What Inspires Your Soul?

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 2.16.45 PMThose who know me well and/or are connected with me on my personal Facebook page, know that at my core, I’m a nature girl. I am energized by the city, but it is time in nature that ultimately soothes my soul. It is the heart of my creative energy and where I draw inspiration for much of my writing and creative work. Nature, after all, is a wonderful teacher if we’ll take the time to listen to Her secrets.
Just as nature invites me into a deeper, more contemplative conversation, so, too, does the energy of people, new places, and the problems of the world draw me back in to engage in life in a larger way. Honoring these two equally powerful dimensions of my life is as essential to me as breathing air, and I’ve learned over the years that to live entirely in one domain without honor and attention to the other, is to live a diminished and divided life.
Knowing what inspires and influences our energy, whether positively or negatively, is a big part of walking our heart path. Being mindful and intentional about who and what we give our energy and thoughts to is equally important.
Consider the image for this post. Part of a creative series inspired by nature, just beyond the view of my lens and the once tranquil green I traverse on a near daily basis, is farmland that is rapidly being bulldozed to be replaced by more housing that will permanently alter the landscape of our little town. It is a reflection of our times — landscapes changing that challenge each of us to adapt and change with them, whether invited or not.
Still, though we cannot always control or change those landscapes or events in our lives that threaten to disrupt the status quo, we are free to choose what we focus on, acknowledging that mindful intention has the power to influence more than just the moment we’re in.
I could choose, for example, to focus on the unsightly bulldozers, allowing my peace to be disrupted by the physical and emotional noise and subsequent negativity that arises, or choose instead to be deliberate about what I focus on, disciplining my senses to tune in to the beauty and peace that remains in plain sight, if only I’ll pay attention.
So, too, is it with life.
At a time of tremendous turmoil and upheaval; during times of uncertainty, crisis, and the threat of constant change, it can be tempting to be distracted by the noise; to allow ourselves to become consumed by anxiety, negativity, and fear. While we cannot ignore the realities of our world, where we choose to focus our energy and the way in which we move through these things is entirely within our control.
It’s a matter of mindfulness and adopting a daily discipline of intentionality about how and with whom we choose to show up and spend our time, energy, and talents. And it is the sum of these daily choices, that ultimately create the legacy we will leave behind for others.
I’m curious to know…
How does nature speak to you? What gives you energy and/or feeds your soul? Are you intentional, mindful, and deliberate in your choices, or do you allow the winds of change and uncertainty to toss you about and throw you off course? 

Paddy’s Day Giveaway!

In celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day and the official launch of my new book , Walking the Heart Path: Bite-Sized Bits of Wisdom on Living & Leading from the Inside Out, beginning March 10th through March 17th, enter to win one of 5 signed first-edition copies to readers in the U.S. and Canada. To enter your name in the giveaway, simply click on the link below!

May the luck of the Irish be with you! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Walking the Heart Path by Sharon E. Reed

Walking the Heart Path

by Sharon E. Reed

Giveaway ends March 17, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

Enter Giveaway 

Women’s Day – follow your heart

Source: Women’s Day – follow your heart

Walking the Heart Path

If life is a journey, I believe each of us must honor the sacred integrity of our own path. We must learn to lead from within, aligning our outer choices with our inner values, callings, and convictions.

But how exactly?

How, for example, do we discern and distinguish our own path from others’? How do we hear our own voice above the noise and courageously honor our own callings in the face of resistance from others?

Sometimes we lack a sense of vision, purpose or the ability to hear our calls. Perhaps we have a limited degree of self-awareness, and in the absence of self-knowledge and respect, look to the external to define our sense of worth. Sometimes our paths are laid out Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 9.26.57 AMbefore us by others, and we blindly follow what we are often unable or afraid to discover for ourselves. Perhaps we internally judge ourselves as unworthy or incapable of making a different choice, choosing powerlessness over self-empowerment. We allow fear to overshadow the gift of authenticity and allow the opinions of others to trample our own. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a different role — judging others, perhaps harshly so, as if our subconscious’ way of defending the fragility of our own choices and ego.

