The Four Technologies of Magic and a Horse Named Max

With Charlie Morley, Martha Beck, Koelle Simpson, & Lisa Tran On December 3rd 2011, I had the opportunity to attend TEDx San Diego The World In Our Grasp to hear Martha Beck and Koelle Simpson share their stories.  

For those of you that know me well, you know how much I love them and value their body of work.

If you're new to my blog, these two ladies have played an integral part in my journey back to love.  They taught me and continue to teach me how to experience life in a loving, peaceful, playful state.

Martha released her latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World in December as well.  It's definitely one of my favorites.  Her TEDx talk provides a delicious taste for what you'll find in her new book about the four technologies of magic plus epic story telling.  I love her madly.

If you do not know Koelle or her work, one of the foundational messages she shares is leadership from within, from a place of love and compassion.  She learned this from horses and nature.  In her TEDx talk she shares a moving, powerful story about a horse named Max.

Please enjoy their talks and I'd love to hear your comments so please share below.

Martha Beck's TEDx San Diego Talk - The Four Technologies of Magic

Koelle Simpson's TEDx San Diego Talk - A Horse Named Max

With love, Diane

Guest Post: Too Small to Fail

Too small to failI have spoken to our director and other therapists at the clinic, and we would like to make you an offer for the position,” I read aloud to my roommate with excitement as I opened the e-mail from my first potential employer. One job application, one interview, and the career I have worked for will finally begin. I turned on the music and began to prep for my daily workout- something new since being unemployed for a month. I decided to begin a new regimen today, one that I had been putting off because I knew it was going to kick my ass, and that I may not be able to finish it.

During the sixth interval of pushups I got to the point where I had to stop. I shook it off and proceeded. My cool down included a walk through the stunning hills outside my San Francisco home, with views of the city that often lead me to reflection with their beauty. Towards the top as I was thinking about that set up pushups, I heard the words- “why do I rarely fail?”

I have lived under the belief that failure is bad, and means that I am unworthy.

I look back on my short life of 24 years and on paper, I’ll admit it is impressive. I have paid my way through undergraduate and graduate school,  completed a Master’s Degree, am beginning a profitable career, have maintained incredibly meaningful relationships, and have waded my way through (what I think were) some pretty terrible situations both personally and in my family.

I have been an athlete, a musician, a student, an employee, and a friend. Other people may look at my accolades and life accomplishments and think, “wow, she’s really got her shit together!” And, you know, I often believe that to be true.

But today, on that walk up the hill, I realized- I have never really failed.

Now I know what you may be thinking. “Really?  How could that be true.” Absolutely. 100% agree. I fail every day in little ways I am sure- as a good roommate, a good friend, a good human being.

But in the big things, the things by which I and others measure my worth as a human, I have not failed.

I have never been turned down for a job.  Never.

Every job I applied for I have gotten. I have never been turned down in a school application. I always got straight A’s. I always made the team. I always finish the workout. “I have spoken to our director and other therapists at the clinic, and we would like to make you an offer for the position.” First try.

Today- that 6th interval of pushups- was one of those few times I didn’t make it. It may seem silly and simple, but to me it opened up a profound message about my life.

I rarely put myself in situations which I think I may not succeed.

Why?  Because I have been blessed with intelligence and talent, of which I honestly do not take credit for (thanks to the good ol’ Weeks parents).  I can pass by as an impressive human being.

But really, I function at a level in which I push myself just hard enough to be a cut above the rest, but not far enough to have potential to fail. I chose a career and graduate school that I knew would be easy (for me) and applied for a job that I knew I could get. I work out at a level at which others may not be able to achieve, but I rarely push myself to the point of failure.

I succeed, but I don’t necessarily excel.

I look at the pictures of models in magazines and think, “I work out, why don’t I look like that?” Perhaps it is because those individuals have pushed themselves to the point of failure, over and over, every day, until their body adapts and they finally succeed.

Some may say my lack of failures mean I am responsible and talented. I say it is a life without risk.

I am not too big to fail, but rather am too small. I hide under my God-given talents and abilities, but never push myself past them to the point where I won’t succeed- to the point of true growth. If I never failed, does it mean that I never tried something hard enough?

I believed that failure indicates an inadequacy within me, and looked at others who fail as weak. But today I realized something completely different. Failure- after everything has been left on the floor- is an indicator of a courage. An act of bravery. It means I have pushed myself past the point of my abilities, and can learn where my limitations are and grow from them. Without failure, how will I ever know what it takes to truly succeed?

So I challenge myself today- don’t be too small to fail. Be too big to succeed.

Shoot high, take risks, do something where you will probably completely fail.  Laugh. Cry. Move on. Grow.

Brenna is a young woman who has just finished her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, and is embarking on a career working with children with special needs. Her goal is to facilitate opportunities for them to function at their highest level, while taking moments to learn from each brave teacher she encounters.

Ian's Birthday, Whales and the Way Back Home

IMG_0678In the quiet stillness of the morning, you decided it was time to transition from the warmth of my womb to the world of wonder awaiting your arrival.  As dawn broke, the sun rose over the hills spreading orange hues that lit up the violet sky and turned down the stars.  Fifteen hours later, after the sun traversed the sky blazing the trail for the moon, your father and I held you in our arms.

You joined us on the eve of February 1st 2002.

