It’s been a little over a year since Lois Kelly of Foghound graced Living Room Stories v1: Beginnings and Endings. We managed to slow her down long enough to fill us in on all that’s inspired and transpired with Lois since our inaugural event. Read on…
TLR: So what have you been doing since we last saw you?
This has been a transition year for me. My husband was in a serious accident last summer and I had to learn how to care for him in ways I never thought I could do, both physically and mentally. (He’s much better now!) My son left for college. I completed work for some long-term clients and began exciting work for new people and organizations. It was like a metaphorical yearlong winter, and then spring started popping in November with all kinds of extraordinary surprises on the personal and professional fronts.
TLR: What are the questions you’re asking yourself lately?
How can I lead life of learning, creativity and beauty? How can I use this question to guide what I say yes or no to?
TLR: What are you reading and/or what books are you recommending lately?
- Every morning: I start my day reading the poem from Garrison Keillor’s “Writers Almanac.”
- Non-fiction: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Fiction: The Goldfinch by Donna Tart
TLR: Most interesting adventure you’ve taken lately (actual or metaphorical)?
Spur of the moment trip in November to Vienna with two friends to visit my friend Yvonne whose husband recently died. The conversations over four days filled our souls. We laughed, debated, pondered, shared fears, gave frank fashion and career advice, and dreamed aloud. Though there was little sleep, the intensity of our caring, vulnerability, and joy filled my proverbial gas tank. From Vienna I went to Zurich to facilitate a strategic planning session for a big bank and it went so well because I was mentally replenished from being in a “no work zone.” Here’s a poem I sent to my friend Yvonne after the trip:
Things wilt, freeze, fall.
Days are darker.
The sun sets in a new corner.
The sky slips into pink and
we notice flowers standing tall and brilliant.
The surprise wakes us up.
There is more.
TLR: What’s the most unforgettable lesson you’ve learned in the past year?
That living fearlessness is a responsibility for me. It helps others not be afraid. (Note: there’s a difference between fearlessness and recklessness.)
TLR: What have you let go of since we last talked?
Worrying ahead. Thinking I need to be the person with the answers. I realize that my value is having the processes to help people in organizations find their own best answers. I’m also about to walk away from my traditional web site and reimagine my professional identity.
TLR: What are you most looking forward to at the moment?
Learning: Participating in the ALIA Summer Intensive in Tacoma, Washington in June. The theme: “Courageous Leadership: Transforming, Self, Systems, Society.”
Creativity: Helping organizations achieve more meaning in their work through a very different and powerful way to do strategic planning. Empowering more women through my “Free Your Inner Rebel” workshops. Committing to writing 10 shape-shifting stories this year.
Beauty: Exploring the art scene in Miami. Spending more time next summer in the woods at my rustic (no running water) cottage in the White Mountains. Maybe finally finding the perfect shade of lipstick and beige shoes in a size 5.
Award-winning filmmaker K. LORREL MANNING talks about his journey to self forgiveness, and how coming to terms with his childhood traumas enabled him to create a work of art that would also heal others.
Learn more about K. Lorrel Manning’s work at: happynewyearfilm.com
Presented in November, 2013 in Providence, RI.
The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote a few years ago to my son as he left home to pursue his musical dreams. In hindsight, I see it was also a letter to my own younger (and frightened) creative self. This post was subsequently published in Patti Digh’s lovely book (written for her daughter), “What I Wish For You: Simple Wisdom For A Happy Life“
Remember the joy you first felt when you discovered what you love to do. Find a few people who believe wholly in you and protect these relationships with all your might. Don’t ask everyone you know for feedback. Creativity is subjective, and your art will find its tribe. Your dream has its own heartbeat. Listen for it.
It’s a do it yourself world, but you can’t do it alone. Build your team as wisely as you would choose typefaces or words for lyrics. Embrace your place on earth as a creative. Give thanks you were given this gift to share.
Turn a deaf ear to those who say the path of art is hard. Doing something you don’t love is a much harder path. Study the patterns of your mind and honor your needs for time alone to create.
Accept that not everyone will ‘get’ what you are doing, even those close to you. If you ever doubt the value of your gift, imagine a day without sound, music, art or design. Remember that rejections are the building blocks of success.
Don’t measure your success. Your steps will often be infinitesimal.
Admire those who have walked the path you are on, and know it is a shared path. Concentrate on the square you are standing in right now. Tomorrow it will be a new one. Don’t compare yourself with those you admire. Babies learning to walk aren’t compared with long-distance runners. Each is on his own journey toward movement.
Make your evolution your priority. You grow through change. Moments of fear are often signals of change on the horizon. Listen carefully to them.
