Powering through the summer ritual of procrastination

(A version of this post was originally published in the July 2018 version of Healthy Families, produced by Peninsula Daily News.)

By now, summer is winding down. Most likely, whether you are aware of it or not, your family rituals are too. Historically for me, summer rituals revolved around time on the water. I had the privilege of growing up on Lake Crescent. We played in and on the water nearly every day of summer vacation, tirelessly jumping off the dock, challenging our balance by standing and floating on our old black inner tubes, swimming, and making up various imaginative water games. As a teen ager, I mixed these in with voraciously reading our entire library and writing snail mail letters to my pen pals while sun bathing on our floating dock. As an adult, these moments are mixed in with the responsibilities of work, and caring for my garden.

What are your summer rituals?

Whether or not we’re aware of our rituals, we all have them. But much of the time we throw ourselves into the busy activities of summer, one day following another until we’re surprised that it’s suddenly time for back to school shopping and summer is almost over. We procrastinate on the tasks of summer we don’t enjoy, try to cram a few more fun summer activities in to the days remaining and wind up feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks we put off.

This summer I invite you to consider a more contemplative approach to your remaining summer days.

Part I: Identify and Savor

20180805_105225725800499.jpgStop right now, go outside, and look around you at the natural bounty of the summer season. What sights and sounds signal to you that it’s still summer rather than another season of the year? If you grew up in a different part of the country, what summer experiences from your childhood do you miss or are happy to have left behind? What are your favorite sensory experiences of summer? Take the time to name your favorite ways to experience the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and felt sensations of summer. To make this a family activity, coax your family to share their favorites over a meal.

Once you’ve taken time to identify your favorite sensory experiences of summer, I invite you to savor those moments, and allow them to stretch your imagination and your sense of time. Instead of rushing to clear the table or wash the dishes or check your phone after a meal, linger over your dinner conversations like the light continues to linger in the sky.

Part II: Free Your Mental Energy

Now think of a task that is part of your summer ritual of procrastination. If you were to complete this task, would it give you more peace of mind and free you up to enjoy the moments left? What larger purpose / goal is this task a part of? How might you tackle this task in a way that plays to your strengths and values, clears your mind from the nagging guilt of procrastination, and accomplishes the larger goal this task represents?

For example: one of the things I love about spring is planting a garden. I love watching the sprouts shoot up like magic. 20180815_0723241774345224.jpgHowever, the task of summer weeding seems like it never ends, and as a result in the past I’ve often neglected my garden, choosing to ignore it rather than tend it, trying to cram more fun water activities into my summer at the expense of my garden, even though one of my favorite sensory experiences of summer is the taste of fresh vegetables and the sights and sounds of wildlife in my yard.

This year, after intentionally developing my spiritual apprenticeship to nature, instead of avoiding this chore, I tapped into my natural strengths of curiosity and wonder, set the goal of creating a wildlife friendly organic garden, and broke the weeding down into bite-sized chunks. vegetable gardenThat is, rather than looking at the overwhelming task of weeding my entire garden every day, I focus on a couple square feet, mindfully noticing more about that small area. How is the soil? What insects did I uncover? Are they beneficial? What can I do to keep them happy? If they’re pests, how can I get rid of them organically?

Practicing this mindful tending of my garden, and looking for ways I can cultivate my strengths and values has given me a deeper appreciation for the abundance of wildlife my garden attracts,

walk way with garden
One of my garden spots

and expanded my knowledge of organic gardening. Now, when I look at my garden, instead of seeing it as a pile of work that still needs to be done, I take pride in the variety of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, the garter snakes helping me save my plants from slugs, the brightly colored flowers waving in the breeze, and the delicious summer vegetable crop interspersed amongst the flowers and herbs.

Part III: Reflection

When you appreciate and savor the aspects of summer you love, and tackle the tasks that keep you from fully enjoying the moment, you are invited into a more mindful way of experiencing the ordinary, and more opportunities for grace.

What are some of your tips and techniques for capturing the moments? What summer tasks do you usually procrastinate on? How can you tap into your own strengths and values to get those tasks done?

My Wild Year

For those who didn’t hear before, 2017 was an unusual year. My dad passed away very unexpectedly on January 6th, 2017. My partner’s dad died –also a bit unexpectedly, although he had been sick– a few weeks prior to that, and my favorite cousin’s mom (my aunt) passed away a few weeks before that. After my dad’s funeral service, as a bit of a break from our ordinary lives, and to help my cousin remodel her mom’s home to use as a rental, Justin and I spent the better part of three months in California in early 2017. A few months after we returned, we held the service for his dad, and just a few weeks after that his grandmother passed away.

