This week I got a serious surprise

Sometimes when you are writing one book the next one pays a visit. I learned this from my book coach and filed it away in the interesting but not my experience category.  Until this week.

People, the waves of change are stirring in my heart and soul again. But wait… I’m still editing my first book and having all kinds of powerful experiences teaching it to my beta coaching group and preparing for the retreat in Mexico.

But there it was… unavoidable. I sat to meditate a couple of days ago and the voice was back.  Only a slightly different voice.  Similar to the one which bubbled up and fueled 52,000 words in nine weeks, only a fresh distinct flavor.  Blooming right next door.

And the ping of recognition. “Holy Bejessus that reminds me of the book voice.  That is the book voice.  That is a new book. OhmygoodnessIshouldwritethisdown. Thiswantstobedocumented.”

So what did I do?  I sat there and finished my meditation.  Did I write it down later?  Nope.  Sometimes we hear inspiration knocking and we can’t quite manage to catch the tiger by its tail.

But in the days since I’ve had a reckoning. I’ve set yes to this new voice:

Even though I don’t think I’m ready.

Even though I’ve yet to publish the first one.

Even though there are so many other things swirling around and inside of me as I teach the eight step FLOURISH process for the first time.

Here we go.

You know the funny thing is that I think this creativity surge is actually a product of moving through the FLOURISH process myself again as I teach the beta coaching group.

I’m hearing feedback from women in the program that waves of recognition and saying yes to deep soul shifts are opening up inside of them.  At first I was in a state of encouragement during the private and group calls – remembering previous times I’ve been in an inner growth spurt.  (What I call Upleveling. Even though at the time it can feel like a downward spiral.)

But then, shazam, I was back in my own soul growth spurt and the more I say yes to it the more quickly the waves of fresh opportunities are coming.

I love teaching out of that place. It is where I feel most alive, in integrity and transparent.

And it is a reminder that our best work, our most powerful work as soulful women in the world is not forced or engineered from the mind.  It is not pushing ourselves on when exhausted or striving for the shiny gold star. It is a gentle syncing up of all the internal resources and an editing of the static.  The gentlest of pushes when you are ripe and in this state can send you cascading into a more expansive version of yourself and open the opportunities to do things you wouldn’t have thought possible.  Like start your second book on the heels of your first.

I think is is time we go quantum, dear Birder. Growing beyond the boxes we put ourself in.

And what a season for it.  Spring fever.  Breathe it in.

Love and all the good,

Courtney

Do you feel a new iteration of your life beckoning and rather than looking the other way you want to say yes to these deep, soulful nudges? If you would you like my support as you move through this process I will be opening up my FLOURISH formula program for another beta coaching group in May. (This is your opportunity to get a sneak peak on the material as I put finishing touches on the book before it will be published later this year.) If you would like to learn more I have a limited number of Discovery Sessions available when I get back from Mexico and I would love to talk with you. You can view my calendar and grab your Discovery Session today.  Xxo

 

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting busy women who want to unlock their greatest gifts and flourish in their personal lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read about options for working with Courtney here and reach her directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

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My Steamy Dream + How to Decode Yours

The sun is rising and the flor de belize tree outside my studio window shimmers in that effervescent green of early spring. Birdcalls I can’t recognize filter in through my open window. (One day I’ll really be a birder and learn how to identify them all – for now I just mooch off my husband, the ecology/biology major, and his birdcall know-how.)

I’m fresh from bed and the house remains in that gorgeous liminal space: full yet quiet. The kitty is awake though (she always wakes when I do) and this means that my kindergartener soon will be as well as Beatrix meows for her playmate outside her bedroom door.

This has been a dreamy week for me – I’m not sure if it is the full moon or Holy Week and Easter approaching or the feeling of being a mom of twins: the book baby manuscript born and awaiting the first round of edits and now my attention fully engaged on my Mexico retreat only three weeks away. But my dream life has been full.

I’ve been saying this is my first international retreat but I’ve realized that is not true. While it is my first to host as part of my coaching practice, in grad school I led a group up a mountain in Honduras to a rural health clinic to bring medical supplies to a displaced coffee farming community. I was pregnant with my son and my husband and I co-led this trip through a nonprofit I was interning with at the time. It was the height of my overachiever I can do it all mindset. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed as hard as I prayed coming down. It had rained incessantly while we were at the health clinic and now we were making our way down a mud slick mountain. I was very worried for myself and my baby as we perched on a donkey (you know I don’t make this up) and the safety of our whole group.

So maybe that is why I feel so peaceful this go round. By comparison our luscious Mexican retreat house is much tamer. But even with my excitement leading the way I have noticed a tendency to fall into an old rut and approach the various tasks from a head space: more seeing how many items on my to do list I can take care of between coaching calls rather than slowing down and operating from a place of trust and intuition, which makes action more powerful.