In recent weeks, I’ve been inspired by those whose path have crossed my own; those who are not only daring to dream, but who have challenged themselves to leave the security of convention, convenience, and/or comfort to follow their sense of calling and conviction for their lives. While the stories differ in detail, what they share in common is a sense of daring and the courage to try, regardless of whether their decision to change was by choice or chance. What they share is the belief that when vision and effort are combined with core values and a deep-centered sense of faith and possibility, baby steps taken can begin to propel them toward their dreams and to live a life of purpose.

I’ve also encountered others who have shared their struggle to find their authentic voice and walk their true path, finding comfort instead in the status quo out of fear of what might happen if they dared to make a change. Not surprisingly, instead of projecting a sense of inner peace with their decision, energetically, they project a sense of dis-ease at best, and sometimes even outright anger as their internal discontent morphs into judgment and criticism of others.

Wherever we find ourselves on the continuum of life, if we are to honor and embrace our authentic voice and the essence of all that we have to offer, we must learn to silence the critics, whether our own or others. To realize our leadership potential, we must also own our truths and find the courage to live our convictions however and wherever we choose to live out our leadership in our individual journeys.

Exercising the courage to live in integrity with who you authentically are and to live out your callings and convictions is at the essence of heart-aligned living. In doing so, we not only find our true heart path but help pave a path forward for others, too.

Promo_FB_AP_Quote_Launch

Yesterday marked the official launch of my new book, Walking the Heart Path: Bite-Sized Bits of Wisdom on Living & Leading from the Inside Out. It was also a day recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day.

As a way of giving back and helping pave a path forward for others, $1 of every book purchased will be donated to the Foundation for Girls. Focused on nurturing the leader in every girl, this Charlotte, NC-based 501(c)3 providing mentoring, financial literacy, STEM, and other skills-based training to at-risk girls in Charlotte. 

Fractures and Fault Zones

The daughter of a geophysicist and a long-time Houston resident (which if you’re not familiar with the city, has a massive fault zone running through it), I’ve always been intrigued by fractures and fault zones; of the seismic shifts that can occur over time and why some foundations can withstand the shifts, perhaps even becoming stronger over time, while others crumble in the wake of a single tremor.

In any team or long-term relationship, whether familial, romantic, professional, etc., there is the almost certain inevitability that at some point, sooner or later, fracture lines will form — cracks that form in the wake of too much pressure or perhaps the revelation of some fact, truth, or behavior that lay hidden just beneath the surface. Sometimes these revelations are the result of unforeseen triggers or unresolved business that may surface in our memory. Sometimes they are the result of people, events, and circumstances that we simply cannot control.

Whatever the trigger; whatever the cause, over time, too many fractures can eventually form fault zones that threaten the very stability of our foundation. Over time, too many fractures can cause us to question the integrity of intention, too, causing us to reactively look outside ourselves for answers (or blame) instead of taking time to look inward at our own role, choices, and behaviors.

So what do we do when we first see them surface? How can we create enough spaces in our togetherness or teams to allow for the natural expansions and contractions that occur over time? How can we practice self-care and cultivate the strength and resiliency needed in the event of a sudden quake or seismic shift? How can we do a better job of communicating our needs, fears, dreams, and hopes, while creating a safe space for others to do the same?

One answer is to take responsibility for our own choices, feelings, and behaviors, while establishing healthy boundaries that both honor the self and others; boundaries that reflect and defend our core values and truths, enabling us to form our own solid foundation even as we live and work in community and relationship with others.

Another strategy is to practice letting go of our need to both know and control outcomes, while allowing Faith to be our guide. So often we assume we know what is ‘best’ in any given situation — whether for ourselves or others, though this need to know or control not only damages others, but prevents us from being fully present in our own lives too. It robs us of the mystery of the moment and erodes our capacity for living from an inquisitive point of view — essential for continual learning and growth.

In the end, we cannot always predict a tremor or quake and we certainly cannot control the outcome. What we can do is take the time to build a solid personal foundation that can withstand the tests of time,  while cultivating the personal readiness and resiliency needed to navigate shifts, expansions, change and disruption, when they inevitably come our way.

Start With Where You Are

It is the eve of a new year — a time to reflect on what has passed and to set our intentions for the year ahead.

