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From Darkness Into Light: Winter Solstice Edition

From Darkness into Light

This week, in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching Winter Solstice and the turn ever so slightly toward longer days and shorter nights. It’s a shifting out from the darkness and into more light.

Now is an ideal time to reflect on the year to date, and where you may be heading as 2018 approaches. In the quieter moments, what is emerging for you?

It’s a continuum, of course, just like the rotations of the earth, sun, and moon. Between the two polar opposites, or contrasts, lies the fluidity, the flow… It’s a rhythm and a cycle from the internal to the external, and back again. It’s a peeking out, and an emergence — from deep within the earth (ourselves) and out into the world above the surface (out into our external surroundings, relationships, etc.)

So, now is an ideal time to reflect on the year to date, and where you may be heading as 2018 approaches. In the quieter moments, what is emerging for you?

Three Soul Starters

If you’re in my tribe, you’re likely a woman attorney who has placed a lot of emphasis on your career, on your law practice, and on serving your clients. As the year winds down, and Courts too “go dark” for a few days around Christmas and New Year’s, I invite you to devote some sacred time and space to:

1. Consider where things are going well for you in your life and career
2. Envision where you’d like to see some things change, shift, or dissolve
3. Get excited about what your “Dream Theme” for 2018 might be (no need to commit right this minute…let your heart and mind wander for a bit and explore some possible themes that resonate for you)!

To set the stage, I urge you to put in your Calendar now a date and time during the next two weeks where you will allow yourself the opportunity to do this exercise. Rather than thinking that you’ll somehow wake up on New Year’s Day, amongst the typically frenetic energy of a New Year, and that somehow you’ll magically have your year ahead “all figured out” — take advantage of taking a few days off during the holidays to honor yourself and where you’d like to take your life and career the next 12 or 13 moons.

If drafting a yearly plan makes sense to you, feel free to try that on for size. Write it out, map it out…use one of the many “planner” systems available…if that helps you get started. There are all kinds of smart phone apps and digital reminder systems available now; and I remember the days of hard copy Franklin-Covey binders, and those hand-held Palm Pilots. What I know, from my own experiences, however – is that no matter what system you use they serve only as placeholders for your intentions and not as creation generators. Like any good tool, they are only as helpful to the extent that you use them, and use them consistently, and with frequent check-ins throughout the year.

Also, remember that any plans are simply that. They are not iron-clad. And, until you start taking action to implement them, you’re really only making guesstimates, anyway. And, that is more than okay! Be comfortable with knowing and trusting that you will likely, nee nearly always, need to make adjustments along the way. As when commanding a boat as it traverses the waters ahead, you’ll need to use the rudder faithfully and consistently to keep you on course. All systems go – push off from the shore. If you take the space to do so now, at least come January you will have gotten as clear as you can “from the dock” about where you’re ultimately headed. And you’ve envisioned whom you’d like to join you on the adventure, and you’ve packed a few appropriate provisions for the journey. Then, allow the magic of the adventure with all its joys and surprises to take its course!

This will help set you, your life, and your law practice up for success in the coming year. It will help you complete this year and ease into the next one, from a place of feeling calm, centered, assured, strong, and confident.

Illumination time!

Just as with the Winter Solstice, and moving forward from there, what is ready to be revealed? What needs to come out from the shadows and into the light? What needs to be released to lighten the load? What would make for a smoother, more secure, less encumbered voyage ahead? Revisit what you wrote down in response to the Three Soul Starters above, and annotate them now by incorporating into them your “illuminations.”

For your consideration:  What’s your DREAM THEME?

As you reflect on the year to date, and as you begin focusing on where you’d like to be heading as 2018 approaches — notice what emerges for you.

I encourage you to select what I’m dubbing a “Dream Theme” to serve as a guide post and to carry you through from now until this time next year.

You’ll be amazed at what you start to notice, once you select your Dream Theme. I’m curious as to what yours will be!

Your Dream Theme may change shape over the next several weeks…allow it to do so! Right now, mine is something along the lines of strength through vulnerability (or “vulnerable strength,” for short).

Okay, your turn:

What’s your Dream Theme for 2018? What have you come up with so far?

I invite you to SHARE your thoughtsfeelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All rights reserved.
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Savasana and the power of sweet surrender

Restore and Replenish

Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world refreshed and more available to handle its opportunities, challenges and stresses.

During this time of year, as nature slows down and takes a quiet breather to restore and replenish, it’s a good time to revisit our daily practices and employ simple yet effective ways to follow mother nature’s wisdom.   As nature turns inward, I invite us to do the same.

Heading into the holiday season as well, this can be a time of year that may heighten our nerves and trigger deep emotions.  This too makes it an ideal time to implement consistent daily practices to ground ourselves,  and help us “settle everything down”.

In this moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we explore the ancient practice of savasana, and a technique called 4-7-8 breathing.

Turning Inward

So often in our fast-paced world, we seemingly forget to relax! Even low-level activities which we may be thinking are ways to relax often serve more as a mental distraction, and aren’t truly relaxing at all (watching television news, anyone?)

What if we were to allow ourselves to drop into a state of quiet neutrality, where all of our hurried, harried, frazzled parts can come back together and rest?

Savasana, or “final resting pose”: This asana (posture) is typically reserved for the end of a yoga practice.