We greeted you with great expectations.  We celebrated your arrival surrounded by your aunties and grandparents.  Feelings of joy mixed with exhaustion flooded my senses as I watched your father gaze down upon you.

That evening, in the quiet of the hospital, after everyone had gone home, your father slept in the bed while I rocked you in my arms.  I whispered stories of love in your tiny little ears of what I believed our life would be together.  In that moment, I had no idea how powerful a teacher you would be in my life.

Very early on, I knew you were a very special child.  The neurologist diagnosed you with autism at 2 ½ years.  I sat in his office feeling as though the air had been sucked out of the room.  And there you stood, watching the birds fly, banging your hands on the window just as you did moments before, completely unaffected by the label.

Nothing changed and everything changed.

I swam in the depths of sadness and grief for quite some time.  At times I felt like I was drowning, pinned down by the force of crashing waves, over and over again.  I fought the waves, struggled to breathe, so full of fear.

You waited for me, standing on the sand, gazing up at the stars, birds flying above, watching the whales and dolphins play; your faith in me never waivered.

You patiently guided me to find my way back home to love.

A beautiful, pure love swirls around you and engulfs anyone that comes within your realm of being.  You touch lives with the simplest of interactions.  At the grocery story, the park, Costco and walking down the street.  Anyone who takes the time to connect with you experiences the joy of wordlessness and is forever changed by your love and sensitivity.  You teach each person what it means to truly connect from a place of love and peace.

I believe you showed up in this world as a profound teacher. Oh how the lessons have come fast and furiously.  Feels like a space shuttle burning up through the atmosphere, thoughts surfacing and burning up with a greater awareness.

You’ve taught me love blows fear to pieces.

I’m deeply grateful you chose me as your mother and continue to teach me to listen and lead from the place of peace and clarity.  I support your journey every day with love and renewed hope for a day when autism will no longer be a painful struggle for so many.

Whenever I feel a bit stressed or out of sorts, all I need to do is take a few deep breaths, get present and share a moment with you.  You show me the way back to love.

Happy Birthday dear sweet Ian.

Love. IMG_0684

The Vastness of Peace in Stillness

Last weekend I said goodbye to my husband and younger son as they set off on an adventure to Disneyland.  Lane could barely contain himself; such joy and excitement.

This meant I had a weekend alone with sweet Ian.

Since Ian does not use verbal language, it also meant great opportunities to drop into wordlessness and tune into his non-verbal communication.

Ian and I spent the early part of the morning in a peaceful state of wordlessness. Moving about the house in our routine, eating breakfast, playing, and relaxing.

Then he wanted to go outside.

No doubt, to jump on his beloved trampoline.  I checked the temperature - 45 degrees; too cold for this Californian girl. I helped him outside and onto the trampoline and expressed I wasn't interested in jumping in the cold and asked him to let me know when he was done.

Often, he does this thing to lure you out to jump with him.  He'll come to the edge as if he's ready to get off and the moment you come outside, he drops back in, gives a certain look and makes a sound to invite you to join. He's trained many of us this way.

As I walked back to the door though he gave me different look.  "Something" told me to stand at the open door. He wasn't inviting me to jump. It felt like he was asking me to watch.  So, I stood there and he started to jump and squeal with delight.

I gasped!  He did a trick!  He wanted to show me something he'd learned. He dropped to his knees and tried to bounce back up on his feet.  I'd never seen him do this before.  His brother and cousin were doing it the other day.  Well, his cousin was TRYING to do it in his adorable almost-2-year-old way.  (Here's a video of the three of them jumping together.)

Ian wanted to show me how he could do it too.

He was so proud of himself and happy to share it with me.  As soon as he showed me, he promptly moved to the edge of the trampoline and asked to get out - in the beautiful, clear non-verbal way that he does.

Had I not allowed myself to enter a state of stillness and tune into what he was asking I would have missed it completely. Throughout the weekend, I moved in and out of stillness and each time I returned to stillness, Ian rewarded me with his presence.

My favorite moment happened Sunday morning.

Normally he wakes up and wanders into my room, often with a detour to the bathroom to turn the water faucet on and off several times. He loves to hear running water. Then his sweet feet pad down the hall and down stairs to start his day with his brother.

On Sunday though, he walked straight down the hall to the edge of my bed and climbed in all on his own. We lay there for another blissful thirty minutes snuggling and dozing before he decided it was time to start the day.

How to reach a state of internal stillness?

Here are some simple steps you may explore.

1. Remove distractions that will pull you out of the present moment. 2. Ask yourself, "What am I feeling?" with the intention to notice any physical sensations or tension in your body. 3. What do you notice about your breathing? Is it shallow and fast or deep and relaxed? Then take a few moments to take three deep breaths all the way into your belly. 5. Focus on your five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell) and one at a time, see what you notice. 6. Lastly, bring your awareness to your hands. See if you feel the pulse of your blood moving in and out of your hands with each beat of your heart.

You'll find an excellent compilation of how to's (plus so much more) in Martha Beck's latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. It includes simple yet powerful exercises to help you reach a state of stillness, peace and wordlessness. I highly recommend it.

The more you practice, the easier you'll find your way back to a state of stillness and peace. Feel free to reach out to connect via email if you have questions regarding the suggested steps listed above.

I've love to hear about your personal experience with stillness. Please share in the comments below.