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Imagine all that’s in the highest good of all

Imagine if you will

Where in your life does your imagination play a role? Where does it fall on your priority list? Okay, so I’m not here to cause any panic or self-criticism.  As you’re reading this, I gather that the idea of invoking your imagination is now in your field of awareness.

In this edition of Soul Notes, we explore the ways in which imagination can take you to places well beyond what your mind, your intellect, your braniac brain can take you, and why that matters.  – Why that matters for you, your loved ones, your law practice, your trial team, your clients, the litigation process and legal system as a whole, and anywhere else that the ripple effects of your presence in the world may produce a valuable result.

I realize that is a tall order, and I’m confident that the tapping into the full extent of our imagination truly is that powerful. I invite you to welcome it in, and to use it as fuel for bringing forth outcomes that are beyond-the-beyond, as I like to say.

I know for me, when I stay too much in my head, I miss out on so much.  So, let’s dive deeper:

“Think like a lawyer”

Remember how we were often told that law school purportedly was designed to teach us to “think like a lawyer”? That has its place in our role as lawyers, for sure. Does that, however, make for the best of all possible outcomes? What about our imagination, our intuition, our instincts, our inner knowing…you know, all those things that come from the heart and spirit, our bodies even, and not from our intellect?

What if we were to bring all of ourselves into the practice of law?  What if we were to approach litigation, including our early case assessment (ECA) strategies and ideas generated from those processes into play, so as to produce wildly different and dare I say even surprisingly novel results?

Back when I was a law clerk, I was put in charge of ECA on a few of the firm’s incoming cases, including one involving defamation allegations. Upon my initial review of the Complaint, along with spending some quiet time pondering the underlying scenario and fact pattern, and mulling over the details a bit – a line of inquiry led me to pose this question to the lead partner on the case:  What if the alleged defamatory statements actually may have improved the plaintiff’s reputation, rather than damaged it?  That one question completely turned our ECA on its head, and changed dramatically our defense to the lawsuit, on behalf of our defendant client.  In our sometimes rush to draw quick conclusions, we run the risk of missing entirely different angles.

Setting aside time to think (and then some)

Once when traveling for work several years ago, I was reading the in-flight magazine and delved into an article where a CEO was describing how he prioritized his work day, and his work week.  He emphasized the importance of and the value he gleaned from blocking out time in his calendar for thinking.  He set aside specific hours as purely “think-time.”

I would suggest that we take this concept even further….MUCH further.  Let’s decide to extend our analysis beyond the mind and into the feeling and the emotions and the instincts, the “hunches” we may have about something, and following the intuitive bread crumb trails.

Yes, we CAN bring our hearts into the practice of law.  For many of us, our hearts (as well as our minds, of course) brought us to law school and to the legal profession, with the intention of making a positive impact in the world.  Why should we leave our hearts behind?  Why should we compartmentalize ourselves, and so much so that we feel ‘cut off’ from what we’re doing whenever we put our lawyer hat and heels on?

The so-what:

Succumbing to the industry-wide leanings toward intellectualizing the approach to law means we’re not only contorting ourselves to leave our internal, true wisdom behind – we’re also bringing less than the full plate of possible results and outcomes to the table for our clients.  And that, I contend, IS a big deal.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

– Albert Einstein

Yes, expanding the circle of possibilities may also bring up the dreaded ‘irrelevant’ along with the relevant. Some sifting through the sand may still be required.

The importance of discernment:

Your lawyer brain is still going to be put to good use. Don’t fret. (I can hear your brain protesting already…”But what about thinking like a lawyer?  That’s what I sweated through law school for!  That’s what my clients pay me for!”)  You’ll still need to invoke a certain amount of discernment.  You’ll need to make a few (or several) precise demarcations – before proceeding with your case strategy, for example.  I’m suggesting, however, that be made from the full array of options that only your imagination can bring to the forefront – and not from the limited array that your brain can come up with on its own.

And, this need not be done solely on your own. Inviting others into your imaginative process can be helpful as well.  Inviting in other points of view, and asking the question, “what am I possibly not seeing with regard to this case?” may reap substantial rewards. For more on this, and ways to bring this to your work team or other groups you’re a part of, take a quick view and listen to my short (6-minute) video, here.  Also, for more on the ways to facilitate a ‘talking circle’ so that each person’s voice is fully heard, review my previous blog post here.

For your consideration:

What all would be possible, if you evoked and invoked a spirit of imagination in all aspects of your law practice and in your life?  Where has your intellect only taken you ‘so far’ and stopped you short of reaching a full understanding of a scenario?

If you need help with this, leave a comment below or book an exploratory session here. Together we’ll see where you can bring more creativity into your law practice.

Okay, your turn:

Where, if at all, do you devote time and space in your day or week, for day dreaming?  Or, for creativity? Or, pure imagination?  When has going beyond using only your intellect brought you surprising (or at least more creative) results?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Promise me

Promise me

 Often:

Promise me “you’ll be good,” says one.

