The Power of WHY NOT? {Courageous Teaching Part 3}

What’s the difference between asking Why? versus Why not? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. In my life, I generally get lots of why? questions: Why take your kids to Vietnam? Why ride a motorcycle? Why a tattoo of a bird? Why move out of one of the most beautiful places in California? Why never own a studio again? My answer for a long time to most of these questions has been why not? My husband and I are kind of known as why not kinda people. Why take your kids out of school for so long to travel? Why go through the ups and downs of owning your own businesses? Why not? We’re also known to our friends as Yes people. Wanna go to…? Yes! Why not?!

Since starting this series on Courageous Teaching, and having just spent three and a half weeks riding cross country on my motorcycle, I’ve been thinking A LOT more about the why not and what it means: wondering how it serves me; how it doesn’t; how the why not plays a part in the kind of teacher I am.

I’m not entirely sure of the answer yet, but here are some of the things I think might be true. Based on my own experience and the feedback of teachers who I’ve been asking about the Why not? perspective:

  1. Asking why not is not for everyone all the time. You HAVE to have a good baseline of Why? first.
  2. Asking why not opens you up to more possibilities. It also opens you up to more risk.
  3. Asking why not  requires that you are in a position to take calculated, appropriate risk.
  4. Asking why not  is a way of pushing the edges and straying from conformity.
  5. Asking why not  more often exercises your ability to be flexible and malleable and also your willingness to be wrong.
  6. Asking why not  is freeing and can be an opportunity to learn more about yourself and about the world.
  7. Asking why not  is the beginning of discernment; discernment of self, other, context, knowledge, history.
  8. Asking why not  can be scary. It requires bravery and wisdom.
  9. Asking why not  can be totally stupid! And sometimes you should just stick to what you know.
  10. Asking why not seems like the opposite of asking Why? but it’s not a right or wrong kind of choice. Why not and why are both rebellious, searching, anti-authoritarian, risky, defiant, strong, and vulnerable. Why is straight ahead. It’s about understanding. Why not is about challenging. It’s about shifting understanding.

As I continue to evolve as a teacher, particularly as a teacher of teachers, I’m continuously aware of the interplay and interdependence of the why and the why not; how they influence one another and the timing of each. There are moments in our development when why is the key: understand the foundation from which you work; ask why so that you are clear about the implications of your teaching and how to safely adapt it; ask why so that you may feel confident in presenting work that is steady and consistent offering your students a solid place to learn from. Why not becomes relevant further down the road: Why not allow the student to move imperfectly? Why not change the order? Why not give the student permission to explore? Why not be quiet and allow for moments ambiguity?

This is evolution. This is conscious development. It’s marvelous and tricky, nonlinear, ever bobbing and weaving. In and out of our consciousness. Developing with each layer of understanding within each skill we might be in process with. Which if we’re lucky are many at once, prioritized by what’s in front of us. As we evolve and develop we can choose to ask why about some aspects of our teaching and why not about others. The rub is feeling out which one we need at any given moment and to do that we not only need to ask why we need to understand our WHY.

I’ve been known to say that getting clear about your values, or what I’ve long-since called your core commitments (taken from yogi and meditation teacher Sally Kempton) is one of the most valuable things you can do both for your personal and professional life. That your core commitments can, when articulated and reflective of your purpose or WHY for teaching, answer EVERY question you are confronted with. When you understand what drives you, what motivates your actions and inspires you to show up day after day and then live and teach by them, knowing when to ask why versus why not becomes easier, more organic, and more spontaneous.

 

Start with Why. End with Why Not.

Start with your WHY. One of my favorite questions to pose to my teachers these days is: What outcomes are you most dedicated to achieving with your students? With every student, no matter their injuries, abilities, or goals, what is the # 1 thing you want them to take away?

Many of us say body awareness or functional health. Some of us say strength and an ability to command their own bodies. Some of us say joy, the joy of movement in any form. Some of us would say pain relief or freedom. Whatever it is, acknowledging your outcome priorities can be a way of understanding what you’re willing to ask why not of.

Taking into account what we need to do, how much diligence we need to apply and in what areas, to keep our students safe is also a crucial WHY place to begin.

Many of the teachers I spoke with about this idea of the why not had the same concerns:

“It’s very exciting, but I feel like there has to be a balance between the two. If it’s just all Why not, then what am I teaching them.”

“I think it’s an evolution from the why to the why not. You have to be responsible and look at the calculated risk. Looking at that will allow you to ask the why not in a way that is safe.”

“Where I’m at in my teaching, I’m still working from the why. But I had a moment where I was asking myself why I would stick to this plan and not just let her explore the movement. Why stay with my plan and why not let her explore the movement. I could see how good it felt in her body.”

 

Experiment:

Next time you teach identify one area that you feel stuck or rigid in. Ask yourself, why am I doing it this way? Are you compelled or curious about doing it a little differently? Would you be sacrificing your student’s safety by allowing the why not to happen?

For example: You’re teaching kneeling side arms on the reformer. You notice that although your student is quite good at the choreography they continue to struggle to lighten their effort in the neck. You’ve already adjusted the springs, their position on the carriage, and the strap length. Up till now you’ve always taught the exercises with the pelvis staying square to the edge of the reformer with a focus on lumbopelvic stability.

What if you ask: How can I allow this body to relax and integrate more easily? Why not let the pelvis move? Will the student be safe if the pelvis moves? Will the intent of the exercise as you see it still be intact if you let the pelvis move? (In this example, the intent for me is to work on health shoulder mechanics and upper body organization; balancing mobility and strength in the upper quarter.)

 

Establishing Your Tolerance For Why NOT

There are lots of other ways we can, and need to, begin with the WHY. You can explore your core commitments and values. Identifying what’s at the heart of YOU leads you to greater understanding of your teaching self and therefore guides you in asking the why nots.

For instance, what things have you been most committed to throughout your life? Not what you have been told you should care about. Not what skills you’ve developed over time. What things have guided your most important decisions no matter how old, where you lived, who you were with, or what job you had. We all have to decide at some point what we value most. If we don’t, making small and big decisions becomes incredibly laborious and inconsistent.

Things I’m committed to: creativity, curiosity, travel and exploration, kindness, evolution, teaching. These qualities or ideas lead me most of the time to the why not. Many times they lead me to the why, but because of what I value (not getting it right, but figuring it out on my own — I’m stubborn and pigheaded) I’m more interested in the why not.

