Dial Back to Making a Difference

Are you making a difference in this very moment? How are your actions impacting the future? Today we dial back to impact in 2013 when Andrea originally wrote Making a Difference.

by Andrea Chilcote

My colleague, author Randy Hain, suggested I do an exercise. He told me to write my clients’ names on a piece of paper (I added close friends), and circle them. Then, I was to write what each one cares most about next to their circled name. Randy predicted that I would see themes.

Did I ever.

Almost without exception, everyone I listed wants to make a difference in the lives of others. How they do it varies greatly. I work with leaders who, regardless their actual job, come to work each day because they’re making a difference in the lives of those they lead. Many, including those in senior executive positions, care most about the impact they are making on the lives of their children, members of their community or even the end-user of the product or service their organization produces. One, a CEO of a thriving non-profit, says that while she’s passionate about the work of her own organization, she does what she does every day to positively affect the non-profit sector overall, because of the enormous impact it has on the lives of those in her community.

There’s a reason why this commonality exists. Making a difference is a fundamental human drive.

Recently I learned of the death of a family friend. He was the owner of an independent grocery store in the small city  in which I grew up. His obituary said the city would have been a  different place without his compassion and the help he offered to his fellow citizens. He offered credit before it was the norm, and he helped many start small businesses. This man knew his purpose, and it was very different on the surface (selling bread and green beans) than in its depth (improving lives). He made a difference, though I’m not sure he would have known he was doing so at any given time. He just followed his heart.

And that is the point of my post today.

As you go about your full lives, it is easy to lose touch with your sense of purpose. It is easy to forget the impact of a small gesture, brief glance or word of encouragement. But even as you lose touch, the energy of it lives on. Every single positive thought or action affords many reactions. In this very moment, as you read this post, you are making a difference. Your – our – power and influence is humbling.

Let the awareness of your impact fuel your future actions. We all need one another.

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Release

 

Given all the flooding of late, we thought we would reflect back to August 2014 when flash floods gushed through Cave Creek, AZ. It is our hope that in a world that sometimes looks bleak, new consciousness is being revealed.

by Andrea  Chilcote

Did you hear about the rain in the Arizona desert? On Tuesday, a rapid-onset, torrential downpour wreaked havoc, as Mother Nature released a fury of energy in the form of flooding rains. It made the national news, and it made for yet another lesson in the form of a weather adventure.

On Monday of this week, I felt out of sorts. All day long. And “out of sorts” is not a usual state of being for this, um-mm, in-control sort of person. At any given time I might feel driven and productive or driven and agitated, but it’s not common for me to feel unclear, uncertain and a little bit sad. (At one point I teared up when I learned about the work anniversary of a mere acquaintance. Go figure). At the end of the day, it felt as though something was about to release – not just in me, but all around me.

The next morning, despite predictions of rain, I rose at 4:30 am to hike the dogs with my buddy Beth, before the temperatures rose. The atmosphere was heavier than I recall in 14 years of living in the desert. It was as if one could squeeze water from the air.

Beth and I cut our hike short as rain began to fall. Not long after arriving home, the deluge began, flooding the wash that crosses our road. No one was going anywhere – and I had to leave mid-morning for a flight.

Desert flash floods are so named because they seemingly come on in an instant. They also disappear quickly, as water seeps rapidly into the parched earth. So as expected, the 20 minute downpour was quickly a passing threat. But I sped up my preparations to leave, as another dark wall of rain was forming in the mountains to the north.

I don’t know if I should credit clear thinking, intuition, or luck, but we managed to leave the house, bound for the airport, just five minutes before the next enormous release in the Cave Creek area where I live.

Arthur still waiting to get through the wash and home three hours after taking me to the airport. Finally took off. Dogs and horse reportedly fine, thanks to Tracy. –Aug 19, 2014

This time, the flooding grew into rushing rapids that caused evacuations of people and animals from nearby homes. Thankfully, my family was safe and our home was spared of damage. My husband was stranded for five hours trying to cross the wash to get home, and my flight was delayed for hours. It was all a minor inconvenience compared to those who spent the night in Red Cross shelters.

Somehow, despite the stress of the day texting and emailing friends and family while traveling across the country, I breathed a sigh of relief as night came on. Release. I felt a release of pent-up energy that was both personal and shared. I slept soundly that night (albeit too short given my late arrival), knowing that the people and animals I love were safe and accounted for. I was safe too, with a renewed sense of calm.

Do you feel a release coming on? Have you recently let go of some belief or habit that no longer serves you? I have, and this week’s rain served as a symbol of its departure, grounding it in the depths of the earth where it will transform as all energy does. Judging from the fury of nature, we are undergoing collective transmutation.