Promise me “you’ll stay,” says the other.

Promise me “you’ll always be mine,” they say in unison.

 

Instead,

Promise me you’ll be you.

Promise me you’ll be true

to you

and to me

And not to whom you think

I desire you to be

Promise me you’ll stay true to what you intend to be true

Promise me you’ll only make promises you sincerely intend to keep

Promise me.

Will you?

I will, too.

I promise.

~~~~

Tomorrow is not promised.

Today is all we’ve got.

And that is everything.

For your consideration:

What about “broken promises”?  Are they based on unrealistic expectations, wishful thinking, both, or neither?

I know for me, an unfulfilled promise hurts more than no promise at all.

Like most every child growing up in Southern California, I fantasized about going to visit The Magic Kingdom…Disneyland.  We did get to go when I was really little, and I was “too short to ride the rides,” as the signs said in front of the line for all the ‘big kid’ rides that my older brothers got to go on without me.

As I got a little older and a little taller, nearly every year, at some point, I would tug on my dad’s shirt sleeve and pester him with “please Dad, can we go to Disneyland again soon, can we, can we?” I believe my father did desire to make me happy, and sometimes, as I know now, he would say what I wanted to hear, without giving much thought as to whether it was likely to actually happen.

One time in particular, I remember when my dad announced to the family: “Yes, we are going to Disneyland,” and we set the date.  I practically squealed with glee and leaped with joy.  I counted down the days, imagining all the fun rides we’d ride at the amusement park, and how I’d get to have my picture taken with Pluto and maybe even Goofy, my favorite.

On the morning of the day that we were supposed to jump in the car and head out to Disneyland, I eagerly asked my dad what time we needed to be ready to leave. I was antsy with anticipation.

Engraved in my memory are these words in his reply:  “Oh, Lori, we’re not going to Disneyland today.”

He didn’t provide a reason why.  He dismissed the promise, and me, as quickly as I had asked the question.

I slumped down into my dejected heart and glumly walked back into my room without a spark of joy left in me.

I didn’t know what to believe.

So:

What if we were to commit to making promises from a place of what’s truly true? What if we made the decision to embody that promising promise now, and to carry it through…for ourselves and for all concerned?

Okay, your turn:

When have you felt the impact of a broken promise?  What does it mean for you to make a promise?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Planting seeds now and for well into the future

Planting seeds and envisioning orchards

In elementary school, our teacher often told the folkloric tale of Johnny Appleseed (whom I researched recently to find out was a real person named John Chapman — an early American colonist and missionary —  who was a member of the New Church of Christianity).

While details of his life and legacy are the stuff of legend mixed in with documented history, John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) was known to travel throughout New England and into the Midwest, spreading apple seeds for others to grow apple trees on their land. It has been reported that he was quite the businessman and enterprising in that he followed the then law that prescribed that a person with 50 apple trees or more could stake claim to a plot of land as part of the early homesteading rules and regulations.

And his religious beliefs, stemming largely from the New Church’s forbidding doing harm to any of God’s creation, informed many of his day-to-day activities. He is believed to have built fences around apple trees to keep out livestock and other animals. It has been reported that he even helped heal an injured wolf and a hobbled horse.

Johnny Appleseed also was someone who made it his mission to spread apple seeds in a way that allowed apple trees to grow and the fruit to propagate naturally. He disfavored the intervention through the then and now common practice of “grafting” from one tree to another. Apples intrinsically have a wide variety of genetic variability. As such, not unlike a box of chocolates (an appreciative nod to the movie Forrest Gump), you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Without grafting, apple seeds are allowed to sprout into an array of unpredictable varieties.  That lends to them being hardier and more able to adapt to and incorporate their ever changing surroundings.  While less ‘standardized’ and less ‘consistent’ in their outcomes, non-grafted apples allow for the element of surprise and naturally occurring complexities to emerge from the mystery and manifest into form.

So, what’s the spiritual lesson in this, you may be asking?  I’d say it’s this:

Plant the seeds and let go.  Provide them water, soil and sunshine, sure; but otherwise, let them be.  Allow specific outcomes to remain uncertain. Resist the temptation to impose person-made alterations that prevent nature from enjoying its full expression and dare I say potentially quirky “imperfections.”  So, too, may it be with regard to your own dreams and aspirations.

With your desires, envision them coming into form.  And, then let them go.  Allow them to run their natural course. Don’t allow your over-thinking and over-manipulating to “graft” onto your dreams and drain the life out of them.  Don’t try artificially to “contain” the fruit of your dreams.  Allow them to adapt and blend into the naturally shifting conditions and environment.  That, to me, is what we mean when we say “to be in the flow.”

The analogies between personal development and spiritual growth, and growth in nature, are abundant. When I started to envision the topic for this particular edition of SOUL NOTES, I didn’t anticipate that it would lead me to the tale of Johnny Appleseed.  Alas, here we are.  There’s more to his story, as I know there is more to yours as well. Tales to be told, and shaped, reshaped, and retold.

The longterm impact and leaving a legacy