This is not true for everyone. And it changes. Which is why we have to keep asking the questions. Like this one: Why do I show up? To me that means, what’s my purpose and am I in alignment with what I think it is? Are my actions reflective of my purpose?

My purpose is to teach. Teaching is also one of my core commitments. When I make decisions about how to spend my time and how to develop my work I ask: Is this choice in alignment with my purpose? Will this choice enhance my ability to teach?

For me asking why not IS teaching because teaching IS exploration. If my purpose was to develop strength in my students I may be less tolerant of the why not. But then again, it depends on what I’m questioning.

 

Teaching From Why Not

There’s a moment in every adventure, once we’ve turned the same corners countless times, when an urge arises to simply change direction. Even when the road much traveled has proven a wise path to valuable results, most of us just need to know what else is out there, what else we might see. Sometimes we do this out of genuine curiosity, sometimes out of sheer stubbornness and willpower, sometimes out of desperation. No matter the reason, if we have a pulse, it’s inevitable. So how do we harness the why not for good, not evil?

Here’s what some teachers say about using the why not:

“What I love about the why not is that we have to start from the why then we go to the why not — feels like a shift from classical to contemporary — there’s a shift that happens. We can become very rigid. The why not opens us up to the realm of possibility…Is it wrong? Is there a wrong? I think it helps us as teachers have the authority and freedom and independence to move/teach from a different place.”

“This idea is the only reason I’m where I’m at in my teaching right now. If I hadn’t let go of the why and given way to the why not, I would not have been able to complete this [master’s] project. I just threw it out there with such strong trust! [If I hadn’t] I would’ve spun out in my top-down self…”

 

Asking why not, or at least asking am I ready for the why not could also look like asking:

  • Am I speaking from my own voice?
  • Am I leading from my own purpose?
  • Am I making wise, safe, and genuine decisions about my teaching that require ME to be aware and present?

These are questions you can begin to explore for yourself to determine to what degree and around what areas of teaching you may be ready to start allowing for the why not.

 

How the Why not Can Change Your Teaching

Consider that your ability to ask Why not is a threshold over which you step to become more than a Pilates instructor; you become a teacher, beginning to establish your own authentic, experience-based authoring of the kind of teacher you most want to be.

Some of us are afraid of, or averse to, proclaiming authority. We think authority means we’ve reached an ending point, that we know better than others, that we have nothing left to learn or at least that’s the message our authority sends to our peers. For many of us that statement of authority is deeply uncomfortable. And yet owning our authority is simply our ability to honor and access our knowledge and skill with directness and humility; without hesitation, but with consistent openness.

Becoming the author of our teaching-self is critical at every stage of growth. Without authoring our work, our craft, our vocation we so easily slip into passivity and become beholden to other people’s WHYs. We miss out on opportunities to truly discern and discover for ourselves. Parker J. Palmer, teacher of teachers, academic, social justice advocate, founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal, and author of The Courage to Teach writes:

“Authority is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts.”

‘At great remove from their own hearts…’ moves me the most. What I see in teachers is that they end up teaching ‘at great remove from their own hearts’, they forget why they show up, they misplace their passion and never really identified their purpose, making establishing genuine and tender authority almost impossible without a fair bit of work. Difficult, certainly, but the most valuable work worth doing.

 


 

How the Why Not Shows Up & Further Explorations

Once you know some of the why, what’s the value in teaching from the why not? This manifests in these ways:

  • Why not just be quiet in your teaching?
  • Why not let the movement be imperfect?
  • Why not let the pelvis move?
  • Why not allow there to be imperfection?
  • Why not expect more from your students?
  • Why not go to lunch with your students?
  • Why not ask for more money?

Other questions you can ask:

  • What is risk in teaching?
    • Appropriate/safe/professional v. inappropriate/unsafe/unprofessional
  • What is the risk/reward return?

The essence of the why not is untethering, limitless rather than limited, courage/bravery rather than fear and restriction, curiosity rather than getting it right; to open yourself up to questioning and discernment. It means anything’s possible. It means opening to potential rather than working from preconceived notions.

  • How does this play out in your teaching?
    • In your life?
    • In how you run your business?

Don’t Try {Courageous Teaching Part 2}

“Don’t Try.”

That’s the title of a chapter in the book I just finished (more on that later). It reminds me of what Yoda is touted as saying: “Do or do not. There is no try.” But really my current understanding — or appreciation — of this sentiment is that we try too hard to BE everything and DO as much as possible. I’m aware of a rising sense of clarity within myself that suspects that maybe we should NOT TRY to DO and we should also consider simply NOT DOING. Here’s the idea:

“Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. Be smarter, faster, richer, sexier, more popular, more productive, more envied, and more admired…

But when you stop and really think about it, conventional life advice — all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time — is actually fixating on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be, and then emphasizes them for you.”

This is an excerpt from Mark Manson’s book called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. Now, before you get turned off, which I realize maybe some of you will (some of you more likely will be fist pumping right now) let me say this. Although this book uses its title as total shock factor (in the author’s own words it’s meant to slap Millennials in the face and get their attention) it touches on one of the most crucial ideas of being human: our values.

Not giving a f*ck is really about CHOOSING, actively and repeatedly, exactly what to give a f*ck about; figuring out a way to throw yourself into what really matters rather than being mesmerized with (and preoccupied by) being everything to everyone and ultimately falling short every time because…it’s impossible! What do we most give a f*ck about? This is where values come in.

What are you most committed to being? In what way are you most committed to acting? Who do you choose to cultivate relationships with? What motivates you to do anything? What’s the basis for your judgments of a good and valuable life, a good and meaningful career? It all comes down to values.

The problem is that most of us are, at the very least, suffering from value-confusion. Worst case scenario, we are driven by values that are vague, given to us by other people (our families, friends, TV – seriously cultural influences should not be underestimated in this exploration) and never examined to check-in and see if they are what WE would choose, right now, in our lives.

Our values dictate the quality of our problems, says Manson. If we have clear, authentic values then the problems we have are those that will lead us to learning, growth, expansion, awareness, and fulfillment, which is not the same as a perfect life. Because life IS suffering, we just choose how and with regard to what we suffer for. Suffering for honesty, kindness, creativity, and generosity leaves us feeling more fulfilled in the end than suffering for being right, being liked, being rich, being a part of the crowd. Name your poison, this list could go on and on and on.

