Book – Playing Big by Tara Mohr

AF936780-799B-43DD-9F91-72A72B1ED321Book review take away. Similar reasons may lead us to this book but we are all coming from a different angle, a different background and we will connect to it in a different way. Therefore, rather then writing what I liked or didn’t like (*), I’ll share a few points that inspired me, while reading it – and long after. And hopefully you will get inspired, too.

What drew me to the book was that it wasn’t just a book telling me to “just do it”, to just get over my fears. This book does not downplay on fear, worries and concerns, instead it gives ideas and tools on how to work with and how to look at them differently. After all, most of us deal with fear and such. It’s not made up. Some of us do have a very strong – and verbal – “inner critic”, whether we like it or not. And this book really helped me to work with mine, I named mine Bob. Bob and I, we do have some good talks at times!

I read the book a while ago, but it is one of those rare books that stayed with me. And while I’ve been rather quiet here on the blog my life was not quiet at all. I’ve been busy with a course and as much as I wanted to keep all my balls in the air, I dropped a few so that I could focus on what was just in front of me.

Too many new things came up and I could not attend to them all. Grudgingly I gave in and learned to let go for a certain time, to make space for something new. And to make space to have some meaningful chats with Bob! He was pretty dominate at times I have to say!

“The inner critic is like a guard at the edge of our comfort zone!”…

… and I do like my comfort zone, and Bob clearly likes it too and guards it well. But it was time to step out a bit further. The book helped me to change my perspective on my fears, concerns, doubts and self critic. Rather then working against them, trying hard to suppress or ignore them all I let them (him) speak. But Bob didn’t end up by himself, he got good company! Because my “inner mentor” is now there, too! She still shows her softer side, doesn`t always speak up but she is there in moments of need.

The inner mentor “helps us to keep things simple”, “she helps us to see the bottom line.” My inner mentor has a very matter of fact personality, and we get along just fine. I just have to listen to her more and give her space to speak up!

If we are really honest to ourselves it is mainly fear that is holding us back, blocking us, do you agree? Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being liked, being criticized, fear of not being good enough, not bold enough, fear of being too bold, fear of being too open, fear of being compared, fear of being judged, fear of being misunderstood, fear of…you name it.

Fear by definition is an “unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen.” (Collins dictionary)

Tara Mohr gave a different perspective. She brought in a definition based on the Hebrew Bible, that has a second word for fear, the word Yirah. And Yirah defines fear as follows:

  • “It is the feeling that overcomes us when we inhibit a larger space than we are used to.
  • It is the feeling we experience when we suddenly come to possession of considerably more energy than we had before.
  • It is what we feel in the presence of the divine.”

I let you sit with this for a moment…

If life could just be easy and simple! But no, too many things and mindsets are holding us back! I’m getting back to the book and into Praise and Criticism; “we have to unhook from praise and criticism – to no longer depend on other’s positive feedback or fear their disapproval.” Another big one for me and one that requires more work. And it leads as well to feedback and how we deal with it. Isn’t it funny (or sad) how we tend to brush off positive feedback yet tend to dwell on the negative one?

The criticism that most hurts us
mirrors a negative belief we hold about ourselves.” 

For me, the book was full of eye openers, and there were moments I felt myself nodding and thinking “yep, me!”. It reads more like a conversation with a friend than an I-tell-you-how-it-is-done-book.

Acknowledging fear, being held accountable, dealing with feedback (the good and not so good one), receiving and giving support and guidance are all crucial for me. After all, only having an idea, a vision is not good enough we have to take action somehow.

My new journey is just starting and it is not all smooth sailing and I feel very vulnerable. But as I tell others, to me being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. And I am getting stronger. But in those moments when it all comes tumbling down on me, I allow myself some space. I reflect on the WHY (**) I want to do what I want to do, instead of letting fear take over. And this “why-” thought is a powerful tool, leaving me feeling focused, more determined, and energized.

Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big came to me at the right time. And I could go on and on there are so many gems in there. But this book is better read individually rather than having me digging deeper into it!

If you feel you are a self critic, a doubter, unsure what is holding you back, want to do something but let fear block you then this might be a book for you, too! Perhaps it helps you to take those first tender steps towards something new!