After a revving up of the body, nervous system, organs, muscles and blood flow during yoga exercises, savasana serves many blissful purposes, including:  reintegration, restoration, and a letting go of any mental chatter, agitation, or “gripping.”  It’s an easing into the floor or ground upon which your body is placed – on your back, with legs comfortably apart, arms opened, palms facing upward.  Eyes are closed.  Breathing is calm, slow, and deep. Savasana is typically done for 5-10 minutes, and may even be done for up to 30 minutes at a time.

By engaging in savasana, you more easily become aware of your breath and your mind state.   Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world and all its many challenges, opportunities, and stresses.

Another way to “turn inward” and combat the day to day stresses we all face, is to combine savasana with a 4-7-8-count breathing technique made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil. As with other yogic breathing, it’s best done with your tongue placed up and against the inside of your upper front teeth.  1. Take a slow deep breath in, for a count of four.  2. Hold the breath for a count of seven.  3. Release the breath out for a count of eight.  In one session, repeat this 4-7-8 breath cycle four times, to complete “one round”.

Start out breathing at a counting pace that’s comfortable for you, and over time you’ll find yourself being able to slow down your breathing and elongating each count.  The sequence, however, remains the same:  4-7-8. In total, a round of four breath cycles takes no more than two minutes, tops!

It will help you relax any time of day.  And, it will help you fall asleep.  Train yourself to do this to help you get centered, grounded and calm before you react to any stressful situation.

Although savasana is usually done at the end of a full yoga set, I’m inviting us all to try it on its own, as part of our daily practice, especially between now and the end of the year. Both savasana and the 4-7-8 technique have compounding positive effects when done consistently and over the course of several weeks and months.

Savasana and the 4-7-8 breathing technique — each of these practices are whole and complete on their own, and need not be done together.  You actually don’t usually see them done in conjunction with one another. I’m suggesting, though, that they make for a powerful combo pack!  I invite you to try them together, at least once a day.  Do a ten-minute savasana, followed by a four-cycle round of the 4-7-8 breathing.

Sweet Surrender

Both of these practices serve as forms of physical and energetic surrender, in all the best ways.  It’s a conscious and powerful choice to grant ourselves devoted time to recharge and receive the bliss that comes with sweet surrender.  Look at the image of the child above, so pure, so relaxed…so open to all of life’s joys, triumphs, and love!

For your consideration and “extra credit”:

In addition to doing one savasana daily*:

Several times throughout the day — and especially right before going to sleep – do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Remember this practice takes only a minute or two to complete.  You will serve you and your overall health and well-being tremendously by doing so!

*For a refresher on daily practices, go here.

Okay, your turn:

What daily practices, if any, have you been doing throughout the course of this year? Have you tried any new ones?  Are you open to doing something a little differently throughout the holiday season?

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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There are messages in the water

What about the water?

Varying to some degree only by age and gender, our human bodies are approximately 70 percent water. Water is the primary building block of human cells. And, water covers nearly 71 percent of the Earth’s surface.  It’s vitally important to our existence, as individuals and as a species. And yet, or perhaps precisely because of its prevalence in our world, we tend to take it for granted.  You’d think it would be difficult for us to ignore, but somehow we do?

What if we pay more close attention to the water?  What can we learn from the water?  And, what can the water learn from us?  What impact, if any, do we have on each other?  Is it unidirectional or bidirectional?   In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s dig a little deeper, and dive beneath the surface, if you will!

The truth is in the water

“There are messages in the water.”

During a quiet, self-reflective meditation session not too long ago, I distinctly heard these words:  “There are messages in the water.”  I didn’t know what that meant.  What I did know, however, is that I would be looking to the water, in all its many forms, for clues.

And, as I sat down to outline this blog post, I was reminded of the set of water crystal experiments conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto.  I decided to look up his written works, and smiled as I discovered that one of his volumes is entitled, “The Hidden Messages in Water.”  Not one to overlook a good cosmic coincidence, I quickly ordered a copy of the book and devoured it before sitting back down to finish writing this article.  The book is replete with high-speed photographic images of frozen water crystals, observed and amplified under a variety of conditions.

The Emoto experiments

By putting bottles of water on a table, and then freezing them while exposing them to a number of pre-set conditions, and then taking high-speed photographs of the resulting crystal formations, Dr. Emoto was able to test for certain variables such as: exposure to chlorine in the water (common in some communities’ tap water); exposure to music, including Beethoven and Mozart’s symphonies; and exposure to written words such as “Thank you” compared to “Fool”.   Each resulted in specific shapes and formations, some beautifully complete, and others blurred, ill-shapened, or even completely fragmented.

From these experiments, Dr. Emoto concluded that our thoughts can influence water and that words have spirit. Water definitely responds!  We can impact the very structure of water – to our betterment and to our detriment.  That goes for each of us, and for the planet as a whole.

So, what does that mean, if and when we hear the universe whispering to us that “there are messages in the water?” What if the opposite is also true?  Can the water influence our thoughts?  Can the water affect our mind, body, and soul?  What about its potential to impact our joie de vivre, our very experience of life?  Or, how about its effect on our next course of action?  Maybe it’s not only what we say, but what we hear? I would suggest that both propositions are possible.  It’s a magical, mystical dance in which we, with consciousness, shall benefit from being willing participants.

(For a refresher on the importance of listening, click here for the previous edition of Soul Notes, entitled, Trust what you hear when you listen. In the Jap Ji, the 8th stanza translates in part as: “All my pain departs listening to my heart.”  Your heart in the physical sense also benefits from water, as it is a major component of what flows through the blood in your veins and arteries.  Blood is 92 percent water by weight.  Water is our life blood.)

