December 26, 2011

When women sign up to attend one of my Retreatshops they are asked this (familiar) question: “What are you TRULY hungry for?” It has been surprising to see how many – so very many – have said CONNECTION.

And that is right, isn’t it? Connection is what we are all hungry for. Connection to our community. Connection our the land. Connection to ourselves. To our hungers. Often, most of all, we hunger for a meaningful connection to spirit.

Jennifer Wells-McCullough is the medicine we need to address our deep disconnection. She is a woman, mother, writer, and coach who knows deeply what it means and feels like to be in connection….and to be disconnected. She meets people wherever they are and shepherds them, as she says, to ‘live from’ their ‘soul’.

I hope you’ll savor every word of what she shares in this final Well-Fed Woman interview of the year – it’s totally delicious. In addition to being a wonderful spiritual coach, Jennifer is a talented writer to boot. I hope you’ll follow along with what she’s sharing with the world as she’s a point for all of us to find connection.

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Jennifer, what are you TRULY hungry for?

Silence balanced by the good kind of noise that comes with monthly bursts of creativity, spending time with my ten year old son (e.g., long walks, being taught how to draw unicorns, dancing around the room), and doing my work in the world. I’m hungry for opportunities to help others remember who they really are and assisting others in being who they are in a world that isn’t always supportive of this. And stories about life. Writing them, reading them, listening to them.

What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?

I previously denied my desire to live life as a spiritual being versus someone with a long list of shoulds, feelings of not being good enough, and fears. I barely made space for my abilities, gifts, and talents. I silenced the truest part of myself again and again. One day that kind of living almost cost me my life and I had to make a choice. I am so grateful I chose to live soul first and to have found the support I need to help me do so. It has meant more laughter, more love, a new business, open doors, more ease, more flow, and more opportunities to help others do the same. These changes can be found in every single area of my life. I now live from a place that knows I am deeply and unconditionally loved, larger and stronger than I may appear physically, and here to help others find their way back to and live their lives from the essence of who they are.

What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?

I’m a conduit for deep listening, unconditional love, and the ability to see the Divine in another human being. Along with this comes the way it feels to be able to hold space for another person – their stories, their writing, their fear, their essence. This is something I enjoy so much. It nourishes me.

Favorite bite in recent memory?

Food: Graeter’s pumpkin ice cream.

A non-food favorite bite – I recently traveled for twelve hours to hear someone speak (car, airport seats, plane, car). I wanted to see this person so much, but the uncomfortable seating and heavy luggage had resulted in an aching back. During the traveling, I’d been imagining how wonderful it would be if I could have circles drawn on my back. This is something my mother or grandmother would do and it totally relaxes me. After the event was over, I stood in line on my way out and the person beside me asked where I was from. I named my city and must have looked either stressed or exhausted or both. She reached out to me, gently placed her fingers on my back, and drew circles as she smiled and asked, “And all of the traveling was worth it, wasn’t it?” (it was).

To get more Jennifer in your ‘diet’ visit her coaching website, blog, and follow her on Twitter.

December 12, 2011

Some Like It Cold

As a coach, this is the time of year my clients start to fret about the upcoming holidays. And I can relate. I’ve had my share of Thanksgiving dinners where the tension in the air was harder to cut than the turkey. I’ve had more white winter family gatherings where one or more people were crying or not speaking to another.

So where do we get tripped up? What are these pitfalls? Here are five that I see a lot and each of us has the power to shift away from these and towards a more joyful holiday.

#1 We look for happiness from outside ourselves

If your holiday is only a success if {insert family member name} does or doesn’t {insert behavior} then you’re already set up for disappointment and resistance to the present moment. Others will do as they do and our power reigns only over our own personal domain. This is good news – trust me – because it means your free. You only have to worry about you and that’s more than enough for most of us. Be intentional about where your happiness is coming from.

#2 We forget that it’s a vacation

If you’re an American who’s lucky enough to still have a job, then chances are you are only allotted meager crumbs of vacation days each year. It’s common to spend our precious vacation week or two on these end of year holidays. That said, we don’t often use that time as it’s intended for — to recharge, to rest, to assume various positions of leisure. Plan now. Say no. Be intentional about getting an actual vacation.

#3 We make it about things that aren’t meaningful

Gifts. Portraits. Parties. Shoulds. Shouldn’ts. Know where you get your deeper meaning from. Know what makes a holiday well spent. Know that if you had to give up every single thing that didn’t really matter what you’d need left over to have a meaningful holiday. I doubt it could be wrapped up with a bow or RSVPd to. Be intentional about making this holiday meaningful.

#4 We expect unrealistic things from ourselves

A 6 course meal for 16. Gifts for all 8 cousins. A red-eye flight on the holiday’s eve. Getting through this season without eating sugar. Thank you letters in the mail the week after the holiday. Where are you setting the bar for yourself? Where are you making yourself the martyr? Be intentional about being human and owning that you’re enough without that extra long jump.

#5 We plan all the magic and wonder out of it

A party at 5 and another at 7. Rigidly sticking to traditions that you’ve outgrown. Firm ‘no’s and haphazard ‘yes’s without checking in with your heart. Be intentional about leaving room for the dance of life, for the wonder that can’t be scheduled, and for the beauty that comes when the branch bends.

