Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living in the Unfolding of Now

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I do my best to live in the moment that is in front of me—to appreciate what is before me.

Most challenging are the times I find myself delayed at an airport, trapped in a conversation that I don’t want to have, or wanting to be doing something else.

I believe a disconnect occurs when we have a future orientation. Yes, I understand the future orientation intimately. I lived there for many, many years.

I’m questioning, now, if I still do? I’m not quite sure how to separate what’s happening now and knowing that something fun and exciting is on the horizon that I can’t stop thinking about.

I do believe there is a difference between disassociating where you are in the moment versus being hopeful or interested in a future event.

I do work hard to give the people in my life, at a particular moment, my undivided attention and focus.

This brings to mind the cocktail party setting—where you see the person surveying the room looking for the better deal. But even the best of us more than likely struggle when finding ourselves in a similar situation stuck talking to the person who is boring us to tears when we see someone else who would make us laugh or feel better.

Just the other day, I was presenting to a group of students. I was enjoying the moment, but happened to look at the clock. “Oh dear, I need to finish this so I can go do what I really want to do.” I had a schedule. I needed to leave and any delay would interfere with my fun. These are the times I attempt to reign the future back in and return to present moment living. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not.

As mentioned before, my most challenging times are those airport delay situations and similar. I really hate not being in control of what I am doing and when. I know…doesn’t sound like the best candidate for present moment living. I have, though, gotten better. So much better in fact, that not too long ago, I received an email from an airline carrier apologizing for inconveniencing me. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. Although, if they had delayed me overnight or something—I most certainly would have known.

Maybe just trying to live in the moment is a major step forward. So for now, I will continue to do my best. I will continue to not beat myself over it when I can’t seem to go there. Yep, l have much practice to do.

On the same theme...below is one of my favorite articles on the subject (2009).

New Year's Resolution: To Be More Present

This year I decided on the perfect resolution: to live happily in the moment no matter the circumstances.

The resolution was so perfect I had already begun speaking about it in presentations. Living in the moment can be hard to do—think holiday travelers stranded at airports and train stations. Most of us relive the past or pine for a better future. I didn’t even understand the concept until I was in my 40s, and I was going to make sure 2009 was going to be the year when I focused on the present.

That is, until my daughter Addy took the dog-sitting job, which required me to be the designated driver.

“Let’s sit in the hot tub tonight,” Addy said. The doggy momma owned a fancy hot tub, which she had offered to us.

“Good idea!” I said. It was blustery and cold. Soaking in the hot tub sounded like fun.

We arrived at 6:30 p.m., checked on the dog, put our belongings on the kitchen counter and then went outside to the tub. As I was about to step in, I realized I still had the thank-you-for-my-Christmas-present note I had meant to leave inside.

Addy jumped into the hot tub as I headed for the backdoor. I turned the knob. It didn’t turn. The door was locked. “It’s still 2008,” I yelped at the intractable door. I wasn’t ready to face my new resolution yet, but what choice did I have. Plus, I had an impressionable witness.

And there I stood clad only in my swimming suit in 28-degree weather with our shoes, coats and my car keys locked securely in the house.

Fortunately I also had my cell phone. I could have called someone to pick us up, but I had left my spare house key in my own house. My friends who did have a key to my house were out of town.

I tried calling my hot tub friend, but I knew her plane wasn’t arriving until 8:20 p.m., if it did arrive on time in this time of many travel delays. I called my husband who was on his way home from an out-of-town trip. He wouldn’t make it for three more frigid hours.

Don’t tell my friend, but I thought about breaking down her door, but that solution didn’t appeal to Addy or me. We couldn’t think of anyone else to call. Who wants to be at someone else’s house in their swimming suits for three hours, even when the temperature is more favorable?

There was only one thing we could do. We threw up our hands.

At this point Addy said. “Okay, Mom. Let’s just enjoy the moment.” We had been talking about this lesson for some time now, and in the cold, in the dark, part of me was thrilled to know Addy had been listening to our discussions.

“You’re right, Addy,” I said, trying to set a good example while the idea of not knowing how long the hot tub ordeal would last unnerved me.

It was 8:20 when doggy friend texted me the number of the next-door-neighbor, who did have a spare key and after a good laugh came to our rescue. We had plenty of hot tub time, a good story for the retelling, and lots of practice of living happily in the moment. I have to admit I need lots more practice, which makes this 2009 resolution just right for me.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Not Barbie, Not Married to Ken...

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But Something Much Better: ME

It was something Monique Marvez, author of Not Skinny, Not Blonde, said that got me going on this Not Barbie: Not Married to Ken kick.

It was so true. Just like Monique, I always wanted to be skinny. I always wanted to be blonde.