“I have no doubt that water crystals will become a common focal point for people all over the world who are trying to make sense of chaos.” 

— Dr. Masaru Emoto

The truth is in the water.  It is such a fundamental element of our existence, how can there not be wisdom in it? I say we pay attention to it.  Why?  Because as Dr. Emoto posits:  It, like many aspects of the natural world, is a way for us to make sense of the chaos in our human existence.

The self-organizing nature of nature

In its natural form, water when frozen forms into hexagonal (six-sided) shaped ice crystals.  The details within the outlying formation do vary (you may have heard the expression “no two snowflakes are exactly alike”) – but what remains constant in nature is the self-organizing pattern of six-sided frozen water crystals.  There’s lots to explore with regard to sacred geometry (beyond the scope of this blog post), many aspects of which have been observed and studied over the past many centuries. It’s not merely a coincidence that many parts of nature, left to their own (divine?) devices, fall into recurring patterns.   It’s the intervention of humankind that threatens to, and often does, however, disturb these naturally occurring patterns – as the Emoto experiments demonstrate.

So, the invitation is to observe the water, and to listen for its messages, as well as reflect on ways we can enhance the experience of those around us – by the ways we interact with one another.  As everyone is comprised mostly of water, think of the impact we have on each other, physically and spiritually?

What have I heard?  I’m still listening.  And, listening.  I listen in my morning and evening practices.  I listen in the ocean.  I listen in the shower.  I listen in the bath.  I listen in the rain.  I listen in the garden. One thing I heard clearly was this:  “Make water the next topic to be explored in Soul Notes.”  And, so it is.  Welcome to the conversation!

For your consideration:

We tend to bless our food.  How about we remember to bless our water, too?  We each have that choice, and we have good reasons for making that choice.

Okay, your turn:

What lessons are there for you in the water?  Is it time to start paying attention?  Is it time to start paying more attention?  To what end?

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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Special moments in time

Now is all we have, and it’s a lot!

One oh so enchanting evening

In this edition of Soul Notes we explore what it means to capture those special moments in time. 

Sitting in front of my casita, from atop the cliffs high above the smooth sea, along the central coastline of Mexico:  I am joined by two other caring souls as we look out at the nearly black night sky snuggling the horizon and the calm ocean waters a few hundred feet below.  Directly centered in front of us, along with a canopy of stars above, we see the moon slowly setting over the water.

As the moon descends, its reflection of sunlight forming a crescent shape, it turns with solemn power from a bright white to a warm and welcoming golden hue.  After several magnificent minutes, without even a whisper, the moon’s silhouette slips behind the horizon line and out of view.

We gaze out at the ocean in awe as we humbly appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this moment. We are reverent witnesses to nature and the cosmos, and to all that is.

Okay, so I may wax poetically like this from time to time.  How can I not?  Moments such as these beg for quiet reflection and invited rapture.

As posed by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

To be human is to live with a certain level of consciousness, awareness and appreciation for all that our senses, well…sense.  Our human experience is indeed a sensual one.

In the film “City of Angels” starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, there is a scene in which Seth (Cage’s character, who comes to Earth as an angel), yearns to know the taste of a pear. He asks Maggie (Ryan’s character) to describe it for him.  A bit perplexed by the question, Maggie takes a minute to find the words to convey how the pear tastes to her. Seth later in the movie experiences for the first time, the bodily sensations of hot water hitting his skin while taking a shower.

Simple moments perhaps.  Things we often take for granted.  And, yet they can be profoundly beautiful as well.   This is when our hearts and bodies serve our minds, and not the other way around.

“Where words fall short, experiences stand tall.” –Lori A. Noonan

As a writer, I’m quite fond of words.  Heck, right now you’re reading a blog article, I do realize (grin).

With words, we do our best to capture what our senses innately feel.  We have sensory-based phrases such as:

“In my mind’s eye”

“Touching moments”

“Hot blooded”

“Cold hearted”

“I hear you”

“I see you”

“I feel you”

“Tastes like freedom”

The senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and even a “sixth sense” of intuition and innate knowing -– all provide us an opportunity, in so many ways, to experience life in all its richness and supreme depth.  It’s up to us to tune in and be all that it means to be human.

Our lives are a string of special moments in time.  Let’s be aware of what makes them special; and: feel them, cherish them, and share them with others.  That is my wish for you today, and always.

Okay, your turn:

What examples come to mind or heart when you remember a beautiful moment in time?  Where were you?  What made it beautiful?  Did you take any pictures?  In what other ways did you memorialize that moment?

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

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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From idealist to lost in the practice of law

From idealist to lost in the practice of law

I set off to the University of California at Berkeley as a budding journalist.  What better place, perhaps, than at the home of the Free Speech movement?  Along the way, I spent two college summers in Washington, DC, living in Georgetown, and interning in the nation’s capital.

And, by the end of my junior year, while I enjoyed writing and reporting and broadcasting (I was a news reporter for the campus radio station) – I came to realize that a career in law was what was really calling to me.  One of my majors was in Political Science, and I knew that I desired an advanced degree and was eager to learn more about Constitutional Law, and in particular the First Amendment.