Johnny Appleseed also exemplifies that planting seeds in the short term can reap dividends in the long term. As each of us continues to grow in our own spiritual development, the world stands to gain from that growth.  As each of us plants our seeds of intentions, desires, and heartfelt aspirations now for the betterment of all, we help to provide for generations to come.  In doing so, we indeed stand to leave an important and loving legacy.

For your consideration:

Feel into your dream theme for this year, and determine what seeds you’re planting now so that they may continue to grow throughout the year into a strong and vibrant orchard, for you and for others to enjoy. You are the steward of that legacy. You are the gardener.

Okay, your turn:

What are you planting now, in the ground, in your life, in your relationships, and how you show up in the world?  Are there any seeds you’ve been keeping tucked away deep in your pocket so to speak, that it’s time to plant into the ground and to allow to grow out into the light? If so, what is it exactly that you are waiting for? The season is now.

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Dream Theme 2019: Guiding you as your North Star

Using a dream theme as your north star

A star, a star, shining in the night…will bring us goodness and light. At holiday time, we hear songs that highlight the stars in the sky and how they lead us in holy directions and toward holy destinations.  They light our path, and lead us ‘home.’

Following your North Star is unique to you and an opportunity to create a year centered around what you feel most inspired by and for and by which you and your soul desire to be guided.

Around this same time last year, as you may recall, in Soul Notes we introduced the idea of a Dream Theme.  Did you select one for 2018?  If so, in what ways did it serve you?  Would you like to create one for this year?  I invite you to do so!

Just as the other stars in the northern sky of our galaxy rotate around the North Star, I invite you to allow a dream theme to help you by being your guidepost throughout the year.

You know how compasses work?  Compasses are designed so that the needle points toward the Earth’s magnetic North Pole.  The compass lets you know where you are, at any given moment, in relation to all points North. Technically, there are variations in the movement of true north on our planet, but you get the point. While the exact true North is somewhat fluid and always in motion, a compass remains a reliable tool to orient you when you are not sure where you are or where you may be headed.

Similarly, your dream theme can do that for you as well. It can serve as a guidepost.  When in doubt or uncertain about your next move in your career, your relationships, your health or hearth and home, you can always refer back to your dream theme for insights.

For 2018, I grounded into and made union my ultimate choice for the year’s dream theme.  The theme can be a word or a phrase.  It can be a noun (union or unity), or a verb (to unite) or a feeling (of united).

For 2019, I’m feeling into connection as my dream theme.  Accordingly, my year will be guided by my connection to the divine, and to myself, to my loved ones, to my community, and to my values and convictions. Yes, I’ll also come up with focus points and lists of what I desire to bring into form throughout the year.  And, I’ll likely have a list (or several) of action items for various parts of my life.  Those will be anchored, though, if you will, and stem from, my dream theme.  Whenever I feel off track, I’ll make the appropriate course corrections by consulting with my dream theme.

For your consideration:

Feel into what one or two or three dream themes are coming up for you, and allow the one that’s most strongly resonating for you to come to the surface.  If more than one seem ‘fitting,’ and you can’t quite decide, consider running them each through this short list of inquiries or ‘filters’:

If you were to select that particular one as the theme for your year:

What would it mean for you in terms of how you conduct your daily practice, your interactions with your loved ones, your clients, and your business or law practice? How well does it match up with where you’d like to see yourself headed this year?

Okay, your turn:

What dream theme are you considering to make your North Star for 2019?

Need help in coming up with your dream theme, or need someone to help keep you on track and moving forward consistently toward your own North Star?  Do you sometimes find yourself starting off on the right track, only to lose focus and then find yourself veering mightily off course?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Let’s talk about richness

There’s so much to be savored in the richness

In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, let’s talk about richness.  I’m not talking about financial riches. I’m not talking about material wealth.

I’m talking about a richness of life and living.  I’m talking about a depth of flavors and sensory pleasures, not unlike a savory pot of wildly aromatic boeuf bourguignon simmering on the stove on a cool autumn evening. Or, the richness of sipping ever so slowly from a cup of hot cocoa.

No, this hasn’t turned into a culinary blog.  Don’t worry –This is still Soul Notes. : )

For purposes of this article, though, again, I’m referring to a richness of being.  Living a rich life is akin to an acquired taste — something that you build up to, and appreciate, like dry red wine and strong black coffee.

Is there ‘such a thing’ as ‘too much of a good thing’?

“Oh, but, there’s always the risk of there being TOO much richness,” you may be exclaiming.  Maybe that’s true when it comes to food and beverages.  It’s not so true, though, when it comes to living a full and enriching life. A well-lived life means having a depth of experiences. It’s not best lived at the surface level.  A shallowly lived life is as bland as a soup without salt or pepper.

For your consideration:

I invite you to set aside a few moments to get quiet and listen for insights on where you’d like to bring in more richness, more fullness of flavor, into your life.

Take a stand. Claim it.

Finish this sentence for yourself:  “I’m choosing to call in more richness in my….”

Then, consider:

What would enhance your day-to-day experiences in that area?  What would it mean to you if you were to add more layers of depth to those experiences?  What one inspired action can you take, starting today, to bring more richness into that area of your life?

For me, I’m welcoming in more richness in my relationships, both in business and personally.  The one action I’m taking in that direction is by publicly proclaiming it here on this blog, with you!

Okay, your turn

What area of your life, would you say, holds the most richness for you right now?  In what ways has that served you, and those with whom you have been interacting?  How would you define a richly lived life?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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The Meaningfulness of Meaning: Living a Life Worthwhile

In this edition of Soul Notes, we explore the concept of meaning and what that constitutes in terms of a meaningful life.  In this article, I’ll make references to one of Viktor Frankl’s books, originally entitled From Death Camp to Existentialism, now more commonly known by the title: Man’s Search for Meaning.

A doctor of psychiatry, Viktor Frankl (Frankl) is the founder of the psychotherapeutic school of thought he named logotherapy.  In contrast to Sigmund Freud’s focus on human instincts and the human drive for pleasure, Frankl focused his work on man’s (humankind’s) quest for finding meaning in one’s life.

Part One of Man’s Search for Meaning documents Frankl’s personal experiences as an inmate in concentration camps during World War II.  In Part Two of the book, he elaborates on logotherapy and how his experiences in the camps provided the backdrop for himself to become in effect his own best patient.  Part Two includes examples of patients he treated outside of the camps along with scientific and statistical data to illustrate his points.

Prior to being captured, Frankl had already written the manuscript for his first book, The Doctor and the Soul.  He had tucked the manuscript into his coat before being forced onto the train for Auschwitz.  Once at the camp, he and all the other prisoners were stripped of their personal belongings.  Accordingly, the manuscript he had hidden in his coat was quickly confiscated.

Adding then to the already deep poignancy of Frankl’s observations made during the Holocaust, is the fact that he by necessity documented them all from memory.  He kept his mind sharp by reconstructing in his head the original manuscript of that first book that he would later rewrite and publish.  The only physical remnants of the original manuscript that he had been able to reconstruct while in the camps were in the form of key words and phrases that he would surreptitiously scribble on tiny scraps of paper.

Beyond the Physical:  Love, Spirituality, and A  Life Mission

Physically separated from his wife in the concentration camps, Frankl didn’t know if his wife was still alive.  It was in his mind’s eye that he would hold onto an image of her.  Just as through love he would cling to an image of his wife –- through a sense of commitment to his life’s work and overall life’s mission –- Frankl with devotion clung to the hope and intention of (re)writing his manuscript and publishing his psychological findings, all to the benefit of his profession and mental patients worldwide.

According to Frankl, love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. Love finds its deepest meaning in one’s spiritual being, within the inner self. He also said that even during his time in captivity, glimpses of nature, music, and humor helped him and others to survive.  They were grateful, he said, for the smallest of mercies.

Frankl further went on to contend that by devoting oneself to a cause to serve or another person to love, that the more human and actualized one becomes. In view of the possibility of finding meaning in suffering, he suggested then that life’s meaning even can be potentially unconditional.

If and when conditions get tough on the outside, spirituality can play an even more important role from the inside:

“In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen. Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, page 36, emphasis added).

In other words, the type of person each prisoner would become resulted more from that person’s mental and spiritual state, than purely his physical state.  Profoundly, Frankl maintained that one can decide to keep (and benefit from keeping) one’s human dignity, even in a concentration camp.

The Meaning in Suffering

Frankl was not suggesting that to have a meaningful life, one must suffer.  He did profess, however, that if there is meaning in life at all, there must certainly be meaning in suffering.  According to Frankl, those prisoners who discarded their inner morals, and who concluded that their lives were pointless, and thus “gave up” psychologically, were those who “forgot that often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, page 72).

The Importance of Having Faith in the Future and the Power of Personal Choice

Frankl also understood the importance of having faith in the future. Without a belief in a better future, he said, a prisoner was subject to losing his spiritual hold, and thereby made himself more susceptible to mental and physical decay at a much more fervent pace.

So, what to do?

We may not be able to change every situation that we face in life.  We can, however, change ourselves and our approach.

Through our attitudes, choices and decisions we make and the actions we take, we can rise to any challenge and accept the opportunity to infuse any situation with meaning, even the most difficult ones.  Meaning is possible with or without (although perhaps most strikingly during times of) suffering.

Our lives are lived in moments.  And every human being, as exemplified by Frankl, has the freedom to change themselves — and their experience of any situation in life — in an instant.

 “[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, page 66).

Each of us gets to decide what our existence will be in any given moment, and what we will become in the next moment.

That is true freedom.

Freedom Plus Reasonableness

