Intuition’s Subtle Nudge

Andrea Chilcote, Erik's Hope This is an everyday story that’s not “important” on the surface. But I’m sharing it for one very important reason: Life’s big lessons often come to me in very subtle ways. I bet the same is true for you.

The following true story took place one year ago. It’s about trusting (or not) my intuition. It’s about how my thoughts create my reality, and how the energy of negativity and annoyance beget more of the same.

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I was actually looking forward to my hotel stay on Monday night. It turns out that the hotel my client suggested was the same one in which I stayed three years ago with my two good friends and my precious pup Kairos, when we drove him across the country at seven weeks of age. When I think of that time and trip, my sweetest memory is snuggling with him that first night together, and getting up every two hours to ride the elevator downstairs to take him outside. Returning to that special place and remembering that special trip would be a small pleasure.

When I arrived in Dallas and retrieved my rental car, I asked Siri to route me to the Embassy Suites DFW airport. I could have looked up the address on the detailed itinerary Laura always provides – but I was unaware that there happened to be two of these hotels, one north of and one south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, so I didn’t bother to check it. When Siri asked me to choose from a list of several, I quickly decided on the south location. Even though my choice was quick, I felt a strange incongruence, but the address looked right. In another century (the 1980’s), I worked for the company that owned this property and I visited it frequently – so the address probably struck a chord on some level. At the same time, I lingered a second or two extra on the second location listed, as it brought a memory too – a fleeting but sweet one. Why hadn’t I checked my itinerary?

My mistake was revealed when I tried to check in, and the clerk found no reservation. I briefly entertained leaving for the correct hotel, but the clerk grudgingly offered to change my reservation. The other hotel was 11 miles away and it was after 11 pm. I stayed put, though once again I felt a subtle yet clear “no.” His haughty attitude was contagious. But why didn’t I choose peace, even if it meant driving another 11 miles?

When I reached my room, it was obvious that this was not the hotel where Kairos, Suzanne, Barbara and I stayed. The decor was dark and dreary – reflective of the “other century” when it was in its heyday. More importantly, the AC was set on 65 – and was blowing – but hot. That should have been my third clue that I was in the wrong place, but now I was even more determined to settle in and get some sleep.

The front desk manager found me a cooler but still not completely comfortable room. I shared my displeasure with him, to which he just replied, “It’s been a long day.” I unpacked and went to bed.

I don’t recall the exact dream I had, but I kept hearing an annoying sound that I tried to quiet but could not. In the dream state, I must have thought I had remedied the problem but as these kinds of dreams go, I could not. Eventually it penetrated my consciousness sufficiently enough to fully wake me. At 3:30 am, I discovered the smoke detector chirping. You’ve heard it, the sound they make when the battery needs to be replaced. Were my subtle signals getting louder?

The unit was within reach. I dragged a chair below it, climbed up and removed the battery. It kept chirping. Hotel staff came and removed the unit.

After that, it felt as though I didn’t sleep at all until my 6 am alarm, but my recollection of odd travel-style dreams confirmed I had. (I dreamed a tedious script that included plans for shower order, timing of breakfast and walking of the dogs, one that was clearly a dream but closely enough related to my actual experience that I questioned the amount of rest I had obtained).

As if all of this was not enough, I had a disturbing encounter when I went downstairs for coffee just after waking. Recalling it now, it seems surreal after the night of interrupted sleep and odd dreams. At the coffee dispenser, another hotel guest made a jaw-dropping remark (to me) about a man at the breakfast bar who he presumed was Muslim. To my disappointment, he joined me on the elevator and unbelievably, despite my dismissal, he continued bantering about his fear of the “enemy.”

After battling heavy traffic to get to my morning destination, I decided that I would go to the trouble of moving to the originally intended hotel. There was nothing inherently bad about the one I left – but its mojo and mine were surely not aligned.

Andrea and Kairos ChilcoteI had to smile as I entered my room in the second hotel – I did recall that sweet memory of a fun trip and the joy of my new pup. And I slept comfortably, without waking even once.

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While my minor travel inconveniences are unimportant in the larger scheme of things, how many subtle signals are we dismissing about the things that really matter? How many chain reactions are we igniting with our thoughts, thoughts that seem inconsequential but are far from that as they impact each next step we take?

The energy field in which we operate is objective. It does not judge the gravity of consequences. It just operates in a reliable manner. It supports our intentions – positive or negative – but we have to listen.

My friend Debbie says the inner voice gets louder and more persistent the more we allow it and give it power. I’m grateful for this subtle voice, and respectful of the awesome power of the energy my intentional thoughts create.

Almost Labor Day

Aside

IMG_6999

Cool
Rocks
connected to earth
Wet

Feeling
Air – Air! – Breathe
peace
slow
Warm Sun

Beauty.
Connection.

My People
My Place
My Pack

Peace, pace
Kindness.
Satisfaction.