How does this apply to teaching? Well, it may be obvious and it may not. For me, “don’t try” translates in the teaching arena as don’t try to be perfect (we talked about this at length in The Power of Imperfection: Courageous Teaching Part 1). Don’t try to be right. Don’t try to fix your students. Don’t try to fix yourself (that’s a slippery slope that only gets more treacherous by the moment). Here’s Manson’s take on it:

“At some point, most of us reach a point where we’re afraid to fail, where we instinctively avoid failure and stick only to what is placed in front of us or only what we’re already really good at.

This confines us and stifles us. We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.”

He continues to say that a fear of failure is driven by unexamined (“shitty”) values that are dependent on others and out of our control rather than dependent on us and within our control. Bad values, says Manson, are “process-oriented” meaning that they always a reflection of our interactions and how we’re relating to the world rather than imposed upon us as a finite quality or truth by someone else.

Courageous teaching is not only a willingness to be wrong (the power of imperfection), it’s not striving to be right. Beyond that, deeper than that courageous teaching is about being constantly — gently and with a great degree of self-compassion — willing to fail and examine what’s at your mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual core.

Call it whatever you want, knowing what your values are and teaching from them is courageous because it’s NOT always easy. In fact, it’s often really hard. Your values not only influence, or dictate, how you teach but also how you build your business, differentiate yourself among others, relate to and support your staff and students, how you handle adversity, competition, and success.

I LOVE talking about this stuff and I could do it all day. I hope that in some small way this has nudged you in a direction…maybe in the direction of “I hate this stuff and I’m finally going to unsubscribe because I can’t take another second of it” in which case I couldn’t be happier for you or me. Or maybe in the direction of “This is something I think might make a real difference for me and I’m curious to see where it’s going to lead”, in which case I’m also very happy.

To that end, happy failing. Happy suffering. Happy living and teaching. May the value-force be with you.

Here’s to moving toward what feels good not what feels easy,

 

 


Success or Failure? Who says?

(Your metrics and what values they’re based on.)

I also thought it might be interesting to offer this reflection process we just went through with the teachers in the Skillful Teaching Mentoring Program. It’s goes like this:
The point of this reflection is for you to begin to ask some WHY questions to help you get to the heart of your current values and see where they’re either leading you toward a life of good problems or bad problems, worthwhile suffering or needless suffering.
You can do this with a success or a failure and I encourage you to do it with both.
  1. Choose a success or failure that you’ve experienced lately. Can be teeny tiny or on the bigger side.
  2. Begin to ask: Why is this a success/failure? By what standards/metrics am I judging this as a success/failure.For example: You recently shared an idea with a colleague for a new class and they loved it. This is a colleague with whom you haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. You feel like this is a success because: You’re getting peer approval; your idea is being validated by someone who holds clout in the community, has more experience than you; it might mean that this person does like you, etc.
  3. Reflect on what your metrics (what criteria you’re using to judge success or failure — from above) tell you about your underlying value and whether or not this value is helping you live the kind of life you want, or become the kind of teacher you want to be.For example: In this same scenario, my metric that this is a success because the teacher is coming around to liking me is likely indicative of the fact that what other people think about me, or being liked, is a value I hold.
Consider whether or not being liked is a wholesome and healthy value to hold. Is it controllable by you? Which means do you have control over what other people think of you? Is it adding ease or balance to your life, or helping you cultivate a good life?
Once you’ve done this a few times you may begin to see where you are and aren’t living or teaching in alignment with your values or perhaps your values are murky, skewed, or not even your own.
If you listen to the podcast with Melissa Kakavas (Ep: 36) you’ll see how having clear values can make or break you in this crazy world and specifically in our growing industry.
I hope this helps you shift perspective and take a peek into what’s driving you. Remember, moving toward what feels good doesn’t mean moving toward what is easy and the hard work of digging deep is what leads us to feeling good. Enjoy the process.

The Power of Imperfection {Courageous Teaching Part 1}

Happy belated New Year, dear teacher.

I guess it’s not too late to say that since it’s still January. How’s it going, anyway? How’s 2017 been so far?

My experience is that typically this time of year has us either feeling hopeful, full of renewed energy, or frustrated and a little overwhelmed (and maybe, just maybe, feeling pretty crappy — not impossible). Sometimes all of of these things simultaneously (which happens to have been my experience these past few weeks).

We do this to ourselves though, don’t we? We get jazzed up and excited about fresh starts and big plans, but too often hold ourselves to some unacknowledged and unrealistic expectation that it’s all going to be great (and maybe easier than last time). Deep down we expect that we’ll live up to the demon voice in our heads that’s telling us “you should be able to do this,” or “you’re supposed to be able to do this,” or “you’re supposed to be better than this!” Better than what? Supposed to be able to do what, according to whom?

What it often comes down to is that we think we should be perfect. And maybe “perfect” is not your word exactly. My word is “better” — I’m supposed to be better than this/at this/at this by now… . It’s still a product of expecting something that is out of alignment with our desires, experience, or our history, the situation at hand, and certainly reality. It makes us anxious, worried, agitated, depressed, and turns all of our thoughts inward — not in a good way.

When we don’t meet these expectations of should-ness and better-ness we begin to analyze our every (mis)step, (missed) opportunity, (mis)spoken word, and (ill planned) action. Because we’re concerned that we’re falling short in some way, we don’t have room or attention to spare — not really — for anyone else. We think we’re dedicated to being our best, but really we’re fixated on not failing, on getting it right, on doing exactly what we said we’d do in the way we said we’d do it. In this iteration of our experience striving for “perfection” turns us against ourselves and away from what we really value: making a positive impact.

If you were perfect, did it all right all the time, met every deadline, could do every Pilates exercises just so, knew all the answers and made all the perfect corrections…YOU’D BE BORING. You’d also have very little, if not nothing at all, to offer anyone — especially your students.

Courageous teaching. What is it? It’s the power of imperfection. It’s the key to creativity and the conduit of curiosity. To be courageous is to be curious (when you don’t have the answer or you’re having a shitty day and you decide to show up fully anyway); to be vulnerable, willing to fail, willing to not know and still love what you do. Courageous teaching is bringing your best-self, NOT YOUR PERFECT SELF, to the moment as often as you’re able to and when you’re not able to to love yourself and what you do regardless.

This is the first part in a 3 or 4 part series (I haven’t decided yet — I often have more to say than I realize, which isn’t surprising to many of you who know me) on courageous teaching. My hope is to leave you with some small tool you can use to help you be more able to show up even on the bad days.