I headed off to Boston University School of Law, where I had been accepted into their joint JD/MA program in conjunction with B.U.’s School of Broadcasting.  Overwhelmed, though, by the high cost of living and at the time even higher interest rates on my law school loans, I made the difficult decision to try to get accepted to another law school in a more affordable town.  I ended up transferring to a law school in Sacramento, California where I could save money on rent.  And, I was able to apply for and did receive an academic based California Graduate Fellowship to help fund my education.  Nonetheless, lacking any proverbial ‘rich uncle’ to assist, I still remained financially challenged.  I continued to incur tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

The topics in law school, though, sometimes thrilled me. I learned even more about the First Amendment, including artists’ rights and other constitutionally protected forms of expression.  I was ‘in the zone,’ thinking I could advocate on behalf of principles that I truly felt passionate about.

If you knew me back then, you would have called me an idealist.  I was also, though, a pragmatist.  I couldn’t end up helping anyone if I couldn’t afford to complete my law school education and pay off my law school debt. Accordingly, I found myself “chasing the almighty dollar.”

I went into what attorneys refer to as “big law,” by taking a job as an associate at a 100-lawyer civil litigation defense firm.  Unlike the plaintiffs’ side, on the defense side, your “worth” is measured in terms of billable hours.  Our time was broken down into one-tenths of an hour.  Each morning, I arrived at the office with tabula rasa – a blank time sheet to be filled out.  It didn’t matter how many hours I had billed the day before.  Each day, I was expected to prove my value to the firm, by racking up another 10-12 hours for that day, and so on, and so on.

We represented large corporations, mostly with regard to breach of contract disputes.  Why did I end up at a large firm, doing something pretty much polar opposite to what I really wanted to do? In a nutshell:  Because it paid well.

My first year as an associate, I brought in a salary that surpassed any dollar amount that my parents ever made. I bought my first-ever and only “brand new car,” right off the lot, with only four miles on it. The firm had a courtroom built right into the center of one of the two floors we occupied in a Century City high rise. It had its own jury box, and two-way mirrors, and we were provided acting classes where we could hone our trial advocacy presence and skills.

Admittedly, at times it was kind of intoxicating.  Parts of it did feed my ego as well as my pocketbook.  That feeling dissipated, though, within a short period of time.  While grateful that I had landed a well-paying job, I became increasingly disenchanted with the practice of law.

Whatever work that I didn’t complete before I left the office at 7 pm, I often finished back at my apartment, sometimes up to 1 o’clock in the morning before needing to rise a few short hours later and beat rush hour traffic downtown to appear at the courthouse in time for an 8:30 am court appearance.

My energy, my enthusiasm, and my eager idealism – the very zeal I initially brought to the practice of law – was waning, and waning fast.  Where did I go astray?  The money’s nice, I kept telling myself, but I also kept thinking that “this can’t be all there is”?  Like a line from that Talking Heads song, I kept saying to myself, “How did I get here?”  This was not my beautiful life; not really.

What was unclear then, and has become readily apparent to me now, is that I was so focused on paying off my law school debt, that I was paying a steep price of a different kind:  I was paying with my sense of purpose, my spirit, my health, and my overall joie de vivre.

Feeling as if my life had been reduced to six-minute increments, even standing in a post office line seemed stressful.  “I could be billing my time, instead of standing here,” I found myself thinking.  Day to day errands had become a source of dissonance and tension.

And the work that I was doing wasn’t fulfilling.  While everyone deserves zealous representation, and I maintained my dedication to doing quality work for our corporate clients, my heart wasn’t in it.  Instead of fighting the good fight to protect journalists, artists, and others deserving of First Amendment protections, I was drowning in the minutiae of whether certain conduct or conditions were considered breaches of contracts, and whether they would withstand judicial scrutiny.

And I was doing so in largely male governing, patriarchal law firm environments, where there were few women partners and no women serving as managing partners.  There was no attention paid to bringing anything remotely akin to a “holistic” approach to running the firm or the practice of law.

While my brain and analytical abilities were put to good use, my consciousness, like a faucet, was shut off.  All in pursuit of a paycheck.

Then even the paychecks stopped.  That firm ended up going bankrupt.  I was one of the few high-billing associates that survived the firm’s earlier lay-offs so that I could help keep the boat afloat.  One fateful Friday, the office manager came into each attorney’s office, one-by-one, and let us know that even though our paychecks had been issued – it would do no good to cash them, as they would bounce.  The bank had cut off the firm’s credit line, and there was no chance of a rebound.  Stunned, and angry, I soon also felt the sting of having to look for another job.

Ever in pursuit of an income to keep my debt from swallowing me whole, I took a job at another, smaller, law firm across town where another attorney friend of mine had headed.  I left that firm within a year.  That firm had all kinds of partner in-fighting.  And, among other things, this is the firm where one of the paralegals one day brought me into his office to show me the handgun, stashed away in his briefcase, that he’d been bringing with him into the office. The firm later fired him.  Throughout, I was billing out at a rate of 2,400 hours/year.  Walking into the office, on most mornings, I couldn’t even make it from the front desk to my office down the hall without someone at the firm needing to tell me about the latest shenanigans going on “behind the scenes.”  I couldn’t stand it any longer.  Practicing law was stressful enough, let alone working in such a turbulent and toxic environment.

One morning, after spending those middle-of-the-night hours breaking down in an emotional heap on the front steps of my local Catholic church (one of those dark nights of the soul, for sure) – I decided to give my two weeks’ notice, and to the shock of the male partners there, set out to find a more promising work environment.  I ended up leaving the practice of law, and never went back.

