. Many aspects of who I thought I was have fallen away. Yet nothing has come to replace them.

Not yet.

I’m not entirely sure which projects will regain vitality, and which ones will be lost at sea.

I’ve come to trust that life brings me what I need to navigate through these stormy waters.

I could listen to my mind, but it doesn’t know what’s coming. It only wants illusory certainty. It grasps, searches, and clings.

Life seems to know when and where I’m needed.

If I try to force progress, I exhaust myself. I put extra strain on my ship by trying to go against the flow.

My mind may say “I don’t know what’s going on. We have to figure this out. Do something.”

But my heart, the true captain, is relaxed.

I’m going with my heart, even if I end up “failing.”

It’s unlikely that I’ll fail, but that’s how my mind tries to coerce me into living in its world of fear.

The mind is always trying to come up with a strategy to get something.

Get success. Get love. Get money.

It wants those things, because it thinks that’s the key to everlasting happiness. But it doesn’t work that way.

Happiness is not a cause. It is not something that comes. It is something you tap into, or open, like a fresh can of soda (ptsssch).

You become happy when you decide to become happy.

So…

I don’t know what’s going on. And that’s fine.

My heart navigates the ship just fine. I take one step at a time.

I pay attention to what resonates, and what I have the energy for.

I’ve been doing this for 14+ years, so I’m familiar with the ebbs and flows of life.

Yet my mind wants to complicate things. It wants to figure things out. It wants to get freedom and happiness, yet none of those come from the mind.

They come from letting go of grasping and controlling life.

I’m excited about what’s to come. I don’t know what it is, but I can glimpse land on the horizon. A new port. A new chapter.

Let’s see what happens.

Sometimes we all need a little guidance and if you are in the San Diego area contact http://encinitascounseling.com/ or email me at neuckh@yahoo.com

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Getting to the Beautiful Things in Life

When were your best memories made? How did the most beautiful things come about in your life?

I bet they happened without your plans or organization or determination. When you allowed yourself to be spontaneous. When you let go of the rules for once. When you let go of your lists and plans.

Structure is a good thing. We all need some routine. It’s on a continuum, some people need more, some less. It makes us feel safe. It’s important for raising children, building a business, a relationship, even building a house. Structure is a way of organizing our lives so they make sense.

Structure is the skeleton that gives shape to our lives. It creates a sense of ownership, order and organization in our life. Structure is a routine throughout our day and week, making a plan and following through. It is setting goals and planning ahead.

A life without structure can add anxiety, depression, frustration and stress. When there is a lack of structure, things get forgotten, there is no point, life can become chaotic and we turn to negativity.

If a writer doesn’t have structure he simply rambles and jumps from thought to thought, confusing the reader.

If a child experiences no structure they cannot learn to feel safe. They cannot trust life. Once there is structure, their little spirits can relax and learn the things children have to learn, like walking, talking, responsibility and how to function in this life.

If you never let yourself stray from your schedule, there is no room for something new and different to come in. Every day is the same and you can expect more of the same.

If you get too rigid, if you hold on to your routine as if your life depended on it and never deviate, you miss out on the wondrous, magical things in life.

Several years ago I decided to write a little book about people’s careers, wanting to find out how they chose to do what they do and how it came about. In my interviews I discovered that a large majority fell into their vocation. It wasn’t in their plan. They met someone, something happened and – boom- a business or career was born.

Think of all your favorite memories, the best times with others, the sweet connection with a stranger, finding that treasure you carry with you everywhere….none of that could have happened while you followed your carefully laid out plans.

A client, we’ll call her Susan, had a strict routine for her weekdays, which included a workout after work, then home for a healthy dinner and staying in to look over her cases (she’s an attorney at a law firm).

She consistently refused any invitations. She was afraid that if she allowed herself any deviations, she’d compromise her health, her sleep and fall behind at work.

But she also worried constantly about finding a husband, especially since she was on the downhill side of 30. Susan wanted to be married and have children.

When one of her colleagues had a mid-week celebration, Susan struggled to come up with a good excuse not to go. Finally, she told herself she’d go just for ½ hour.

