“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better… I do believe I have been changed for the better. Because I knew you…I have been changed…For good.”

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better… I do believe I have been changed for the better. Because I knew you…I have been changed…For good.
— Stephen Schwartz, Wicked

This past weekend, I traveled to Boston for my 10-year college reunion. 10 years?!?! Crazy! It was nostalgic to be back on campus, re-visit the studios I spent hours of my time working in, have a drink at the local watering hole, and see all the new facilities the school has to offer. Even though it has been 10 years and the school did look different, it also felt the same. There was an energy and comfort of being back at a place I considered “home” for a pivotal part of my journey.

In the evening, there was a performance (typical Emerson College) and a dance party (even more typical Emerson College). I spent the night dancing and singing with old friends and some new additions. It got me thinking of the song “For Good” from the show Wicked. I remember using many of the lyrics from this song as I signed people’s yearbooks during senior week (I know…crazy musical theater kid). As I listened to the song on my drive back, the lyrics hit me even stronger. There are people who aren’t as big a presence in my life now as they were in college, but they will always be a part of my story and who I am today. There are people in my life now that have a huge presence that weren’t even in my life 10 years ago, but I look forward to how they continue to help me write my story.

People come and go throughout our lives. Sometimes not always in a happy way, but it is important to remember that everyone we meet has a purpose in our lives. If we are open to receiving what they have to offer us, even if our time together is short, it will be meaningful. Relationships can also change over time, and that is OK. Just because your relationship with someone may not be as strong as it was in the past does not mean that it is not important. If we can approach these shifts with understanding, love, and openness we can then continue to find space for the relationship in our life, even if it takes on a different shape.   

The next few days as I continued processing what was an amazing weekend, I realized the expectations I had for myself by my 10-year reunion. Of course I would be married, have at least 1 child, be successful in my chosen career, and maybe finally be able to give back a donation to the school that actually had an impact. Though none of those expectations have been met to the extent I had hoped for, I wasn’t bothered by it. In that moment, I realized how much I have grown in the last 10 years. The younger Stephanie would have gotten depressed and felt like I had failed. I would have compared myself to all the friends I reconnected with who did have some of those things and wondered what was wrong with me. Instead, I stepped back and gave thanks for all the amazing adventures, opportunities, jobs, and people I have been blessed with since that graduation date. I realized that what I have now is actually much more than what I could have ever imagined 10 years ago. Maybe the path hasn’t always been completely straight or even a noticeable path at times, but it has been the perfect path for me.

I am so happy and proud of how much all my college friends and I have accomplished in just 10 years (now it doesn’t seem like that much time at all). We have all grown into wonderful, kind, impactful artists, parents, activists, and voices in the world. I can’t wait to see what another 10 years bring for each of us! Emerson College is more than just an institution. It is a place where I, among many other enthusiastic students, was challenged creatively, academically, and personally. “So much of me is made of what I learned from you.” There is not a day that goes by in my life that I am not utterly thankful for being part of such a beautiful community.

 

Do you need guidance and support navigating the shifts of your path? I would love to help you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
— Erich Fromm

For the past few years, I have been fortunate to be part of an academic community that is constantly examining and re-evaluating how as both individuals and a community we can create a welcoming, more inclusive environment. Coming into this community and these conversations, I felt like I was already a pretty open-minded person and that my actions and words provided a welcoming space for others. But, as I continued to go deeper in these conversations, I realized I had a lot to learn!

These conversations weren’t always easy, and to be honest there were times when I felt myself resisting what I was learning. Some of the things challenged the beliefs I grew up with. At times, I felt people were being over sensitive and too “PC.” It was in these moments, when I really stopped, listened to others, and was honest with myself that I realized that I wasn’t always doing all I could to create a more inclusive environment.

I am a white female that grew up in a middle class family. I was always provided a good education; college wasn’t an “if,” but a “where.” I went on a variety of family vacations, played multiple sports, and was exposed to many artistic and cultural endeavors. I grew up in a strong female family so I was always encouraged to speak my mind. I had my own personal struggles and still do, but on a global scale I am privileged and my voice is usually heard. It’s hard for me to even understand that other people don’t have the ability to be seen or heard as they are intended and should be.

I decided that I wanted to educate myself more. I wanted to at least try to understand the struggle and imbalance of power that still very much exists in our world in a variety of ways. Throughout the last few months, I kept coming back to the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” The idea behind this saying is that sometimes it is better to not know everything about a given situation. Something about that statement doesn’t seem comforting in today’s society. Is ignorance really bliss or is it actually irresponsible?

I know that people aren’t always provided communities, whether they are academic, spiritual, or social, that encourage them to dig deep about what they believe, how they represent themselves, and then offered education on expanding their beliefs. However, as we continue to get older, isn’t it our responsibility to be curious and seek information, ask questions, listen, and re-evaluate in order to become an active participant in life?

The more we continue to feed into our limiting beliefs or microaggressions (even if they seem to be small and not harmful), the more we perpetuate an exclusive and imbalanced environment. If we truly come from a place of love over fear in our lives then we become more open to understanding, which leads to accepting things that are different from us.

It first starts with a commitment to analyzing our own thoughts/words and behaviors/actions. When we realize that a limiting belief comes up, there are tools to shift our mindset such as thought stopping and positive replacement. As with any shift, it takes time and practice. There will be moments where it’s not easy and we do fall back into our limiting beliefs, but wouldn’t the uneasiness and struggle be worth it if we all committed to practicing “love over fear” mind, body, and spirit? Just think of how much we would grow and evolve not only as individuals, but also as a community, country, and world. Ignorance isn’t bliss; understanding, supporting, and leading with love is bliss.

“Look blissfully upon all you have created and celebrate your accomplishments – both good and bad.”

Look blissfully upon all you have created and celebrate your accomplishments – both good and bad.
— Eleesha

I recently found out that a proposal I submitted to a national convention was accepted! When I opened the email, I was ecstatic. As I continue to build my coaching business, I have been researching and submitting to conferences and workshops all over the country. Even though I so badly want to expand my audience and business, it is also terrifying and a huge step out of my comfort zone to put myself out there in such a public way. Finding out that my proposal was accepted was an awe-some moment. I immediately wanted to share within everyone I knew, but then I stopped. My subconscious began to take over. Should I share with people? Will they think I am being narcissistic?

Celebrating yourself is very hard for some of us. Many of us our taught from a young age to not boast or celebrate our accomplishments in public for it may make others uncomfortable or come across as egotistical. Instead, we have the belief that one should celebrate in silence.

However, we should feel free to celebrate ourselves in both the big and small ways. When we take the time to celebrate ourselves, we are actually showing gratitude for our accomplishment and honoring ourselves. It helps us to vibrate on a higher frequency and continue to attract more positive energy and opportunities.

It is also important to celebrate the small things especially during the more challenging times. In grad school, my colleagues and I had a “small victories” board in the grad office. The pressures of grad school at times were very overwhelming and having a place where we could celebrate ourselves and each other helped to get us through. There were days where “didn’t cry today” or “actually took 15 min for myself today” were staples on that board.