The real truth: I always wanted to be Barbie! Barbie had it all. She was beautiful, skinny, blonde and rich. She had a great house, great clothes, great car and always attended fabulous parties—at the beach, at the hotel.

And I’m sure I’m not the ONLY girl who had this dream.

But even better…Barbie had Ken. Ken. Ken the most handsome doll in all the land. I can’t tell you how many times Ken and I walked down the aisle in my imagination. I spent hours envisioning life with a perfect husband like Ken. There had to be a picket fence and 2.5 kids somewhere in that picture.

And then it happened. Being Barbie and Ken didn’t seem idyllic anymore. Barbie and Ken broke up. The break-up happened right before Valentine’s Day (can you imagine) in 2004. Supposedly Barbie—the most admired doll in the world—did the dumping (at least according to the AP wire). The two had been a pair for 43 years and without warning they were kaput, splitsville, finished.

A Mattel spokesperson told reporters, “They had grown apart." "Needed some time alone." "Were going their separate ways." "They would remain friends."

I couldn’t believe the news. Barbie. Ken. The end. But those two had ridden off into the sunset in their pink convertible. Not Barbie and Ken. No.

To make matters worse within a few months Barbie hooked up with a boy-toy surfer dude named Blaine.

I’m not sure who started the gay rumor. Poor Ken.

But reportedly, Ken took it like a doll—er man.

Instead of lashing out or seeking revenge, he sought to improve himself.

In 2006 (again I totally missed this announcement) the new Ken stepped out at a Manhattan news conference. The AP wire buzzed again, “The new and improved Ken sported a more rugged jaw line, wore cargo pants and listened to Norah Jones.”

Some reporter mentioned Barbie’s ex now rode a motorcycle while another claimed that Ken “dabbles in Buddhism.” Yet another reporter told her viewers the doll had taken cooking lessons and might help in the kitchen. But there was more. Ken, no longer content with being perfect, regularly worked out. Ken Doll returned to the scene buffed. Ken was now toting a six-pack.

Yet Barbie still hasn’t taken him back. She even tweated about it. “For the hundredth time, I promise I'm not with Ken! I'm very much single and actually talking to a new boy right now...”

What appeared to be a match made in heaven—two perfect people living two perfect lives—is all pretend. Finally I have seen the light.

Forget it Barbie. You may be beautiful, skinny, blonde and rich, but now I see who you really are—fake, fickle and hungry. No thank you. And Ken, sweet adorable Ken. I no longer pine for you, for what women in her right mind wants to be with a doll more beautiful than she? Oh yes. I now regularly shout my new mantra, “I am not Barbie and not married to Ken.”

Allyn Evans
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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I decided to re-publish one of my favorites. Enjoy.

Hocus Pocus. Abracadabra. Remind you a little of Practical Magic? Witchcraft. Trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Forgive the drama, but unfortunately it’s true. Spells exist. Big spells. Little spells. We live in a world where spells are cast and someone falls prey.

You are probably right now under the influence of more than one spell.

Take a breath—it’s not life threatening. But it is serious. According to Caroline Myss a spell is a mental lock-in. She explained to her Hay House radio listening audience: “What if someone says, ‘You look terrible today?’ You accept the spell. VoilĂ . You feel terrible all day.”

Mrs. Middleton taught me speech and typing in high school. One day I wore a black t-shirt with jeans to school. She pulled me aside. “Allyn, I must tell you. You look sick when you wear black. Never wear black near your face.” Do I wear black against my face now? Do I have to tell you the answer to that question?

A spell is like a superstition:
“I can’t lose weight.”
“I can’t succeed.”
“I’m stupid.”

Here’s the deal. You have locked into a false belief. FALSE. A superstition. Did a black cat just walk underneath the ladder? Did you break a mirror? You now have seven years of bad luck.

I cringed as I listened to Caroline. Thinking I don’t look good in black. Spell. Believing women over 40 can’t lose weight. Spell.

Here’s what is not a spell: I am five feet, three inches tall. Here’s another … I was born in New Orleans.

Spellcasters don’t have to be witches either. It can be Ms. Middleton, my well-intentioned high school teacher, who was only trying to help. It can be your mom. Your best friend. Your spouse. Spellcasters can have your best interest at heart. Really. Or so they think.

Recently my husband and I attended a school event. We ate lunch with our daughter. Her friend’s parents couldn’t come, and we invited the child to join us. We laughed. Joked. Then it was time to leave.

Later that evening my daughter reported, “Sylvia told me some things about you.” “What?” I asked. You know about curiosity and the cat.

“She said dad is bald and you are a little wide in the hips.” Ouch. Cats are part of spell casting magic. And to think I had been feeling pretty good about my appearance. As much as I tried not to let them, the spell of a nine-year-old girl’s words stung. A child speaks, and I ask, “Are my hips that wide?”