At that party she met a wonderful guy. They couldn’t stop talking, she stayed much longer than ½ hour and he became her husband several months later.

This would have never happened had she stuck to her structured, highly organized week.

The moral of the story: Don’t be too rigid with your routine! Beautiful things await if you let go, surrender and allow yourself to meander every once in a while.

 

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Bits of Wisdom

Sometimes we all need a little reminder, a little bit of wisdom to help us move forward.

Anyone can hide. Facing up to things and dealing with them, that is what makes you strong! Anyone can keep super-busy, watch TV, play video games and blame others for life’s mishaps. Really looking at what works for you and what doesn’t, accepting the consequences, making changes….that’s what will give you strength and a feeling of success!

Confront the dark parts of yourself, shine a light on them and practice forgiveness. This will make you whole. Do you feel anger, jealousy or greed? Do you frequently feel depressed, negative or lonely? Whatever your dark side is, acknowledge it, examine it and lovingly forgive it. This will change your life!

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. Sometimes we want someone else to make decisions for us, or open doors for us, but it is always up to you and only you to do something different in spite of the current situation.

Perseverance and discipline are powerful. The turning point may come with your next step. Just stay with it. Don’t give into your feelings, stay focused. Practice discipline and success cannot elude you.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Look at your goal, whether that’s cleaning a really messy room, planting a garden, deciding to go back to school, starting a business or moving to another country and just take the first step toward it. This will lead to the next, then the next….that is how you reach your goal.

 

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Life Will Break You

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” -Louise Erdrich

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Holy Shift – how to create miracles

Sometimes, when I read profound wisdom or insights from others I like to share that with you. Is it possible to create miracles in our lives, a holy shift?
We all experience things we don’t like, right? How can we change that?
Can we change that?

Here’s one about creating shifts in our lives.

Lauren Lane Powell is a gift to all of us who know her. She is a medical miracle, a 3 time cancer survivor.
She didn’t just survive, but healed herself with humor and love. (follow her story on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lauren.l.powell.3)
Here’s a true account of one of her experiences:

I teased you yesterday with this meme and a promise to share a technique or two to allow us create the Holy Shifts we want to see in our world. First I get a chance to practice myself!

In the mail yesterday came my first insurance claim forms from my new Medicare Anthem part D. It looks like IU Medical is out of network and that I owe $25,000+! I felt all of the normal physical reactions of fear and anger. My chest tightened. Tears formed. Face flushed. My husband and I railed together for a while and continued the downward spiral.

We watched Glee before bedtime but my favorite character died! No help at all!
I couldn’t sleep. Worry. Fear. Financial panic. Then I remembered. Get into the vortex. Feel good no matter what! THEN allow things to work out for you. They always do.
“Things are always working out for me” was my first chant. As I said this over and over again I remembered in 2012 when I didn’t have any insurance at all! What miracles came through! I felt a little better. Then I remembered my music. I listened and sang softly, feeling more as ease and finally fell asleep. It was after 1am.
I woke knowing the rest of story.

This insurance shift, this political shift, this is CONTRAST!! When everything’s coming up roses we do not grow, change, evolve or expand. It’s only when we are uncomfortable, discontent, that we change. So what if…

What if I embrace the contrast! What if I see it for what it is and, in the midst of it all, say “I see this for what it really is! An opportunity for me to decide what I really want because now I know what I don’t want!”

For me to know that and see that I must feel better now! But feeling better ABOUT the insurance shift or the political-education shift just may not be possible. So feel good about something else! Anything else! Then see what you can do from THAT perspective.

When I feel good on purpose, my head is clear, my heart is open and inspiration comes. Most times I’m reminded to focus on the big picture outcome. I want to feel peaceful and secure knowing I’m well insured. That may be too specific yet. I’ll stick to peaceful and secure.”

Lauren used Mindfulness to become aware of her reactions, then she changed those reactions.
We don’t always catch ourselves in the moment.
That’s ok.
As long as you become present at some point. That’s where your power lies….in the present moment.

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The Dark Side

We all have a dark side and we are masters at hiding it.