I have recently joined an online community of women where we support each other not only during times of need, but also during times of celebration. At first, it was a little hard for me to share some of my accomplishments. But over time, I have become more comfortable with myself and the women in the group to be able to share both the small and big achievements, whether it is making it halfway through my running program or booking a new gig. It is a wonderful feeling to be celebrated by others and recognized for your hard work. It’s in these moments that we continue to build the inner strength and confidence that helps us to work through the harder times. Equally, it feels great to celebrate and support the other women for their accomplishments. It inspires me to always strive for my greatest potential.    

What small and big accomplishments you would like to celebrate? Who are the people in your life that you could share those “small and large victories” with? At the very least, take the time to celebrate and honor yourself during these times whether that is through having your own “victory board” or a special ritual you create for yourself.

 

Are you looking to shift your mindset and learn to celebrate yourself more? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“Your life is a story of transitions. You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving onto the next.”

Your life is a story of transitions. You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving onto the next.
— Unknown

If you asked any of the performers I have worked with what my major pet peeve is when it comes to a show or a dance piece, they would tell you, transitions. Transitions are an integral part of the flow of a show. In fact, the transitions can make or break a show. For example, in the Broadway production, “An American in Paris,” there was a great amount of detail given to the transitions. The set changes were choreographed into the dance phrases so that the performers were moving the audience from one scene to the next. As an observer, I was never taken out of the world that was created, and it was beautiful to see how the performers not only interacted with each other but also the environment around them.

Here is another example how art imitates life. Transitions, and our approach to transitions, can make or break our happiness in our lives. I, like many, do not always enjoy transitions because it means that some sort of change probably took place. Change is hard; it is usually accompanied with turmoil, unknowns, and angst. We are so worried and focused on getting to the next place, event, or milestone that we forget about how we are getting there.

If we shifted our view on transitions and decided to allow ourselves to really engage in the transitions, we would realize that they are actually pretty magical. It is during these times that we learn and grow the most as people. We are usually challenged to step out of our comfort zone. Every time we do that we are adding/reinforcing our foundation and becoming stronger individuals. Ideally, we would approach transitions the same way we approach getting to the next place, event, or milestone so that the Flow and engagement in our lives is not disrupted. This is the true manifestation of being present.   

So what are some ways we can shift our mindset on transitions?

Remain Open.

Many times, when we are faced with change and new challenges our “fight or flight” instinct kicks in and we shut down. If we remain open, then we are allowing ourselves to approach the transition with a positive outlook. Helping us to maintain an upward spiral and not downward spiral.

Be Curious.

If we approach transitions with curiosity, then we are continuously asking questions and engaging with the environment around us. We never know what new idea or path may present itself. By saying “Yes,” this new opportunity could lead you to a place that gives you more than you could have ever imagined.     

Find Your Breath.

Your breath is your foundation; it is your life force and energy. Connecting to your breath in times of anxiety, frustration, and confusion will help you to continue to stay open and be curious. A strong breath practice is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

 

I am always reminded that in order to become a beautiful butterfly, the caterpillar has to engage in the transition. If we want to be seen as we are truly intended to be, then we, too, need to engage in all the transitions or our journey.  

 

Do you need help working through and approaching transitions with a new mindset? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Let there be space in your togetherness."

Let there be space in your togetherness.
— Rumi

This week, I had the first class in a three part series to get my Reiki I certification. Reiki has fascinated me for many years, but only a few months ago did I actually receive a session. After a couple of sessions, I was even more intrigued and decided to continue going deeper by getting my level I training. After this week’s class, I began to think about the idea of space: physically, energetically, and emotionally. What does it mean to create and hold space?

Being a dancer and a teacher, space is an idea I often find myself exploring. It is the element of Dance I spend the most time teaching and talking about: how we take up space, the ways in which we move through space, how space limitations can change our movement, designing the space, etc. As a teacher and coach, I am very aware of space in terms of energy and providing a place where my students and clients feel safe to express themselves.

It is important to me that when holding the space for others to sift through their ideas in order to find a deeper connection to their authentic self that the energy is one of openness and compassion. I truly believe that as the holder of the space it is my responsibility to understand that my behaviors and beliefs will affect the inhabitants of that space. As I discussed last week, beliefs can be both debilitating and facilitating for people and many times the beliefs we hold do not even come from us. I am mindful of the questions I choose to ask and the opinions I choose to share. For, it is important to me that I am not influencing the space besides holding it open for self-discovery.

You don’t have to be a teacher, parent, or coach to create and hold space for others. We hold space for our friends when they need support. We hold space for our partners as they continue to grow. And we bring our energy into every space we encounter.

Take a moment to reflect on how you create and hold space for people in your life. Then take a moment and reflect on the spaces where you feel most comfortable and safe. Are they places that you created and hold for yourself, like your bedroom or home? Or are they places where others hold the space for you, like a yoga class, special interest group, or a close friend?

Notice if you are always holding space for others or if you tend to always take up space. It is important that we find a balance of holding and taking up space. If we are constantly holding space for others, we do need to find a way or place where we are being held and cared for. If you observed that you mostly take up space, then try to take a step back and maybe offer holding the space for others more. Energy should always be in a constant flow, when it gets stuck that is when we experience uneasiness and turmoil. By simply shifting how we hold and take up space, we can release the energy and restore balance.

 

Do you need help shifting and moving the energy in and around you? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be what you were meant to be in the first place.”

Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be what you were meant to be in the first place.
— Unknown

This week the idea of “beliefs” has come up in a variety of situations and conversations with clients and friends. The word Belief can be defined as follows: “an opinion or conviction; confidence, faith and trust; and confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.” So where do we get our beliefs? Many of our beliefs are not actually our own. They are learned or passed down through our family, the schools we attend, and the communities we are a part of. In his book, "The Biology of Belief," Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about how the conscious and the subconscious play integral roles in our lives.

[The] conscious and subconscious are interdependent. The conscious mind – which represents the seat of our personal identity, source, or spirit – is the creative mind…[it] holds our wishes, desires, and aspirations for our lives…the subconscious mind is primarily a repository of stimulus-response tapes derived from instincts and learned experiences…[it] is fundamentally habitual.

Knowing this, we can begin to separate which beliefs come from us and which beliefs have been programed from others. Our subconscious is actually developed between the years of 0-7. If we remember back to that time period, we were all little sponges just soaking up everything around us. We didn’t have the autonomy to choose or the ability to really question the beliefs that were being instilled in us. Unfortunately, many of our fears or limiting beliefs are housed in our subconscious.     

The title quote of this blog popped up in my timehop the other day and further confirmed the importance of writing about this week’s topic. Our lives and finding our way is really about figuring out which beliefs we have that work for us and which beliefs work against us. Once we acknowledge the ones that don’t work for us, it is then our job to release them and replace them with ones that do serve us. We have so many tools for us to use in order to achieve this: thought stopping/positive replacement, journaling, and visualization are just a few. As previously discussed, these tools are not a one shot deal; they are to be used as a practice in the process of undoing in order to be fully realized as we were intended.  