Is it scary? Yes! Am I fearful? Yes. But as long as Bob and I keep chatting, my inner mentor speaks up and I keep my “why” close to me, I am moving forward.

If you got curious about this book I hope you will enjoy your chat with YOUR inner critic and find the parts that speak to you! And if you want to discuss the book further with me, please contact me! I would love to hear from you,

Have a lovely day,

AK

Find your Ease – whether your live abroad, are in transition or have returned home

(*) I can’t really think of anything that I didn’t like to be honest!
(**) in Playing Big this is your “calling”

 

 

All shades of pink

Have you ever been to Japan in early Spring?  If so, you will have noticed that almost everything seems to come with a shade of pink. Springtime here equals the bloom of the Cherry Blossom – and the whole country goes a bit crazy. It seems that everybody gets addicted to this ‘pink-spirited-season’ also called Cherry blossom, Sakura or Hanami season!

Weeks prior newspapers and the national TV publish the expected blooming peak! Rain, colder or warmer weather can put it all off by a few days; throwing carefully made up plans for picnics, get-togethers and travels off schedule.

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But once the trees bloom, giving the impression from afar that the trees are covered with large cotton balls, you see the pure joy on people’s faces.

Everywhere you look people are delighted by those little, fragile, pink flowers.
Areas under the trees are reserved by mats as from the early morning, people squeeze as tight as possible in picnic areas, getting cozy with the next-door-picnic-mat. Drinks, snacks and food are available in various shades of pink. And whether you like it or not, you get sucked into it, there is no escape!

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But it can be overwhelming as almost everywhere you find a Sakura tree there are people.

All this can be seen as totally crazy, and at times I have to agree with my kids when they say so. But as I ventured out this year for a walk amongst the Cherry Blossom trees, I took a different viewpoint.

After taking some mandatory pictures of the beautiful trees in full bloom, I shifted my focus to the people around me.

The Japanese do not just go out there to see a tree blooming, no they celebrate this whole happening. And it is simply delightful to see how they go along with it.

8A90C15D-2B76-4883-A224-768EDBFC126APathways lined with vendors offer pink bubbly, drinks with sakura blossom, pink sakura flavoured snacks, bottles with sakura flower prints. Shops and delivery services offer special Sakura boxes, all ready-made and to-go for the picnic. Pink clearly sells these weeks, whether in food or drinks! What a simple thing – finding joy in Sakura watching, don’t you think so, too?

And once you let go and ignore the craziness around you, you just go with the flow and wonder how this little fragile flower can bring so much joy to millions of people despite being surrounded by almost as many.

While observing the crowds I can see that they are simply in the moment – in the here and now. They know how to make the best out of something fragile, knowing it won’t last long. The beauty passes quickly every year. And everybody around me simply enjoys while it lasts.

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To beautiful moments in life, make the best out of them and don’t let them slip by!

AK

Dare to ask & deal with feedback

A few weeks ago I posted this picture on the At Ease Facebook page.

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This truly was a big lesson I took on for myself last year. For some this may sound minor but to me and I believe many others it is something that takes us fully out of our comfort zone.

Why is it so difficult to ask for help, support, guidance or advice?

It is clearly not because we are all so good, smart and tough and always have it together, is it?

 

For me there are several reasons and it very much depends on the situation I find myself in. I share my thoughts with you and perhaps you recognize yourself in some of them?

Before I go and ask any of this can go through my mind:

  • I appear weak
  • I appear to not have a clue
  • I make myself vulnerable
  • I am worried what the others think about me
  • I do not want to bother others with my “stuff”
  • I can do it myself, do not need anybody
  • Do they think I am stupid
  • Everybody is so busy I can`t ask

And so it can go on. Throwing all this over board I decided last year to get out there and to dare to ask (more)!

And what a different it made. It opened doors to new possibilities, new connections and friendships. I felt myself getting more confident, stronger. It helped to expand my horizon, I got different points of view and it lead me to be there for others, to help and support!

Having said all this, I still do not find it easy. I am still shaky at times, my finger lingers over the submit button before I dare to press and my stomach feels in knots as I await replies. But it is so worth it!

It is worth it – but now that we took the hurdle to ask we have to deal with the feedback, too. And that is not always easy either!

