staythecourse

Why I Need a Word for the Year

My word for the year is more of a phrase…probably even more of a mission statement.  Back in January I chose, ‘Stay-the-Course’.  It serves as a compass that orients me and keeps me pointed in the right direction.  Now that it is September, January is a distant memory and I wonder on the impact of this word. 

 

Stay-the-Course in what?!?
Where have I Stayed-the-Course over the year? 

What does it mean to Stay-the-Course in my marriage?
With my kids?  In my work relationships?  With my family?
With my friends? 


I am learning what it means to truly invest in meaningful relationships.  What needs to be said.  What needs to be forgiven.  What needs to be learned.  What needs to be offered grace.  What simply just needs to be enjoyed.  In choosing my word/phrase for the year, I didn’t know where I would need it or how it would play out.  But ‘Staying-the-Course’ significantly influenced who I am and who I am choosing to become in these areas:

  • Loving extravagantly
  • Trusting steadily
  • Hoping unswervingly

 staythecourse

I wish I could say I have always done it well, but alas… (just ask those who have the pleasure of living with me).  However, this focus has served me well for 2016 and supported me in living my journey with more clarity.  It has forced me to evaluate my authentic presence.  Will those I proclaim to care about truly experience me loving well, trusting steadily, and hoping unswervingly?  I hope so.  Being completely honest, am I offering the full presence of who I am or am I holding back?  (Yep, I have a tendency to hold back just to avoid the effort and the work required to step into a relationship…can anyone relate?)

Saying goodbye to my father this past year has offered new perspective.  Life is fast…life is fragile…and life is short.  We need clarity on what grounds us and holds us accountable in living our fast, fragile, short lives.  It is grounding to hold a value in front of us and remember that we too will pass one day.  How will we leave the relationships we have loved?  Experiencing the death of a loved one and entering into the second half of my life is forcing me to take stock of what really matters.  For me, it has all come down to relationships.  Yes, this focus has certainly revealed limitations and growth areas (sometimes painfully so)…but it has also grown my clarity on core values and made it all worth it.

My challenge:  Stay-the-Course on who you are choosing to become and what you value.  In the end, I believe it all comes down to a faithful consistent presence in how we relate to people….the new relationships and the old. 


Let’s step into Fall with Clarity….Confidence…and Courage, my friends.  If you haven’t chosen your word or phrase it’s not too late.  Grab onto what anchors you and keeps you moving steadily in the right direction.

 My heart is with you and for you,

wish I could say I have always done it well, but alas… (just ask those who have the pleasure of living with me).  However, this focus has served me well for 2016 and supported me in living my journey with more clarity.  It has forced me to evaluate my authentic presence.  Will those I proclaim to care about truly experience me loving well, trusting steadily, and hoping unswervingly?  I hope so.  Being completely honest, am I offering the full presence of who I am or am I holding back?  (Yep, I have a tendency to hold back just to avoid the effort and the work required to step into a relationship…can anyone relate?)

Saying goodbye to my father this past year has offered new perspective.  Life is fast…life is fragile…and life is short.  We need clarity on what grounds us and holds us accountable in living our fast, fragile, short lives.  It is grounding to hold a value in front of us and remember that we too will pass one day.  How will we leave the relationships we have loved?  Experiencing the death of a loved one and entering into the second half of my life is forcing me to take stock of what really matters.  For me, it has all come down to relationships.  Yes, this focus has certainly revealed limitations and growth areas (sometimes painfully so)…but it has also grown my clarity on core values and made it all worth it.

My challenge:  Stay-the-Course on who you are choosing to become and what you value.  In the end, I believe it all comes down to a faithful consistent presence in how we relate to people….the new relationships and the old. 


Let’s step into Fall with Clarity….Confidence…and Courage, my friends.  If you haven’t chosen your word or phrase it’s not too late.  Grab onto what anchors you and keeps you moving steadily in the right direction.