As we go through this process, there will undoubtedly be times when we get frustrated by our limiting beliefs and where they came from, whether it be a parent, a teacher, or a mentor. It is important to remember that it is not helpful to our journey to hold anger or resentment toward that person. They were only doing what they knew to be true and what beliefs had been instilled in them. However, we can break the cycle. We have the power in ourselves to create the beliefs that support us, allow us to be our best self, and help us to manifest the life we want and deserve.

Take some time to think about which beliefs are working for you and which beliefs are not. Here are some categories and questions to get you started: your beliefs around money – How much do you believe you deserve? Is the energy you bring to money open or resistant? Your beliefs around work – What jobs do you value? What does it mean to be successful in your work? Can your passion be your work? Your beliefs around relationships – Do you believe in a partnership? Are you settling because you don’t believe you deserve more? Once you have written down the beliefs that don’t serve you, re-write them to be beliefs that will serve you. Then, take the old beliefs and burn them. They are no longer a part of you. These new beliefs are your mantras and affirmations.

Your beliefs and thoughts are what create your reality. YOU are in charge of your own beliefs so CHOOSE to believe only that which lifts you up.

 

 

Do you need help releasing the beliefs that are holding you back? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“There is no ‘right’ way; find ‘your’ way.”

There is no ‘right’ way; find ‘your’ way.
— Stephanie Simpson

I've always been fascinated with people's stories of how they got to where they are. I find it interesting to learn about the different pathways they took, the opportunities they had, and the choices they made. To be honest, when I was younger many times I was interested because I wanted to know the steps they took to get where they were so that I could do the same thing. If it worked for them, and I could do what they did then I would succeed too. 

As an educator and coach, two of the most frequent questions I am asked are: "Am I doing this right?" and "Can you just tell me how to do it so I can get the good grade/reach my personal goal.” These questions are being asked by students and clients of all ages. My response is always the same: “There is no right way and there is no wrong way; you have to find your way.”

When facilitating a dance class, my students can be be frustrated by this response, but they do end up letting go and begin to actual engage in the process. They begin making their own decisions, trying different things out, problem solving, collaborating, etc. I find the most enjoyment watching this process. Then I get to see their final product, which in many cases is way beyond anything I would have "told" them to do. Now, I realize as we get older and my clients are applying to colleges or making career/major life changes, there may be more at stake than choreographing a short dance study, but my advice stays the same.

We have been told our whole lives by other people what we should do and how we should do it but what do they really know? They are basing it on beliefs they have learned from others or their own beliefs. There may be a “typical” track that one takes to get from point A to point B. For example, if you want to become a doctor, you typically want to get into a high academic college/university and make sure you have a solid transcript in order to get into medical school. Is that to say if you don’t accomplish this “track,” you won’t become a doctor? No, not at all. Is it guaranteed that if you follow this “track” precisely that you will get the outcome you want? Again, nothing is guaranteed.

We are all individuals. We have different backgrounds, different passions, different wants and desires. So it is only natural that our stories and pathways are also going to be different. When you finally release yourself from the idea that there is a "right" way to do something or get somewhere and you begin to believe in yourself, in your ability to make decisions to create your own beautiful story, that is when you find "your" way. And you know what, that is the best way. Making decisions that resonate with your authentic self whether that is the "more typical" path or not is always the correct decision for you. Your path doesn't need to look like the person’s path next to you. In fact, it shouldn't. 

I still love hearing people's stories, but now I listen with a different lens. I love them because I love hearing the many ways people have found happiness and purpose in their lives. Each person you meet has a story and his/her story is inspiring. Take the time to ask and listen mindfully. And don’t be afraid to share your story because it, too, is inspiring and perfect.

 

Do you need help finding “your way?” I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Being a leader is not about you. It’s about the people that are on your team and how you can help them be successful.”

Being a leader is not about you. It’s about the people that are on your team and how you can help them be successful.
— Susan Vobejda

Last week, I began to discuss the art of leadership and offered a model from Sport Psychology as a tool, Situational Leadership. Being an effective leader is definitely an art. Though many people have some of the key characteristics that make a good leader, one needs to study and practice the craft to become a master. Another model from Sport Psychology leaders can use as a tool is Group Development, created by Bruce Tuckman.

Tuckman developed this model as a way to describe the journey that most groups go through on their way to high performance. First, lets define a group, or team, as 2 or more individuals that have a common task or goal that they are working towards. This “team” can be a cast of performers, a class of students, a graphic design team, a group of analysts, etc. In each of these examples, the leader has a different title: director, teacher, art director, and portfolio manager. However, all these leaders can use the Situational Leadership model along with the Group Developmental model to elicit high performance.

We learned through Situational Leadership that we should change our leadership style based on the readiness level (task ability and willingness) of the follower. In Group Development, the same construct remains, only this time the follower is the entire team. Tuckman’s four stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Below is a simple breakdown of the stages along with what Leadership style should be used.

 

Forming – Members have just come together. They are not clear on what is expected of them, what to do, and what the group mission/goals are. They are unfamiliar with other group members so there is no history or trust yet. Therefore, they are not committed to the team, but more to their personal agendas. Productivity/performance level is low. Leadership Style – Directing: Leader should be high directive with one-way communication. In order to move to the next stage, the leader must set goals/mission, establish roles within the group, set up expectations, begin to build group trust, and find ways to get the members to buy into the group as one.

Storming – Members are beginning to fight for different roles. There may be some infighting and smaller cliques forming. Individuals are still being led by their own personal agenda. Some members are starting to buy into the group, while others are still hesitant and maybe even resisting. The group still doesn’t trust each other much, and therefore problem solving is not efficient. Productivity/performance level is still low. Leadership Style – Coaching: Leader should continue to be high directive, but also high supportive with beginning to introduce two-way communication. In order to move to the next stage, the leader should actively reinforce team behavior, support and set up team wins, maintain and expect high expectations, define roles within the group, request and accept feedback, and continue to build group trust.

Norming – Members are aware and accepting of roles. Hidden agendas come to the surface and instead, they all have bought into the team’s mission/goals. Each member knows how he or she fits into that mission and feels purposeful. Feedback is easily given and received because trust has been built. Members are starting to take responsibility for reinforcing team norms, expectations, etc. Productivity/performance level is becoming higher.  Leadership Style – Supporting: Leader should be low directive and high supportive with a lot of two-way communication. In order to move to the next stage, the leader should maintain open communication, support the members in making decisions, but not make the decisions for them. The leader should continue to praise the team’s accomplishments and maintain traditions.

Performing – Members are very motivated and are completely clear on their individual roles. They defer to the team instead of their individual needs and support each other. When problems arise, they think creatively and trust in each other. They take pride in the group as a whole and its successes. Productivity/performance level is high. Leadership Style – Delegating: Leader should be low directive and low supportive, but still maintain a presence. In order to maintain this stage, the leader needs to continue to challenge the team by helping them to set new goals. The leader needs to maintain a presence, but not make the decisions for the team, and support the overall well being of the team.

