“When the path is blocked, back up and see more of the way.”

“When the path is blocked, back up and see more of the way.”

—Mark Nepo, Author of The Book of Awakening

Image from Unsplash by Mike Cox

How familiar are you with the game of golf? To make courses more difficult, golf architects do numerous nefarious things to challenge and often frustrate both the weekend warrior and even the pros. Beyond making a course longer, various types of obstacles are built into most holes to make putting that little ball in the hole more difficult.

Of all the obstacles that cause the most consternation is the sand trap, which is now referred to as a bunker for political correctness.

Sometimes upon entering one, our ball lies so close to the lip that forward movement with the next shot is impossible. In such circumstances the player must step back from the situation to realize the only path forward is to hit the ball sideways, backwards, or even go back to the tee and accept a penalty stroke.

EXERCISE:

Where are your paths blocked in either your personal or professional life?  How would stepping back from these situations help you see your way forward more clearly?

Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life

“Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.”

—Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher and writer

Image from Unsplash by Robert Tjalondo

Next August Wendy and I are planning an extended vacation to Alaska and northern Canada with some close friends. Among our various excursions is a dog-sled outing which has gotten rave reviews.

Getting around these areas in winter usually involves snow machines, dog sleds, or snow shoes — especially if you live outside a city. Even with all of their modern shock absorbing technology, snow machines with their many plastic and metal parts seem to have a good many mechanical problems compared to the softer, more yielding materials made by nature.

EXERCISE:

Where in your life has being soft and yielding versus hard and stiff helped you prevail?  What does being a disciple of life mean to you?

Please reply to this post with your thoughts.

“You are the laboratory and every day is an experiment. Go and find what is new and unexpected.”

“You are the laboratory and every day is an experiment. Go and find what is new and unexpected.”

—Joel Elkes, 20th Century father of neuropsychopharmacology

Image from Unsplash by NASA

How often do you feel bored? How have your daily habits and rituals caused you to feel stalled or stopped? Where have you entered a form of hibernation, penned up in your den, waiting for some better day to emerge?

In winter, many of us simply hunker down to wait out the cold, dark days. We often seek out comfort foods and warm blankets until the coast is clear to come out into the newness offered by mother nature’s unfolding of spring.

Imagine you had the opportunity to spend the winter months on the international space station where every moment counts. Instead of sleeping in, you would enter the laboratory of your days to conduct various experiments to unearth new possibilities and discoveries.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you add more experimentation to your days? How can and will you use your precious time to discover something new and unexpected today?

Notice your internal playlist

Notice your internal playlist.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Mohammad Metri

The moment we wake up it starts. Our inner voice begins and won’t stop until an undetermined time after our heads hit our pillows. If you — like many people — experience insomnia from time to time, the pause or stop button can be most elusive.

EXERCISE:

What thoughts have you been playing on repeat lately? What pivoting strategies can you apply given this awareness? How can you shift your playlist to one that soothes and serves?

“Notice if you are watching what is happening or if you are a part of it.”

“Notice if you are watching what is happening or if you are a part of it.”

—Mark Nepo, Author of The Book of Awakening

Image from Unsplash by Bruce Lee

When my children were young, we took them to a local farm and adopted two cats. We named them Oreo and Cookie due to their black and white fur patterns. Their primary residence in our home was our spacious sun room where they could watch the birds, squirrels, and other creatures from their beds or favorite cushioned chairs.

The only time they left our home was to visit the vet, which involved placing them reluctantly in carriers, which they hated. Just the sight of these prisons caused them all kinds of distress and to lose clumps of fur.

The decision to have indoor cats was for our convenience, and we did our best to provide lots of attention and kitty toys to entertain them. Having each other for company helped us also feel better about this decision.

EXERCISE:

To what degree are you engaged in an indoor life of watching? How and in what ways can you move out from the windows and screens of your world to be more “out and about” with others in your various communities?

“We need to stay current with each other.”

“We need to stay current with each other.”

—Angeles Arrien, PhD, late Basque-American cultural anthropologist

Image from Unsplash by Aleksey Oryshckenko

I hope you had a happy holiday and the chance to safely be with family and friends. Catching up with those you love is a great bonus to the food, drink — and of course — your favorite sporting events and binge-watching interests.

How many holiday cards did you send and receive? How many of these well-wishing cards had photos of families with kids growing like weeds or even a separate insert with the highlights of the past year?

Staying current with our close and extended communities has been considerably more difficult due to Covid. Even with texting, e-mail, and video chats, many of us still feel isolated and alone.

EXERCISE:

What efforts can and will you make this year to remain current with the people you care about the most? Who could your reach out to today that you may have missed over the holidays?

“Our authenticity is tied to what is de-pressed and what is ex-pressed.”

“Our authenticity is tied to what is de-pressed and what is ex-pressed.”

—Mark Nepo, Author of The Book of Awakening

Image from Unsplash by Benjamin Williams

If you are a consistent reader of The Quotable Coach you know by now that I am a big fan of Mark Nepo. As a poet and a student of life he beautifully says things that almost always touch my heart and soul.

I have found his authentic courage to speak his truth to be a doorway to places within me I didn’t even know were locked.

De-pressing many emotions over the years seemed like a good strategy to protect myself and avoid potential judgement and pain I might encounter. My introverted tendencies and living a somewhat quiet life certainly have an upside, however I have discovered that they also incur numerous costs.

A recent blog post by Chip Conley pointed out that self-expression and living out loud as we age is a primary reason for increased happiness.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently hiding or de-pressing aspects of yourself?  How can and will
ex-pressing some of these parts of you lead you toward a more authentic and happier life?

Please consider reading the work of Brené Brown. Her books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly are two of my favorites.

“The best things in life are not things.”

“The best things in life are not things.”

—Attributed to Art Buchwald, 20th Century American Humorist

When was the last time you moved or downsized your apartment or home? What was it like to consider all of your possessions and what it took to move things to their new location?

What were the items that were easy to discard as junk? What items did you have no need for and were easily given away or donated? What items did you sell or at least try to sell to perhaps defray some moving costs?

What things held a special place in your heart that didn’t have a home to go to given the limited space in your new abode?

What storage strategies did you employ given some difficulty making the decision to release things back into the world?

EXERCISE:

What excess possessions can and will you release back into the world in the new year? Consider going room to room and making a list, shooting for one item (big or small) each week.