 My heart is with you and for you,

I wish I could say I have always done it well, but alas… (just ask those who have the pleasure of living with me).  However, this focus has served me well for 2016 and supported me in living my journey with more clarity.  It has forced me to evaluate my authentic presence.  Will those I proclaim to care about truly experience me loving well, trusting steadily, and hoping unswervingly?  I hope so.  Being completely honest, am I offering the full presence of who I am or am I holding back?  (Yep, I have a tendency to hold back just to avoid the effort and the work required to step into a relationship…can anyone relate?)

Saying goodbye to my father this past year has offered new perspective.  Life is fast…life is fragile…and life is short.  We need clarity on what grounds us and holds us accountable in living our fast, fragile, short lives.  It is grounding to hold a value in front of us and remember that we too will pass one day.  How will we leave the relationships we have loved?  Experiencing the death of a loved one and entering into the second half of my life is forcing me to take stock of what really matters.  For me, it has all come down to relationships.  Yes, this focus has certainly revealed limitations and growth areas (sometimes painfully so)…but it has also grown my clarity on core values and made it all worth it.

My challenge:  Stay-the-Course on who you are choosing to become and what you value.  In the end, I believe it all comes down to a faithful consistent presence in how we relate to people….the new relationships and the old. 


Let’s step into Fall with Clarity….Confidence…and Courage, my friends.  If you haven’t chosen your word or phrase it’s not too late.  Grab onto what anchors you and keeps you moving steadily in the right direction.

 My heart is with you and for you,

Heather

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Clarity Process

My Clarity Journey During Transition

Transitioning. Life never stays static, does it? I was in the middle of shifting into new directions. Reaching mid-life brought new questions and the desire for new possibilities. The only problem was….What? How? When? I knew I wanted a career change that aligned with my experience, gifts and passion, but I couldn’t define it clearly.

Working with a coach for over a year taught me to be ‘still’ long enough to trust my inner voice. I heard what I truly wanted and my desire to transition from the field of education into one of coaching, speaking & writing. But in all honesty, I feared I had the courage to make this shift. Where do I start? How do I go about it? Who will be my clientele? What is my mission? How does this align with my purpose? Where will this career path take me for the second half of my life? Will I be successful? I floundered and restlessly waited in a cloud of questions. I needed more clarity.

This is where I was in life when I developed The Clarity Process. Developing this theoretical model helped anchor me during the flood of emotions and options that can overwhelm us during the onset of transitioning. I craved order. When things are shifting and changing both in and around me, I needed to be able to understand…to classify…& to confirm. Hence the birth of The Clarity Process. I discovered that when I committed to the four stages of this process: REST, BELIEFS, FAITH, & ACTION, my clarity increased and the path became clearer.

Now, certainly life is never quite this linear, but in hindsight the path is always clearer, right? Looking back, I can see how The Clarity Process served me well. However, I will admit, that this takes work and daily intentionality in the middle of unsure outcomes and new possibilities. But when I feel stuck, I still use this process by first resting and letting myself listen in on my inner dialogue, checking my beliefs, engaging my faith, and then setting my course of action. My clarity grows rather than my confusion and with this, my confidence increases.

So, this is the back-story about how The Clarity Process was developed. Join the team and me at Arise & Be as we step into this conversation together for our 6-week E-course. See you in the Courseroom!

My heart is with you and for you,

Heather

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IMG_5898

Hitting the Summer Refresh Button: 3 ReaSons to PLaY HaRd!

How do we show up well in our relationships?  The most essential intention we can activate is learning the art of checking in with our heart.  Many of us must resist the urge to live ‘yanking our hearts around by the bootstraps’ and pushing through life on an adrenaline rush.  (….She says with 3 fingers pointing back….).

Summertime has become my time to slow down and hit the refresh button….

and playtime is essential to my heart.

IMG_5897 Play1 Play2 Play3 IMG_5898 IMG_5899

That’s what the Summer is about in the Penny household.  From vacations that include camping, exotic trips, and new adventures….to firework shows, BBQs, pool parties with friends, and Friday Family Fun Nite….we are being intentional about playing.