Hopefully the following thoughts will make it easier to deal with feedback, especially with the tricky ones:

No matter whether or not you like the feedback, pause and consider that the person who replied was kind enough to take time for you! He/she took the time to read about or listen to your issue, to think about it and to give a reply! For this we should already be grateful.

The more people you ask the more opinions you get. This can be good and bad and at times overwhelming. Do not lose yourself here. Do not just follow what others say. Think about all replies and see what fits, what may be a valid different view point and what does not work for you. But make sure you stay true to yourself!

You may not agree and like all the replies. They may appear too direct, harsh or rude, too short, too long, not direct enough and so on. But don`t forget that especially when replies are given in writing things can get lost in typing and language and not come across as wanted. But similar to my first point, keep in mind that the majority of people do reply with a good intention. Some things are simply lost in translation. Do not take it personal!

You do not get as much feedback as you hoped for. Yes it may hurt you but as well here do not take it personal. Everybody is busy, it can slip through, or the person does not feel connected to what you ask and thinks a reply won`t give you any benefit. Again do not think the worst here. Shake it off and rather focus on what you received. And if you really want a reply from somebody specific, send a kind reminder. In the information overflow replies can simply get lost!

Do not just be somebody who only asks and takes feedback! The best way to learn, expand and improve is as well to give feedback, reply and support others. As a rule, try to give more feedback than you take!

Go, dare and ask, you can only gain!

AK

 

 

 

 

When life throws us a curve-ball

No matter how you call it, may it being mindful, being aware or in the moment. All this is easy(er) to practise and believe in when we are in a good spot, when it all runs smooth.
But it is the moments when life throws us a curve-ball that we tend to drop it all.
It is in those moments we often think all this is just a lot of “ empty talk”.
It is in those moments we think it is all a lot of BS.
It is in those moments that we doubt.
It is in those moments we may drop it all.

But- it is in those moments we need it the most!

Sounds familiar?
Then you are not alone as I am feeling like that, too. I slowly start to learn to let go and to use the mindfulness practise especially in the tough moments. And it is then that I feel and recognise the true benefit of it all. But I have to admit I do not find it easy, this letting go, going deep when I am feeling low already.

After all, it means to admit fully to our emotions and feelings. We have to allow to be really vulnerable – even if just to ourselves. This is hard, after all we are supposed to have it all together, we are meant to be strong.
I recently had this “curve-ball” experience again and in my usual manner I took it all tough, controlled, pushed it away, with a “just accept and keep going” attitude. But where did that leave me? I ended up all tensed up, frustrate and irritated. Not only about the situation itself but as well doubtful about myself and all the tools I learned and things I believe in! It was a mess.

Truth to be told I was simply running away from my own feelings. The problem is that if we run, and keep running, there always comes a time when we are out of breath, can`t run anymore. There comes the moment (sooner or much later) when it all simply gets too much and we crash, reach an (emotional) burn out.

But I did not want that to happen. Instead, I literally told myself to stop! I sat down (in a relaxed bath), and told myself to simply allow to feel. To let my thoughts and feelings come and go, without any judgement or criticism towards myself.

I knew that I would not be able to change the situation but by simply (or not so simple actually) allowing my emotions, feelings and thoughts I released a lot of pressure on myself. Letting it all flush over me, all the frustration, the helplessness, the unfairness did help to relieve some of the stressors. 
Then there came a point when I noticed a shift in my thoughts and in my body. Instead of losing myself and sinking low I started to be able to concentrate on myself, on how I can chose to react, how I can take a different look onto the situation from within. This left me feeling stronger, motivated and calmer.

Too often we have situations that we can`t change ourselves, situations that leave us exhausted, tired, frustrated and worn down. We may not be able to change the outer influences, but we can chose and have to learn to look at how we react to them. It may not change the situation but it can change so much for yourself!

As for me, no, the situation itself did not change but by allowing myself to go into it, allowing myself to fall deep, I started to feel more grounded and balanced again. So even if nothing really changed from the outside, it was me who felt stronger and more in control again. And that changed everything!

Where I am going with all this? I want to make you aware to go down the mindfulness / awareness path especially in the tougher moments. It is then that the real benefit of it all will show!