The rushing water is, for me, a symbol of power. Energy is freed upon its release, and much is revealed once it has passed over. In a world that sometimes looks bleak, new consciousness is being revealed. And that realization fuels me on.

Good morning friends. Look what last night’s rain left us… –Aug 22, 2014

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A Time to Work…and a Time to Relax

Deric stockton’s amazing demonstration


It’s Friday, will you find some time to relax during the weekend? Check out Deric’s amazing demonstration and reflect on Andrea’s 2014 call for relaxation in her article A time to Work…and a Time to Relax.

By Andrea Chilcote

Once again, my friend and coach Dana Sterling, a therapeutic movement facilitator, offered a simple yet profound lesson that links body, mind and spirit.

Want to feel better? When at rest, rest. When you need to work, expend the energy. Contract your muscles, (mental or physical) deliberately and intentionally.

Go ahead. Because if you don’t, your mind will tell you that a state of relaxation is risky … that it leaves you unprepared, unarmed for what life may bring.

Yet in fact, our ability to relax is as essential to functioning as is our ability to engage.

When you sleep, do you really rest? Or do you wake or rise stiff and unsteady? When you deal with stress (the usual stress of life) does it linger, and extend into the next moment and then the next? Do you confuse a state of readiness, which is found in relaxation, with a state of tension?

I know I do. And Deric Stockton’s amazing demonstration has given me pause. Pause, yes. Relax.

 

 

Why I’m Grateful for Friendships

Join us today as we reflect on Andrea’s timeless blog Why I’m Grateful for Friendships. Will you be spending time with friends this Labor Day weekend?

Andrea with her ‘sister’ Whisper on the beach in Cambria, CA – 2017

by Andrea Chilcote

I’m fortunate to own a business that allows me to work with clients over long periods of time, on projects of mutual interest. As a result, I forge meaningful and long-term relationships that often morph into genuine friendships. These friendships and others are the source of much of the joy and meaning in my life.

I Googled “why we need friends” and was surprised by the volume of research on the topic. I learned about everything from the fifteen reasons we need friends to five common female friend types.

None of the research surprised me, and as I consider the many benefits of friendship, I realize it’s not necessary to list them here. You know the power and the value. Patricia Levy, the author of the latter post on common friend types, stated “There is a one question test to gauge whether a friendship is healthy: Does she bring out the best in me?”

Yes. She’s talking about that extra boost that helps us see who we really are and what we are capable of – the boost that provides the tiny spark to help us be our best.

As I reflect on a busy week, I’m feeling grateful for my friends who believe in what I have to offer and demonstrate it. I’m grateful to those who entrust me with tasks that help them fulfill commitments they’ve made. I’m motivated to be the person my friends believe I can be – because I am that person already, but my friends remind me.

Who brings out the best in you? If you need that boost I’m describing, spend some time with your friend.

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Free the Future

Free the Future

Would you like to free yourself to an unencumbered future? This week we are featuring Free the Future that Andrea wrote as a blogger for The Spirited Woman in 2014. Can you find meaning in her words today?

by Andrea Chilcote

While I am rarely inspired (or convinced may be the right word) by popular evangelical preachers, I took pause today at a statement I heard by Bishop TD Jakes.

He said, “When you hold onto your history, you do so at the expense of your destiny.”

td-jakesWhile the context for his words surrounded people working to release the trauma of severe abuse and betrayal – certainly a difficult and honorable journey – I was struck by the day-to-day implications. How many times (a day or an hour) do we allow what came before to poison what lies ahead?

I began listening for evidence, in my own self-talk and in the words of others. Quickly I realized that many of our future actions are predicated on what came before – often just moments before.

Here is a self-assessment, designed to determine if your past (even the past five minutes) influences your future. Before you answer the questions, please realize that most if not all answers will be “yes” –  if you are a human inhabiting planet earth.

  • Is there something more you would do if only you had the energy, connections, confidence or skill?
  • Do you feel badly because of a (non-healthy) choice you made (today or five years ago) with regard to diet, sleep or exercise?
  • Are you exhausted from arguing a point, championing a cause or trying to convince those who will not be swayed?
  • Do you feel inadequate because of any past injustice, trauma or difficulty?

If your answer was yes to any of these questions, I’m betting that some bit of self-judgment about past circumstances or choices is influencing the current situation.

So what to do? Ah, here is the answer, the one that I seek, quite imperfectly, to live into each day.

Forgive. Forgive yourself first. The choices you made before need not poison your future.

Then, forgive those who caused harm – not because they are absolved of responsibility, but because you release their power over you. What freedom that is, freedom to pursue the future, your destiny, as Jake describes it. Free the future to unfold, unencumbered.