Often our resolutions are about doing something different from before, whether losing weight, changing jobs, or finally getting around to writing that book you’re just sure will be a best-seller. Moreover, if we’re really honest with ourselves, the best of our intentions often fall short of the promise of what’s possible and we end up right back where we started, perhaps feeling disappointed and defeated by the lack of change in our lives.

But what if instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water we made a choice to build upon what is already there? What if instead of spending our time dreaming of something altogether new, we focused our energy on cherishing what is, while reflecting on ways to expand and enrich the present(s) in our lives?

The best resolutions are those that honor and reflect our authentic selves.

Need to lose weight or lower your cholesterol? Start by loving your body as it is and making a mindful choice to care for it through healthy eating and exercise. Want to change jobs? Take an inventory of your current skills and environment and explore ways you might be find fulfillment by adding value where you already are. Still dreaming of writing that best-seller? Start by taking baby steps…cultivating a daily writing practice or joining a community of writers who share your passion.

Change may be difficult, but growth begins with where you are.

As you contemplate ringing in 2017, I hope you’ll consider joining me in making it the best year yet, remembering that the grass is greenest — not in some fantasy or someone else’s back yard, but where we choose to water and nurture it.

Happy New Year!

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-9-29-37-am

Postscript: Speaking of resolutions, one of my intentions in 2016 was to finally compile some of the best of my insights with original artwork and publish as an inspirational quote book. In March 2017, my new book, Walking the Heart Path, will be released and available for purchase. Click here to learn more, reserve your copy, and read what others are already saying.

 

Creative Visualization

15541549_10154808096969655_9204891255238104112_nRecently I was feeling a bit silly and rather serious at the same time. Practicing a little creative visualization, I sheepishly snuck an advance reader copy of my upcoming book, Walking the Heart Path, into my local Barnes & Noble, found a few favorite authors’ books for companions, placed my own on the shelf, took out my camera, and began to snap away. No, I didn’t leave it there, but I did pause for just long enough to breathe in the moment and visualize possible outcomes . . . specifically, to envision and consider what success might look like for me.

15589980_10154808096974655_5275041062588752987_nCrazy? Perhaps; Will it work? Possibly; Has it worked in the past? Absolutely. Many times, in fact.

Too early to know for sure, what I do know is this:

We become what we imagine and believe is possible. We should therefore learn to dream with our hearts wide open. 

No, I’m not suggesting that everything is possible. If you are an active asthmatic, for example, the U.S. Air Force is not going to let you pilot their planes. Some rules  (including the laws of physics) are, at least in this present moment, what they are.

But I believe in miracles. I believe in dreaming big, working hard, and acknowledging that while not everything is within our control, the possibilities for our lives do in fact expand or diminish in proportion to our courage and commitment to our vision AND our willingness to make sacrifices and do the hard work required along the way. I believe in the power of Faith, prayer, and honest intention, too — which collectively calls us to both dare to dream and be willing to simultaneously surrender to unknown outcomes.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

If we’re not careful, fear (whether of failure or success) and its close cousin, pride, will show up at our party, often unannounced. Invited or not, letting them roam freely in our minds is the sure fastest way to sabotage our dreams. Left unattended, they will plant seeds of doubt and/or create a lengthy list of reasons why we deserve something less than we imagine is possible (or perhaps have yet to imagine), though trying to smother, silence, and bind them only fuels their fire and determination to squash our spirit.

So what is the answer?

As Elizabeth Gilbert suggests in her book, Big Magic, make friends with fear (and feed your pride some humble pie while you’re at it). Acknowledge fear’s presence, but while you’re at it, step up your Faith, paint the picture you want to see, and learn to lean into love.

That’s where the real magic resides.

I’m curious to know and ask…

Do you find it easy to dream or do you find yourself holding back? What are the biggest obstacles that keep you from pursuing (and therefore realizing) your dreams? Have you ever painted a picture in your mind and/or created a physical visual of your desired outcome? What was the result? How does creating a vision for your life (or project) help move you closer to realizing your dreams?

p.s. Want to read a great book on daring to dream? Pick up a copy of Whitney Johnson’s book, Dare, Dream, Do, and while your at it, a copy of her latest book, too — Disrupt Yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

The High Price of Fear

Without question, the political landscape and election season within the United States have given rise to the shadow side of human nature, regardless of whether you paint yourself red, blue, or some variant shade of purple. Fear and hate have erupted across our country, threatening to drown out what lightness remains, as people and communities have become more divided than ever, determined to defend their rightness of being, regardless of cost.

fear

The trouble is, however justified the fear; however painful the injustices (whether real, perceived, or projected), giving into and giving rise to anger and hate only guarantees more of the same. Importantly, it robs each of us of the ability to be fully engaged in the present of our lives, and it is in that place of presence where we have the best opportunity to make a difference, positively impact others, and effect change by the values we choose to live out in our everyday lives.