Learn to let go. You can’t control how people react to you. You can only control how and what you think about yourself. Edit out those people who instill fear, doubt, or negative thinking into your world.
And remember to look back at how far you have traveled. If you only see the mountains that lie ahead, you will forget those you have already successfully climbed.
©Deb Walsh, The Living Room
I’m guessing FOMO is running pretty high today, this New Year’s Eve 2013. You know FOMO, right? It’s the everywhere-you-look acronym for “Fear of missing out,” that dread feeling (wrought by our constant online engagement) that we are somehow not where the action is.
I definitely don’t have FOMO tonight, since I’m hosting the party at home, but I will admit to feeling the occasional pang FOMO brings. Is everyone really having that much fun out there?? Who knows, but lately I’ve realized there’s something much more powerful to me than the anxiety of missing out. It’s actually just the opposite: Fear of Missing In.
FOMI is what grips me when I’m caught up in chasing externals and ignore a deep need for time alone to reflect on what’s happening and what I want to happen in my life.
A few years back, I started a daily meditation practice. Twenty minutes every morning when I quiet the chatter of my voracious mind, and await the messages of my intuition, my higher wisdom. When I skip this ritual, (usually because I’ve gotten swept away into email or work), I feel disconnected from myself. I’m just not as grounded or happy as I am after I practice.
The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar. And happiness, he suggests in this inspiring TED Talk, is born from gratitude.
“It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy. Be grateful for the things that are real gifts, and that have value to you. We live gratefully by becoming aware that every moment is a gift. You haven’t earned it. You haven’t brought it about in any way. This very moment with all the opportunity that it contains. This moment is a gift. And the gift within this gift is the opportunity to enjoy and do something with each moment.”
Steindl-Rast says we can cultivate gratitude and deeper happiness by installing “stop signs” along the way, helping us slow down and notice the tiny things. So as I head into 2014, with plans to run fast and focus on big stuff, I’ll try to keep FOMI close by my side. Reminding me of the potential and opportunity in every little moment.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year’s Eve. May it find you surrounded with friends, and filled with gratitude, peace and love.
If you’re like many people this year, you may be battling the blues, or just feeling underwhelmed with the season. I went to my bookshelf for inspiration, and found two of my favorite practices for shifting into a more positive, hopeful mindset. Both were developed and taught widely by Benjamin and Roz Zander, authors of “The Art of Possibility,” (hands down one of my favorite books.) The first, “Be A Contribution” helps shift you from the desperate world of measurement (did I do enough, am I enough) into a mindset that you are a gift to the universe. The second, “Give Yourself an A,” is a fantastic tool for looking to the future and seeing new possibilities for your own personal growth (wouldn’t this be a far better exercise than writing New Year’s Resolutions??) Here’s how Zander explains the first concept:
So I invented a new game, called “I Am a Contribution,” or “the Contribution Game.” It’s easy: You wake up in the morning, convince yourself for a few minutes that you are a contribution, and you go out and contribute. Then you go to bed and do it again the next day. What I’ve discovered since I started the Contribution Game is that people have an endless amount of energy for it. Sure, goals can be energizing — when you win. But a vision is more powerful than a goal. A vision is enlivening, it’s spirit-giving, it’s the guiding force behind all great human endeavors. Vision is about shared energy, a sense of awe, a sense of possibility.
Let’s decide that in some tiny fashion, we will be a contribution. Adopt the belief that we are someone who makes a difference to people, each in our own unique ways. We are enough, and we are a gift to the world. Breathe it in, and feel it in your heart.
Zander’s practice of “Give Yourself an A” was devised to help his orchestra students shed their propensity toward perfectionism, and move it into a more creative, expansive and non-judgement-fearing state. This amazing practice also helps move you out of the world of measurement (win/lose; try/fail) and into a new model of possibility.
Here’s how it works. On the first day of class, Zander tells all his highly competitive students that they will each get an A at the end of the semester, but in order to earn it, they must write him a letter telling him what they had done differently or changed that got them the A. Had they reached beyond their self-imposed limitations or fears? Tried on new attitudes? Experimented with who or how they might approach performing?
Take a moment and think of where you are right now, and where you would like to be at some future point. Write a letter to yourself explaining why you earned that A. Maybe you want to earn it over the course of the next 24 hours, or the next two weeks navigating the holidays, or maybe you will earn it by the end of 2014. Reflect on what you would like to consciously shift or bring forth in your life. It could be finding calm amid chaos; or finding patience while stressed, or simply talking and acting more kindly to yourself during the rush of it all.
Why will you earn an A in 2014? Love to hear what you think!