Rushed

Although Andrea originally wrote this blog during her July 2014 vacation, we think now is a great time to slow down, and practice deliberate assessment of our need for speed as we dash into the holiday flurry!

by Andrea Chilcote

I’ve been rushing a lot lately, even when there’s been no compelling need to. Given that I’ve spent 10 of the last 14 days on vacation, rushing might just be a bad habit.

When I looked up the synonyms for “rush,” I found many words that describe my demeanor. While I can’t say I’ve used all of these words, they sure describe many of my actions: hurry, dash, run, race, sprint, bolt, dart, fly, speed, zoom, scurry, scuttle, scamper, hasten, tear, belt, pelt, scoot, zip, hotfoot it, hightail it

This “problem” came into my awareness precisely because I was on vacation. From the first day, I questioned why I still felt stress, even though I was supposedly free to relax and enjoy. The very first thing I noticed was my language.

“I’ll hurry and shower (or eat, dress, pack – fill in the blank).”

“Let’s dash over there.”

“Speed up!

And I noticed other’s responses:

“There’s no hurry Andrea. Enjoy your lunch.”

“Take your time.”

“Relax. What’s the rush?”

But… did they mean it? Seriously, it’s easy for others to say “relax,” until my pace encroaches on their expectations. Did it?

Analyzing further, I realized that of late I have two speeds, high and off. Off is usually reserved for sleep. High is for everything else, and not everything requires that amount of energy expenditure. And, it sure depletes the enjoyment of simple pleasures.

Have you also experienced this? If you have a habit of pedal-to-the-metal and jackrabbit starts (and I’m not just talking about driving), what are the costs? Are you, like me, burning precious fuel?

Yesterday I began a deliberate practice of assessing my need for speed. In the last 24 hours, I have had more productive conversations and more presence. I’ve enjoyed small rewards from a slower pace, and I’m sure breathing more freely. (Oh, and I’ve still gotten a ton done).

Andrea and Whisper —Cambria, CA 2017

It’s a bit bittersweet that I didn’t embrace this lesson a week ago, while the ocean breezes blew. But I can wait for another vacation, or I can consciously embrace a variable speed commensurate with what’s required. It sounds inviting – I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Rushed originally written July 17, 2014]

Raveling

Andrea ChilcoteIn anticipation of the holiday season, we thought we would share Andrea’s ‘Raveling’ metaphor from 2013. While it’s a bit early yet, here’s a reminder to give yourself ample time to focus and reflect alongside the flurry of upcoming activities that will lead you into 2018.

by Andrea Chilcote

It was early evening on a Friday night. I replied to an email from a client, stating that I had been traveling all week and would get her what she was requesting on Monday. Shortly after hitting send, I glanced at the preview pane and noticed a typo. I had told her I had been “raveling” all week.


Raveling. Fraying. Becoming separated from the woven fabric. The truth is, I felt as if I had been slowly raveling all week, but it didn’t feel so bad. The threads of this year 2013 had been making themselves visible as lone fibers.

 

Still, the word bothered me – until I found this anonymous comment on Yahoo! answers.

“When a thread is loose, as in a novel or something complex, it’s isolated and lets you see how it works. In this case it’s good; it clarifies things. But if a loose thread leads to a tangled mess, say, in a shoelace or sweater, it complicates and confuses everything.”

I was (and still am) slowly unwinding, parsing out the priorities for the remainder of the year, looking back only to see where they fit in with the commitments that mattered, and looking ahead to determine which threads to weave and which to snip.

Oddly, that same evening my metaphor played out in an interaction with an airport store clerk. As I was hurriedly paying for my purchase, he asked: “Would you like me to clip that for you?”

“Clip what?” I replied, knowing that there were no tags attached to my water purchase.

“The string on your coat,” he said, pointing to a loose thread hanging from my sleeve.

“Sure,” I said. I handed him my arm and he neatly snipped the rogue strand of fiber.

Loose threads lead to tangled messes only when they ravel unattended. And it’s so easy to allow the many loose ends of the busy holiday season, year-end duties and 2018 plans to become a confused flurry of unfocused activities.

We have a choice. We can examine the tapestries we’ve woven and leave them to rest in their simple perfection, or snip the loose threads. We can decide what colors and fibers we’ll use to weave the art of 2018.

For me, the next two weeks will be a time of reflection, a time to ravel and examine, untangle and clarify. I’m looking forward to the peace of it. —[Originally written 20-DEC-2013]

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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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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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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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Relating to Ourselves: Who Are You – Part III

How well do you know yourself? Here’s Part III of Andrea’s re-blog, Relating to Ourselves: Who Are You, a timely nudge to delve inside yourself to know and love the uniqueness that is you. 

Andrea Chilcote; Relating to Ourselves

By Andrea Chilcote

Want to know how to get what you need from the relationships you value in life? Know what you need. And, knowing what you need is a result of knowing who you are.

In my experience, an essential price of admission for healthy, satisfying relationships with others is a clear and grounded sense of self. I’m not talking about self-indulgence or selfishness – I’m referring to the settled sense that comes from knowing and loving the uniqueness that is you.

As a coach, I utilize instruments that help me quickly (and painlessly) assess clients’ core drivers, productive behaviors and the consequences of unmet needs. When revealing the results of these assessment tools, I’m sometimes met by a distinct response, a bewildered astonishment that I could reveal aspects of their personality so carefully hidden away. Often they themselves had not consciously considered these traits, but when faced with the data, they have a whole new world of choices. Recently I met with a new client over dinner to review the information I had compiled, a combination of feedback from others and her Birkman Report. At the end of the evening, she remarked: “Well it was very enlightening to have dinner with someone who knows me better than I know myself.”

Andrea Chilcote, Character ValuesWhile these tools are quite helpful, the fact is you don’t need a report to tell you who you are. You know when you are your best, most productive self. You know the activities and people from whom you gain energy vs. being depleted. You know what makes you feel most alive.

Do you let your true self be known in your day-to-day interactions with significant others? Is there some aspect of your personality – some core need you have – that’s hidden away? There’s a cost to holding back. At a minimum, when we don’t acknowledge and reveal who we are and what we need, we miss the most basic satisfaction in life. At worst, we find ourselves entangled in personal and professional relationships that can be destructive to body or psyche.

So, what is it that you need from a key relationship in your life? Take responsibility by naming it, then examine what you are doing (or not) to nurture that quality. A relationship is a product of the interaction of two parts. Changing your awareness alone can shift everything. My client has managed to change the perception of her work team by revealing herself in day-to-day interactions. What can you do to show up as who you are?

Andrea Chilcote


Revisit parts one and two of the Relating to Ourselves blog series:   

Relating to Ourselves: Putting Self First – Part I
Relating to Ourselves: The Need for Renewal – Part II

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