In late summer, just as we were settling back in to our routine, we found out –a bit dramatically, but that’s a story for another time– that we had to move out of the home we’d been living in for five years. We weighed our options, and decided to move into what had been his grandmother’s home, this log cabin (see photo below) originally built in 1893.

Bottom line, 2017 was very transitional and hard to predict …  very much like a walk-about pilgrimage. (A walk-about pilgrimage is a journey we go on simply by virtue of the –often sudden– unpredictability of our lives.)

At the beginning of 2018, my internal GPS (what I call my Wise Self) kept telling me to slow down, breathe deep, take a nap, relax, listen, connect to my self, my place, my new home … and allow myself the luxury to take a break from the need to chase down clients, or plan workshops & retreats. My underlying counter-voice kept saying, “you already took a year off! If you don’t get out there and DO stuff (market) you won’t get clients. And if you don’t get clients you won’t get paid!”

I chose to listen to my Wise Self. Although sometimes –I’ll admit– I wasn’t sure it was her, and I did host a workshop and attend a couple of local marketing events.

Finally, towards the end of April, when I pulled a card from my Oracle deck that once again said, “Take a Nap” when I asked about marketing my business, I decided to call my year a sabbatical.

A sabbatical is most common in academic vocations, but the concept of sabbatical originated in farming. It means to allow the land to remain fallow, to let it go wild for a year.

My Wild Year so far

In the process of “going wild”, I’ve been rooting into my self and my place and without even knowing it at the time, working on the practices of belonging, and awakening to the ancient Earth consciousness inside me.

The first task of moving in was to clear a space for us. We had to be completely out of our old place by Thanksgiving, and before we could move in here there were a few things that had to be done. We painted the press board ceilings white, gave away or sold the furnishings we weren’t going to use, built some beautiful rustic book cases, and sorted through, cleared, or stored decades of Grandma Beverly’s personal belongings. My partner kept saying, “get rid of everything” and my sister-in-law kept saying, “don’t get rid of anything without talking to me first.” Somehow we managed to make room for ourselves and keep the peace.

Come spring, my # 1 priority has been to cultivate my garden spaces. Justin’s grandma loved to garden, so the base of the garden was already in place. But it was overgrown with grass and weeds because her health (at 93) kept her from doing as much as she used to do. I mulched it heavily last winter with cardboard and leaves from our Norwegian Maple, but that wasn’t enough to kill all the grass.

I hate to weed, so I decided that I would tap into my strengths rather than my weaknesses this year. Rather than feeling the pressure to reclaim the entire garden, I decided that I would work on it a section at a time. My overall plan for the garden is to make it a wildlife sanctuary and Kristin-variety cottage garden … lots of indigenous wild flowers mixed in with roses, my favorite vegetables, herbs and Grandma Beverly’s perennials, plus a few of my own favorites.

One of my strengths is a love of learning, so to tap into that love, I decided to learn which plants have a symbiotic relationship with one another (like tomatoes, basil, carrots, & garlic for example.) I decided to learn the names of the bugs I discover in the soil and understand which ones are beneficial and which aren’t. And I decided to learn how to garden completely organically, with my own compost, beneficial nematodes, and by attracting wild life “critters” that help keep the bad bugs away.[Did you know that snakes, lizards and beetles eat slugs?!]

In the midst of all that yard work, June, and my Greece retreat snuck up on me. I signed up for the Greece Goddess Pilgrimage retreat in November, right in the middle of our move. The description said, “come journey with us to the Greek Island of Tinos, for an empowering and creative nine-day sacred Yoga and Art retreat.” I said, “I’m in.”

I communed with the land, the Aegean Sea, and Greek goddesses, did lots of art and a little bit of yoga, and made connections with like-hearted women from all over the US, Greece, the UK and Australia.

My intention for the trip was to make an even deeper connection with myself and my work … while also connecting more deeply with Mother Earth and her infinite wisdom. While there, I read the book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, by Toko-Pa Turner, a Canadian writer, teacher and dreamworker, who lives on a small island in the Salish Sea. (My neighbor!!) From her I integrated the knowledge that belonging is a practice … and one that I was already intuitively immersed in!

My take-aways from this pilgrimage journey / art retreat / goddess retreat were:

  1. I am an artist. Or rather, an artist and creative activist. I knew this before, of course, but the process of indulging in art for fourteen days helped me feel it.
  2. I am also a writer. And part of my calling as a creative activist is to write. This is not new knowledge either, but as of now I am officially writing my first book, tentatively called “A Field Guide to Practical Magic: 21 Days to Connect with Your Wise Self”  …. or something like that!
  3. I’m being called to call women back to their wild roots, to apprentice themselves to Nature and their own shadow, and to reconnect to and express beauty and their own Wild and Wise Soul.