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Fighting is Easy (Love is Hard)

With tension towards violence elevated on a national level today, we thought it apropos to publish Andrea’s Fighting is Easy (Love is Hard) article that she originally wrote in April 2014 as a blogger for The Spirited Woman.

By Andrea Chilcote

When the same lessons show up say, three or even four times in a row, I listen. The lessons this week point to one principle: we are all connected. If you doubt that, just pay attention to the influence you have on other people – and vice versa.

After a day of travel in which I seemed to either transform potentially difficult situations into positive ones, or nearly jeopardized my on-time agenda simply because of my own negative energy about the situation, I paused to take it in. I had felt a little off since leaving the house Tuesday morning, sensing heightened emotions whenever I was in contact with other people. Was I picking up on their state of being, or transferring my own to them?

I asked my friend Debbie if she was experiencing something similar. Here’s what she said:

“What affects one affects everyone. When you recognize that you are not in alignment, or are in a state of resistance – you have physical pain, emotional stress or not so good experiences – simply correct course and head back to a state of love. As we reflect love out, it will be reflected back.”

Fighting is easy. Being right, being the victim and being burdened is easy. Rising up is hard. Love is hard – but it’s so worth it.

Okay, I got it. The message was one of those “simple not easy” ones. Then I had a conversation with a colleague that went something like this:

“I get so frustrated with myself about everything – mistakes I make or needs I know I have but don’t make time or space for. And then the more frustrated I get, the more paralyzed I become. I tell myself how bad it is, and then of course it becomes so.”

She sounded like she was fighting with herself. Immediately, I thought about my travel lessons. I had begun to “fight” with the Avis clerk about who was right, and the conversation spiraled downward. I stopped in the middle, and focused on being compassionate – loving even – in the moment. I got my car, and was on my way.

I suggested to my colleague that she consider giving up the fight and instead treat herself with compassion. It seemed to me that she – and none of us really – have the luxury of negativity. Even though it’s the easy way.

Then, as if to confirm my premise, a book review arrived this morning via email with this excerpt from The Nonviolence Handbook by Michael Nagler. The subject line was “Violence is the Easier Path.”

“Nonviolence is not the recourse of the weak but actually calls for an uncommon kind of strength; it is not a refraining from something but the engaging of a positive force.”

The Little (Big) Things

Arthur and I in Cambria celebrating our anniversary, July 2017.

It’s been a while since we have posted to Andrea’s blog. She has recently returned from her annual trip to Cambria, CA where she celebrates her anniversary with her beloved husband Arthur. Andrea originally wrote The Little (Big) Things following her 2014 trip.

by Andrea Chilcote

I noticed this tag line on an email I received today:

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

It caused me to pause and reflect back on the sweet weekend I just enjoyed with my husband, Arthur, in one of our favorite places, Cambria CA. While it would be easy to think of the many things we did as “little things,” in comparison to so-called “important things” (you know, work deadlines, and dental appointments), I have a new view of them. The little things in life combine to create the love and joy we give and take.

Cambria, CA [2017]

The weekend was special because we were alone. We travel often with our beloved dogs, and that’s always fun – but this time, a dear friend cared for them while we could fly away, literally, without obligations.

Arthur and I enjoy a rhythm together that’s hard to describe. It’s one that can only happen when we’re alone, without external pressure or deadlines. We plan, yet we’re loose about plans and often change our minds. We take advantage of synchronicities and don’t worry about what might have been. We play together, allow each other space, and make tiny compromises that get rewarded at each next turn.

Arthur and I at the Hero Awards benefiting Friends of Animal Care and Control, February 2015.

“Happy Anniversary beloved Arthur!” July 2017

Here are some of the little things I treasure, the ones that are really big things.

We accommodate each other in a balanced way.

We’re two very different people. Arthur likes to walk the boardwalk, to keep his feet clean. I like my bare feet in the wet sand. We walked the boardwalk together each morning, and he lugged a beach chair to the surf, meditating as I walked for two hours one day.

While Arthur prefers antique shops and sports items, and I prefer jewelry and farmer’s markets, we both like to “vacation” shop. Without planning or even discussing it much, our rhythm prevailed we both had our needs happily met.

We’re flexible.

I was delighted when Arthur suggested, despite other plans, that we wait 90 minutes for seats at our favorite restaurant – the one we had eaten at the night before. We walked the boardwalk and watched the whales while we waited.

We understand one another.

This one comes from so many years together of course – yet I think we forget when our lives are stressful or just too full. We know when to take words literally and when to laugh them off. We know when the other needs help. We know how to touch each other’s heart. We did all of these things this past weekend, because we had the quiet presence in which to do so. That one thing alone was priceless.

What “little things” will you one day look back and treasure? Acknowledge them now, and suddenly they become very, very big.

“Circa 1990. We were such kids.”

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