 

posted in full living
December 8, 2011

What I’m sharing today is my framework for moving towards a life rooted in love with yourself.

When I reflect on my own journey from self-loathing (step zero) to true self-love, these are the stages I passed through. These are the steps I work with my clients to take. You can’t leap from Step One to Three. And it takes great patience at each point.

And, no matter what step you’re on, self-judgement will always rear it’s head. These steps are not permanent locations, but rather home-bases. They are where you return to, somewhat effortlessly, when you become aware of unkind and unfriendly thoughts or behaviors from you – towards you.

Think about what it feels like and what it means to make peace with something.

Acceptance. Tolerance. Not trying to change. Not necessarily preferring. A cease-fire.

Think about what it feels like and what it means to make friends with something.

Kindness. Affection. On the same team. Got your back. Buddies. Laughter. On the same side.

Now, think about what it feels like and what it means to make love with something.

Intensity. Deep affection. Pleasure. Delight. Intimate knowing. Union. Flow. Natural.

There is a total absence of being threatened here. There is the full body knowing that coming together, unifying, connecting, sharing, and giving unconditionally is right. There is no ‘other’ here.

You are in relationship with yourself. The most important relationship you will ever have.

What step are you on? How do you know? How could you move towards friendship or love?

 

November 30, 2011

The Well-Fed Woman interview series could never be complete without talking to Brene Brown the trailblazing, shame-busting, proudly imperfect researcher and writer. It’s an honor to share her wisdom with you today. If you haven’t heard of Brene or read her books, consider this introduction a gift.

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Brene, what are you truly hungry for?

Solitude and contemplation are essential for my wellbeing. Most people find it hard to believe that I’m an introvert and a very private person. I enjoy talking about my work with 5000 people, but on a day to day basis,I’m starving for time to think. I’m a contemplative walker – which is like a walking meditation, but more thinking and less meditating. It’s how I sort out my life and my research. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m nuts. I walk through our neighborhood in deep thought, often talking to myself (with my hands). If a really significant idea emerges or I figure out the perfect language to describe a research finding, I often just stop and work it out in my head. I’m probably even rubbing my forehead and pacing. I’ve also been known to stop walking and sprint back to my house.

What’s a craving that you previously denied that you know happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?

I have two cravings that I once denied but I’m now embracing: sleep and play. I never really thought about either one of them until I did the research on Wholeheartedness and wrote “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Sleep and play emerged as critically important pieces of living and loving with our whole hearts. When it comes to sleep, I have some gremlins around being lazy. People who know me often think, “Are you kidding?” I do work hard, but that doesn’t always silence those deep shame triggers. Today I nap if I feel tired and I get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep debt is the devil and I’m pretty sure most of the world walks around tired and pissed off.

As far as play goes, that one was much harder. For me, I had to do some work around the combination of gremlins about being silly and self-indulgent and the vulnerability of letting loose.  Again, it was the research that really helped me understand the importance of play in our lives. Dr. Stuart Brown writes that one property of play is “time spent without purpose.” I used to call that an anxiety attack. Now I get it. I’ve started playing more and it’s been such a gift to me and to my family. I feel better, I’m more creative, and I love the new feeling of getting lost in something for the sake of getting lost.

What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?

I’m really good at observing human nature, seeing subtle connections between our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, and naming those experiences. It’s my superpower and I get to do it for a living – that’s a gift. I love what I do. It makes me come alive.

Favorite bite in recent memory?

I’ve got a new egg poacher that my 6-year old son calls the egg poach-in-a-tor (too much Phineas and Ferb). I’m hooked on poached eggs with truffle salt right now. It’s delicious.

To get more Brene Brown in your ‘diet’, visit her website and follow her on Twitter @brenebrown.
November 18, 2011

In preparation for my 2012 Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop tour I’ve been mining the road of life that’s brought me here. I’ve been talking to friends about what they remember. I’ve been listening to Gail Larsen’s amazing Transformational Speaking, and I dug out a sizable box of old journals and have been reading through them. There’s a lot of beauty and sadness on these pages. There is also this poem. It appears to have been written in early February 2006. I don’t recall what it was about but rereading it moved me. It’s kind of like seeing yourself in a video doing things you have no recollection doing and yet you can’t refute that it’s you on the screen. Here are my words, new to you and to me…

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When we meet
after years
ours will be beautiful
richDance we will
between the nervous unknown
the vastness we’ll unveil
and then like sinking into
wet sand we’ll slip into
the knowing
the cellular awareness that
all our toils had purpose
wisdom designed to merge

When we meet
we’ll both stop to look back
 over our shoulder
 smiling in the distance we’ll
breathe easy at the far off mountain ranges we’ve summited

When we meet
it will be a being – not a
performance

We’ll be
over runny eggs and toast

We’ll be deep in the Sunday papers

We’ll be whole and shameless —
both fully aware of our lovability – and ability to love

Smiling at the perfection –
the amazing flawlessness of our total being of
imperfection.

When we meet
ours will be beautiful.

posted in poetry

Hi, I'm Rachel

I am a life coach and fierce advocate for women feeding their truest hungers. I'm also a curator of inspiration and this is where I share the wisdom I've gained, words that trigger deep reflection, and resources to help you live your most well-fed life. Feast onward.

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