I just recently finished Amy Cuddy’s book “Presence: Bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges.” Amy is the now famed TED Talk presenter and social psychologist who has dedicated her work to exploring (and proving) the connection between the body and confidence. In Presence she explores different ways we can quickly make positive change in our presence especially when we are facing difficult situations.

So, based on Amy’s work and another technique I was exposed to a long time ago, I’ve got two “pro-tips” for you. Check them out below and look for more in this series soon.

Discernment and Integration – How and When To Question What You’ve Been Taught

By Skillful Teaching Mentor, Trinity Minty

Pilates teachers very well may be some of the most focused and driven people I know. Most of us are passionate about what we do and are gluttons for continuing education. A great many of us hold certificates in a wide variety of modalities, whether they are the foundations from which we came to Pilates or the building blocks we have used to develop our craft.

New information, research, and approaches are made available to us as quickly as we can sign up for the courses. And, sign up we do!

Being the motivated and inspired bunch that we are, we can’t wait to get back to the studio and share with our students all the exciting new information that we’ve learned, which brings me to the topic of this article.

How do we effectively integrate new information and why is this question even important?

What is your current approach to integrating new information? How do you harness all of the excitement and flood of information into something digestible?

For most of us, instead of being discerning about what and how much should be added, we allow ourselves to be swept up in the moment and leap in head first. Our excitement can come through in a way that leaves our students wondering who we are and what happened to the teacher we were last week.

Learning how to integrate and disseminate new information can come long before the actual information as a proactive approach. One way I set the stage for this is by consistently asking for feedback from my students. I don’t mean, “Hey, how’s my teaching?” I mean asking them how things feel, what does their body have to say about any particular movement or adjustment? What adjustments can they make in order to find more balance, ease, connectedness, range of motion, etc? Of course, when we ask questions, it’s always beneficial to know that your students may not immediately have an answer, if at all. Totally okay!

This means creating and holding space for your students to understand that there is no “wrong.” This space is essential to inspiring your students’ confidence within themselves and building a trusting relationship with you. When we teach our students to work from exactly where they are, we afford ourselves the freedom to teach from exactly where we are.

The value in teaching this way is that our students become accustomed to and comfortable with being a part of the process; it allows them to take ownership in the learning. Because of this, when we have new information to share, our students are already primed for the experience.

Another way to take proactive steps toward integrating new information is to always explain the “why” of what you’re asking your students to do. When it comes time to add new or different concepts, you can rely on the “why.”

So what is the “why” of teaching and how is it different than the “what?” This can be looked at from both the macro and micro view. The macro view: What method do we teach? The Pilates Method (and maybe more). The Micro view: In any given day, we teach many classes and/or sessions. Within those classes and sessions we teach many exercises in a variety of orders, to a variety of bodies. That is the “what.” The “why” is what drives the “what.” The macro view: Why do we teach Pilates? Why have we chosen that tool over others? Why do we teach a certain amount of hours in a day? Why do we teach at this place versus that place? The micro view: Why do we teach specific exercises in a particular order? Why do we choose to begin sessions a certain way? Why do we say “client” versus “student”? Why do we show up day after day? The “what” is the hammer and nail. The “why” is what motivates us to pick it up. Students are attracted by the “what”, but stay because of the “why.”

Becoming connected to our “why” is invaluable to offering our students the foundation from which they can discover their own “why,” and invaluable to creating an open and safe learning environment from day one.

When the time comes to experiment with a new idea or approach I like to preface the shift in direction explicitly.  “We had been setting up for spinal extension, flexion, rotation, whatever it may be, like this, now I’d like to do it with, add new approach or focus here.” Then, ask questions! How did the quality change? Was the experience different?

 

Why is integrating new information and doing it well so important?

What we work out on the mat, we work out in our lives. By integrating new information we are putting ourselves in the flow and not resisting it. It offers us the opportunity to inspire and be inspired. It offers us a space to let go of things that no longer serve us and quite possibly impede our progress and potential.

Now, it’s time to look at this in a super clear, tangible way. Because so many of our cues and approaches are passed down without question they end up leading to poor movement and lack of progress. The most recent awakening I’ve had is around scapular placement in spinal flexion. Let’s use coming into the 100’s position as a platform. We hear and most likely use cues like, curl up, reaching the arms long or toward the heels, keeping the collarbones wide. Great, yes, this is what we want. But do we always want this? Do we want this at any expense, no matter what? Or do we maybe want something a little different, but don’t know how to ask for it?  I find that cueing, and possible over-cueing, the arms down and collarbones wide in spinal flexion may get us where we think we want to go, but not necessarily to a place of greatest efficiency or where we are truly tapping into the “why” of the exercise. What is the why of the 100 anyway? I certainly have my thoughts around it, and would love to know yours, for the sake of great conversation and collaboration.

If part of what we’re looking for is solid, supported spinal flexion, we may have to let go, just a bit, of the “shoulder blades down, collarbones wide” focus. In my experience, I need some serratus to come into play with the purpose of not so much pulling the scapula forward, but drawing the ribs back, without necessarily allowing the pecs to take over creating a closing of the chest. We are looking for a sweet spot here.  This may mean that the collarbones are not quite as wide as you think they should be. I think that’s okay! Especially if you are seeing or experiencing a truly sweet abdominal curl.

This is not to say that the approach I’ve described here is the right way and that you should immediately adopt this approach, nor should you completely dismiss it. However, play with it, check it out in your own body, see what it looks like and what kind of feedback you get from your students. Then decide to keep it, tweak it, make it your own or just throw it away.

This is how good discernment happens.

Take some time to think of one way to assess whether or not you are in fact integrating new information. Does it come easily to you or do you find yourself resisting? If you find that you are meeting with resistance, choose one way that you can begin to shift. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this.

Because a critical part of teaching is learning, I’d like to give credit where credit is due. I continue to have the absolute pleasure of working with some incredibly talented and thoughtful teachers. Chantill Lopez, who is my partner in crime, ok, maybe I am hers, has always offered clear, constructive feedback that both challenges my thinking and offers affirmation to my approach.  She has consistently and generously shared her knowledge and experience with me and offers an incredible platform for me to learn and grow as a teacher. Debra Kolwey, who in a single session last summer, possibly unknowingly, offered the seed from which this article grew. The tremendous James Crader, who, through both his movement teaching and dialogue, offered just the sustenance needed to inspire me to reconnect with this topic .  Last but certainly not least, Tina Woelbling, who was the first teacher I ever worked with. She offered a safe space for me to bring my sometimes tired and often neglected body and spirit to move in a way that felt good. Fantastic even.

