Six women traveled from various parts—Sioux City, Pine River, Grand Forks, Bemidji, etc. to spend a day with me on how to craft a “life by design.” They packed their baggage and their highest aspirations and brought it all with them. We had a curried creamed carrot soup with cream cheese, alfalfa sprout, mushroom, and fresh lettuce sandwiches on black forest rye bread. Many brought fresh fruit and nuts to share with others as we worked through the day. We spent the day deeply exploring the life progressions through chaos, into order, from rules to questioning rules and beginning to self-identify a higher personal order. And, most importantly, how to establish and stand in your core strength.
We learned about the brain and how new life experiences must be built with intention and design if we hope to do more than act in old familiar ways. We scribbled dendrites and neurons on a white board, and I drew my favorite little stick people to illustrate the complexity of this oh-so-human experience. We laughed a lot. We cried a little. We made new friends. We even did a short round of “laughing yoga” which makes you uncomfortable for just a minute and then becomes hilarious. Thanks to Tammy for leading it.
We told stories and learned to watch each other with new tools from the NLP toolbox—color changes, moisture levels in the eyes, eye movements and posture changes and when a person is telescoping through time and becoming somebody much, much younger. We talked about how each difficult life experience should be treated like medals that you wear across your chest—giving you strength and presence and weight instead of taking you down.
During lunch we walked the grounds, and they asked great questions about how we built our little hand-built straw-bale house and studio. They admired my flowers (thank you very much) and the gardens. It was a perfect day.
After 30 plus years of doing workshops in stuffy, noisy, airless hotel rooms, I can’t tell you how much fun it is to facilitate an event in my own space. Our groups are small but intimate. I can adjust things to make them more comfortable. We can go out onto beautiful grounds to walk and take in air and sunshine (and hopefully leave the ticks outside).
After everybody left, I was energized and alone. Milt was in the cities and not there to help me debrief and celebrate the day. I thought about taking a nap but instead went outside and spent my energy weeding the garden and cleaning out my little garden shed. He came home about midnight too tired to talk much, but this morning we chatted and realized that the best thing about my Life by Design retreats is that we are not just teaching it but living it. We are walking the walk. That is pretty cool!
My coaching friend, Gary D. says that I need to stay in my sweet spot. This is my sweet spot—working with people who want to live intentionally and purposefully and have a lot of fun along the way. As much as I have been learning doing the consulting work with large systems, it can be frustrating to see a path that nobody else sees and not know how to bring it forward. It reminds me of the poem I put into a poetry booklet when I was in the 10th grade (yes, I still have it).
“Life will hand Mary no harder path than to know the right answer—and have nobody ask.”
I was curious to see what other poems were in that little booklet. I found it and read through. I am sometimes amazed at how early and how young we can be and yet still have a deep sense of knowing who we really are. Here is another poem that was in the booklet that would make a good ending to this post. It is by Emily Dickenson.
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Thanks to all of you who leave beautiful comments. Please do share my posts with others and invite them to take a moment to consider this crazy path of life. We are also beginning to promote our Builders and Makers Festival (straw bale build and metals jewelry workshop) scheduled for July 24-26. You can see the details for this and other Life by Design Classes at www.manykites.com
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