Freedom alone, however, is not enough.  Frankl makes clear that freedom to choose must be combined with responsibleness.  Otherwise, as a race, the human race, we are destined for destruction. Every person has both potentialities within us – to be either a swine or saint, he said.  Which one is actualized, says Frankl, depends on the decisions we make, and not on the conditions we face.

So the beauty and the promise of Frankl’s work and legacy I would say is this:

Each of us has the challenge and the opportunity to bring with us the values of our past, make empowered choices and take responsible actions in the present, and thereby create futures of the highest value to humankind.

With that, we find meaning.

All is not lost.

Much is gained.

 

For your consideration:

What makes life meaningful? Can there be meaning in suffering?  Is suffering required?

Okay, your turn:

What has helped you bring a sense of meaning into your life?  Was suffering a part of it?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Staying the course, and the value of course corrections

Staying the course, of course! Or, rather, is it time to make a course correction?

“Without paying close attention, it’s easy to get off-course.”

Sailing back home from Catalina Island

Years back, a friend invited me to join him and a few of his friends for a weekend of sailing.  We left the shores of Marina del Rey, California and sailed across the 33 nautical miles to Catalina island, spent the weekend on the island, and sailed back. There are several tales to be told from that weekend, some more wild and adventurous than others!  For purposes of this blog post, allow me to focus on one aspect of the trip – and that is our return sail from Catalina, across the Pacific Ocean and back home.

Upon the return, I took my turn at the helm.  Clearly, we knew our intention, and our destination –  to get the boat and ourselves back to the mainland and the port from which we had originally departed.  It was at that dock where we had left our cars, too – so we knew that’s where we needed to point the boat.

Steering wheels on a boat work pretty much the same as a car – turn the wheel to the left, the boat heads toward the left; rotate the wheel to the right, the boat points toward the right.  Sounds simple enough?  Yes and no.  Out on the open ocean, conditions are in a constant state of flux, from the weather conditions, to the wind speeds and direction, to the water currents and cross-currents, to the presence of marine life and sea animals.  Additionally, the faster the sailboat is moving, inversely the more precise and subtle the movements needed to adjust the direction of the boat.  (There are lessons to be learned here about momentum, too.  Perhaps that topic shall get its due in a future edition of Soul Notes?)

Other things are simultaneously happening on the boat, too.  While the boat’s wheel moves the rudder, the sails themselves are usually in need of their own tending in the wind.  And, that’s not even taking into account the sway of the boom upon ‘coming about’…be ready to duck, or you may be knocked over by a solid wood beam!  In other words:  pay attention to what’s happening.  Be aware.  You’re the captain!

A slight variance makes for extensive consequences

Without paying close attention, it’s easy to get off-course. Even a less-than-one-degree variance as you’re heading toward your destination, especially over the course of dozens of miles, can mean the end point is miles from your intended target!  That indeed would have notable and undesired consequences.

If we were to veer that far off course, without course corrections, we’d find ourselves facing one of two situations: either we’d end up hitting the shoreline at a point where there’s no place to dock; or, we are able to dock the boat and yet are miles and miles from where we parked our cars.  (The same thing can happen upon leaving your car near the foot of a mountain, and trekking up one of several available hiking trails.  If you take a ‘wrong turn’ on the way back, and end up on a different trail at or near the top – without a course correction, you’ll likely find yourself hiking all the way down the hill only to arrive several miles away from your starting point. Hill bottoms by nature are substantially wider than are hilltops!)  So, the scope of error increases exponentially, unless and until you notice you’re veering off course and make the necessary course corrections along the way.

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  — James Dean

During this time of Summer Solstice, it’s wise to take another inventory of your life, your dreams, and your aspirations. Here’s a reminder from last Winter Solstice’s edition of Soul Notes:

“Review and Replenish

Every 90 days or so (you can use the solstices and equinoxes as an easy guide from the natural world) examine — not only your luggage and passport, but your life’s dreams and ambitions.  Not unlike the natural world, your life is dynamic and fluid.  Quarterly review and replenishment is about right – any more often than that, and you may be disallowing your aspirations their full due.  Your life is worth it – no short-changing or robbing your priorities the opportunity to fully settle in and calibrate. Throughout the year, consider:  How do you feel?  How do you wish to feel? “

For your consideration:

Is it time to course correct?  If so, what areas of your life are in need of calibration?

Did you keep notes in a journal near the end of last year, heading into this year?  Did you review it during the equinox three months ago?

What has emerged or changed for you since then?   Are your desired destinations the same, or have they shifted?  Has something or someone in your life changed in terms of your priorities, and what’s important to you?  Which ones may have veered a bit off track?  What steps will you take to get them back on track?  Make a commitment to yourself to do so, lest you find yourself miles away from your intended destination.

Okay, your turn:

When in your life have you noticed you’ve veered off course?  What, if any, course corrections did you make?  How did that impact the result?  Are there times when you didn’t notice you were veering off course?  If so, what if anything could you have done differently to increase your awareness?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