Did I do the right thing using the F word?

Last week I had a moment of very real panic about whether or not I’d put my professionalism at risk.

It started when I was composing the title for the latest Thinking Pilates Podcast. My first idea and gut instinct was to use profanity in the title. I typed it in. “No Fucking Around…”

Then I began to think about my podcast co-founder and frequent co-host. How would she feel about this? What are her sensibilities? She knows me enough to know it’s not about being vulgar. (I hoped.) 

I was actually starting to get a little sweaty at that point, playing out in my head the potential negative outcomes.

Then I thought about the teacher I’d interviewed for the podcast. Nah! He’d be fine. I’ve heard him use swear words while giving a workshop. This is his jam. (Or was it? It’s a bigger audience. Did that make a difference?)

I texted the teacher. “I’m playing with the podcast title and want to know what you think about this…”

Heart now racing, I stared at the phone.

Waiting. Waiting. Ping.

“I’m a profanity lover too, so I really love that title.”

Phew.

After deciding that my co-host wouldn’t mind, I blasted it to the world.

That night I woke up a total mess thinking “What the hell have I done?! I just put that podcast out to everyone I know on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter! Jesus. What are people going to think?!”

I lied there thinking, worrying, and fantasizing about what was sure to be everyone’s outrage and embarrassment. I pictured who would be turned off. I imagined what they would say, why they would find it distasteful and unprofessional to the most egregious degree.

Then it dawned on me: who am I? Who do I present myself as a teacher, mentor, author? How to I present myself to people when I first meet them, when I teach them?

Oh, right! I frequently use profanity. I actually love the F word. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and myself AND using swear words is sometimes a way I express that. I’m also honest and authentic and not afraid to be who I am. AND I’m chalk full of fucking integrity and professionalism. I’m kind, caring, thoughtful, insightful, empathetic, and articulate. I’m even appropriately mannered (sans profanity — mostly) around children.  

I have 6 tattoos, ride a motorcycle, have cared for dying grandparents, birthed 2 children, supported my colleagues, donated money, hiked a volcano, made money, blown money, traveled the world with my family, studied, worked, studied, worked, written a book, been a newspaper reporter, owned four businesses, been a professional dancer, coached a kids soccer team and so much more.  

And I like to — occasionally — use the F word.

Did I do damage to my professionalism? Not from my point of you, but maybe from yours. I’m curious. In fact, I’m dying to know. 

Will you and others judge my professionalism because I put the F word in my podcast title? Will it make you not want to learn from me, know me, work with me? 

Here’s what else I’m wondering?

  • What is professionalism (to you) and are there gray areas?
  • How would you define it?
  • Have you thought much about it for yourself and how it impacts your success as a teacher?
  • Does the way you dress, do your hair, and keep yourself clean matter? To what degree? Where’s the line? (Would you fire a teacher who had consistent and pungent body odor? — It’s okay to laugh, but I’ve actually been in this situation.)
  • Do you swear at home, but not when you’re teaching? Why?
  • Do you want people to perceive you in a certain way? (Of course you do, but what way: according to your level of knowledge, success in business, by the way you look, by your religion, your morals, your toughness?)

Right now I’m feeling super grateful that some of you are reading this. It’s a blessing to have a platform to stir up the discourse (you might call it something else) in our profession, to share knowledge and grow as people and yes, professionals.

I hope many of you will share your opinion.

Oh, and the link that that podcast I was talking about is here.

With warmest and most sincere regards for your opinions (and professionalism) — Chantill

 

Fearless Teaching – What if you didn’t need to be RIGHT?

What does fearless teaching look like?

To answer that question we have to begin by asking another more poignant question, one that you might not want to answer and one that might be difficult to answer honestly:

How committed are you to being right?

Now hold on. Before you just jump in and say “No, that’s not me. I’m totally willing to be wrong. I’m comfortable with that, with not having the answers. I totally feel fine when I’m not right” I want you to stop for a moment and be really, really honest with yourself.

Imagine a situation near or far from this moment when you remember not being right whether you were struggling to answer a student’s question, or you didn’t know what to do or where to go with a student because some unexpected challenge had arisen, or someone actually challenged you. PuMrRightt yourself in the situation fully. Who was it, when was it, where were you, what was the question you couldn’t answer or the problem you couldn’t solve or the student you couldn’t get through to (and I know that happens ALL the time, so finding a situation shouldn’t be that hard).

Play this little game with a teaching situation and a personal situation THEN ask yourself again: How important is it to me to be right?

To give you a bit of perspective here’s what needing to be right or feeling like being right is a definite drive looks like:

  • You are asked a question by a student (or colleague) and you don’t have the answer or you only have part of the answer and you’re maybe not that sure even about that part. You start to feel sweaty, awkward, uncomfortable. Your throat constricts a little, you get a bit panicky, you start to feel like you are inadequate, unskilled, lack knowledge, self-doubt seeps in. Maybe you get defensive, maybe you deflect, maybe you try to turn the conversation elsewhere or say that the answer to the question is really just not that important.
  • You have a student who is severally challenged and you are constantly asked to be creative with how you apply the work. On this occasion you feel like you’re really onto something, you’ve come up with a strategy, exercise, program that you are confident is going to work, maybe even offer a little breakthrough. You ask: Do you feel that? Doesn’t that feel better/stronger/more open/easier? Can you feel the difference now? And the answer is a firm “NO.” Ack! What?! You were so sure and the movement looked so good. Maybe they just don’t get it. Maybe they can’t feel it. Maybe they don’t know how to articulate the change. NO?! Now what? You start to worry that you’ve gotten it all wrong, you misread the situation, you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Or you get frustrated with the student because obviously they are not doing something right. You ask them to do it again, you guide them overtly to what it is you want them to experience.

Panic, confusion, self-doubt, defensiveness, paralysis, annoyance, a lack of presence, blame (blame on your student/other person or yourself)…All of these experiences indicate that you are indeed not comfortable with being right and may even be attached to being right.

Let me say here that WANTING and NEEDING to be right is not the same as having a strong desire to be wise, knowledgable, helpful, and effective in our teaching. Wanting and needing to be right is a distortion of the latter thing based on sustaining the ego’s top position in our subconscious psychological hierarchy.