That was a couple decades ago now,  and I’ve since paved my own way through a creative career path that I’ve carved out for myself, and while not always quite as lucrative, has definitely been more fulfilling.

Upon leaving the practice of law, it was about at that same time that I started to revisit and deepen my spiritual practice. And, recently, through expert guidance and tuning into my own intuition, I’m now discovering that I am fully committed to helping other women attorneys stay in the practice of law.

What if, yes, what if  I had the type of heart centered support from other women attorneys, mentors and role models available to me now, back then, so that:  I didn’t feel so alone; didn’t feel so dismissed for my ‘feminine qualities’; I was valued for more than purely the number of hours I billed; and I was able to cultivate a culture that not only helped transform “big law” firm environments – but in doing so ultimately created more meaningful, heartfelt environments and results for litigants, too?

As a bit of an aside (yet, it’s relevant here!):  Little known fact about me – I’ve coordinated and participated in the painting of murals on walls of buildings all over Southern California.  One of the murals that I helped design and paint was a children’s mural in a room down the hall from the Family Law department in one of the local Superior Courthouses.  Our purpose was to create a welcoming environment for the children to have as a safe waiting room and play area, when their parents (and sometimes themselves) were scheduled to appear in court. Now, THAT was fulfilling.  My heart swelled with every paint stroke as I brought fun pictures of farm animals and cute meadow scenes to life on those walls.

As I write this, I’m remembering and recapturing that which is the true essence of me.  As I continue to listen closely to what my soul is calling me to embody next, I pledge to keep stepping forward to help serve those whom I’m most meant to serve.

Stay tuned!  I’m heading off to a remote setting, and will be “off the grid” for a vitality retreat led by one of my trusted spiritual advisors.  I’ll be taking several days to discern and envision what the “whole”-istic approach to law may look like.  And, I’m designing a program to help women lawyers do exactly that.

My idealism is back, front and center. I look forward to bringing it, and my new programs, to you!

Okay, your turn:

Where or when has your life path taken a sudden or surprising turn?  What would you like to do differently going forward, given what you know now, that you didn’t know then?

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.
 
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Be the lighthouse

Be the Lighthouse

In this edition of Soul Notes, we examine what it means to be a lighthouse; and as always, we do so by invoking and evoking ancient wisdom and principles where they may be of service to each of us living in today’s world, and particularly during this time of an evolving (albeit often challenging!) degree of consciousness.

Immersed in all that is, and all that changes, we seem to be facing extremely turbulent times.  As individuals, and as a collective, we are navigating through massively swirling, deeply unsettled waters.  Political, economic and societal systems are shifting, breaking loose in large chunks, and leaving behind for all of us thick layers of debris.

Some may say these are “dark times.”  Others may contend that we are increasingly reaching the outer ridge of a precipice…teetering precariously close to the edge, as we peek over with hope, steadfast faith, and eagerness toward what may actually be a portal into a new age of even greater light and elevated consciousness.  During the darkness of the new moon, as I write this, we each have an opportunity to slow down to take in these contrasts.  And, we have a choice to make.  The choice that we may make, and the one that I invite you to consider, is this:  Be The Lighthouse.   

To paraphrase Master Yogi Bhajan:

Sane is the person who deals with insanity and still keeps smiling;

Brave is the person who feels cowardice and still moves forward;

Rich is the person who faces poverty and still maintains a higher consciousness;  and

Spiritual is the person who against all “devilish darkness” keeps the light burning.

Our job is to light the way – no more, no less

Lighthouses illuminate the land mass, the shoreline, to warn approaching ships and mariners. As with ships out at sea, navigating the ever shifting waters and weather conditions, each person of course still needs to steer her or his own ship.  All of us are Captains on our own high spiritual seas.

Your serving as a beacon of light for another, beaming a light, holding a lantern, allows them to see what they may not otherwise see.  Indeed. It does not, however, abdicate them from responsibility for charting their own path, traveling their own journey, navigating their own waters, and riding their own waves. (Oh my, watch out, we are getting awfully nautical here on the blog!)

Be on the look-out.  Keep a watchful eye: 

And, it remains all the more critical, and all the more needed —  the more severe the weather, the stronger the storm!

The light beaming from the lighthouse is needed most during the nighttime and even during daytime storms, when the visibility is diminished.  An enlightened lighthouse illuminates the darkness.  It’s not really needed when the land upon which it stands is visible to all who may be approaching from offshore.

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean– not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.”  

— M.L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

lighthouse keeperKeeper of the light(house)

In the early days, lighthouse keepers were critical in keeping the lighthouses functioning properly.  Keepers trimmed wicks, replenished fuel, wound clockworks by hand, and cleaned lenses and windows.

As with other evolving areas of technology, recent “advances” (a qualitative term, admittedly) have meant that human keepers have more recently been replaced with automated processes, for the most part. The human element has been reduced, although not eradicated entirely.

You may be familiar with the term “light workers.”  Or the well-heeled phrase: Be the light. Suffice it to say that it is no coincidence that LIGHT appears in so many contexts and various spheres when it comes to consciousness and spirituality.