The reality is…spells are cast all the time. Ricocheting from parents, friends, teachers, magazines, movies, commercials, the culture itself—you know, groupthink—and most of us are immediately spellbound.

Hollywood casts spells. TV casts spells. Fashion casts spells. Let’s talk about the popular TV reality show What Not To Wear. Hosts Jillian Hamilton and Clinton Kelly grab unsuspecting victims turned in by friends or family who are only trying to help. Jillian and Clinton give it to them about their lack of fashion sense.

And Jillian and Clinton are NOT nice. They put Little Janie in a room with surround mirrors. Talk about my worst nightmare. They have Little Janie try on her awful clothes and tell her why she looks so terrible. They then send spellstung Little Janie off with $5,000 to get her new look.

When she returns, Janie is told why everything she selected using their rules and expert advice works for her. “See Janie. The flared leg is so much more slimming.” Little Janie, who is now smiling and so pleased with her self, nods in agreement. “Remember those slim cut jeans you used to own. You know the ones we threw in the trash? They made you look 10 pounds heavier.”

Scriiiiitch. Slim cut jeans are back! What does Little Janie do now? Little Janie looks fat in slim cut jeans. The spell has been cast. And the spell has been accepted. How can Janie believe anything else? The famous TV Fashion People told her she looked fat in slim cut jeans.

Even though I don’t know a spell to counter a spell, I do know a place to begin—a way to stop at least one spell. It’s black-t-shirt-buying time. That’s what time it is. And after that it’s time to wear my black t-shirt. And you know what? I’m going to look damn good in it too. Poof. Spell be gone.

Allyn Evans

Friday, November 12, 2010

Do You Know Where You Are Going To?

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Last night I watched The Family That Preys featuring Kathy Bates as a socialite and well-to-do Charlotte Cartwright.

Near the end of the movie one of the characters (Alice) played by Alfre Woodward gives the eulogy at Charlotte's funeral.

Alice repeated something she often heard Charlotte say to her, "Are you living or just existing?"

I realized the minute I heard it. "Oh dear. Here comes an important message. Are you listening?"

I hope you'll give this question some thought. Maybe, for you, it's the right message at the right time.

Another powerful message delivered by Bates' character came through lyrics of song. Using the words from Lee Ann Womack's song "I Hope You Dance," Charlotte encouraged Alice to make fun choices.

Quite possibly the most haunting lines of the song are the key message: "Tell me who wants to look back on their youth and wonder where those years have gone."
And just like Charlotte and Lee Ann, "I hope you dance." But I want to add one more ingredient to this recipe. "I hope you dance. Now."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Finding Your Own Good Witch Glenda

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This is a repeat, but indicative of the direction I am headed...

Several years ago, I made the decision to develop a greater awareness of my intuitive nature.

Although I have always been highly sensitive to the feelings of others, I wasn’t born with an elevated ability to interpret my intuitive whispers.

It took practice and time.

The key was trusting myself and acting on the messages I received.

The next move is to make a pledge. “I promise myself that I will take action based on the intuitive hits I receive.” When beginning the process, you are going to miss some of the hints along the way.

That’s life, and as is true with any new skill, you must practice. Simply recognize the misstep as soon as possible. Quite frankly, many of your ‘hits’ are going to blow right over you until you are ready to ‘hear’ them clearly.

Pay Attention to the Clues Dropped by the Queen Fairies. We’re often so closed off from our directives that we either don’t hear them or completely miss them altogether.

To make lasting change, you must make a declaration. By doing so, you are accessing the power of intuition. But, before you do, it is vitally important that you understand with this commitment comes the duty to act.

Simply asking to ‘hear’ more clearly doesn’t alter your current situation. It’s the acting on the inner promptings that change the course of your life. Yes, Good witch Glinda is speaking to you. She is reminding you of the silver slippers you are wearing.

As Nancy Sinatra so fittingly wrote and sang, these shoes (okay, so she actually said boots) are made for walking. Not stepping out shuts down the inner messages just as much as external noises. If you need support (and courage), form a team of friends to help you move forward.

Starting is the key.

"Turn around."
"Go to that store."
"Say hello!"
"Call Jane."
"Go to that meeting."

Whatever you hear, sense or know (we all experience different ways of communicating with ourselves) accept its value.

Don’t think your thoughts are crazy or unfounded. If you get the nudge to hug someone, do. If you get the urge to avoid a person, do that, too. Eventually, you’ll work up to strong feelings and sensations that either warn or prepare you to take the next move.

I no longer have to guess if I should collaborate with another person or not. Actually, fine-tuning this skill takes all the guesswork out of hiring. It significantly cuts out the need for extensive investigation. Whew! It’s something I know simply based on an interaction. I feel a certain way and I have learned to recognize those feelings.

