What of your rushed and useful life …?

And you -what of your rushed and / useful life? Imagine setting it all down -papers, plans, appointments, everything, / leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields / to be lovely. Be back when I’m through / with blooming.”

Poet, Lynn Ungar, from “Camas Lilies”
get outside

February was an unseasonably cold and snowy month for those of us on the Olympic Peninsula. The snow started falling Sunday the 3rd of February, and we can still see patches of unmelted snow in the field behind the house.

The dogs and I enjoyed trompsing in it, but I’m grateful that my lifestyle allows me to limit my time on the roads .

Now that the Equinox and the frogs in our pond have loudly proclaimed it to be spring, I invite you to imagine setting down everything in your life, and writing the note described above. Do you even know what you would do if you could “go to the fields to be lovely”? And be back when you’re “done blooming?”

If you’re like most people, you’re too caught up in your “rushed and useful” life to imagine that it might be different. Until, that is, you’re forced to … through a threshold not of your choosing.

A colleague and I used to walk the waterfront trails in Seattle, to help us think more creatively as we brainstormed a workshop on living a vital life.

One day we got onto the topic of societal expectations: how so many of us simply set out into the world following the blueprint society created for us –go to school, get a job, get married, have children, buy a house, acquire things, raise children, retire –without thinking about whether those choices are suitable for our unique spirit.

In following this pre-subscribed routine, many of us end up with health problems, or become increasingly restless or burned out. If we’re not working in a job that utilizes our best skills, and the lifestyle best suited to us, we muddle along feeling frustrated. Over time this disconnection from our “best-ish” self –the one connected to our highest potential– can contribute to anxiety, depression and lowered self-esteem.

When either of these scenarios play out, instead of looking inside to our own inner intelligence for solutions, we tend to look outside for prescriptions or escape. We choose things like prescription drugs, substance abuse, or excessive entertainment which keep us stuck in the scenario of escaping, and watching / consuming other people’s lives rather than figuring out how to better live our own.

girl brushing teeth
Habits like brushing your teeth can be healthy.

There is nothing wrong with any of these choices as a temporary fix. But practices become habits when we do them over and over. Habits can be beneficial: the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day, for example, leads to good oral hygiene and prevents tartar build up, cavities, and bad breath.

Plenty of your habits may have served a purpose at one time in your life, but if you continue to follow these habits without listening to your inner voice –your spirit, or Wild and Wise Heart– eventually you lose the ability to connect with this part of you that is deeply connected to your own well-being.

So, what can you do instead?

Step One: Quiet Your Mind

You can google benefits of meditation and find hundreds of articles on how a meditation practice will benefit you, and plenty more that will teach you how. But I know that those of you who do not already have a meditation practice are skeptical. The good news is that if sitting quietly cross-legged on the floor repeating simple mantras to yourself doesn’t sound natural to you, there are other ways to quiet your mind.

Quiet Your Mind
Quiet Your Mind to find your wild and wise heart

A few are active choices –yoga, xi gong, trail running, hiking, fly fishing, knitting, collage, coloring, gardening– to list just a few. Quieting your mind, or mindfulness, is simply the ability to pay attention, on purpose, nonjudgmentally, to the present moment.

Honestly, this can be done anywhere and anytime, especially doing the things you already love to do. You simply need to be taught how, and then make it a practice, until it becomes a habit.

In my opinion, the easiest, most powerful way to quiet your mind is to leave it.

“In my opinion, the easiest, most powerful way to quiet your mind is to leave it.”

Author and Transformational Life Coach, Kristin Halberg

To do this, simply drop your awareness down to your heart. You can place your hand over your heart to add a physical component to this practice, but it isn’t necessary. When you drop your awareness into your heart, and breathe, just slightly more deeply than usual, imagine that your breath is flowing in and out of this heart area. This practice essentially creates a “time-out” for your mind, which enables you to let thoughts go.

Trees hugging
Intelligent and

Then ground yourself to the earth, by imagining that your awareness is dropping down into your hips, then down your legs to your feet, and connecting you to the earth with invisible roots, intertwining you with loved ones, like trees.*

Then bring your awareness back to your heart, and continue to breathe, imagining your breath is flowing in and out through your heart area for 30 seconds, more if you have the time.