So, here’s what I experience as I take the time to play and give myself permission to deviate from the daily grind….

  1. Creativity flows
  2. Relationships flourish
  3. New perspective is gained

Isn’t it worth it?!?  For someone who likes to be productive and see high results, it has been inspiring to see the impact of Summer Playtime.

Taking the time to slow down and check in with one another in fun ways creates new space for higher levels of connection and intimacy.   This is why Summer has become my “refresh button”.

I get to check in with the state of my heart, which in turn allows me to honor my relationships better.   I want to offer my best as a mother, educator, wife, coach, sister, daughter, and friend.

So what’s your story?   How are you playing hard this Summer?  And what are you experiencing as you hit your own Summer refresh button?

My heart is with you and FOR you….Play on!!!

~Heather

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offer

Is your life your own?

3 Ways to Offer our Life Story Well

In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer talks about his noble ambitions to live up to a high standard by observing great lives and emulating the loftiest of ideals.  However, in his quest to achieve a high standard of living, he realized how false his life began to feel. In his words he had “simply found a noble way to live a life that was not my own, a life spent imitating heroes instead of listening to my heart.”

What does it mean to listen to our own hearts and live the life that only we are meant to live?

1-We take the time to pull away and listen to the whispers of our hearts.  

What is important to me?  How am I aligning my time and resources to listen to my heart well?  

2-We honor all that we have lived and anticipate more story yet to be written.

How do I honor my failings and my successes?  How do I get to use what I have lived to finish writing my story well?  What is my best to offer the world?  What am I anticipating?

3-We OWN the responsibility of writing our life stories and intentionally offering it back.  Where do I need more support for the story I want to offer?  How do I want to finish well?  What is the legacy I want to leave?  How is Divine Love guiding my story?  What is blocking me?

Why is it so important to be intentional about writing our life stories well and offering it back?

Because just like our own unique fingerprints…so is the story for your life.  The world is waiting for you to show up and offer your story well.

I learned this life lesson well teaching in East L.A.  With a low socio-economic at-risk community of middle school children, I was hired to teach English.  As I learned to trust my intuition by incorporating the arts and integrating the right side of their brain to both soothe their spirit as well as energize their creative thinking, I watched the test scores go up.  I witnessed a population that had consistently failed begin to succeed at high rates.  What if I had passed over this position?  What if I had ignored my instinct to incorporate art?  What if I had dismissed the whispers of my heart to find creative ways to support the journey of these children?

We each have the joy of living fully present with our lives to offer the story that only we can offer.

My heart is with you and for you as you step nobly into your story and offer it to our world, Heather

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loving

4 Truths for Loving Your Man Well

Dear Friends –

With this being the season of love and celebrating Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write about loving our men well. However…..huge disclaimer….

Please don’t mistake my desire to discuss this topic as any sort of declaration that I have the answers.  Quite the opposite actually.  I wanted to give attention to this because after 21 years of marriage and befriending my man for over 23 years…I have been asking this question over and over…”What does it mean to love my husband well?”

I think it was about 5 years into my marriage that it dawned on me how different our hearts were.  My realization went something like this….. “ohhh…he’s not like my women roommates in college…

hmmm…I guess I expected him to respond like my girlfriends…

geez…I wonder why we’re so different…?!?!?

I guess I should find out how he feels loved…

(more pondering….)

I give up…he’s so different!

Oh…here’s a thought…I’ll just go ask him…”

(It was probably around this time that I also picked up the book, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.)

 So, in the hopes of shedding some light on an area that can often be a mystery…

 I share my 4 Truths learned over the years about loving my man:

loving

 #1 – Let your Man be a Man.

I’m not even entirely sure what this means except I had to often remind myself that I had not married someone like me.  I had chosen to marry someone who had different qualities and unique ways of looking at the world.  Did I really want to change him just to make myself feel better?  I decided I’d rather spend my energy getting to know him and understand him.  As I let go of expecting him to respond in the ways I would respond, our trust grew and an openness developed between us that deepened our love and our friendship.