Home

Andrea Chilcote, Kairos Chilcote, Cave CreekArizona is just beginning to grow hot right now, but it is where I belong. It is where I find peace and refuge. Join me as I reflect back to the beauty of the dwelling I call home (June 2013).

 by Andrea Chilcote

I am on my way home. Heading across the country at 34,000 feet, destined for one of the warmest areas on our continent. Arizona is hot right now, but it is where I belong. It is where I find peace and refuge. There’s nowhere I would rather be tonight, even with tomorrow’s forecast high of 118 degrees. This night, I focus on my relationship with my home.

Often I wonder what makes one connect with a certain environment, culture or terrain. For some, it’s the place where they were born and raised, the mother anchor that, regardless of the journey traveled, feels like the only safe womb on the planet. But there are others who, like me, chose an adopted home.

I grew up in the Midwest, in a small town near (but not a part of) prairie farmlands. As a child I held a strong vision of moving west, even though I never traveled more than 30 miles from home until my late teens. My longing to be in the West was certainly influenced by the dreams of my Dad, who also had not traveled far except while he was a youth in the military. He suffered greatly from arthritis and longed to live where it was warm. The sad irony is that I was able to finally visit Arizona in his last year of life, and I moved there shortly after he passed away. In the many  years since then, I’ve traveled enough to know where I’m most at peace. My desert, my home.

Of course, one’s choice of home has much to do with the people who inhabit it. My beloved husband and dogs are waiting for me tonight, and my friends are surely ready to re-engage in our happy routines. Yet there is more to this. The place itself carries a resonance that is palpable and real.

Where or what is your home? Whether or not you are there right now, feel it’s cocoon, its blanket, or its invitation. Consider your own relationship with the beauty of the dwelling place that calls you, as Arizona’s splendor calls me.

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

The Personal Plus of Positive Intent

Intent Final

by Andrea Chilcote

As an observer of human behavior – sometimes student and sometimes teacher – I marvel at the fact that there are so many simple and reliable tools for making relationships of all kinds easier. Even when aware of these tools, we so often fail to employ them in the very circumstances that count.

One example is a simple mental model called “positive intent.” I’ve been working to assume positive intent quite a bit these days, as a way to ease the stresses and frustrations of a busy life. It’s so easy to become irritated by others’ supposed shortcomings or to take personally the minor transgressions seemingly committed on purpose to make life difficult. The principle of positive intent requires us to ask one simple question prior to judging, assuming motive for, or reacting to another person’s behavior.

“What possible, positive reason does he or she have for doing or saying that?”

It doesn’t matter what the answer is. The very moment you have an answer, no matter how preposterous it seems, something shifts. Something very big.

There’s a well-known illustration of the principle in Stephen Covey’s blockbuster title, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In short, as a passenger in a crowded subway, Covey becomes irritated at a father who is not disciplining his unruly children. When he gathers the courage to ask the man to intervene, the father tells him they are all returning from the hospital where their mother (his wife), has just died. Covey experiences an instantaneous paradigm shift. Suddenly his irritation pales in comparison to the man’s grief.

The truth of positive intent is one of the toughest things for our egos to swallow. Yet once we assume there might be a reason for another’s behavior that, while perhaps misguided, to them makes some kind of sense, we are then free. Free of being violated, persecuted or even mildly disrespected, suddenly, our thoughts and feelings are independent of the influence of others’ actions. What a break this gives us, in a world in which we are bombarded by input, some welcome and some not.

We can all assume positive intent in daily interactions with everyone from strangers to casual acquaintances. The benefit is a bit less stress, a tad more peace in our hearts. Can you assume positive intent in the most challenging of your relationships? There lies an opportunity that just might transform those relationships. When we think differently, we act differently. When we act differently, others re-act in new ways. Pat your ego gently on the shoulder and try something new – you might reap a surprising reward.

Choose Peace

Peace 5Today I’m reminded of a post I made nearly a year ago, just after the Boston Marathon bombing. I wrote of how our polarized differences lead to senseless violence, and offered a plea to “choose peace.”

The topic is on my mind this day after a fortunate veto by our governor of senate bill 1062, which proposed to give businesses the right to actively discriminate against AZ citizens in the name of religious beliefs. While there was no physical violence involved, the fear and hatred that drives these kinds of proposals is violence too – and in my view, the antithesis of what religion purports to represent.

The message, choose peace, is timely as Arizona seeks to heal.

by Andrea Chilcote

One of the things I do is help people find common ground even when they are, at their core, very different. The differences can be a result of social, political, or religious viewpoints or they can be hardwired as personality traits. It’s my belief that this diversity is an asset when its respected and welcomed, and it is a barrier to peace, progress, and productivity when it is not embraced. Of course, there’s no shortage of work to be done.

On the day of the Boston bombings, a friend wrote on his Facebook page of his dismay that while he grew up in a gray world, it appears we have become so “black and white” in our mindsets. He lamented the absence of compromise and tolerance.

As I read his post and watched the news, I thought about the core need we have to be with those of like mind and heart. It’s no secret that we seek and are more at ease with those who share our interests and views. There’s something very comforting to me about spending time with cherished old friends with common goals, and I’m invigorated in work and in life by those with whom I share values and beliefs. This week I have enjoyed both immensely, and I treasure the experiences.