I call this tool my inner sanctuary tool … everything else begins to drop away, and it’s just me and my heart, and the Earth. This tool helps to clear all the static, stories, and amplified emotions your mind creates on a regular basis and begins to reconnect you to what I call your Wild and Wise Heart.

As with all habits, this becomes easier over time. I tell my clients to practice this tool 20 – 25 x per day … but in the beginning, for only five – ten seconds at a time. Essentially, what you are doing is creating a new very simple habit, which will then serve you when you need it the most. You can use this tool in-the-moment and on-the-fly. Or you can combine it with any of the active mindfulness activities I suggested above.

Step Two: Reconnect with your Wild & Wise Heart

There are numerous ways to reconnect with your Wild & Wise Heart. Kicking off the Inner Sanctuary practice will help you jump start this relationship.

However, once you start to feel this reconnection, you will want to kick it up a notch. For this, you’ll need to set aside some time for yourself. Trust me, even though this might be hard at first, it will be well worth it.

Journaling in Nature, Write with the Heart
Once you start to feel this connection, you’ll want to kick it up a notch.
  1. Get out a journal or a piece of paper and begin by writing down five things you love to do.
  2. Next, write down three to five things that get in your way of doing these things on a regular basis.
  3. Now, do a time inventory. Think back over the past five days. Did you fall into any of your old “time quick-sand” habits, where you got lost in an activity that didn’t bring you as much value as the time you spent on it? (If so, don’t beat yourself up for this. Just bring awareness to it, write it down, and then drop your awareness into your heart, and breathe until you can feel yourself in your inner sanctuary again.)
  4. Next, do a mindset inventory. Did you fall into any mindset obstacles? (These are things like: I need to set aside hours to do this, I need more money to do this, I can’t do this because ….) Again, the goal here is simply to bring awareness to these thought habits, and then go back to your inner sanctuary.
  5. Release your attachment to all the obstacles. To do this, simply ask these questions, “I wonder where I could find 10 – 15 minutes in my day to do one of these things I love?” And “I wonder if there is some approach that belies these beliefs that I might be able to try today?” Write down your answers. (Try this: write your questions with your dominant hand, then switch to the other hand and write the answers. This is a trick to further interrupt your neuro-typical habits.)
  6. Then act. Follow through –for a minimum of ten minutes– on one of the suggestions you gave yourself.

I’d love to hear how this challenge goes for you. After you try it, please drop me a note in the comments below.


If you’d like further support and more tools to re-member your Wild and Wise Heart, join my 5-day spring challenge: Back When I’m Through Blooming.

*For more information on intelligent and wise hearted trees, watch Intelligent Trees, a documentary by German Forester Peter Wohlieben and UBC scientist Suzanne Simard.

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The Season of Advent

I was raised Catholic. Actually, I usually say I was raised VERY Catholic. In my entire life from birth to 18, I can remember missing Mass twice (including Holy days.)

Once because we were snowed in. Once because the whole family was sick. Both times we celebrated the entire Mass at home, with my mom playing the role of priest.* *Rebellious, since Catholics still don’t allow women to be priests.

Anyway. Even as a youngster, I didn’t love Mass. From time to time there would be an interesting sermon. Occasionally, the Mass would be geared for kids. But the rest was just ritual … all the standing up, sitting down, recitation of prayers in a monotonous tone of voice, only men in the positions of power … it just wasn’t for me. Except. I always loved the season of Advent.

Halberg Family photo
Family Christmas photo circa 1977 (one sibling still unborn)

Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. My love of Advent was probably because anticipation is a big part of my essence frequency, possibly because the anticipation of Christmas to every American kid means much more than a simple celebration of the birth of Christ, most likely because this was the one time of year where a woman was a regular and integral part of the Biblical story, but also largely due to the sudden eruption of fun family festivities in my household.