 © 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Breaking through and bursting forth…

This is a powerful week in the cosmos!  We’re within the arc of a new moon along with an annular solar eclipse (where the sun appears to create a ‘ring of fire’ around the moon).  We’re also within the Chinese year of the fire rooster.  Wow – that’s a lot of heat!

In this edition of Soul Notes we explore the concept, and the reality, of emergence from the dark out into the light.

Breaking through and bursting forth…

As seeds germinate in the soil, they seem to be dormant.  Are they, though, truly dormant?  Before sprouting, seeds are drawing nutrients from the ground, and from oxygen, and water and other natural elements.  Along the way, they are also building up their strength.  It takes power to sprout up through the soil.  It also takes durability for a seed to break through its outer coating or “shell.”  So, it’s in essence an active, deliberate process.  Once that seedling’s toughness has been established, it’s ready to emerge from under the ground and out through the surface. From there, it is ready to grow into its fullest expression.

So, too, with each of us on our own spiritual journeys.

Are you ready to break out of your shell?

NO LONGER CONCEALED: In plain sight.  For all to view.  To see and be seen.

As nature continues to turn toward more sunlight in the Northern hemisphere, what in your life is ready to emerge into the light?  Sometimes this may seem so ominous.  It needn’t be.  Take a deep breath, and think smaller.  Smaller?  Wait a minute, why smaller?  I thought this spiritual stuff is all about ‘bigger is better’?  Yes and no.  Smaller is on the way to bigger.

It’s in the smaller increments of our spiritual growth where we can build our confidence, our strength, our resolve.  It doesn’t need to be all parts of you, all at once.  Take a few moments to inventory what you set out as desires for you to bring into fruition this year.  Or, consider whether there are any “roll-overs” from last year that have been slowly building strength and are ready to burst forth?

Rising and shining:  Emerging from the slumber

As with each daybreak, each sunrise, each of us has the opportunity to awaken from our slumber.  What would you say has been slumbering for you?

For Americans, it may be the very core principles of democracy and its values as a republic that are being held up to the light, and are awakening from their slumber.  (See, for example, last moon’s blog about the March Heard ‘Round the World.)

The phrase “Rise and Shine” likely originated in the bible, later to be adopted by soldiers.  Some say that the “shine” part for soldiers refers to their shining their boots each morning before heading out.  My personal favorite is the British’s usage of the catch phrase “wakey-wakey” as a precedent to invoking “rise and shine” each day.

There’s also the phrase “shake a leg,” and “wiggle a toe.”  This brings awareness from your sleeping state into your waking state. Again, it’s incremental.  It’s not all at once.  Isn’t that a relief!

A yoga session often ends with savasana – a final resting pose which often results in deep meditation.  In bringing you back from savasana (aka corpse pose), the instructor will ask that you begin your ‘return to the room’ by wiggling your fingers and toes.  Then, you’re likely to be prompted to rub together briskly your hands and feet.  This brings awareness (and warmth) back to your body.  You may then be prompted to turn into the fetal position on your right side (allowing your heart to rise first and for your heart to be positioned above your other organs).

This too is done in stages.  And, I love learning the reasons behind why such things are done in a particular way.  As in nature, there’s a purpose to the sequence. It’s a deliberate progression.

All right then:  Are you ready?

Wiggle, wiggle.

Wakey, wakey!

Okay, your turn:

What is emerging for you in your life?  What have you been building the strength for, that is now ready to rise to the surface?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What does it mean to live and lead from the feminine?

Marching to the beat of a resurging drummer

This edition of Soul Notes is devoted to the seemingly ever-emerging resurrection of feminine leadership.  By this, I mean not only the women (and men) who are stepping into leadership positions where they embody feminine principles (creation, co-creation, cooperation, and the like); by this I am also suggesting that each person has the opportunity to “lead with” and from a foundation of feminine principles in their own lives, in their families, and in their communities.

Allow me to clarify that this is not in any way intended to discredit the masculine.  It’s merely an observation that the time has arrived where we’re seeing an uprising toward “tipping the scales” back a bit more toward symbiosis.  The yin yang symbol itself, for example, represents this well, in my opinion.  It’s a swirl of two mirror image shapes of the same size, embracing each other within the one circle.  They complement rather than compete with one another.  They hold each other in balance and securely in place.

So this is what leading from the feminine looks and feels like

As I joined hundreds of thousands of other marchers in Los Angeles on January 21st, it struck me how much this experience represented for me what leading from the feminine looks and feels like.  I found myself coining my own phrase for it – what came to me was:  power humanified.

Power humanified

Although I anticipated that discord and perhaps even violence may erupt on the day of the March, especially in a large urban center, and during such a highly charged political climate right now – I was filled with a reassuring contrast, from start to finish throughout the day.

I found myself immersed in a completely peaceful, collaborative, supportive, and nonviolent expanse of humanity.  From the trains to the roadways to the downtown street crossings, to security officers to the marchers, to the weather even (!), all seemed to be cooperating.  Now, I wouldn’t say that this type of energy is at all limited to one particular gender.  And, I realize that this day may have been an isolated occurrence whose energy and peaceful activism may not last in the coming weeks and months.  Regardless, I can say that at least it is possible; I was there; I witnessed it; I experienced it.  It happened.