Scary? Yes! Painful? Sure, it can be! Easy? No, not at all. Daunting? Yep! Empowering? Absolutely!

Never forget that vulnerability is not a weak spot,
it is from that point that true strength comes through!

Yours,
AK

2018 – Fine-tuning Life

One year comes to an end, another one is about to start. For many it is a time to slow down, to reflect on what was and what may lie ahead, time to make New Year Resolutions. Instead of New Year Resolutions I reflect on the previous year and try to set a new intention for the upcoming year; kind of a guidance or mantra. This goes back a couple of years now.

Looking back on 2017, yes I “stayed focused and picked the good seeds”. I focused on what I wanted to achieve, wanted to change and I went for it. I tried new things, met new people, got inspired, finished what I started. It wasn`t always easy. I was often out of my comfort zone. It was a challenging, at times daunting, but a good year. How about 2018 then, how will it lead me? And do you want to join me?

I got inspired after reading the article “In the Balance” by Hillari Dowdle in the Yoga Journal. I read the magazine version but an online version can be found here.

While the article goes deep into Dharma (duty), Artha (prosperity), Kama (pleasure) and Moshka (freedom), I twisted the idea a bit to make it more approachable for day-to-day-life.

I already do a lot of reflection throughout the year, I am pretty aware of what runs well and what not. Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga, Running, talking to others and my blogs do help me there. But something is missing! Could it be the balance of all four pillars mentioned?

At times emotions, feelings, thoughts, achievements seem to be just passing by, not really sticking. I do not give myself enough credit for what I achieve. Just quickly brush it of as if it was nothing, am barely proud of myself, of what I accomplished. But I am pretty good in dwelling too long on the negative, on things and situations that did not work out as expected. Those are the situations that do stick to me! And I am sure this sounds familiar to some of you!

But where does all that leave me on my intention setting for the coming year? It will be “fine-tuning”, taking guidance from the mentioned article and the section about “Fine-tune your life” part by Sally Kempton.

I will go deeper into “the four pillars of a more fulfilling life”. What do you say, want to join me? Then come and use the coming year to make time to regularly reflect on:

  • Duty
    What did you do in regards to any duties you have towards others but as well towards yourself?
  • Prosperity, Meaning, Purpose
    What did you do for yourself, your livelihood, your health?
  • Pleasure, Desire, Wish
    What did you do for creating more joy in your life, your pleasures, desires, your longing?
  • Freedom
    Did you feel burdened or constricted in your life? The article goes more into  taking time for spirituality (Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga, Praying, etc) but this could be optional if that is not for you.

After reflecting on all the areas you will have a better feeling and insight what areas were strong, which were not given any or limited attention. Using this insight it is time to create a statement for yourself, for example:

“This week I worked hard to meet my obligations to achieve XYZ but I felt burdened because of XYZ. I took the most pleasure from XYZ but I did not find time to just take time for myself.”

Based on that statement you will have a good sense on where you stand right there in that moment. It gives you a good idea if and where to fine-tune and readjust. Then use this awareness to set a new intention, for the week(s) to come. Writing your new intention down will help to stay aware and focused!

For me this sounds like a good, practical outlook to become even more connected and aware of what goes well and what not. It should support me in taking action more easily, allow me to acknowledge my achievement and to increase my awareness on some pitfalls and especially negative thought patterns!

Fine-tuning life, I kind of like this idea, you too?!

Just a final note on this: The article states it should be a weekly ritual. That again puts me a bit under pressure and will be too much of a New Year Resolution I see myself failing in already. But I will keep the questions close to me, and incorporate into my meditation or reflection as often as I can!

Going further, I can see myself visualising the four pillars in colours, from bright and colourful to dark and dull depending on where I find myself in that moment. Years back I referred to a New Year as a new book, where the pages of the New Year are plain and white, waiting to be filled with colours. After all life is never just black and white!

Make sure to make the pages of your life as bright and colourful as you can!

This leads me to the end of my end of the year blog, the last blog for 2017. Thank you for reading, for being part of my life!

I wish you and your families a lovely ending of 2017,
and may 2018 be a joyful, colourful, peaceful, happy & healthy year!

AK