For me, this human need for connection with those like us has never appeared to be in conflict with tolerance. While of course I have no idea of the true motive of the bombing perpetrators, the events of the week, my friend’s post and my own daily observations have me wondering to myself whether the pendulum has swung. Those who have crossed over the line engage in outright violence. But I see many others so bereft of connection that they lash out in insidious violence, not that which is illegal or life-threatening, but violent still. Are we becoming so polarized that we cannot consider compromise or commonality of any sort? For healthy individuals, blatant condemnation is a choice.

I challenge you to a practice I intend to embrace this week. Practice peace.

I know it sounds cliché. Yet cliché results from empty words. Practice requires action, however small the step. I vow to hold my tongue when a criticism arises. Take a breath when I’m impatient. Ask a question before I draw a firm conclusion.

We feel powerless when large scale violence occurs around us. Choice is powerful. We can take back our power moment by moment, simply by choosing peace.

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Is It Better To Be Right or Kind?

Andrea Chilcote

With Valentine’s 2014 on the horizon this week, are you seeing yourself and your life experiences (and perhaps another’s) from a heart-centered perspective? Below, Andrea explores life’s challenges from a heart-lens perspective and asks you to consider how you choose to respond.

by Andrea Chilcote

This week, I’m reminded of the question, “Is it better to be right or kind?”

There are versions of this question. A client reminded me of one several years ago, as she was experiencing a conflict at work. She asked herself out loud: “Is better to be right or effective?”—and concluded that while the ego may beg to differ, “effective” was the only path in that situation.

Think about a time you were sure you were right about something large or small, but another person (or group), held an opposite view. I’m not talking about politics, religion or the stuff of conversational debates. I’m talking about taking a personal stand on a perceived injustice or criticism, someone else’s way of doing something, or any irritation that irks you in the moment but is insignificant with perspective.

I have one. Yesterday I felt compelled to express annoyance to my husband for changing virtually every setting in my car’s XM Radio. His response was that I had given him the wrong instructions for finding the channel he was seeking.

At first, I presented the logical argument. My instructions were “right,” and I had evidence in the text message explaining the step-by-step process. (Not to mention I was the one offering help for which he should have been grateful!) But something possessed me to stop, fortunately, and spend three minutes correcting the set-up.

Why is this so hard? At least part of the reason is that we have difficulty discerning between the things we can change by taking a stand, and the things that don’t matter. And, defending the things that don’t matter actually does matter in that we make mountains out of mole hills, as my Dad used to say.

It all matters to our ego. So we have to check in with our logical, objective-thinking self and ask: “Can I influence change here?” If the answer is no, stop. Influence rarely occurs as a result of telling (absent asking), and that’s especially true when telling involves making the other person wrong.

We also need to check in with our heart. Some motivation or unmet need on the part of the other person is driving whatever is making us crazy. Through a heart lens we see this, and the choice to be kind becomes viable.

As you choose your responses to life’s challenges over the next several days, consider these questions:

• Can I influence change (or will my response serve only to inflame)?
• What choice will bring peace to my heart (and perhaps another’s)?
• How can I be kind to myself (and thus spread the resonance of kindness)?

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

A Gift of Peace

 What do I most want for Christmas? What I really want is peace.

A Gift of Peaceby Andrea Chilcote

What do I most want for Christmas? What I really want is peace. Peace. The Encarta dictionary tells me peace is “freedom from war.” Okay, that’s what I want, and I want more. It goes on to define peace as “tranquility, mental calm and harmony.” Ahhh. That’s it, that’s it.

And even as I write this wish, I know that peace is not something to seek. It is a gift that I (and all of you) already possess. It is a state of being available to us at any time we are willing to silent our worries, judgments and fears, and remain present to the wonders contained in the moment at hand.

this very moment by Andrea ChilcoteEarlier this week I received a message from a colleague thanking me for the gift of my latest book, This Very Moment, a photo-journal style collection of posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman blog. She told me that she had experienced a tough day, was uncharacteristically stressed and filled with negativity, and been unable to sleep. She opened the book in the middle of the night. Just a few simple reminders to become present to the feelings of her heart vs. out-of-control left brain analysis allowed her to sleep soundly and awake rested. At peace, in fact.

The ever-centered Dalai Lama says: “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” I know this is true, and so do you.

In the last several months, I have been hyper-aware of the effect of my energy – my thoughts, feelings and behaviors – on others around me. While I am far from the state of mastery of peace in every thought and action, awareness is the first step. With it, I am able to make a conscious choice to breathe then smile at the over-tired sales clerk, or relax as I talk to the scripted customer service representative. Yesterday I even found myself removing the irritated tone from my voice as I “spoke with” the automated airline reservation system. I know she’s not “real” – but I am, and it’s me who I harm with these feelings of annoyance. It’s my “peace” that gets disturbed.

Peace (or any other positive state of being you seek) will not be found in a package to open. This gift resides in each of our hearts. Open your heart this holiday season and I bet you’ll find it there.

This post appeared originally last-year December on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.