 

It is important to remember that individual members of the team may be at a different stage than the team as a whole. As a leader, this is where having a strong understanding of the craft is vital because you need to be able to switch your style back and forth. Another important thing to remember is that each stage is necessary to succeeding. You cannot skip any of the stages. In fact, skipping a stage (even Storming) can prove to have a negative effect on the team’s performance. The group has to go through the process step by step. In addition, if a major change happens or an obstacle arises, the team may have to go back to a previous stage and that’s OK.

Situational Leadership and Group Development are wonderful models to use even when reflecting on our own lives. Group Development is a great reminder of the importance of engaging in the process. The process of achieving personal goals is not always easy. There are times when we fight with ourselves (Storming phase) or need that extra support. We can use these models as a lens to help us define what we need and when we need it. Being able to do that is this definition of self empowerment.

 

Do you want to go further in your self-exploration? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”

Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.
— John Maxwell

This week I had the pleasure of leading a workshop for teachers, administrators, and coaches of NYC private schools. The focus of the day was on “Cultivating Leadership In and Out of the Classroom.” In addition to providing the participants with the various mental training tools I have already discussed throughout this blog, I also shared a wonderful model from Sport Psychology called Situational Leadership.

Being a strong and good leader is not an easy task. Ultimately, a leader wants to elicit high productivity from their followers. Situational Leadership is a model developed by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey with the purpose of helping people in leadership roles to be more efficient and effective in their daily interactions with others. Different than a theory, a model is developed through “concepts, procedures, actions, and outcomes [that] are based on methodologies that are practical and easy to apply.” **

The model consists of four different leadership styles (S1, S2, S3, S4) that are to be used in relationship with the “readiness” levels (R1, R2, R3, R4) of the followers. Readiness is determined by the ability the follower has to complete a skill/task and the willingness of the follower. Below is a simple breakdown of the follower’s readiness level and the appropriate leadership style to use.

R 1 – follower is unable to execute the skill/task and is unwilling or insecure. Leader should use an S 1 style: Directing. In Directing, the leader is providing clear and specific instructions to the follow (what, when, how, where, why) and then closely supervising their performance. The communication is very one-way coming straight from leader to follow. Key words for this style are telling, guiding, and establishing.  

R 2 – follower is still unable to execute the skill/task completely, but is more willing and open. Leader should use an S 2 style: Coaching. In Coaching, the leader is continuing to explain and providing opportunity for clarification, but is also starting to bring in more two-way communication between the follower. Key words for this style are selling, explaining, and persuading.

R 3 – follower is able to execute the skill/task, but is unwilling or insecure. This stage happens usually when people begin to have self doubts about their ability or are not motivated because they aren’t being challenged enough. Leader should use an S 3 style: Supporting. In Supporting, the leader is encouraging the sharing of ideas and is there to help facilitate decision making, but is not making the decisions. Two-way communication is strong. The leader is the cheerleader to the follower helping them to believe in their ability. Key words for this style are participating, encouraging, committing, and collaborating.

R 4  - follower is able to execute the skill/task and is willing/secure. Leader should us an S 4 style: Delegating. In Delegating, the leader is turning over responsibility to the follower for decision making and implementation. The leader should still have a presence, but is implementing low directive and low supportive behavior because the trust and confidence have already been built with the follower. Key words for this style are observing, fulfilling, and monitoring.

 

Situational Leadership is a great model to use in all areas of our lives (personal relationships, reflecting on ourselves, parent/child relationships, etc.) as well as in a variety of professional fields (coaching, education, business/management, etc.). By using these different leadership styles correctly, a leader will be able to not only elicit the highest productivity from their followers, but also empower their followers.

** Hersey, Paul, Blanchard, Kenneth, and Johnson, Dewey. Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources. Prentice Hall Business Publishing: April 1996.

 

Would you like to become a stronger, more effective leader? I would love to guide and support you in unleashing the leader inside you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“I believe you are never past the point of creating opportunities for yourself.”

I believe you are never past the point of creating opportunities for yourself.
— Felicia Day

The birds are chirping and buds are starting to appear; Spring is definitely trying to make an entrance. Last blog, I talked about energetic “spring cleaning” by clearing out negative and stale energy using the chakras. This week, I would like to go further in offering tools to help plant the seeds of your intentions/goals so that your dreams can also bloom.

A few months ago, I wrote about proper goal setting and how to create a plan to help you succeed. I always advise my clients to start with brainstorming all the things they may want to shift in their lives. I have them think about the different categories of their life: family/friends, career/income, travel, health, etc. Goal setting is a great practice to have when really focusing on a couple these major changes you want to achieve.

Another way to brainstorm in a more creative way is to make a vision board. A vision board is a collage of images of the things you want to manifest in your life. The images can be found, created, written out, etc. This week, I spent time re-creating my own vision board. I took a trip to the craft store and bought some glittery, fun supplies to help. Then, I went through some of the magazines I was planning to throw out and cut out images/words that jumped out at me. I felt there were still some images missing, so I went to the pile of cards I was also planning to discard. Not only did I have a nice trip down memory lane, but I also found the perfect visuals to represent what was missing. What I love about this is that I am also incorporating the positive energy from a thank you or a birthday card from loved ones (which also made me feel less guilty about throwing them out). Now comes the fun part! You get to arrange the images however you want. I even added some chakra inspired colored gems to mine. Once you are done creating the vision board, make sure you hang it somewhere in your room that you will see it every day. Your intentions have now been given to the Universe.

The other change I made to my home this week was to add the color red to my door. In Feng Shui, red doors are thought of to be very powerful. They protect the residents and also provide prosperity and abundance. Because I live in an apartment building, I am not allowed to paint my door red, but I can hang something on the door. I spent the week looking for a red ornament or wreath I could hang, but I couldn’t find anything I felt drawn to. So I decided to make my own. Though I consider myself to be creative in many ways, crafty is not high on the list. However, I did find a wonderful “no-stitch” tutorial to making a wreath on pinterest. I had such a fun time picking out what fabrics I wanted to use and then putting the wreath together! Not to mention, I felt very proud and accomplished once I finished it.

What I love most about these two tools is that you get to be creative as you take steps towards manifesting the life you deserve. As adults (or teenagers), we don’t always give ourselves the time and space to be creative and make something with our hands. Both of these activities don’t take a lot of time out of our lives; in fact they are actually therapeutic and energizing. Plus, you get to see the beautiful creation you made every day, which will continue to allow positive energy to flow through your home.

 

Do you need help manifesting the changes in your life? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“You thrive in all ways when you come into Energy Balance with you.”

You thrive in all ways when you come into Energy Balance with you.
— Abraham Hicks

Daylight Saving means longer days and Spring is coming. Many people will begin “spring cleaning” by physically clearing out their living spaces, which is a great idea, but what about also clearing out the negative and stale energy in our body?