It was striking to notice, too, that the men who attended seemed to feel ‘free to let down their shield’ so to speak – the stereotype of men having to be forceful, stoic, and nonexpressive, truly seemed to fall to the wayside.  I watched as the men among us enjoyed being supportive and feeling supportive and supported themselves.  They were welcomed into the fold, and walked side by side, not charging ahead or showing dominance in any way.  This was equal footing.

And let me say a few words about American privilege, whether you are a man or a woman.  Yes, I am an American, born and raised.  I’ve traveled to other countries and other continents, and yet I do not presume to understand fully the experience of women (or men) who have been raised outside the United States.  I do recognize that I’ve been able to travel by way of means and access not readily available to women in many countries. What I find a bit difficult to accept, though, is the suggestion posited by some that because women in some non-American countries suffer unimaginable violence and abuse, that this somehow diminishes the need to increase awareness of the injustices and inequities in our own land.

While twenty-two countries from Argentina, to Chile, to Croatia, to Denmark, to Germany, to Jamaica, to Norway, for example, have had women leaders in recent years as their head of state (Presidents or Prime Ministers), America still has had none.  For a century and a half after the nation’s founding, the women in the United States had no legally recognized right to vote.

Is it about ensuring that any  woman attain the highest office in the land?  No.  Unequivocally, I say no.  I would suggest, though, that a woman who brings abundantly more experience and depth of knowledge than the other frontrunner (man or woman) running, then yes.  I say yes.

Words, and symbols hold power in them

In response to the proliferation of pink hats worn during the marches, a friend of mine posed the following question:  “Isn’t that merely perpetuating gender stereotyping?” My response to his question is this:  When you’re a member of the stereotyped group, there’s power in taking back the words or symbols that have been misappropriated by those who are not members of that group.  There’s strength in reclaiming those words or symbols that have for generations been used to demean, belittle, or make dismissible the members of that group.  So, to that end, I say yes, pink is ours…you can have it, too, thank you kindly, if you would please do so with honor and reverence, and not with arrogance, disgust, or power-over.

Many women, and some men, each have their examples of being “put down” for their gender.  I’ll share one here.  As a civil litigator working for a defense firm in Los Angeles, I was a young associate and member of a three-attorney trial team (myself, and two male partners).  We had just returned from a successful day in court.  I was pleased that we advocated well for our clients, and had emerged victorious.

As the three of us rode back up the elevator together from the underground parking lot to our firm’s office suite, after returning from our day in court, this transpired:  The managing partner, in front of the other male partner, turns to me and says:  “You did a nice job in there today…for…a girl.”  A few minutes later, the two partners then took off to have a celebratory dinner on their own, leaving me to stay at the office to continue working that evening.

Women are “girls.”  And, men are well, men (or ‘dudes’ when leaning toward the more casual).  And, they’re held to different standards of what’s acceptable.  [There’s a case in Northern California, for example, where the judge has issued sanctions against the male attorney who made accusations that the female opposing counsel had purportedly displayed “unlady-like” behaviors during a deposition.]

Even the word “guys” has been blurred to include men and women in ‘mixed company,’ because, well, its true counterpart “gals” doesn’t seem to stand on equal footing, either.

Often men are referred by their last names, while women are referred by their first names.  Women themselves often perpetuate this disparity in usage.  Many have come to accept it simply as commonplace.  A way too subtle, picky difference over which to make a fuss, you may say?  Maybe.  It’s the very subtlety of it, though, that makes it that much more able to escape scrutiny.  It’s not as blatant as “bitch” or “chick” (both of which are animal references, and as such are used as a way to dehumanize).   So, it’s sometimes easier to let slide.

Nonetheless, this pervasive belittling, whether overt or covert, brings with it a price.  That price is the ability of all people to embrace and exhibit all of who they are, with authenticity and dare I say even wild abandon.  Society as a whole suffers.  Repression costs us all.

Vibrating resonance

Despite what some may contend, I vote for the continuation of the conversations that have come to the forefront during this recent election cycle, and its aftermath.  I’m suggesting that the marches worldwide on January 21st were not an isolated moment in time.  Although a powerful day on its own, I’d say it started a “reverb” like no other, at least since perhaps the Civil Rights movement.  As with strumming a guitar, the sound continues its vibration well after the first chord or note is struck.  January 21st was a strong strum heard ‘round the world.

May we continue strumming.  And may we lead from the feminine.

Oh, and remind me to share the story sometime – the one about when I showed up on the lot at Paramount Studios to be an extra in a movie, and ended up playing a suffragette who marched in the streets during a President Wilson campaign rally.

Yep, that happened.  And, so did the marches this past weekend, millions of people strong, worldwide.

Power humanified.

Okay, your turn:

What, if anything, did you take away from the recent marches around the globe?  To what extent do you feel there’s a resurrection of the feminine?  Is this merely spiritual mumbo jumbo, or evidence of a real shift, rooted in practical reality?  What would you like to see more fully emerging in our world going forward?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Traveling light

As life is a daring adventure or nothing at all (thank you, Helen Keller), have you felt into where you are traveling next in your life’s journey?

Coming around the bend into a new season after last week’s solstice, as well as into a new calendar year, it’s a good time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Reflecting on your own spiritual path, how well would you like to “travel” into the next trip around the sun and during the next thirteen moons?

This edition of Soul Notes is devoted to traveling light.

Carry on baggage, or checked baggage?

Maybe it’s a good thing that airlines make you pay for extra baggage. “Whaaat?,” you exclaim.  Well…We’re paying an energetic price anyway  for extra baggage: in our travels, in our relationships, in our lives.  Adding $25 or $50 or whatever it is the airline charges only makes it all that more apparent.

When airlines first invoked those extra charges several years ago, I did feel disgruntled and rather taken aback by the new policy.  How affronting that they were going to charge us for something that had always been included within the price of our airfare? I’m beginning to appreciate, however, that the extra-bags policy has brought to my attention the benefits of packing light.

I now value the ‘selection process’ inherent in choosing what I need or desire most to bring on a trip, and deciding what items really are better left behind.   I read somewhere (or did I imagine this?) that just as with portion control on your dinner plate, it’s helpful to lay out what you think you may wish to pack, and then reduce it by half.

Doing so requires prioritization.  It’s an exercise in discernment.  It’s living life consciously.  What really matters to you?

Traveling light means paring down

Heading into the new year, how about we take a little inventory of our lives?  Maybe it’s time, by design, to travel light.  Release what is weighing you down.  Let go of what is holding you back.  Finally recognize and cast off that which has been making things take longer and unnecessarily draining on you rather than sustaining?

I’ve decided that there’s a reason luggage is called that – it’s because you lug it around with you. When traveling abroad, have you ever found yourself dragging a suitcase all around — on and off trains, up and down stairways, and from hotel to hotel?  Unless you have your own private valet, this quickly becomes a direct and obvious reminder of the value of traveling light.  Keep this vision in your mind’s eye when packing for your next trip!

Additionally, while on your next trip — business, vacation, either or both – be aware of what, if anything, you actually wish you had  in fact brought with you. Or, maybe some things for you have shifted in their priority or meaningfulness?  Is it time to reprioritize?  If so, make the appropriate notations and adjustments for next time.

Time for an inspection and perhaps a refresh

Now is a wonderful time, in another sense, to “check” your bags.  Give them a good once-over. Any rips, tears, or frays?  Any broken zippers?  Are the wheels wobbly and about to fall off?  Maybe the bags are still functional, yet have long lost their luster?

Is your passport up to date?  Better to take a look and determine that now rather than later.  Some countries require a passport to be at least six months away from its expiration date, when you are visiting.  Again, what may be an annoying policy, I have come to realize, actually serves a useful purpose for us as well.  It helps us to take our travels seriously.  There’s a discipline to it; a consciousness to it.

Don’t think this is all about stodgy planning.  I’m all for spontaneity, too.  I’d say having the passport up to date ahead of time actually allows for precisely that!  You’re ready to go at a moment’s notice (especially if you’ve gotten in the habit of bringing only what fits in a small carrry-on bag…see how this works?)

Review and Replenish

Every 90 days or so (you can use the solstices and equinoxes as an easy guide from the natural world) examine — not only your luggage and passport, but your life’s dreams and ambitions.  Not unlike the natural world, your life is dynamic and fluid.  Quarterly review and replenishment is about right – any more often than that, and you may be disallowing your aspirations their full due.  Your life is worth it – no short-changing or robbing your priorities the opportunity to fully settle in and calibrate. Throughout the year, consider:  How do you feel?  How do you wish to feel?  Lighter?

For your consideration:

What are you carrying into 2017?  Lay it all out in front of you.  Now, consider cutting it by 50%.  Be selective.  You get to choose!

For another practical example, and one I did myself after Solstice:

Clear out your refrigerator. Okay, before you groan about this one, first put on some of your favorite music and spray something pleasingly fragrant in the air. Next, dedicate no more than 55 minutes at a time to:

Taking one shelf a day for the next (however many shelves are in your fridge) days to clean it out.  Wipe down the dividers. Remove the cruddy crusties from jar lids.  Check for items well past their expiration dates.  Put in a fresh box of baking soda.  Toss out old condiments that you barely ever use (how many different types of mustard do you really need?) What about that small jar of maraschino cherries hiding behind that other small jar of pickled relish – can you even remember why you bought either of those – was it for a party you hosted back in 2011?

When you’re done at the end of the week, cherish a clean fridge, and consider how it’s a metaphor for entering the new year lighter, freer, and more refreshed.  And, if the metaphor doesn’t work, at least you can now find the almond butter!

Okay, your turn:

What are you ready to leave behind from this year?  What are you excited about and energized about bringing with you into the next one?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.