We all have traits within us that we don’t like. Usually we choose not to look too closely or we practice complete denial. It’s not at all easy to get real with ourselves.

I found there are two types of people in the world, those who want to know and those who want to believe. People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.

Interesting, isn’t it? You can see it if you look at the people in your life.

Do you know into which category you fall?

I know that I want to know. I want the truth.

One of my greatest challenges is to look at life with curiosity, rather than my same old accusing attitude. It’s a habit that’s been well taught and has become deeply ingrained in my psyche. As I started to observe myself doing that, it became the proverbial onion: I found many layers.

Looking deeply at my dark side was painful. I didn’t like admitting that I’m not all wonderful all the time and recognizing the various petty grievances I have.

I’m pretty spontaneous in general, but when I make plans and they don’t work out according to my schedule, I get pretty annoyed…..not only with the situation, but especially with the people involved. That annoyance can last a while.

I first noticed my attitude with bigger things, like planning a trip and someone throws a wrench in it, which causes us to leave late or worse, not at all.

You may think, oh that’s not a big deal. But then I saw that I do this not only with big plans but little ones as well. Like planning to have a cup of coffee and we have no creamer, because the last person to use it didn’t replace it. Grrr!

At the same time I began to notice people who don’t have my outlook for whatever reason.

I saw that they struggle too, they try to make sense of what is happening, but then some sunlight shines in and they begin to smile. They take on a positive mindset and move forward.

I quickly realized that it’s pretty pervasive, this attitude of mine. It shows up in areas I never even considered.

I want to change that. The fact is, stuff happens. If things don’t go my way, the alternative could be better, more exciting, interesting, whatever. If I can be open, who knows what great things can come out of that situation?

One thing I know for sure, nothing good comes out of my bad attitude. Definitely not peace. Only frustration for me and emotional distance from the person I care about.

So….. change! How can I change it? It requires daily practice to become present to this and create a different neural pathway.

A good way to visualize this is by imagining a well worn narrow path created by a heavy vehicle. You can literally see the tire tracks from the frequent use. It becomes difficult to navigate that path without slipping into that rut. It’s just easier to stay on that track.

Changing that path requires presence of mind and a deep commitment.

Mindfulness!

Deep within us there is resistance to something different, unless we create a ritual and some type of support for a new way of thinking.

At first, as we try to create a new path, we continue to slip back into that well worn groove, but with perseverance it happens less and less. We create a new neural pathway, which becomes stronger the more it is used.

It’s simple, but not easy.

Once you decide that you want to commit, here are some steps to support your efforts:

  1. It’s important to create some kind of ritual.

You have flexibility here, because we are all different. Find some moments of stillness each day. One of my favorites is mindfulness meditation and some Kundalini yoga. If you have no idea what that is, don’t worry, simply take a moment each day to sit quietly, breathe and focus on your goal.  Observe yourself, notice what you are doing, thinking. The object is to become present to yourself.

 

  1. You have to get support

Find someone with whom you can discuss your thoughts and insights. No man is an island. Being isolated in this pursuit is a surefire way to slip back into the same old groove. Like an alcoholic, or any kind of addict, needs a support group and a different environment, we need someone who holds us accountable. Otherwise the old patterns just push their way back into our lives.

If there’s no one in your life right now, find a group online. Find a MeetUp. Email me.

 

  1. Do not judge yourself harshly!

When we are tired we fall back into old patterns. When we are overwhelmed, we typically lose our ability to be positive and strong. Recognize when you need to just be. Degrading yourself for your humanness isn’t going to change your old patterns faster. The best way to see change in our lives is to be kind and loving to ourselves.

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sailing to cuba

Sailing to Cuba

We had a plan and as it often happens….plans don’t turn out the way you want.

Life happens, while you are making other plans, right!

Our plan was to sail to Cuba.

We have a large Catamaran sailboat, fully stocked, and after many months of preparation we were finally ready to go.

Very soon, a series of unplanned things happened along the way. Our engines broke, not just once, but 3 times. The plumbing started leaking into the boat and it had to be completely re-plumbed. We had to wait for better weather…..sometimes for weeks.