Our, likely unacknowledged, commitment to being right also looks more subtly like this:

  • Always telling our students what to do:
    • Constantly offering corrections (repeating the same corrections over and over again).
    • Always telling them when a correction needs to be made and how to do it.
  • Not educating our students as to WHY we are doing what we’re doing or even WHAT we are doing:
    • Not taking the time to teach our students the names of the exercises.
    • Not taking the time to teach our students how to change their own springs.
    • Not putting a priority on self-practice and home-practice.
  • Never asking our students what their experience is of a movement, task, exercise:
    • Not asking specific questions about their experience (asking “how was that for you” doesn’t cut it. Any question that they can say “fine” to is out).
      • Instead asking questions that are specific and will lead the student to turn their attention — either beforehand or afterward — to a clear aspect of their experience.
        • “When you reach your right leg and your left arm do you notice any tension or pain along that diagonal? Do you experience more power in the connection to…”
    • Only asking questions that we know we’ll get a “yes” to.

Our desire to be right comes from a motivation to make a difference and keep our students safe. And it also comes from a place of saving face, looking good/smart/insightful. The latter attachment gets in the way of powerful, fearless and unapologetic teaching. It gets in the way of the student’s success and instead puts the teacher’s success at the center.

I’m guilty of this and I’ve watched countless (well intended and talented) teachers do this over and over again.

What it ultimately leads to is complacency in both. It also leads to students being held hostage by their teachers because they never truly make lasting and sustainable change.  (This is a topic we’ve dived into before at ST and you can learn more about this important skill HERE.)

Instead of searching for and constantly prompting the “yes” answer in order to satisfy our desire to be RIGHT, what would happen if we were committed to the “no”? What would happen if we were able to show up for each class and session not only expecting the “I don’t get it” response, but welcoming it?


Case in point: 

A few days ago I had the absolute pleasure of watching a teacher work for 2 hours with a young man in his 30s with a spinal cord injury. The student is a quadriplegic and has been working Pilates professionals for about a year now with great success.

What I saw was one of the most straight forward, unapologetic, and absolutely genuine teacher-student experiences I’ve ever seen. Honestly, with all the master teachers I’ve had the pleasure of observing and working with I can truly say that this was an exceptional experience. And it wasn’t really about what was done, although that was great too, it was about how it was done.

The teacher, James Crader of Evolved Body in Gold River, CA, was totally present and absolutely unafraid. Throughout the session he never asked “Is that okay? Are you feeling like that’s too much? Should we slow down?” He was purposeful and direct and just did what needed to be done. And he was, from the outset, kind, funny, and opened himself up (without compromising his objective) to what I’d call I’m just a dude real, human engagement. No pretenses, no excuses, and no attachment to being right.

In fact, it was in that session I first had the thought: What if we actually WANT the “no” answer? Could this keep us committed to curiosity and learning rather than getting things right?

James’s fearless compassion and curiosity looked like this:

  1. Throughout the session he was not only totally present, but unapologetic about either any uncomfortable positions (particularly when maneuvering the student around) or challenge the student might be feeling. AND this was consistently balanced with a sense of intimacy and awareness that seemed to hold both of them with total compassion. James always sought ways of making it most comfortable and beneficial, but when things went awry, which they did often enough, there was absolutely no resistance or hesitation. There was just…figure it out and keep going.

  2. Laughter and personality, not just the teacher face.
  3. Educating: “The reason we’re going here is to… . Remember we were talking the other day about _____? This is about taking this deeper.” (I’m paraphrasing this part.)
  4. When the answer to any question was “no” or “not really” James’s response was something like:
    • Okay, I’ll take that.
    • Okay, let’s try this…
    • Think of it this way…
    • Let’s take this from another direction…
    • That’s so interesting that you’d say that. Let me put it this way/Let’s try it again, but instead do ____
  5. There was never “You feel that, right? Isn’t that great?” comments, which I generally hear ad nauseam. What I heard a lot of:
  6. Notice how _____ feels and where the work is coming from/how you could make that different/work more from ____ etc…
  7. What I want you to explore is _____. How are you going to do that?
  8. What breath are you going to use there?
  9. Could your neck get longer?
  10. Could you connect back into the _______?
  11. You have 6 more repetitions to _______ (experiment with how to work more from the back/how to get more _____/find a peaceful breath whatever that means to you.

In their book The 15 Commitments of a Conscious Leader authors Diana Chapman, Jim Dethmer, and Kaley Klemp talk about above or below the line leadership or consciousness. Taking “radical” responsibility is their number one commitment. Above the line responsibility looks like a willingness to be wrong and accept every situation as it unfolds – no resistance or wanting the world to be different. No “I should know the answer” or “This should be working.” Below the line responsibility looks like blaming ourselves (we teachers are particularly good at this and this is BELOW THE LINE) and others when things don’t go right. It looks like being totally committed to being right (in all of its insidious forms).

When we are above the line responsible, we can also be more fully present. The situation is no longer about getting something, but about learning something. In teaching I find this to be the number one thing that defines great teachers. A commitment to learning, to being curious, to loving the “No, I’m not getting this” answer, and to be unapologetic about what they have or don’t have to offer. They just are. Nothing to prove.

What would it look like to be a fearless teacher? What would it feel like to invite and love those moments — as many and varied as they are — of not knowing the answer or not getting the outcome we’re searching/hoping for?

For me, it’s a totally relief! It creates space for investigation, exploration, and truly being in relationship with not only my students but my work. And I freaking LOVE what I do, so this is nothing but GOOD all the way around!

Your Challenge:

  • The next time you’re teaching notice all the small ways you desire to be right and also notice how this motivation might be keeping you from truly listening, being present and learning (how it separates you from your student.)
  • Next time you find yourself defending a position to a spouse, partner, friend, or colleague notice why you need to be right and what it might be like to simply try to understand where the disconnect might be.
  • Make a list of all the reasons why being right/getting it right feels important. Which of these things is driven by above the line responsibility or below the line responsibility.

I’d love to hear what you think about this and how it goes.

Share below in the comments.

Mwah!
— c

Ep. 25: Missed Opportunities in Teaching – How to recognize and utilize pivotal opportunities for potent teaching

It happens to the best of us. We get in our own way. In this episode Chantill and Debora explore how we can get caught in our own agendas or lack of confidence and miss valuable opportunities to bring power and precision to our teaching.

Whether you’re a new teacher focused on mastering complex choreography or an experienced teacher focused on working the minutia of a single body part it is possible, and sometimes very likely, that you miss opportunities to dig deep with your students, distracted by your plan.