Everything in life is made up of energy. When people talk about “auras,” they are referring to the invisible etheric field our physical body is a part of. This field is made up of pathways called meridians or nadi lines, where energy flows in and out of. The points where these meridians intersect are called marma points. These energy lines and marma points are used in several holistic medicines including acupuncture and reiki. In the Tantric Yoga philosophy, the three most important of these lines are Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. The points where these three lines intersect are the seven chakras.  

There are many ways we can balance our chakras: using intention with crystals, using essential oils and incense, holding specific yoga poses, vocalizing/singing, and meditation. Below is a basic breakdown of the seven chakras followed by a simple meditation you can practice to help balance them.

First Chakra: Root Chakra (Muladhara) is located at the base of the spine right below the pelvic floor. Red is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balanced we feel self-motivated, abundant, connected to the earth, grounded/strong foundation, connected to our tribe/community. It is commonly blocked by fear.

Second Chakra: Naval Chakra (Svadisthana) is located below your belly button in your low belly area. Orange is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balanced we feel creative, in touch with our feelings, connected to our identity, sensuality, and sexuality. It is commonly blocked by guilt.

Third Chakra: Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) is located above your belly button below your ribs. Yellow is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balanced we feel confident, have mental clarity, and feel strong in our personal power. It is commonly blocked by shame.

Fourth Chakra: Heart Chakra (Anahata) is located in the center of your chest. Green is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balanced we have acceptance of oneself, the ability to forgive, and compassion/love for others and ourselves. It is commonly blocked by grief.

Fifth Chakra: Throat Chakra (Visuddha) is located around the neck, ears, and nose. Blue is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balanced we truthfully express ourselves/our beliefs, we have loyalty and the ability to trust, we feel organized and heard. It is commonly blocked by lies.

Sixth Chakra: Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) is located on the forehead between the eyes. Indigo is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balance we trust our intuition and insights, release hidden and repressed negative thoughts, and become more self-realized. It is commonly blocked by illusion.

Seventh Chakra: Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) is located right outside the body on the top of the head. Violet is the color associated with this chakra. When the chakra is balanced we have a strong spirituality, we trust and are connected to the universe or higher power, we are integrating our consciousness and subconsciousness into the superconcsciousness. It is commonly blocked by ego attachment.

 

To begin working with the chakras, try this simple mediation. Sitting in a comfortable position, close your eyes and observe your breath. Begin to lengthen your inhales and exhales. After a few cycles, visualize a flame on the screen of your mind. It is easier to visualize a bigger, moving flame than a smaller, stagnant flame. Once you have a clear visual of the flame, move the flame to the top of your head (seventh chakra) and surround the flame with the associated chakra color. Take several breath cycles for each chakra as you move the flame down until you finish at the root (first chakra). Some chakras may be easier to visualize than others. If this happens you can begin to explore light movement in that area of the body. Remember meditation and visualization is a practice; the more you engage in the practice, the more powerful the benefits.

 

Do you need help clearing the clutter both physically and energetically? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to take care of others.”

Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to take care of others.
— Bryant McGill

Last weekend and this weekend, I have had the great opportunity to lead workshops as part of a Ladies Getaway Retreat in VT. This is my second year being part of the retreat. There are many things I love about these weekends. First, it is all women. With the occasional male workshop leader or resort worker, everyone there is female. That may not seem like a huge deal, but it does give a different energy. Second, there are women of varying ages. I love being able to sit back and observe how different generations interact with each other. Many of the participants are family members, whether they are mother/daughter, sisters, or cousins. Third, some of these women have been coming back for 15 years. You can tell they prepare for the weekend with their elaborate snack set up and matching group shirts. Last and most importantly, each woman is there to take time for themselves, whether that means engaging in goal setting workshops or taking a yoga class or learning more about wine through a tasting session. As the participants are leaving, they are always talking about how refreshed they feel, how they have learned at least one thing they can implement into their lives, and how much fun they had relaxing and enjoying their friends.

In general as a society, but even more specifically for women, we forget how important it is to take time for ourselves. If we don’t fill our own “tank” up, we won’t have enough of the proper energy to be there for the other people in our lives. So many times, we give all our energy out to others and then we are left with nothing for ourselves. Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling drained the littlest things can set you off? That is because you have let your own energy tank get too low. One of the themes I talked about in all my workshops this past weekend was that life isn’t about eliminating annoyances, it is about maintaining your inner peace and not allowing the annoyances to get the best of you. This philosophy can be used in all aspects of your life. In your relationship with a significant other when your tank gets too low, you may become more needy or get irritated more easily. While at work, relationships with colleagues can become tenser when your own inner peace is comprised.

So the question is how do we keep our tank full? Giving yourself the gift of going away on a retreat is a perfect way, but we don’t always have that opportunity. Each of us will have a different way to fill our tank, but some common ways are meditating, exercising regularly, reading, being creative, allowing yourself to veg out and watch your favorite show, etc. If we don’t take the time and energy we deserve to help ourselves, we won’t be able to effectively be there for the people that are so important in our lives.

 

Aside: The story of how I got connected with this retreat is an interesting one. I had decided about 2 years ago that I wanted to lead more group workshops at retreats, but didn’t know how to actually go about doing that. About a year and a half ago, I was attending The Big E (the New England version of a state fair) with my family as I have for many years of my life. We were walking through the VT building and I happened to pick up a paper for “Ladies Weekend Getaway.” When I asked the woman behind the counter for more information, I learned that she was the event programmer for the weekend. We got to talking and a month later I was booked to teach 10 workshops over 2 weekends. This just proves that when you get clear about your goals and intentions, the Universe will answer. It may not be quite on your timetable, but if you stay open and say YES (even with the doubts and fears in the background) you will always be provided for.

 

Do you need help maintaining your inner peace and keeping a full tank? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“I’m not a river or a giant bird that soars to the sea. And if I’m never tied to anything, I’ll never be free.”

I’m not a river or a giant bird that soars to the sea. And if I’m never tied to anything, I’ll never be free.
— Stephen Schwartz

This past week, though I have gotten a lot of my time back, has been bittersweet. I have definitely been hit by the post show blues. Throughout the week, different students would come up to me expressing how much they miss the show and how lost they feel. It’s hard to let go of something that became such a huge part of your life; something that was truly magical. When talking to the students and telling them that this would be a hard one to let go of and its OK to feel what they were feeling, I realized that I don’t usually take that advice. I’ve worked on so many shows over the years that I’ve gotten good at compartmentalizing my emotions and usually just jump into the next thing. (I actually do this with other areas of my life as well.) That way I don’t have to feel the hurt and the loss, whether it was a good or a bad thing; for example, the end of a relationship, moving across the country, finishing a job, etc.

Compartmentalizing may seem like the easy solution, but it’s not. Our body holds onto the emotions we are having; they stay inside us until we decide to confront them. It’s OK to feel. In fact, we SHOULD feel. It doesn’t make us weak to acknowledge our emotions and mourn the loss. These are the moments that remind us that we are alive, we are human, that we value things in life and that we were truly present. So this time around, I allowed/made myself let go and feel the emotions.