#2 – Use your power for good.

At the young age of 23, I didn’t realize how much power I held as his wife.  I don’t say this to diminish him or elevate myself in our relationship, but more as a confession in how sloppy I often was in my communication.  As his wife, my words held more weight than any other.  I began to learn how much my words could cut down, emasculate, and diminish.  As this sobering realization sunk in, I renewed my vow ‘to love and cherish him until death do us part’.  But how?  I wanted my words and my communication to be uplifting, clear, direct, lovingly truthful, but above all else I wanted him to feel SAFE in our relationship.  I’ll be honest, I had my work cut out for me.

Which leads me to my next truth…

#3 – Have the courage and the integrity to ask for truthful evaluations.

If I wanted my man to feel safe and loved in our relationship, I had to ask him how I was doing.  But most importantly, I had to learn how to hear the hard truth.  It’s not fun to hear how my actions hurt his heart or ripped it open…but it is necessary to feel the weight of it in order for bad habits to be broken and new ones established.  Learning how I had hurt my husband was hard, but it continues to be the strongest motivation for me choosing better patterns.  Allowing the reflection of myself in his eyes began to be a new habit for me.  The good news…as I changed in areas that had repeatedly hurt him, I also got to see how he responded when he felt deeply loved and valued by me.  Flowers, gifts, surprise trips…you get the picture.  :)

 Last…

 #4 Remember why you love him and do all you can to grow this love.

In my lifetime, I have only said vows to one person.  I intend to keep these vows…but I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into when I said them.  As my husband and I have ‘grown up’ together, we wanted to stay married, not through sheer determination and grit (although sometimes that is required), but through a growing love that aged like fine wine over the years.  Our shared commitment became a renewed effort to love and befriend each other as we aged.  On our mirror in our bedroom, we have this quote by Robert Browning, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be”.

Often our apologies end with….Sorry, Babe…I’ll be better when I’m older.  And I know that even as I am asking the question, “How do I love my man well?”  I know he is also asking, “How do I love my woman well?”  Choosing to love well really is just that….a choice…but well worth the effort.  What a sacred journey marriage has been for me…for us. To be in a relationship that honors this sacredness during the highs and the lows…in the beauty and in the mess…I believe we truly learn what it means to live wholeheartedly and show up for our best life.  I’m all in.

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enjoy

Am I Enjoying Life?

What a ride 2014 has been! With the launch of Arise&Be and the incredible growth we witnessed, I think of my word for the year — ENJOY — and I realized how during this incredible journey of stepping outside my comfort zone, I experienced joy like I never had before. I think of it like the roller coaster that terrifies you and thrills you all at the same time and even though you want it to be over…you find yourself back in line for another ride.

enjoy

I came to learn how joy has many faces…and being uncomfortable for the sake of creating a larger life to engage in an adventure of a lifetime…does bring joy.  Even when you’re risking like you’ve never done before.

More specifically, I witnessed how joy is manifested and how it can be so elusive…so unexpected…so unplanned…so surprisingly authentic.  Honestly, I’m still trying to understand my journey with ‘Enjoy’.    But what I observed most about joy was how it is often stolen…and how I allow it.

For instance, when I kept my focus on ‘What I am Doing versus Who I am Becoming’, I lost my compass and I’d find myself anxious, frustrated and restless.  It was easy to compare my achievements with others (which we all know zaps the very joy out of anything and conjures the green-eyed monster of jealousy) and I strived more with less results.

I found that as I switched my gaze toward ‘Who I am Becoming’ such as being a person who offers peace and love, it empowered me to return to my life path as it simultaneously engaged my compass for next steps.  I stepped into conversations better, declined invitations that didn’t align with my values, and initiated steps toward inspiring goals.  And I felt myself exhale with a ‘there you are, Heather’ sense of well-being.  Peace with myself and the life I was choosing was restored.

enjoy

As I end 2014, I realize I have only scratched the surface of enjoying life.  I want more.  So, for 2015, I’m engaging this word again with the phrase, PRECIOUS PRESENT, to remind me how staying fully present with my life keeps me enjoying what’s right in front of me.