To say that my family was into Advent is an understatement. There were six of us kids, 14 years apart from first to last. We gathered around the dinner table all year round, but during Advent, the Advent wreath became part of our dinner-time tradition. An Advent wreath is a wreath of evergreen foliage in which four candles are set, one more to be lit on each Sunday of Advent. In our family, we rotated through the designated prayer leader, the one who led us in prayer before dinner, and that person also got to light the candle(s) before dinner each night,  blow them out at the end of dinner, (or take bribes from siblings for the privilege) and choose and read the Bible story before we left the table.

Every morning, we began by attending to our Advent calendars. Most Advent calendars are standard two dimensional calendars containing small numbered flaps, one of which is opened on each day of Advent, typically to reveal a picture appropriate to the season. We had to have six advent calendars to rotate through, with a schedule kept by mom so that we wouldn’t fight over whose turn it was to open which one. Four of our Advent calendars were the typical calendar as described above. These were not very exciting especially since they were often recycled from years before, except that they marked down the days until Christmas, and sometimes the pictures inside were of presents or cute kittens and puppies, or angels and the like.

Swedish Christmas Tree
A Swedish Christmas Tree

Another was a three dimensional Swedish Christmas tree, made of dowels, and we got to choose an ornament and hang it on the tree. (Moderately exciting, see photo.)

But our favorite, and the one we would fight over for turns if my mom didn’t keep us all so organized, was a homemade embroidered tapestry with a Christmas tree and elves and 24 numbered rings that held tiny written scrolls with various assignments per my mom’s creativity. (See photo below.)

Creative Advent calendar
Mom’s Advent Calendar

Because this Advent calendar was the one that my mom imbued with her own creativity, each year was a little different. Some years you’d get a scavenger hunt clue to go find a small gift (usually a Bible story book which you would then get to read on your turn to be prayer leader at dinner.) Other years you’d pull a scroll that told you to help your sister with the dishes, or write a nice letter to an elderly friend or relative, or clean the bathroom for a sibling.

My mom still pulls out this advent calendar every year, and her grand kids are now the beneficiaries of her creativity. Fortunately for them, the only ones with large numbers of siblings live in California, and don’t get stuck with those awful “help your sibling” scribes.

The other fun things about the Advent season were that the Christmas records came out of storage, we all went hiking up in the woods to find and cut down the “best Christmas tree ever”, decorated the tree as a family, and the Christmas creche went on display. And then there were the school concerts, Santa pictures, Christmas shopping, and the whole season of anticipation for Christmas day.

I tell you the story of our family Advent traditions to set the stage for why the season of Advent is still important to me today, even though I don’t follow many of the other Catholic customs. For me, the season of Advent (although I do still celebrate reason for the season, even if my beliefs are more aligned with my personal spirituality than traditional Catholic or Christian dogma) is also a time to prepare for the rebirth of a whole New Year. No matter what has happened throughout the 12 months of the year we’re in, I love the ceremony in anticipation of a fresh slate, an opportunity to make my mark on a brand new year.

Furthermore, I believe that ceremony is an important part of spiritual growth, regardless of whether you consider yourself to be traditionally religious or simply secular.

In her latest book, The Book of Ceremony, Sandra Ingerman says that ceremony brings the sacred into ordinary life. In other words, it opens a phone line between you and the power of the Universe, whether you call that God, Goddess, Creator, Great Spirit, Yahweh, Holy Spirit, or The Universe. By bringing ceremony into our life, we reconnect with the sacred as well as to life and nature. Ceremonies can help us unburden ourselves from past hurts, traumas, and self-sabotaging beliefs, moving us into a place where we feel a deeper connection to ourselves, to others, to nature, to life, and to why we are here.

This year I am offering a 25 day Kindness Challenge during the season of Advent. My goal is to offer a secular practice in the spirit of Advent, one that prepares you for new growth in the coming year, and one that is aligned with the kind spirit of the holiday season.

Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the second option, and kindness helps to create a field that supports miracles.

The holiday season can be stressful for many, and when we’re stressed, we quickly escalate into fight / flight / freeze / faint and by definition get too caught up in our own head as we try to navigate our personal holiday challenges. 