It’s tough…really tough. I miss the family and world we created where we got to play and live freely. It became a safe place. But at some point we knew we would have to leave that place. We have to challenge ourselves to make a new safe place. We will always hold that family in our hearts. Because of them and our communal experience/process, we will be even better for the next adventure. As one of my students said when interviewed about learning aerial silks, “Learning is hard. The moment it becomes easy, it isn’t learning anymore.” If we stayed in the world we created, we wouldn’t continue to grow and learn.

One of the ways I allowed myself permission to feel was to listen to the soundtrack. Deciding to do this on a busy NYC subway was maybe not the best idea because immediately tears filled my eyes. But they were good tears. I could visualize everything so clearly still. I know the picture will get blurry with time, but I hope to preserve the details for as long as I can. When listening to the "Finale" again, I was struck in a new way by one of Pippin’s last lyrics (the title quote of the blog). Sometimes distance/space from a project gives us new clarity.

I’ll be honest I am very much like the character Pippin. I move around a lot in every sense of the word. I’ve lived in 5 cities in 10 years; as a freelancer, I jumped from project to project; I’m always trying new workouts and dance classes. And I love that lifestyle. I’m currently in my longest streak both job wise and location wise in my adult life. To be honest, this past year has been hard. I have wanted to run and move on to something new so many times. But there is so much truth in this lyric. Pippin finally realizes that moving from one thing to another was actually making him feel confined and stuck. By having something to be tied to, you do have more freedom. Of course, I am choosing to look at being “tied to something” in a non-negative way. It’s not about being weighed down, but instead grounded. This stability then allows you to be free, to explore, to take risks. The stability can come in different forms: staying in a job and viewing it in a new light, finally saying yes to a relationship and going all in, committing to a workout or new lifestyle program.

When reflecting on your life, what have you been shying away from because you think you don’t want to be “tied down?” Can you look at it in a different way? Maybe that very thing is the thing that will give you the freedom you’ve always been searching for.

 

Do you want to find more freedom? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“I wanted magic shows and miracles, mirages to touch. I wanted such a little thing from life, I wanted so much. I never came close my love. We nearly came near. It never was there, it always was here”

I wanted magic shows and miracles, mirages to touch. I wanted such a little thing from life, I wanted so much. I never came close my love. We nearly came near. It never was there, it always was here…
— Stephen Schwartz

This week I opened the show, PIPPIN, which I directed and choreographed at a school in NYC. When I started this process, I thought it would be just like every other show I did, but I was wrong. There is something about this show, the students I was working with, and where I am in my life that made this experience something “extraordinary.” It dawned on me as we were heading into tech week that this show became a selfobject for me. I was first introduced to the idea of selfobjects when reading the book, The Dancing Self by Carol Press, for my thesis.  

Selfobjects, as defined by Press, are as follows:

[Kohut’s term for psychological support systems] that function in our lives to sustain our intrapsychic experiences of self-cohesion, our sense of self as whole. Even though in many instances selfobjects are people, they can also be animals, things, places, ideas, or activities that serve to confirm and enhance who we are (pg 55-56).

In more layman terms, selfobjects are the people, the creative projects, the pets that come into our lives and allow us to go deeper into the process of knowing ourselves more intimately. They provide us the feedback and the space to ask questions, take risks, and grow into what Press coins as our “dancing self.”

Pippin embarks on a journey to find his purpose. He truly believes he was born for great things. He tries being a soldier, dabbles in “sex presented pastorally,” he even kills his father and becomes king. However, with every attempt he is dissatisfied and is left "feeling empty and vacant." The players are continuously trying to get Pippin to take part in the biggest finale there is; death. In that spectacular moment, he will have all that he was looking for. **Spoiler alert** Pippin chooses not to follow the fire and the lights and instead chooses Catherine, Theo, and an “ordinary life.”

Pippin’s journey is so powerful because it mirrors many of our own journeys, myself included. How many times have you felt let down because something didn’t end up they way you wanted? Or you thought you finally figured out the answer to one of your problems and in the end it didn’t solve anything? Throughout this process, I found myself feeling frustrated and empty and vacant. At times, I didn’t think it would all come together. That the vision I so badly wanted to make real was only going to stay trapped inside my head. But, alas, we made it to opening night and you know what, the vision inside my head doesn’t even come close to the magic that is happening on that stage. I’m sure we have all had the experience of holding onto an idea so tightly, but when we finally let it go we are given more than we could have ever imagined. We just have to trust and have faith.

The moment when Pippin chooses Catherine/Theo and finally defies the players, “the voices inside his head,” always hits me in a different way. The leading player strips him of everything: lights, sound, costumes, set. But still, he decides on his own not to run away from himself, but instead that this “simple life,” which in reality is not so simple, is really the answer to the “purpose” he was looking for.

Even though the moment hits a different chord in my life depending on what I am personally wrestling with that day, the message always remains the same. You have to be vulnerable and fully present when in a relationship, whether that is a romantic relationship, a friendship, a relationship with the business you are starting, and especially the relationship with yourself. You have to fully love yourself, all of yourself, in order to love someone or something else. In a way, you are naked; no lights, no dance breaks, no make up; it’s just you. This is true for anytime we choose to follow the thing that scares us the most, which is usually the thing we want the most. When you choose the path that is real and true, it may be the hardest decision and require continuous work, but it’ll be the best decision, and it’ll be worth it.

 

Do you want to enjoy the “simple joys” of life more authentically? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

"The day she stopped getting stuck in ‘why’ was the day she finally started getting the answers she was looking for."

The day she stopped getting stuck in ‘why’ was the day she finally started getting the answers she was looking for.

I just finished re-staging a dance I choreographed a few years ago when I was on faculty at a university in CT. The piece is called “Cemented” and was an exploration of feeling stuck. Why do we as people get stuck on the same thought or hold onto a certain memory? Why do we just feel stuck in certain aspects of our life but not others? What makes us unstuck? My creative process always begins with asking a question and then working with my dancers to talk through possible solutions or outcomes both with our bodies and minds. I vividly remember this creative process and how fixated or “stuck “ I was on trying to find an answer to getting unstuck.

I enjoy re-staging my previous work because it allows me to revisit an idea with a new lens. I have new bodies in front of me to work with and though we have a detailed outline already in place, there is still room to play and come up with new solutions. This time around, I realized that I was not so fixated on how to become unstuck, but was more intrigued by the idea of being OK with being stuck.  Why is it that when we are stuck we feel it is necessary to fix something in order to become unstuck? Maybe if we allowed ourselves to marinate in the “unstuckness” we would find something new about ourselves.

Through the creative process this time around, I formed two new perspectives. First, that being stuck means we aren’t being truly present in our lives because we are hoping or waiting for something else to happen (living in the future) or we aren’t allowing ourselves to let go of something (living in the past). Second, that being stuck is something we need to struggle with because it is in the act of struggling, maybe even making some mistakes, and engaging in the day to day stuff that we truly learn and grow as individuals. This is where the deep cognitive learning, the change, and the growth happens; not in the quick fixes. I fully acknowledge that these two perspectives can be somewhat contradictory, but for now I am allowing myself to sit with them.