As with the lighthouse, the electricity is housed within, and shines from within, outward and out-toward those all around it.  “The body electric” (a phrase later made popular by Walt Whitman, and even later in a song in the musical “Fame” — a term that originally dates back to a research paper by Dr. Le Monnier during 1746) — comes from the world of medicine.  Our own bodies are in fact electric.   We have the light within us!  I realize I’m mixing metaphors here.  I ask that you stay with me on this, as I weave together these concepts, and bring forward their relevance to today’s world.

For anyone who feels called, being a spiritual lighthouse requires each person to be sure to take care to maintain her or his own lighthouse —  To be her or his own keeper of the light.  Especially during dark, turbulent, stormy times – our lighthouses are required.  We are needed now more than ever.

If you’ve been a reader for awhile (or feel free to scan the archives available on this page), you’ll notice that throughout most of the editions of Soul Notes, we have explored ways to be and serve as lighthouses in a sometimes seemingly dark world.

And, may I offer here a gentle reminder for each of us to tend to our own lighthouses, so that we can continue to be of service to those around us.

Some ways to do that, you may ask?

  • Take solace in nature.
  • Attune yourself to nature’s rhythms.
  • Get yourself close to or immersed in a body of water.

With great solemn appreciation, I make frequent trips to the Pacific Ocean, a few short miles from where I live.  It refreshes my soul, and gives it a re-set.  I take cleansing breaths as I sink my bare feet into the sand.  I allow my eyes to take in the panorama, from the sea to the hillsides and back again.  I look for sunsets and moonrises.  I sit for long stretches and watch quietly as dozens of tiny sandpipers high-step in unison quickly back and forth in precise rhythm with the tide.  You can, too.  If not at the ocean, in some other way out in nature, in a way and form that is facile for you.

Not unlike how the old-style lighthouse keepers would with the intricate mechanisms of the clockworks, each of us can do our best to keep the lighthouse finely tuned, and well calibrated.

For your consideration:

As we close, I leave you with these words, from Yogi Bhajan:

You are a lighthouse, so nobody else can wreck near you. That is the one thing in life you have to do. Spread the light. Be the lighthouse.”

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life, in your relations, in your community, are you beaming your light, and serving as the lighthouse?  How much care are you devoting to maintaining yourself in tip-top shape as a lighthouse?  In what ways are you being a good steward?

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.
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In support of support!

Let’s hear it for support!

All hail, support!  Let’s look at support:  Lending it, and receiving it.  Are there different types of support?  If so, do they provide different functions?  Does it matter?

In this edition of Soul Notes, we examine what support means, how it may show up in our lives, and to what desired end or ends.

In Support Of Support

We’ve all heard the phrases:  Supportive family; supportive friend; supportive spouse.  There’s spousal support and child support.  Many businesses offer customer support.  Slogans and strong sentiments abound, such as:  Support Our Troops.  In hospitals, we have life support.  My grandmother wore something called support hose (grin).

No matter how self-sufficient, self-sustaining, or self-supportive each of us may be, I’d venture to say that no one is without the need for support.  To paraphrase John Donne: No man or woman is an island.

Support may take the form of: financial, emotional, spiritual, inspirational, motivational, or by way of role modeling.  It may even be literal, physical support.  Ever have someone hold and steady a ladder for you, as you teeter on the top rung?  It’s pretty darn helpful to have a second person there!

Similarly, we may welcome another’s offer to lend a compassionate ear, or to provide earnest witnessing, or simple reflection.  Often we simply cannot see what someone else may see, figuratively and literally.  In a glass mirror, we see in effect the opposite of what someone else sees when they look at us.  It’s an illusion of sorts. (Take a moment and you’ll see what I mean.  When you look into a mirror – does your left eye appear to be on the left?  Look at your face as if you were looking at another person standing in front of you. Your left eye actually appears to be where the ‘other’ person’s right eye would be.)

Just as with reinforced siding on a house, support from other human beings may also help you to “weather the storm.”  It lightens the load.  It helps distribute the weight.  It provides stability and sustainability.

As with a physical house or building, structural supports serve as reinforcements.  Ever watch any of those home remodeling shows?  Ever notice how often they talk about whether the renovation would require altering or removing a “load-bearing wall”?  It’s actually pretty darn important.

While structural supports help sustain the weight of what’s above them, and make the overall structure stronger and more sustainable, these supports fit together by design with other parts of the building.  It’s an integrated system, working together.

The support does not stand on its own, so to speak.  It provides a foundation, nothing more, nothing less.  It still requires something on top of it to provide its own function and strength.  The supports do not overtake, nor replace what they’re holding up. They do, however, allow what’s being held to “last longer.”

As another example, let’s say that you’re holding a pitcher of water.  Water is heavy and quickly feels even heavier the longer you hold the pitcher of water.  Let’s say, now, though, that you rest your elbow on the side of a table, and continue holding the pitcher of water.  Now that table serves as your support, and you are able to hold the pitcher much longer, more steadily, and with less exertion of brute strength, energy, and effort.

Okay, so enough with the physics.  The point is this:  It’s okay to seek out support.  In fact, it’s just plain smart and awfully wise to do so. It’s as equally grand to serve as the source of support as it is to seek out support when needed.  Sometimes you’re the water bearer; sometimes you’re the table!

Be on the look-out for both types of opportunities.  They abound for each of us, in our daily lives, and throughout our lives.

Back Support

Okay, we’re not talking here about supporting your lumbar with an ergonomic chair, although I suppose we could! We’ve all heard the phrase, “I’ve got your back.” Or: “The universe has your back.”