This post is not a commentary on our current politics, but rather, our collective psyche, and the high price of fear.

Recently, I was sharing a painful story from my past with a close group of friends, affectionately referred to as my gal pals. In the wake of my own recounting, one friend asked me how I was able to find forgiveness and ultimately forge a close and loving relationship with someone who had once caused me pain. In recent months, other people have asked me how I’ve been able to move forward in the wake of other struggles and setbacks, too, finding success on my own terms and ultimately reuniting with peace and joy along my own twisty journey.

The truth is that it took a long time and has been an imperfect journey at best.

It took digging deep and getting honest enough to realize that carrying around pain, fear, anger, and resentment did nothing to move me forward in my own life and all but guaranteed I would stay stuck while alienating others in the process. It took recognizing that there were gifts to be found in my struggles if I was willing to open myself to the lessons at hand. It took acknowledging that other peoples’ behaviors, however egregious, is often a projection of their own pain, too. It’s not a reason to condone their actions, but the responsibility of how we choose to respond is entirely our own.

And here’s the rub. When we are stuck in reaction, we cannot thoughtfully act. When we are stuck in fear, we cannot love. When we are stuck in pain, we cannot forgive. When we are stuck in a mindset of righteous indignation, we can neither act with kindness nor compassion.

And that hurts all of us.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am choosing to take the time to reflect on my own choices — of thought, word, and action. To take responsibility for the energy I choose to put out into the world, recognizing that none of us are islands unto ourselves. I encourage you to do the same, considering what it might mean to replace fear with fierce love, too. Not the namby-pamby kind of sentimentality we tend to think of when we hear that word, but the kind that is anchored by courage, strength, and deep faith in the unseen and larger hand that is at play in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and all of you!

signature-for-blog

Postscript: Sometimes the anger that rises within us can give us the courage to boldly act and take risks we might otherwise never dare. When harnessed constructively, we can leverage our feelings to effect thoughtful, positive change. That is a good thing. The challenge is when fear gives way to destructive and thoughtless reaction that only serves to perpetuate more of the same.

Making Peace

“Sometimes achieving peace without begins within.” On this International Day of Peace, I invite to you to consider what role personal accountability, forgiveness and compassion play in achieving peace with others? How can holding space for another and/or opening a dialogue from a place genuine respect, create a bridge to deeper understanding and acceptance? How do you achieve peace in your own life?

Sharon E. Reed

Sometimes achieving peace without begins within. It begins with reconciling our heart with our head, facing head on those things we might rather avoid. It means taking a personal inventory of our behaviors and choices; making amends with those we have hurt or been hurt by. It means meeting others where they are and as they are… choosing to forgive and let go from a place of love, not ego; from a place of compassion, not resentment, without an expectation of reciprocity.

In celebration of International Day of Peace, recognized on September 21st, I’m curious to know and ask…

How do you achieve peace in your own life? What role can personal accountability, forgiveness and compassion play in achieving peace with others? How can holding space for another and/or opening a dialogue from a place genuine respect, create a bridge to deeper understanding and acceptance? As you inventory you…

View original post 17 more words

Possibility Thinking

Impossibility thinking comes from a place of fear and a lack of Faith. Possibility thinking comes from a place of love and a fundamental belief that all things work together for good.

I’m curious to know…

Expanding on the theme of dreams and miracles, are you driven more by your fears or your Faith? Despite the inevitable heartache and hardships that are part of any life journey, do you believe that all things work together for good or that you are simply a victim of life’s circumstances? In the larger context of the world we currently live in, what role can possibility thinking play in creating meaningful solutions to complex problems? What role does possibility thinking look like in your own life?

bloomin_WC