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A brief introduction.
It's 5.58 am and the cat has just thrown up next to the bed. I am not thrilled. This is not how I like to start the day.
I like to start the day by getting up while everyone else is sleeping (including the cats) and drinking my coffee in peace and quiet. Then I receive a text from someone like Kevin Costner telling me that the movie based on my best-selling novel has been nominated for an Oscar.
This has never happened.
But I frequently receive emails from people who want to hire me or collaborate with me. These emails are usually read after breakfast, as I don't want to spend my morning in front of a screen.
1:27 PM. I decide against working on my newsletter and choose instead to walk to the lakes.
3:59 PM: I return home and find my inbox filled with newsletters from coaches who, clearly . . ., are better at sitting still by their desks than I am. But my hair smells like trees, which feel like the tiniest of victories.
5:30 PM: I'm getting ready to meet with my writing group on Zoom. I pour myself a cup of tea and put on glossy lipstick. Perfect. I open my notebook and look over the lesson plan. I wonder what Sarah will be wearing.
7:45 PM: Dinner is ready. I'm not a great cook, but I'm not without talent either. I used to sell bread at the local farmer's market. Had I grown up in Paris, I undoubtedly would have been a baker. Or a chocolatier at Ladurée.
9:03 PM: I'm in bed. I open up the Kindle and read several pages of Your Brain on Art. Then I remember that there is a new episode of Yellowstone. I look longingly at the iPad.
Then I think about how long it's been since I lived at the Buddhist center. Then I wonder if I'll ever say, 'I can't believe it's been ten years since I lived in the Cotswolds!'
What comes after this?
10:37 PM: I pull the covers over me and question my life choices. Does going to bed before midnight make me a painfully boring person? But then I remember how early I like to get up. And if I'm ever going to finish that best-selling novel that will be adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie, I'd better fall asleep right away. Outside our bedroom window, the owls are hooting. Victory is near.
SOME THOUGHTS ON COACHING
To be perfectly blunt, I never wanted to thrive in an ordinary life. I write the word thrive in italic to demonstrate that it's one of those coach-speak terms I truly can't stand. I'm all for what the word represents, things like freedom, joy, beauty, magic, a sense of awe, meaning, and feeling connected to something bigger than ourselves. What I object to are the so-called strategies that apparently will lead to all this thriving.
Conquer your mindset.
Take control over your thoughts.
Master your limiting beliefs.
If you replace the word mindset with the word 'enemies' you have something that starts to look like Napoleon's plan for defeating Duke Wellington. Why the war lingo? In order to have a life filled with freedom and joy we have to go to war with our thoughts? With ourselves? One, how truly exhausting. Two, it doesn't work like that. And don't get me started on the phrase 'inspired action'. To suggest we can only do stuff when we feel inspired is like saying we're only allowed to get out of bed when the sun is shining.
The whole thing just feels like a less cruel, but equally oppressive, version of The Handmaid's Tale. Perfectionism and restrictions dressed up as self-help. Plus, while we're busy controlling our thoughts and manipulating our thinking, our soul, our intuition, our inner wisdom, awareness, whatever you want to call it, can't get a word in edge-wise.
When I was twenty years old, I dropped out of college and visited a friend who lived at a Tibetan Buddhist center in California. I was supposed to stay for two months. I stayed for ten years. This didn't make sense to anyone. Least of all me. But after the resident lama told me that I could develop a mind that would be at peace regardless of thoughts, feelings, or outer circumstances, I was hooked. I was also pissed. 'Why had no one told me this before? I'm only finding out about this now?' So I went back home, gave away all my belongings, and returned to live in a tiny trailer with a leaky roof. It might as well have checked in at the Ritz.
I'm telling you this so you'll understand that I'm all for developing a mind that works for us, not against us. Some might say I'd taken this interest to the extreme. But the problem with chasing after so-called positive thoughts and fighting off so-called negative ones is that we're still caught up in the absurd and irrational games of the ego. And I have bad news for you, the right mindset is not a short-hand for getting everything we want. That's a fantasy.
For instance, money mindset coaches often suggest that the only way to make more money is to first value yourself. Self-worth equals net worth! Bullshit. I've come across plenty of wealthy people who have low self-esteem. I also know plenty of poor people who truly love and like themselves.
Diet coaches often suggest that the solution to shedding those last ten pounds is to 'love yourself more. Learn to love your body.' So people who struggle with extra weight couldn't possibly love themselves? Got it.
I'm getting carried away.
What I meant to point out is that some problems are situational. Some challenges are generational. Some are cultural. Some are personal. Then there is race, privilege, gender issues, and access to help and resources. Yes, sometimes we think about our lives in a narrow and unhelp way. And no, an attitude adjustment is not enough. You need processes. Tools. Skills. Strategies. Something you can use and integrate into your life.
What I'm interested in, what truly makes me leap out of bed in the morning regardless of the weather forecast, is working with people who want to live a rich, creative, goofy, glorious, sacred, funny, and complicated life. They want to show up for all of it. The good, the bad, and the messy middle. None of these people are fortune tellers, so even though they have big dreams and beautiful goals, they don't try to control the outcome. They grow as they go and create amazing memories along the way.
This is what leads to thriving, by the way. Doing. Daring. Rising above the ego. Learning from mistakes. There is also a lot to be said for half-assing it and not overpreparing everything to death. Developing a sense of humor also helps. There is no need to take everything so seriously.
Some of my people don't exactly know what they want. So they pause. Listen. Look around. Follow their hunches and take it one step at a time. It's almost like the Universe has tapped them on the shoulder and said, 'It's time.'
Do you know who else followed their hunches? Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed.
Where am I going with this? I'm getting at the fact that if you're looking for a coach who will ask you to spend the better part of your day only from the neck up; developing the right mindset, nailing down your WHY, and tapping into the perfect feeling states before you get to do all the things you want to do, I'm not your gal.
But if you're looking for a space where all of you (body, mind, and soul) get to play with open-ended possibilities, a space where you get to listen to your weird hunches and act out of character, a space where you get to try things on for size. I'd love to team up with you. Inside this space, you don't have to perform, explain, justify, or know all the answers upfront. You don't even have to feel ready or think you have what it takes. Anything you want, my friend, go ahead. Go ahead and pursue it.
You ready? I am if you are.
Press and Publications
For media or speaking inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
When I published my first book, I was a radio guest at BBC Radio Gloucestershire.
Me and my book also landed the front page of the Woman section of The Daily Record.
'Great book by Inger Kenobi.' Praise from Livia Firth's Eco Age Instagram Feed.
Interview about my life at the Buddhist Center in California. (Sorry, no link)
Contributing author in Ramble On: A Celebration of Walking by Zee Southcombe.
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