To provide a little historical perspective:  One explanation for this phrase is that it dates back to the army in ancient Greece, where soldiers would pair up on the battle field, and sit literally back-to-back.  The idea was that each soldier that way would be able to cover what the other could not see.  It was the ultimate buddy system.

What this allowed them to do, and that which symbolically holds true today, is this:

Having support helps you stay focused on the challenges in front of you.  It facilitates your ability to attain results in a more effective way than you may ever attain purely on your own.  It provides reassurance and comfort when you feel wobbly, or you tend to waver, or you feel like completely giving up.  As on the literal battle field, of course, as with our figurative battles, you want that person who has your back, who’s got you covered, to be someone upon whom you can place your deep trust.  Someone who’s cool under pressure helps, too.

One of the best compliments I remember receiving came during my early days as a sales rep, after leaving a million dollar pricing negotiation with a CFO at a major law firm.  My sales manager came with me to the appointment.  I knew we were prepared (she provided strong support to me beforehand, as we worked together in reviewing the account, the pricing history, and our goals going into the meeting), and that my years as a litigator would serve us well when we entered the conference room.

The CFO was tough and to the point.  He surely wasn’t open to small talk.  I could tell he made my boss a little uneasy. Straight away, he challenged us on some of the pricing numbers, and I uncovered a (most likely inadvertent, yet nonetheless) miscalculation in one of his spreadsheets.  In that moment, I saw that I had earned his respect, and we proceeded to reach an amicable resolution, and walked out of the meeting with a solid, satisfying deal for both sides.

As we got back to the office, my boss smiled and shared with the sales team:  “In case you ever need someone, Lori is a really good person to have with you in a foxhole.”   We worked well together on that account. I had her back; she had mine.  Ultimately, we were supporting our sales department and our company, too, in securing that deal and in not losing a big account.

The benefits and ways to get started:

So, what are some ways to offer and to show support?

One-on-One:

I remember learning, as a budding young reporter, about the importance of asking the right questions during an interview with a news source – the cardinal “five Ws and an H.”  Anyone else remember those?  Or, in consultative sales, we were taught to ask open ended questions, designed to allow people to open up and share issues or concerns, or to clear up any potential misunderstanding.

Such approaches also facilitate the building of trust.

Accordingly, to offer support, it may be as simple as starting with: “What, if anything, do you need?”  And then allowing the other person to answer as fully as they feel comfortable with in that moment.

Group support:

Out socializing, a friend recently shared with me the benefits of a group fitness program, where she participates daily on her own at her own pace, combined with what she said was the big benefit of group support by way of daily participant check-ins, social media posts for inspiration, and the like.  Knowing that others are going through the same exercises and sharing their wins as well as their challenges, has been hugely beneficial, she said.  It has been what has kept her moving forward and seeing greater results than she would have reached otherwise.

For your consideration:

So, support – seeking it and providing it.  Is it worth it?  Is it necessary?  As we draw this line of inquiry to a close, I leave you with this:

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

– Charles Dickens

Okay, your turn:

What does support mean to you?  In what ways or situations do you seek it?  When do you offer it?  How well is it received?

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.

 

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Ode to the ol’ “comfort zone”

Comfort Zone/Discomfort Zone…Is it Really that Simple?

How many times have you heard or read something along the lines of: “To grow, you must always get and be outside your comfort zone”?

Personal development types often talk about how important it is to go outside your comfort zone.

There is definitely some validity to that, to a certain extent. Sometimes we stay static and hang on for dear life to the status quo even when we have or in spite of  having strong feelings to the contrary.   We may be yearning for a positive change in our lives, yet we stay stuck because stepping out of our usual routine feels scary, uncertain or even dreadfully painful.

Let’s break down the concept, however, a bit more. I’d say there’s a vital distinction to be made between what may or may not be within your comfort zone, and what resides within your alignment zone. Focusing solely on what is or isn’t within your comfort zone I’d say is too darn simplistic. “Change (solely) for change’s sake” — always, and in all ways, without scrutiny — is a rather compulsive, rudimentary and dare I say dumbed-down approach to spiritual growth.

Let’s dive further into this whole idea. Let’s fine-tune it.

Here are examples to help illustrate what I mean:

Let’s say that over the years, you’ve become comfortable in a relationship, or in your career (or even with regard to your living room furniture, for that matter!) Let’s say that you keep going along living your life with these people or things, etc. — keeping things as-is — keeping things “status quo” – so to speak, because well, it’s familiar. Surely, it is often easier to keep things the way they are, instead of risking them in exchange for the unknown.

What if, however, one or more of these situations no longer serve you, and are no longer in furtherance of your highest good? Or, what if they never were what your soul truly desired, and somehow you found yourself with these people or situations or things in your life? What if the relationship, the job, those home furnishings —whatever they may be– really don’t  “light you up?” Well, that’s a pretty good sign that even though they may be considered as being within your comfort zone (i.e., in terms of “hey, at least they’re familiar. I know what it is I’m getting”) — they may not be within your alignment zone.

In these situations, it IS in your best interest to stretch outside your comfort zone, and take the leap, with faith and trust, to make a healthy change. The good news is that the first step off the ledge is by far the scariest and the toughest. The more you do it, the more familiar THAT then becomes. You then have the experience of having done it (and you survived – yay!) Hey, what do you know, THAT (new thing) itself becomes less uncomfortable. That builds confidence, and satisfaction.