In this podcast:

  • What kinds of opportunities should we be looking for and how those opportunities sometimes depend on where we are in our teaching path, how much experience we have.
  • How to identify an opportunity and let it lead the way without being wishy washy.
  • How to utilize an opportunity AND still maintain flow and forward motion in a class or session (rather than getting mired down in the micro view, which is very easy to do). We talk about this as creativity within a consistent framework.
    • How does the “framework” differ – what are your priorities – if you are a brand new teacher versus a more experienced teacher?
  • How “seeing” opportunities is linked to self-confidence, trusting what you see, and following a hypothesis to see if you’re on track.

You’re going to take away a ton of great stuff from this one AND it is a preview of Ep. 26 where we interview several teachers about how to develop discernment in their teaching. Discernment is, after all, one way we are able to identify those juicy opportunities to turn our teaching into something more than just rote instruction.

Part 2 – The 4 Most Pivotal Teaching Tools For Enhancing Motivation in our Pilates Students and Ourselves

In this article we look at our final two key concepts to enhancing motivation in our students and providing a premise for us to stay on track and committed to our students’ progress.

Here’s a brief recap of what we covered in the first two articles: “Number One Reason Pilates Students Don’t Stay Motivated & What We Can Do About It Today” and Part 1 of this series.

We talked in-depth about the effects of unacknowledged, unrealistic and clearly articulated expectations, and we established that there are 4 Key Concepts, when promoted in our daily teaching, create greater and sustainable motivation.

 

Those Key Concepts are:

  • Intention: Setting a foundation for starting over (empathy)
  • Core Commitments: Being versus doing (values)
  • Discrepancy: Realistic assessment of progress (perception)
  • Self-efficacy: Proof of success (experience)

In Part 1 of this series we explored intentions and core commitments, including ways we could employ these ideas in our teaching, in our studio environments and share them with our students.

Today we are looking at the last two elements, discrepancy and self-efficacy, which go hand in hand and directly relate to our ability to assess, re-assess, track and appropriately share our findings with our students. This way we can acknowledge their progress and highlight the closing gap between where they started and where they are headed.

The concepts of discrepancy and self-efficacy come from a method used in rehabilitative treatment programs called Motivational Interviewing. Based on years of research, founders of the method, William Miller and Steve Rollnick, were able to identify the primary tools that would lead to change in people with substance abuse issues.

I’ve worked with this method in a myriad of ways and incorporated it into my 12- and 24-month mentoring program as a foundation for helping teachers create businesses that are flourishing and sustainable. I know these tools work because I’ve even used them on myself 😉

 

Discrepancy: Realistic assessment of progress (perception)

Discrepancy is the difference between two things or two points. In the Pilates environment we can focus on the difference between where a student is at any given moment in their practice (Point A) and their short- and/or long-term goals (Point B).

The first thing required of us is that we assess where our students are starting. This DOES NOT have to be complicated, it just has to be measurable, clear and trackable.

 

Here are my top five tips for creating an assessment strategy that WORKS:

  1. Keep it SIMPLE – Whatever you do, keep it simple. And do the same damn thing EVERY time. There is no need to make it hard on yourself. Tap into what you feel like is most important to know about your students both for your teaching and their progress.

    Use your expertise and the things that are relevant to your teaching style.

    DO pick 2-4 things that you can ACTUALLY MEASURE. Ideas:

    • Standing postural assessment where you measure the deviations between key boney points IE. center of ear to shoulder from the side, center of kneecap to center of 2nd and 3rd toes.
    • Measure ribcage expansion using a measuring tape. Always measure pre or post session.
    • Measure hamstring length with a standard sit and reach test.
    • Measure spinal extension in a prone position by looking at the distance between the floor and the center of the sternum.
    • Measure abdominal strength by how low the legs can be lowered to the ground with the low back staying imprinted.
    • Measure leg rotation standing on the Functional Footprints.
  2. Stick with WHAT YOU KNOW – Again, stick with your skills, talents and expertise. Don’t try to do something new. Honestly anything will work as long as it’s relevant to the progress you expect to make within the work and you are consistent.
  3. Pick ONE thing as a focus – Identify your overarching goal for your teaching. Perhaps you want to first and foremost enhance balanced range of motion in your students and no matter what they come in with or what their goals are that’s your philosophy. In this case you’d want to likely focus on testing the major joint ROM as a part of your assessment. Everything else can fall under that ONE thing.

    Or maybe you are all about building strength and that’s what your students come to you for. You’d do more strength testing. You might have a rehab or spinal pathology focus. Create your assessment (keeping it simple and sticking to what you know) revolve around this ONE thing.
  4. ASK QUESTIONS to verify your assessment – As you are assessing it’s important to ask leading questions that will help you verify whether or not what you see or suspect is also the student’s experience. You don’t need to do this with everything, but if you see a drastic postural issue or deviation (IE. scoliosis beyond 10 degrees, flat feet, knocked knees, forward head greater than 1.5 inches) you will want to inquire whether or not the student has injured an area, had pain, or been diagnosed with a suspected condition. Be VERY thoughtful about this last one. You don’t want to label your student and it is NOT within your scope of practice to diagnose.

    Usually I will ask first about injury and sensation to see what the student’s internal experience might be. This often leads to them divulging information they forgot to mention on their intake.
  5. Be in AGREEMENT with your student’s assessment of themselves – You want to ALWAYS note what the student says their experience is in particular the area you are measuring so that when you reassess you can use their own words and the discrepancy has greater weight and value to them not just to you.

    For example, if you see a significant forward head and rounded shoulders, find out what kind of ROM they have turning their head right to left or if they experience pain or discomfort while turning, flexing or extending. Write down the student’s EXACT words so you can help them compare their later experience. I call this the “compare and contrast.” Also have accurate and solid data (consistent in the way you derive a measurement) so that the discrepancy is more direct and likely to be noticed by the student.

 

Next, we must KNOW what their goals are and keep track of them! This may seem very simple, but more often than not we spend very little time unearthing short- and long-term goals  — having our students simply write down their goals on a piece of paper, never digging into what they are really after — and then immediately or quickly forget and get narrowly focused on what WE are trying to do or what WE want to accomplish.

Facilitating a strong sense of discrepancy in our students means that point B has to be very clear, well-articulated and honest. Sometimes our students don’t even know what they want or they only have a vague idea, but it’s not specifically linked to their life or their deepest desires. It’s our responsibility to ask questions that will reveal what our students are after in a way that has meaning to them.