When we participate in ceremonies, we transform the negative thoughts and states of consciousness that are burdening us. Ceremony impacts us deeply on a subconscious level, creating positive change. Science shows that performing acts of kindness –to yourself or to others– reduces the effects of stress, improves your mood, boosts your immunity, spreads exponentially to at least three degrees, increases confidence, boosts energy, and is an excellent tool to overcome social anxiety. What better way to bring in the New Year?

Click this link to join my Kindness Challenge, and imagine that each daily message is in the form of a scroll on my mom’s Advent calendar, leading you to focus on and practice kindness: to yourself, to others, to Nature and the Divine.

And I promise I won’t make you clean the bathroom for a sibling,

I hope to see you on the other side.

On Death and Grieving and Supporting Another

Navigating your own grief is challenging, no question about it. In theory, the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, are a part of the framework originally proposed by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, while writing about coming to terms with one’s own death. These five stages have since been used as a helpful framework for anyone in grief.

In my own experience, just as difficult –if not more difficult– than navigating your own grief is navigating grief as a couple.

Note from the Universe 07.11.17
Us:February 2017

Between my partner and I, we’ve lost four people we care about in the past 7 months. In order: my aunt, his dad, my dad, and most recently his grandmother, (just this past weekend) who was also a mother figure to him.

We’ve been further challenged by our self employment. There is no such thing as “time off with pay” when you are sole proprietors. And we’re also navigating a reconciliation period from last year’s 8 month separation while he fished in Alaska.

It’s difficult to balance your needs with your partner’s needs during the everydayness of a relationship, but add grief and extra challenges and this balance becomes even more difficult.

For one thing, the stages of grief have been proven to not be linear stages. You can dance back and forth between depression and acceptance for months if not years. And of course, you are unlikely to be in the same stage at the same time. So when one partner is moving on, the other might be depressed, which creates tension and feeling a need to tiptoe around one another which feels inauthentic.  Also, with multiple deaths in a short time frame, there is almost a sense of rivalry (comparison for sure) at who is grieving the most and when and why, and whose funeral was the best, and how we honored the lives of those we lost. This is ridiculous of course, but human emotions are not always rational, even in the best of times.

Other questions come up:

  • How can I support my partner without losing sight of my own boundaries and needs?
  • How do I deal with my anger and impatience when I don’t feel like being understanding and patient right now?
  • How can I best help my partner process his / her grief while still honoring my own process and continuing to move forward with my own life?

Of course, being me, I hold myself to a high standard and expect to do more than just muddle through. I am still learning to be gentle with myself and accept that I have to take care of myself first in order to be there for my loved ones.

My most relied-upon tools are the same ones I teach my clients.

  1. HeartMath(R) –to transform the negative and draining energy into positive.
  2. Walks in Nature –to bask in a sense of awe and wonder.
  3. Creative Expression –to help process the emotions
  4. A reliance on Spirit –to help when it gets too tough.

But unexpected encouragement that shows up in your inbox is also a big help. This past week was a particularly challenging one for me. I didn’t handle any of it as gracefully as I might hope, although certainly better than I could have.

I subscribe to Notes from the Universe, by Mike Dooley. This morning, here is what it said:

“You’re simply the best, Kristin. You blow my mind. We’re all in total awe. How you hold together under pressure. How you face up to your challenges. And your rebound ability totally rocks. You’re driven, persistent, and strong. Playful, silly, fun. Compassionate, sympathetic, understanding. You’re just plain unstoppable. And you always have time for others. What a package. Soooo…

How ’bout cutting yourself some slack every now and then?

Tallyho,
The Universe”

Beautiful. Thanks Mike. And this goes for all of you as well.

Much love,

Kristin

Serendipitous Presence

I haven’t written a thing since last October! This is, in part, because I wanted every blog post to be “meaningful” and “perfect.” Of course it never will be, but before I let go of that expectation, it was difficult to start.

To be fair, beyond that self-imposed restriction, it has been an unusually unusual year. Along with Joy and Goodwill and New Year’s intentions, the holiday season folded in three important deaths: first my aunt, next my partner’s Dad, and then my Dad.