When A Situation Does Not Serve You or Your Highest Good

If you heard my interview from the Soul Shine Series, you’ll recall that I left the practice of law right in the middle of a recession, without another job lined up. I listened to my intuition that told me that being a civil litigator was anything but in alignment with whom I was meant to be in this world. Even though I had offers from other law firms back then, I made the conscious choice to take instead, a corporate job in legal sales, where I could find respite from the often 70-hour weeks and strain of contorting myself into what had really begun to feel out of alignment for me.

Despite the “good money” I was making as a lawyer, the conflict and lack of congruence with my authentic self that it required, was not in service of my highest good. Leaving the practice of law, and a high paying job before I had secured another one (I was steeped in law school debt too at the time), was definitely outside my comfort zone.   Alas, however, it was beautifully and soulfully rooted well within my alignment zone.

I’m not suggesting that this type of leap is right for everyone.  It may not have been right even for myself at another point in my life.  At that juncture, though, for me, it proved to be a very good choice. I’m forever grateful for making that decision to “jump ship”. I started that corporate job on July 1st of that year. On July 2nd, I found out that my father had died suddenly from a massive heart attack. Eight months after that, my dear brother died from suicide. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like for me to experience those deep back-to-back losses while still practicing law. My new boss and team at my new corporate job were blessedly supportive and deeply understanding. And, I now had a newfound, sacred space created for me from which to grieve.

A really key factor is deciding for yourself, from a place of self-respect and self-honor: What is and is not with your alignment zone. For more on how to get clear on what is in alignment for you and in congruence with your soul’s desires, go here.

“All the comforts of home”

Now, maybe that relationship, that job, or your favorite comfy chair, are in fact within your comfort zone and in alignment with your true, authentic self, and your soul’s true desires. Well, in that case, I say: Bravo! Brava! Congratulations! There’s no need then to force yourself to step outside either of these zones. There’s no reason to step blindly outside your comfort zone purely in the name of so-called “personal growth”.

It is not wise to live outside your comfort zone all the time. To do so, means running the risk of becoming addicted to change for change’s sake. You end up staying so busy trying out new things that you’ve left no room to cherish, savor, and delight in any of them! You run the risk of treading roughshod right over any opportunity to observe, reflect upon, and learn from the experiences.

It’s a matter of integrity

Ready to fine-tune this concept even more?   I’ve not really heard any gurus put it quite this way in the 20 years or so that I’ve been involved with personal transformation. And, when my own intuition brought it to my attention during the last year or so – it nearly knocked my fuzzy slippers off!

Okay, here it is –

It’s really important and often may be necessary, to venture outside your comfort zone if and only if  it stretches you in a life-enhancing, life-fulfilling way, for you (and not for anyone else). Allow yourself to make those distinctions on what is accordance with your own standards, and not judging by anyone else’s.

If stepping up and out of your comfort zone provides the personal growth you need to pursue your dreams and in furtherance of your soul’s desires, then that is what is within your alignment zone. And to that I say, full speed ahead!

If you’re yearning to become your full, 100% genuine, full-grade, authentic, YOU – that only you can be, and that the world NEEDS you to be – THEN, you beautiful SHINING LIGHT you – that is when you do step right up and out of your COMFORT ZONE, to FULFILL YOUR DESTINY!

If, however, something feels completely outside your alignment zone, do not allow yourself to be lured into stepping outside your comfort zone just so that you can say that “you’re growing”.   You may be simply growing what ends up being (for you, anyway) a patch of weeds, rising up from contaminated soil. When, instead, wouldn’t you rather create your own beautifully sacred and authentic garden?

It can be great to take an inspirational leap — but, just be careful what it is into that you’re leaping. You may be leaping into a fluid, soulfully infused river that is guiding and leading and taking you toward your divine destination. Or, you may be lured into a thrashing current of muck that ends up taking you way off-course, throwing you against the rocks, and catapulting you right out of your integrity and authenticity. Being out-of-integrity is in no way in furtherance of your divine purpose. It does not uplift you or anyone around you. It does not lead to higher consciousness.

Dare to buck the system, especially when it’s out of integrity for you, no matter how deceptively cloaked, and under the guise of “personal growth,” it may be!

Let your intuition be your guide. It knows the truth. It knows your truth, for you. For tips on invoking your intuition and conducting your own “gut checks” go here.

The beauty of support

I would encourage you to seek outside support along the way, as well.   It is essential to have support around you from loved ones and other kindred spirits who honor and replenish you along the way. Seeking and securing guidance from a trusted advocate, counselor, mentor, or other teacher can be hugely beneficial as well. We are not meant to do this all on our own.

Throughout your transformational journey, make your choices wisely and with care. Why? Because you’re worth it. Definitely worth it!

For your consideration:

Get quiet, and reflect for a moment: What is something right now that you truly and authentically desire, that is outside your comfort zone — and how would stretching outside that comfort zone bring you closer to your desired state? On the flip side, allow yourself to get clear on what one thing that may seem pressing for you right now — that, even if you were to go outside your comfort zone — simply would NOT be in alignment for you? What is something that if you were to pursue it, would simply feel completely out of integrity?

Okay, your turn:

What’s one true (and in-integrity) desire — that if you were to step outside your comfort zone and attempt — would completely rock your world in the best way possible? In contrast, what’s one thing – that even if you were to step outside your comfort zone and attempt – would end up making you feel out of alignment and ultimately as if you were a sell-out?

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

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.