There is such beauty in re-visiting something over time. We get to come back to it with more knowledge, wisdom, and experience, which allow us to see things in a new light and through a new lens. This is not exclusive to the creative process, but can also be applied to all aspects of our lives: people we have encountered, situations we have experienced, skills/activities we have attempted, beliefs we have held/still hold, limiting views of ourselves, etc.

What are some things you would like to revisit in your life through a new lens? Where are you feeling stuck and can you allow yourself to enjoy the “stuckness” and not judge it?

 

Need help navigating the "stucknesss?" I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation.”

Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation.
— Alan Cohen

About a year ago, I was taking a beautiful vinyasa flow yoga class and the teacher began with the beginning part of this quote. It resonated deeply with me. I made sure to write it down as soon as class was over. Recently, I have been revisiting the idea of fear when working with my clients and it got me thinking about this quote again. When we are scared it is usually because we are afraid of something; the fear is taking over in our mind. It then manifests itself physically, whether that is literally running away from something or pain in the body caused by stress and anxiety. But what if we stopped and shifted our mindset about fear? Maybe fear isn’t always negative or debilitating, maybe it’s actually a positive indicator and can be used to facilitate.

We are programmed to think when the knot in our stomach starts churning that whatever is causing it is bad and we should remove ourselves from it. But sometimes that knot is telling us something else. It’s reminding us that we have a lot of energy towards whatever is causing the reaction and that we can choose to view that energy as a positive thing. Instead of allowing our mind to downward spiral, maybe the knot is there to tell us that finally something has come along that challenges and excites us. So why are we doubting ourselves?

For example, say an opportunity presents itself, and this could be the very thing that you need to take that next big leap in your career. At first, you are super excited, but then that knot comes in and you begin to “read” it as maybe it’s not the right time, how will this effect your personal life, do you actually have the skills to be successful? The list goes on and on. However, sometimes we aren’t actually afraid of failure, but really of succeeding. What if you do get what you have always wanted and it’s not what you thought it would be? Allowing yourself the space/time and self freedom to really understand where the fear is coming from can help you to realize that fear is not always bad. In fact, a little fear can go a long way in guiding you in the right direction. We have to push ourselves into the unknown in order to create new and amazing things. If we don’t, we stay complacent.

This week lets go back to journaling. Think about some of the goals you have created and ask yourself: “What is holding me back in taking the next step? What am I afraid of?” Then just start writing. Don’t stop to judge or analyze what you have written, just continue writing until you have gotten it all out. After some time, go back to what you wrote and observe (without the critical eye) what you wrote. Are there any new realizations? Has it become clearer the reasons you are holding back? What if you gave yourself the freedom to release the negative energy around these thoughts and instead looked at them through a positive lens? Maybe the thing you are most scared of will become the thing that is most sacred to you.

 

Do you need help shifting your mindset about fear? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“Incidental events do not directly cause natural evolution; they just remove the obstacles as a farmer [removes the obstacles in a water course running to his field].”

Incidental events do not directly cause natural evolution; they just remove the obstacles as a farmer [removes the obstacles in a water course running to his field].
— Sri Swami Satchidananda

This past weekend, I had the privilege of going deeper into my yoga practice by attending a Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra training. It was such a special weekend being able to immerse myself in the power of restoring our body not just physically, but energetically as well. When reflecting on the weekend, I was reminded of one of my favorite Sutras (the quote above).

I really love what Satchidananda had to say about the guru being an agriculturist and removing obstacles to reveal what has always been there. I visualize a current of energy that is forever present in our body and soul. Our body/soul is constantly striving towards perfect health and free flowing energy, but sometimes we get in the way and create barriers. When I first started going to my chiropractor, he told me that his job is not to “fix” the person but to remove the obstacles away from the nervous system so that the body can get back to its healthy state.

I believe gurus, or teachers, come to us in many different forms whether they are people, events, situations, physical practices, and even animals (my cat has been one of the best teachers I have had in the past few years). Everything we need to know we already do know deep down inside, but sometimes we need these teachers to help guide us.

Teachers come into our lives to provide us lessons in order to grow and continue on our journeys. They are not there to do the work for us, but to help us remove the blocks so we can live from a more authentic place. There are times when we are not ready yet to learn certain lessons, but the universe will continue to send people or situations until we are ready. It is best when we are open and willing to receive what these teachers have to show us. This is something I sometimes struggle with because of the fear of the unknown. I want to control what’s happening and feel anxious when that control is lost. However, when I look back on different points in my life I see that when I was open to receive and trusted in the process it has always proven to be fruitful, many times providing much more than I could have imagined.

The most important teacher you will have throughout your life is yourself. By using the many tools we have talked about and engaging in practices that resonant with your authentic self, your energy will continuously flow freely.

 

Do you need help clearing the obstacles from your life? I would love to guide you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.”

Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.

Last week I began to discuss creativity and the importance of “play.” Creativity is essential to everyone in order to live a fulfilling and engaged life. Play is the most basic form of improvisation, which is necessary during the creative process. The creative process is not exclusive to artists and the act of making art; each of our lives is its own creative process. For one to be successful in a creative process, it is crucial to have a safe environment where we feel we can experiment, take risks, fall and get back up, and be vulnerable. Without all of these elements, we can’t and won’t grow as an individual.

In Sport Psychology, we have two categories for environments: task oriented and win oriented. In a task oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of mastering the skill to build confidence and grow. They are intrinsically motivated. In a win oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of being better than others rather than for self improvement. They are extrinsically motivated. As we discussed previously, in order to reach a Flow state, or optimal performance, we need to be intrinsically motivated, comfortable enough to take risks, receive timely feedback, and proper support. A task oriented environment provides the appropriate structure, where a win environment feeds into negative competition, self doubt when “failing,” and can perpetuate the downward spiral.

Improvisation/play is a great example for an activity within a task oriented environment. There is no one correct answer, and participants continue to engage in the activity because of its enjoyment and the discoveries they make. Unfortunately, many of the environments we find ourselves in as we get older are more often win oriented environments. Schools like to say they are nurturing and more task oriented, but many times the learning that is happening is directed towards a specific outcome. The constant testing and the pressure of grades provide a win environment where students are constantly comparing themselves to classmates and even students outside their school.  This environment makes it much harder to achieve a flow state and enjoyment of the material, leaving many students worn out and skeptical about being a lifelong learner.

Reflect on your own life and the decisions you have made. Did you decide to get that certificate because you wanted to better yourself as a manager and a person or because you knew you would get a salary bump? Did you go into a field of study because you felt it would provide you a more “successful” job rather than studying something you loved and would make you happy? Knowing your motivation can help you to make decisions. Doing something that motivates you intrinsically, will help to fuel you and fulfill you. Doing something that motivates you extrinsically, will most likely drain you and lead to unhappiness. If you continue to make decisions based on what resonates with your authentic self you will create a life of fulfillment.