I really do enjoy being on a boat, cooking nice meals, making it comfy and appreciating the sun. Being out on calm seas is the most relaxing thing I know, because you literally can’t do anything else. I love the steady rocking of the boat and being on the water has a soothing effect on my psyche.

What I can’t handle is being at the constant mercy of the weather, wind and water. Everything is perpetually damp or wet. I am petrified when the waves are more than 3 feet and pound the boat, or you lose control of your direction, because the wind has other plans for you.

So when we hit bad weather, I learned that I’m not a sailor!

Everything in life has a good side and a bad, positive and negative. It’s life, the duality. How else would we appreciate the good, if we didn’t experience the bad?

The bad in this case is that we aren’t going to Cuba on a sailboat. Our lovingly planned trip isn’t happening. We aren’t sailing to Cuba. It’s a disappointment.

The good side is………….

When you are on the water, you meet lots of people of all ages and backgrounds. Boating people are generally very friendly, hospitable and generous. I think the transient nature of boating makes us more open, we stick together and support each other.

We help each other tie up as a new boat approaches the dock at a marina, provide a lending hand if there is a problem and easily sit together over dinner and a glass of wine.

In the course of this, you learn quite a bit about people. You learn their stories, their struggles and their triumphs. You learn about their lives.

What I learned was the almost infinite variety of life-styles that exist on this planet.

As good citizens of western culture, we grow up participating in the norm. We get educated, work at an accepted job, live in an acceptable home and generally follow the cultural “dream”.

We are conditioned to believe that is the right and only way to live. We don’t have another yardstick by which to measure. We believe that this is life and we strive toward it, often at the expense of ourselves….getting stressed out and worn out in the process.

It’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

I didn’t know there was another way for a long time. I grew up in a middle class household. My father grew his business into success and my mother stayed home. All the people around us had similar lives. Discussions revolved around our expectations for this life and what we kids would become when we grew up.

We didn’t know people who went against the norm, who lived on boats, climbed mountains, traveled on a shoestring or chose to live with very few possessions, because they recognized what was important to them. Someone in the course of their lives gave them permission to do it differently or they had the calling and courage within to go against the cultural pattern.

Being an observer and a voracious reader, I learned that life can be done differently. It’s easy to see when we look at the lives of other cultures. Within those cultures we find the rebellious, the brave, the different. If we aren’t exposed to other options, we can learn by trial and error, as I did on our sailing trip.

It was an adventure explored. The good far outweighed the bad.

My point is: This is your life! No one else can live it for you, you don’t need approval from anyone. It takes courage to contemplate what you might like outside of the box that was set up for you. Being constantly stressed out with what you are doing might be a good indicator to re-examine things.

Socrates said: “The unexamined life isn’t worth living

It’s about feeling happy. When you feel good, you have more to give. A depleted soul has nothing to give.

Someone in one of my workshops mentioned feeling guilty when she did things for herself.

This is not about selfishness. Everything worth having needs to be nurtured. Especially the Self! Whatever we don’t nurture withers away.

Ask yourself….how do you feel when you constantly neglect yourself and only look to please others? You neglect your body, mind and soul. Your body will get sick, because you don’t care for it properly. Your mind will be exhausted and frazzled by others’ demands, because you don’t know your limits. Your soul will feel no peace, because you are dismissing the very essence of yourself.

Whatever your philosophy, there are a few immutable truths in life:

  • What we regret most at the end of our lives are the things we didn’t do.
  • The degree of understanding and compassion you have for others is in direct relationship to how you treat yourself.
  • Quality friendships and relationships keep us happier and healthier in the long run.

So, go out and do what lights you up, excites you and invigorates you. Do it with others who are supportive of your life-style and show your appreciation and support in return.

In case you want to sail to Cuba, here is some information: http://cubajournal.co/how-to-legally-travel-to-cuba-from-the-u-s-on-your-yacht/

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The Spiritual Truth No One wants to Accept

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What If We All Did This?

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How the practice of letting go of control can help us find the magic in life.

Some days I wake up and want everything to be orderly and predictable. That’s unusual, because I have a spontaneous, risk-taking …