My heart is for you as you engage more joy in your life for 2015.

With warm thoughts,
h

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heather

Arise & Be – The Story Behind its Beginning…

THE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM CHILDREN

We learn so much about who we are, how we view the world, and how we grown when working with children.  They teach us about spontaneous joy, uncontrollable laughter, and seizing the present moment. For this reason alone, I have always loved being a part of children’s lives.  We have boundless opportunities for learning and growth.  Children remind us of this.

But after years of teaching, I began to notice something else, they teach us when we stop believing in our power to be great and live courageous lives.  The older my students became, the more the dreams of becoming a professional dancer or a race car driver shifted to fears of not ‘being enough’ or  fear of ‘failing’.  Not being enough for what?  For who?  Failing in what?  Why all the pressure?  Where was it coming from?  These questions began to haunt me.

Grappling with reality and reconciling dreams is a process we all go through. It comes with the journey of ‘doing life’.  But with age, do we really need to believe less in who as we grow our inner critic that scoffs at the dreams we once had and the hope to accomplish great things?

After teaching young children in private schools, working with junior high at-risk students in East Los Angeles, training teachers in the jungles of Belize to break the cycle of poverty, and teaching educators at universities… I wanted to learn more about supporting individuals daring to believe in more.  I returned to school to research human services with the focus of exploring what influences personal growth and emotional well-being as well as what inspires transformational living.  My Ph.D. focused on researching gifted women transitioning with the purpose of coaching women and supporting them in their journey.

 

heather

THE ART OF ASKING PRODUCTIVE QUESTIONS

One of the most recurring questions in coaching conversations with women is the question, “What is wrong with me?!?” I hear it asked in moments of acute frustration, overwhelming despair, internal disgust, and sometimes even just out of sheer curiosity.

After noticing how often I heard women ask this, I was struck with the thought of how unhelpful this question really is. In fact, it is actually quite cruel. It hurts the person being asked and does not set anyone up to receive a fair answer. When we ask this question of ‘what’s wrong’, we do harm to our self by not allowing a fair answer to be found…and instead an assumption is made that something is indeed very wrong with us.

The truth is, nothing is ‘wrong’ with us…we are simply at a painful or confusing place in our journey. What we need are helpful questions that set us up for success to receive better answers. I have found that kinder gentler questions such as, “Where does it hurt?” or “Why am I stalled?” to be fairer questions, which eventually lead to answers that guide us.

As I listened one more time to this question being habitually tossed out in our conversation, I found myself saying, “How about we ask what is right with you?”

A STRONG COMMUNITY WAS DEVELOPED

In the belief that we are stronger together as women, I wanted to develop a community that came together holding the valuable belief that so much is right with us.

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Forming a community around this powerful posture of asking helpful questions such as ‘what’s right with me?’ gives us the permission to move forward in authentic ways as we dare to explore new possibilities. To consider helpful questions challenges a whole new level of self-talk. Most importantly, it engages our critiquing abilities to focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses, to find the solutions we need, and build the courage, confidence, and clarity to move forward. Arise & Be is a place for the woman to truly Arise…and…BE.

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untitled

You Said What? Establishing Constructive Communication

Communication…it makes or breaks a relationship, doesn’t it?  Because of the power communication holds, it is a core value for Arise & Be.  Communicating well with an emphasis on fostering positive community and relational teamwork requires a commitment to ‘weed out’ confusion and constructively address what is causing anxiety.

This was a lesson I recently learned in leading a team of highly gifted individuals.  After a successful event, I began to pick up on a general sense of anxiety within the team.

After making observations and checking in with several members, I realized individuals were struggling in how to give and receive constructive feedback.  There was a general unease about how to say some hard things.  I soon came to understand that the anxiety was stemming from a fear of hurting feelings if they said what they were feeling.

What was needed?