Now reflect on your environment, both personal and professional. Who are the people you surround yourself with? Do they lift you up, support your accomplishments, and energize you? Or are they competitive and drain you? What activities are you engaging in? Do these activities support a healthy lifestyle: mind body and spirit? Or are they distractions? We have the power to create a task oriented environment, where we are not only supported but also encouraged to be our best self!

This week, take the time to journal about the environment around you. Notice what is serving you and what is not anymore. Remember to observe without judgment. From there, brainstorm some changes you can make so that you can begin to create or strengthen the environment you want. Even the smallest changes will shift the energy around you.

 

Do you need help creating the environment you deserve? I would love to help you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in [the] idea of lila, or divine play.”

Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in [the] idea of lila, or divine play.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch

I have rediscovered the awe-inspiring book, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch. This will be my third time reading it and every time I find something new. The first two times I read the book were for assignments in my choreography and composition dance classes. However, the book proved to not only affect my artistic life, but also my personal life. When we think about it, life is one creative process and creativity isn’t just for the artistic elite, but necessary for everyone in order to live a fulfilling and enriched life. Creativity can manifest itself in many forms. We see it clearly through a painting or a dance, but it can also be designing an interactive spreadsheet or figuring out a new way to treat a patient.

A key element to the creative process is improvisation, and a key element to improvisation is play. “Play” plays such an important role in the process of creation, without it we would never access anything new. The rest of the quote above is as follows:

            If we let go of play, our work becomes ponderous and stiff. If we                let go of the sacred, our work loses its connection to the ground             on which we live (Nachmanovitch).

One of the best ways to reconnect with authentic play is to observe children. Children completely immerse themselves in whatever they are doing: an art project, building a fort, playing make believe, telling a story, etc. They aren’t worried about what others think or what’s considered right and wrong; they are just present. They are continuously problem solving, collaborating, and reacting authentically in the moment. Because of this, they are able to more easily enter a Flow state and for the most part are lively and happy.

So what happens as we get older that changes that? It becomes harder for us to “think outside the box,” more challenging to work in groups, and more difficult to think on our toes. We have lost our sense of “play.” As we get older, we are told what we should be like or what we should be doing. Many times, we are told there is only one right answer, and we begin to become more self-conscious. Our mind begins to get in the way of our instincts and our ability to just let loose. Because of this, we have a hard time being totally present in our lives.

Luckily, there are so many ways for us to get back in touch with our inner child and access our creative self! The first step is allowing yourself to take the time. Then, begin to try new things: take a cooking class, go rock climbing, write a short story, go on a nature walk, etc. There are so many new tools at our disposal. Adult coloring books have become a way to relax and get back to a “child like” activity. Groupon is a wonderful way to try a new activity at a lower cost. You can go to a paint night or take a pottery class.  All of these activities allow us to step out of our routine, our comfort zone, and just “play.” Remember to not judge yourself while trying these new things. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. Who knows, you may unleash a side of you you didn’t even know was in there. Not to mention your ability to think more creatively will grow, which can prove to be usual when you’re “adulting.”

 

Do you need help accessing your inner child and releasing your creativity self? I would love to help you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“May your Force awaken and may the Force be with you always.”

May your Force awaken and may the Force be with you always.

***WARNING**** There may be some spoiler alerts with this blog. Ok…so let me begin by saying up until around 3 weeks ago I had never seen a single Star Wars movie. It had become a point of pride, and I actually planned to never see any of them. But then the new one came out, and I was experiencing some FOMO. So over the holiday, I took the plunge and watched the original three films back to back and then this past weekend saw the new one.

After finishing Episode IV, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “this is basically a sci-fi version of the yogi philosophy and the Law of Attraction.” The Force is the Universe and an energy current that is in us and around us. It is always present; we just need to tap into it. The characters represent different aspects of the journey. Luke, being the protagonist, was called to this journey and at first he rejects it. He makes excuses and is driven by fear, but nevertheless he is thrown in.

At the beginning of his journey, he is naïve and untrained but he has the help of his guide, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He is also provided with several friends that accompany him. Han Solo, who also has some resistance at first (he actually says he will choose his own path and no one can force him), represents his mode of transportation. Princess Leia, who we later find out is Luke’s sister, represents that constant support that no matter how much you may doubt yourself or fail, always loves and believes in you. Yoda is literally a yogi guru (he even looks like one). Luke goes to him to learn, train, and master the harnessing of the Force. One of my favorite things that Yoda says to Luke is that Jedis don’t look for conflict. His eagerness to engage in conflict shows the he is not ready. He needs to be patient and trust the process. How many of us can relate that?!?

The dark side is primarily represented through the character Darth Vader. It is no surprise that Darth would be related to Luke. Where there is light there is always dark. We have the choice to follow one path or the other. Darth chose the path of the dark side. He tempts Luke to give into his anger and hatred and cross over to the dark side. This is a struggle that we all deal with on a continual basis. But we have the choice to not give in to our darkness, but rather uphold our light.

Many of the same themes are present in the newest Star Wars film, but one thing that struck me as new was the character of Fin. Fin was raised from birth to be a stormtrooper. Yet, in his first battle he chooses to escape the First Order knowing that what it represents isn’t right. Again after some wavering back and forth as to whether to stay and help Rey and the droid, he finally realizes his calling to be part of the Resistance. I find this new construct to be interesting because many times we feel we are trapped by our environment, whether that be where we grew up, financial limitations, etc, but we always have the ability to change our trajectory if it doesn’t resonate with us. It may be not be an easy task, but once we make this decision the Universe, or The Force, will always be with us and guide us. We also see in this film that the representation of the dark side, Ben, is having an eternal struggle and feeling a pull to the Light. Again, he is related to some of our main players yet still chose the dark side. Leia tells Han to bring back their son; that there is still light in him. This is true for all of us. No matter our decisions or current path, there is always Light in us. We just need to acknowledge it and choose to follow it. However, no one but ourselves can do that for us.

Rey is an interesting character in that she had been sticking to the task of waiting for her family to come back for most of her life. Little did she know the Force, aka the Universe, had more in store for her. By seeing someone/something in need and being an honest and helpful person she found herself down a path that actually led to what she wanted all along. She said Yes. And every time she continued to say Yes, the Force within her continued to grow stronger and support her. Even without any formal training, she was able to defeat Ben because at that point she fully surrendered to the Force. She didn’t even completely understand it. How often do we do that in our own lives?

I truly believe that this was the time in my life that I was supposed to watch these movies. Like Luke, and others on their journeys, we aren’t always ready. If I had seen the movies when I was younger or even 3 years ago, I would not have made the connections that I did now and enjoyed the movies on this deeper level. It really goes to show you that everything happens in the perfect time/space sequence. Are you ready to surrender, say Yes, harness the Force with the many tools you have been given, and embark on your journey? Once you are able to make this choice, the Universe will provide the guides you need, the support to help you through, and the teachers to show you the way. You just have to say Yes and trust. May the Force be with you!

 

I would love to be your Obi-Wan or Yoda and help support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

Copyright © 2018 Stephanie Simpson, All rights reserved.