I know that the way each of us will grieve and process these three deaths is still unfolding … but the initial impact reframed my chosen theme for 2017 from abundance to serendipity.
Serendipity with dogs in daisies

 

 

You might think that death is an unusual place to find serendipity. But both my father’s death and my partner’s father’s death brought with them reconciliations that were both unexpected and valuable. And my aunt’s death brought both adventure and an opportunity to spend lengthy time with my California relatives. Now of course, I’d trade all of that to have our loved ones back; but since that isn’t how life works, I’m happy to have experienced the serendipitous moments.

Looking forward to sharing more of those with you in the days to come.

Much love,

Kristin

New beginnings …

On this New Moon I’m kicking off my new blog, announcing the beginning of my new business branding, (from KIC Coaching & Healing to The Dream Hatchery, more on that later) and officially starting my new challenge … to turn my recently adopted six-month old Heeler / Australian Shepherd / “who-knows-what-else” mix into a well-behaved member of my family.  (I will also be learning WordPress, so you will see my formatting improve along with my “alpha leadership” …)

I’ll start by introducing the puppy.  Blue 05.25.16 cropped & framed

Three weeks ago, as I was returning from my walk on the nearby beach, I saw a sign posted at Angel Crest Farms, “Farm Puppies”.

“Farm puppies?!”  I flipped a U-ey and went back to investigate.
The owner of the puppies informed me that the pups were now six months old.  “Wha?  How long has that sign been up?”  “Six months,” she replied.  Hmmm.  I wondered how I could drive past the place nearly everyday for six months and not see a sign for puppies.  I could miss a sign for fresh dirt maybe, or fresh cut flowers perhaps, but puppies???  I guess I am more ready now than I was six months ago, even though I have been threatening to get a new puppy this year. Anyway, she arranged to bring two of the male puppies to meet me the following day, also informing me that one of the puppies, (the one she felt was best for me considering I needed him to fit in with our 14 year old Labradoodle mix and our cat) had the markings of a butterfly on his back.  Hmmmm.  Universe?  Are you conspiring on my behalf?

Long story short, I couldn’t take the pup right away because I had to be out of town for a full day later in the week, so I took her number and said I’d think about it.  Meanwhile, I did some research on Australian Cattle Dogs, and asked around.  You need to be prepared to step into the role of the Alpha completely, said all the research.  Fear and doubt came crowding in … am I ready for this?  Do I have what it takes?  I’ve raised well-behaved, wonderful dogs in the past, but it has been ten years since I last had a puppy and none of them required a lot of work to train.  Also, my partner is fishing in Alaska, and I wanted to make sure he approved as well.  “Uh oh,” was his first response when I texted him a photo of the two pups.  His biggest concern was for Hank, as was mine.  Our original plan was to wait until Hank was gone, but Hank continues to be quite healthy, he’s just deaf and can no longer accompany me on trail runs or walks.

Finally after hemming and hawing for a couple more days, I decided to give the puppy a trial.  If Hank hated him, I just couldn’t do it.  And if he passed the Hank test, but harassed the cat, I still couldn’t.  Ironically, stepping into the Alpha role and stretching out of my leadership comfort zone (I prefer Hank and Blue 05.30.16 small framedcollaborative partnerships so I can stay under the radar) is aligned with the other growth edges in my life this year, so I knew that was another “sign from the Universe” to help me stretch and grow.

Hank accepted him right away.

The cat wouldn’t even deign to come out of her hidey-hole for four days.  Finally I had a conversation with her.  (I do this.  All the time.)  “Katniss,” I said.  “That puppy is just a baby.  If you tell him you’re the boss, you get to be the boss.  But if you hide out down here and don’t even show your face, you’ll never even know.”

Katniss 2016I did some introductions while the pup was in his crate and completely under my control, and by the end of the 5th day, Katniss strolled out the front door past him with her tail in the air.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  (And replayed The Stray Cat Strut in my head that entire day with a smile on my face.) We’ll get there.  All of us.  It’s just a matter of time.

Welcome to the family, Blue!