We needed the space, time, and safety to communicate well.  So, at our next meeting, we decided to practice giving and receiving feedback based on basic communication principles:

1.    Affirm the relationship and your positive intent.

2.    Specifically describe what you observed.

3.    Share the impact of the behavior or action.

4.    Invite the listener to respond.

5.    Focus the discussion on moving forward and finding solutions together.

It was a meeting well spent.  We established a safe and healthy culture to communicate what needed to be said in a way that cared for the relationship as well as directly targeted the need for growth.  Because the time was taken to practice communicating well, relationships grew stronger, goals became clear and more achievable, and the group angst was replaced with a spirit of security and confidence.

When we have a sensitivity tuned into the emotional vibes coming from our relationships, we can recognize it as an opportunity to pause…address it…and step into the conversation.

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Hold the tension of both honoring the relationship as well as encouraging growth. Perhaps considering these questions for your own journey in communication will help:

· Where do I want to communicate better?

· How do I want to intentionally move into a conversation?

· What is stopping me?

Taking the time to communicate intentionally is the best gift you can offer a relationship. Step into this with courage and confidence. Try out these 5 basic communication principles…you can do it!

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beauty

The Art of Questioning: Asking the Question that Helps

I spend my days coaching and engaging with women…and I love it.

In the coaching relationship, learning to develop the art of helpful questioning allows us to explore what is really going on underneath the surface.  When we ask helpful questions, we will receive helpful answers.  Unfortunately, the reverse is also true…when we ask harmful questions, we will receive harmful answers.

Huh?  What does this mean?  Let me explain.

One of the most reoccurring questions showing up in conversations with women is the question, “What is wrong with me?!?”  I hear it asked in moments of acute frustration, overwhelming despair, internal disgust, and sometimes even just out of sheer curiosity.

After noticing how often I heard women ask this, I was struck with the thought of how unhelpful this question really is.  In fact, it is actually quite cruel.  It hurts the person being asked and does not set anyone up to receive a fair answer.  When we ask this question of ‘what’s wrong’, we do harm to our self by not allowing a fair answer to be found…and instead an assumption is made that something is indeed very wrong with us.

The truth is, nothing is ‘wrong’ with us…we are simply at a painful or confusing place in our journey.  What we need are helpful questions that set us up for success to receive better answers.  I have found that kinder gentler questions such as, “Where does it hurt?” or “Why am I stalled?” to be fairer questions, which eventually lead to answers that guide us.

As I listened one more time to this question being habitually tossed out in our conversation, I found myself saying, “How about we ask what is right with you?”

I was met with dead silence on the other end of the phone.

After a moment, I heard some laughter as she asked, “Am I allowed to ask this?”

Yep.  I’m all about embracing the kindest route to help yourself out.  Isn’t life challenging enough without us beating ourselves up with harmful questions?

beauty

This new posture of asking helpful questions such as ‘what’s right with me?’ gives us the permission to move forward in authentic ways as we dare to explore new possibilities.  To consider helpful questions challenges a whole new level of self-talk.  Most importantly, it engages our critiquing abilities to focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses, to find the solutions we need, and build the courage, confidence, and clarity to move forward.

So, here’s some simple guidelines to try for yourself.  Next time something goes wrong, we can often hear our inner-dialogue the loudest, so take a moment to pause and reflect:

  1. Notice your inner dialogue.  Are you asking harmful questions like “What’s wrong with me?”

  2. Shift to a helpful question such as “What’s right with me?” Recognize that there is nothing wrong with you when something is going wrong in your world.

  3. Release yourself from that impossibly high invisible and elusive standard that only you are holding over yourself.

  4. Use your energy that is increasing from the helpful question to get to the solution.

  5. Celebrate how much is right with you.

  6. Continue building on your strengths as you practice inviting in the question “What’s right with me?”

Living in helpful questions is a powerful way to nurture your own personal journey and free you up to step more fully into the life you desire.

When we make a positive internal shift and learn the art of helpful questioning, we receive the answers we need and begin to recognize that it is our best gift to offer the world.

– Heather

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