I remember years back when I use to be unnerved by the security guard that regularly checked on our office. Something about him made my skin crawl. My reaction to his visits prompted me to never stay late without another person around. Although he appeared nice and presentable, on some level I sensed the danger.

Turned out this man had murdered someone. The security company missed this important little fact, but my higher self or inner knowing sensed danger.

Many people, me included, find answers in the quiet moments when your mind is still and the chatter is minimal. My best time to meditate or contemplate is in the morning immediately after waking up. That’s the time when you are the closest to a ‘dream-like’ state, which is highly conducive for communication with your higher self.

Other hints include being open to receiving answers and suggestions. Your messages could come from within or from others. Yes, the Queen fairies use other people, circumstances and physical sensations to inform you.

The main point is to recognize the need to pay attention. Your Queen fairies are all around you, dropping you little, essential hints continuously. Stay tuned. More to come soon.

With each passing day and year, those skills/abilities I wanted so badly are mine. It took focus, intention and practice. It's my desire to help you do the same.

Allyn Evans
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rainbow Cloud!

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On the drive home from our vacation, we witnessed a beautiful sight! This was taken with my Blackberry phone.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Art of War

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Ever read one of those life-changing books?

While in the early stages of trying to write my latest book I did. Thanks to my dad’s sister, my dear Aunt Kay.

She kept insisting I read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield, turns out had written many books—at least one of them was a best seller.

Remember The Legend of Bagger Vance? No matter. I wasn’t the least bit interested. I knew how to overcome resistance. I had already written one book and had started another. And what about the stack of books I needed to read for research?

The way she described the book added nothing to the enticement. “It’s a book for artists—writers, painters, creators—who need help overcoming resistance. It’s written by some guy who writes historical fiction.”

No thanks. The book was solving a problem I didn’t have.

But she persisted. In the end, she handed me her copy. “It will only take one afternoon for you to read this.”

Finally I caved. I picked up the book and started reading.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Although I had been somewhat productive at the time (who am I kidding?), I still wondered about direction. I felt compelled to write a book for mothers of adolescent girls.

But I found myself constantly questioning. “What do I know? What do I have to tell? Why does anyone care what I have to say? Why do this?” These questions stopped me. These questions identified as resistance by Pressfield prevented me from doing the work. Basically I had stopped writing because of excuses. When I did write, I couldn’t find the words.

Pressfield asked us, “Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? …

Have you wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment?”

While reading I found myself nodding my head. Yes. Yes. Yes. He continued, “Then you know what Resistance is.”

Oh yes, I do. I most certainly do. Before ending his take on things he shared this…

One night I was layin’ down,
I heard Papa talkin’ to Mama.
I heard Papa say, to let that boy boogie-woogie.
‘Cause it’s in him and it’s got to come out.

—John Lee Hooker, “Boogie Chillen”

And then nothing else mattered. Nothing. Yes this book was in me, and it had to come out.

There would be no stopping. There might be some slowing, but there would be no stopping.

“’Cause it’s in me. It’s got to come out.” That’s’ what had happened with my first book. To create more resistance, I convinced myself this time was different. I no longer wrote from pain. Writing without pain was a new experience. Confused, I mostly didn’t do anything. Countless battles went on in my head. “Write.”

“Oh, it’s summer. Take it easy.”

“Enjoy. Relax.”

“I’m behind. I need to work. What about money?”

Besides not writing I also was taking a hiatus from speaking and promoting my first book.

Something bad was about to happen. If I did not take up pad and pen (okay, pounding a keyboard is more accurate), I would succumb to resistance. The symptoms of resistance would find me. And then I would be writing from a new pain—the pain of not doing what must come out.

Pressfield called it feeling like hell. “A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored. We’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction.”

Truthfully, by the time I read the book misery hadn’t found me. I had been having way too much fun for misery to catch up.

Mostly I played. Work happened in small surges. Very small surges. As the months sailed by so did my deadlines.

Instead of writing, I shoved down the anxiety and did something else. Then along came the solution to a problem I didn’t have: The War of Art. Perfect timing. For on the verge of unknowingly trudging towards my unlived life I found redemption.

The book captured me. I nodded in agreement. The words were powerful. I was taken in.

Near the end of the book, Pressfield said: “Let’s ask ourselves like that new mother: What do I feel growing inside me? Let me bring that forth, if I can, for its own sake and not for what it can do for me or how it can advance my standing.”

This freed me. Something deep inside needed to come out. Resistance danced with me. Toyed with me. Tried to stop me. Resistance didn’t win. And that’s when I really started. That’s when what was in me came out.

Allyn Evans
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