Going forward, my work will more deeply reflect these three things. (To learn more about my work, you can follow my page on Facebook or visit my website.)

Serendipitous Treasures

Since I’m on the topic of serendipity, I became reacquainted with my partner through yet another funeral, back in 2007. The funeral was for the older brother universe soul matesof classmates of ours, and there were many people there that we knew.  At the time I arrived, he was heading out the back door with an elderly woman.  He smiled and waved, and although I knew he was someone I used to know in school, I couldn’t place him.  I sent his face through my mental facial recognition software and came up blank, but I have to admit that I was never was able to fully forget him either.

Finally, months later, he sent me a Facebook friend request, saying that he thought he’d seen me at that funeral. Oh! Of course! It clicked into place for me.  The elderly woman he was solicitously escorting out the door and into a silver Mercedes was his grandmother. When he contacted me, he was living in Mexico, caring for his mother’s property, and was with someone else so I put him out of my mind except when Facebook did its thing.

Several years later, he reached out to say he was back in town, and would I like to meet for a beer? And the rest, as they say, is history. This is what he looked like when I graduated from high school, and again when I met up with him in 2011.

Justin then and now
Is it any wonder I didn’t recognize him right away?

How has synchronicity shown up in your life? Do you have a favorite story of unexpected treasure popping up when you were least looking for it? Please feel free to share in the comments.  It’s fun to hear other’s stories!

What’s in a name?

In my first blog post, I hinted at my new name & business branding … Since re-branding a business is not something you should do lightly, I thought I’d give you a little more information about why I am …

To start with KIC (pronounced “kick”) itself has been an evolution … I first claimed the name KIC about ten yearKIC_Label_As ago, when I left my corporate job and decided to branch out for myself, uncertain yet what form that would take.  K-I-C are my maternal grandmother’s initials, and I wanted a business that would honor her.  I delighted in both the brainstorming and choosing of my first logo, wanting it to both represent something meaningful to me and something that might speak to my potential client.  I still like both the logo and the name, but I’ve learned over the years that choosing a name that gives prospective customers a hint about what you do is important. At first, I simply added Healing to the name … KIC Coaching & Healing seemed a little more explanatory, and the simplest way to tackle the problem.

I also noticed over the years (because I occasionally get requests that seem to be out of my expertise entirely) that there is another company out there in the world that calls themselves KIC Coaching.  It’s a GRE coaching company located in Mumbai.  Lately they must be pouring money into their Site Engine Optimization (SEO) because they’ve been encroaching on my google traffic. For a small business … or any business … this is not good news.  As much as we hate to rely on Google for our traffic, we do.

The combination of knowing that KIC Coaching does not tell you intuitively that I am a transformational coach, and the recent encroachment on my space helped spur along my need.  But I also knew I wanted to branch out and offer more than just coaching … I wanted to offer other transformative experiences such as Pilgrimages, Retreats, and more.  I wanted a name that didn’t limit me to coaching.

I’ve been playing with business name ideas for about a year, but nothing seemed quite right.  Soon after Prince passed away, I was out on a walk.  I didn’t follow Prince’s life or work closely while he was alive (although of course I knew his most widely known songs), but this clip of Prince with the Muppets delighted me.  I love to see the creative process at work, and I am wowed by people who can effortlessly turn anything into artistic expression.

I also completely believe in asking people I admire (living or dead) for advice.  So I called out to Prince (in my head640px-Prince_at_Coachella-630x390), telling him I was sorry I didn’t follow his work more when he was still alive, (this was a longer conversation than I’m including here, filled with justifications and pleas for mercy … ha ha!)  explaining my post-humus admiration and asking if he’d help me come up with a business name I liked that was relevant to the work I do.  In my head he asked me for a bit more information about my work, about my dreams, and about icons that were meaningful.

A few minutes later, The Dream Hatchery popped into my head, and I loved it.  I give Prince all the credit.  🙂  Thanks!  (I also promised to purchase at least a few of his songs for my iPod.  If anyone has recommendations of their favorite Prince songs (ideally that showcase his brilliant creativity) feel free to post in the comments.

Creative Tip:  Stuck on a project?  Think of five people who you admire,  living or dead, and ask them to give you advice.  Don’t be surprised when you get a brilliant idea.  Be sure to thank them for their help.  🙂