 

Question Ideas:

  • Ask your students what they miss doing?
  • What is their pain preventing them from doing that feels like it diminishes their quality of life?
  • What do they hope to do someday that their physical health is preventing them from doing?
  • What would it feel like to be as vital and vibrant as possible? What would they be capable of then?
  • What activities, trips, etc. do they have coming up that they want to prepare for?
  • What daily activities are they currently prevented from doing that if by doing them would make everything else easier or unnecessary?

 

Not only write down the goals for you to have and track, write them down for the student to keep and look at every day.

One last thing. Set specific dates for reassessing progress. Tell your student and build anticipation. Keep talking about where you are going and why. Remind your student of where they want to go and find ways to tie into it everything they do. Be careful not to beat it to death, but DO make it a common thread.

How do you actually show discrepancy?

It can happen at any moment as long as you use the specific Point A and Point B comparison. But it happens most powerfully when you reassess the original measurements or qualities. The better you are at offering proof, the greater self-efficacy you promote.

 

Self-efficacy: Proof of success (experience)

Whereas discrepancy is the tool you use to articulate the distance between Point A and Point B, self-efficacy is the result of a positive result, measurement or a closing of the gap. The more you close the gap and can offer proof (that your student can experience) the more empowered they feel and believe that change is actually possible AND that THEY have something to do with it.

This is a little bit of a personal style thing as you will want to find ways to offer proof regularly – throughout a session potentially and definitely through a series of sessions regardless of the actual assessment. However, significant proof is offered during your reassessment and in relationship to specific goals.

 

As a point of reference, here are some of the ways I tend to offer proof:

  1. Ask leading, Student-Centered questions –
    1. Can you feel how this is different than what you were doing/experiencing last week/time we did this exercise?
    2. Are you able to say what feels different about this exercise now as compared to last time/last month/the first time? (This is also a good way to establish or reinforce discrepancy.)
    3. I noticed that you’re making the transition between x and y much more smoothly, can you feel how it’s different? Yes? How?
    4. Can you see how this exercise is improving your walking/squatting/climbing stairs? This is crucial to reaching your goal of x.
  2. Pointing out improvement and getting agreement –
    1. I am so impressed by how you are doing x. Can you feel the difference between when we first started this exercise and now?
  3. Exclaiming/proclaiming progress –
    1. Look at how you are able to do all five abdominal exercises now! Do you remember just 2 weeks ago when you had to rest between each one?

As I said, you have to find your own way, but whatever you do do it regularly and with the intention of bridging the gap between Point A and Point B and offering proof.

The most important thing to me in all of this is that you make it EXPLICIT, INTENTIONAL, and use all 4 Key Concepts CONSISTENTLY!

Like with all tools, you take the things that make sense to you and that you can easily integrate. I encourage you to re-read this article in a few days and/or print it out and go through it (and potentially the other preceding articles) with a highlighter. Choose ONE piece to begin with. Ask yourself where could you get the most bang for your buck right now. Then perhaps you make a plan for implementing ONE other thing each week or month depending on if you are trying to get others to also use the tool or just playing with it yourself.

AND I am totally here if you need some help. Call me! Let’s chat about how you can make the biggest difference with this work.

 

P.S. If you are looking for a way to get your students to practice more outside of the studio, check out the upcoming 30- and 66-day Online Student Practice Programs/Challenges I’m leading beginning November 30th.

If you are teacher you can encourage your students to get involved (you’d get to join for free if you’re a studio owner or if you refer 3 or more students). Or become an affiliate and earn $17 per student who signs up and participates in the program.

Get all the details HERE >>>
V
iew the course registration page HERE >>>

P.P.S. If you are considering joining as an affiliate, email me at chantill@skillfulteaching.com and I’ll invite you into the preview course so you can see everything your students will experience in the first 30 days.

Transformed by Fire – A True Story: Teaching as an anchor to sanity and hope.

In the past 5 days I’ve been torn with how to feel about what’s going on for Trinity and the other 100s of folks who have been affected by the Valley Fires. There is a part of me that aches every time I think about it, begins to unravel around the fact that it’s not fair, it’s too horrible, it shouldn’t have happened to (her) anyone.

It’s hard to pull back from this place. But I’m also deeply drawn to what feels like the greater truth, which is that I am wholly accepting of reality, in love with reality, and trust that the Universe is friendly – that what DOES happen, is what SHOULD happen, because – in fact – it has happened. Not sure if that makes sense to you, but for me it means no resistance to what IS happening, only embracing what already is and taking action as I can to change or affect change on what’s yet to come.

In this process I relax, I open up to a greater sense of peace, compassion, kindness and willingness to be fully present for all that is, just AS it IS. Of course I do not wish these tragic things to have happened, and yet they did happen. I believe my choice is that I could either carry around a lot of anger, sorrow, and be paralyzed by my resistance or I can move into it with all the love I can muster and am capable of and DO something now.

This morning I was doing my daily meditation (day 41 today – thank you “Miracle Morning”) and using the Metta or Loving Kindness meditation that I usually do and something totally shifted. Spontaneously, unconsciously even, I began to repeat the words:

  • I AM filled with loving kindness.
  • I AM well. I AM free from all internal and external dangers.
  • I AM in love with reality and truly free.

The HUGE difference here is that typically you would say:

  • MAY I be filled with loving kindness.
  • MAY I be well…

The difference between hoping it to be so and acknowledging it AS currently BEING SO was monumental.

I could and still can recognize that in THIS MOMENT I AM truly filled with loving kindness. I AM well. I AM free from all internal and external dangers. I AM in love with reality and truly free. It made me realize that although these things are not always true, indeed they often shift second to second, I am capable of stepping into the moment so fully, no matter what else is happening, and recognize what I AM now and that not all of me, or my true self, has to be torn at all. In the midst of such deep hurt, loss, fear, guilt, helplessness, but also hope, vulnerability and rawness it is possible to be well, to be filled with love, to be at peace…if only for a split second.

And then maybe again, and again, and again, we can return.

As I am re-reading this post before adding my final thoughts, I recognize how selfish it is (although perhaps masked by the fact that I hope it will be somehow meaningful to you); my way of working through what is to me nothing compared to what it is for Trinity or so many others.

And the truth is I do think it is an opportunity to question ourselves, to dig deeper, and to extend ourselves more – or at least see how much further we are capable of extending.

Again I thank you for all the love you’ve shown Trinity and her family. I hope you are having a beautiful day.

Sending you all love.

xoxox
— c