Until my dream reminded me to drop into my heart.

I won’t go into all the details… dreams can be, as you know a little unwieldy. But I had such a powerful dream this week which included a scene where I was creating a party. And the party was somewhere tropical with lush greenery draped all around it. (I think my dreamscape was inspired by the above picture from Mexico I discovered early in the retreat planning process.) And inside the party it was so completely full of love. Not little love but the Big Love. There was not one square inch that wasn’t already infused with it, like steam rising from a heated pool.

When I woke up I felt so wholly reminded of what is mine to do, and what is not mine to do in the preparations for this event. It totally shifted my energy and helped me stay in connection with the truth that even little things, like making shuttle arrangements or ordering inspiration quote temporary tattoos for our opening night of meditation and wine at sunset, can be an act of love.

I’ve long been a big dreamer. I used to have vivid nightmares as well which would scare me so much my creative parents had to decorate my bedroom windows with pictures of smiling faces and notes of encouragement so I would sleep through the night. (Something which apparently didn’t happen until I was seven. Sorry mom).

Then as I got older I turned off my dreams. I moved away from them. I said no thank you.

But a couple of years ago as part of my Martha Beck Life Coach training I got reacquainted with my dreams. Led by a beautiful nature-based coach named Michael Trotta who said to me in one class: “Courtney it sounds like you are creating a new relationship with your dreams. Opening the door to trust them again.”

Dreams are definitely a more feminine form of power. They bypass that rational, neocortex which likes to grab and exert control. And they come from a deeper, intuitive self. As I’ve shared before I have an inner Harvard (who believes in feet on the ground thinking) and an inner Fairy (who likes synchronicity and now, dreams) dueling it out inside my brain pretty much at all times.

So if you resist the idea of tapping into your dreams or if it feels like interpreting them requires you to go too slow, believe me I get it.

But as my friend and fellow coach Katie Wise (who is my wing woman and hospitality goddess for this upcoming retreat) reminds me: there is no substitute for really spending some time with dreams.

Here is how to do it:

Set an intention to dream. (I know I know, just try it. The truth is you are already dreaming, even if you never remember a single one. If we don’t dream, we die.)

Have a notebook or paper and pen right by your bed.

Capture whatever you have when you awake: it could be a full story line or just impressions. Details matter.

Then take the top three or so images from the dream: it could be people in the dream, places, objects anything.

And imagine you can become that image. Let yourself climb inside and speak as it. So in my dream I had an image of a kind of courtly me, the party I created, and the action of bowing – just like at the end of yoga class. So I became each of those images one by one. Then describe yourself with three adjectives. And ask “what is my purpose, why am I showing up in the dream?” and lastly “what is my helpful message for the dreamer?”

Again, speak as that image. Your mind is going to want to take over, but play around with this and just let whatever words or impressions come up, even if they don’t make sense.

Capture everything in your dream notebook.

Then at the end go back and read especially the messages, and ask how they might apply to your real life. Be ready and open for surprise connections and insights to emerge.

This year I’ve taken an integrity cleanse.* No more hiding, no more pretending. So I guess you can say I’m letting out my inner mystic –you knew she was in here anyway — more and more.

I think we need these intuitive and feminine sources of insight for our lives. Not only to help us feel better and more balanced in our crazy world which prioritizes speed, domination and extraction, but also because it is from this deeply watered place that we have more to share.

And your voice matters, dear Birder. In all the ways, big and little that you share it, you have the power to grow the love in ripples around you.

So if you are feeling stirred to tap into dreams. I hope you do. And let me know what emerges as a comment below.

Love and all the good,

Courtney

*Integrity cleanse and dream analysis tool inspired by the Martha Beck Life Coach Training program.
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about working with Courtney here or you can reach her directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

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Vintage Bird: How to Be Sensitive + Happy

I’ve been letting my little book baby out of of the nest this week (to members of my Flourish coaching program beta group + participants in my upcoming retreat in Mexico). How tender it can feel to share something new. But we don’t write books all for ourselves, do we? This experience reminded me of one of my favorite posts, on how to be sensitive and happy. Read on below!
xxo
Courtney
PS My beta coaching program on the eight step FLOURISH process is just getting started! We had our first recorded session yesterday so it is totally a great time to hop in and move with us through the program. If you are interested reach out to cp@courtneypinkerton.com and I’ll share the details.

How to Be Sensitive + Happy

Like many of my coaching clients I am sensitive. I have been told this so often, especially throughout my childhood, that I have developed a sort of love/hate relationship with the very word.

Someone uses the S word to describe me and I feel a deep energy rise up inside: one part exasperation (tell me something I don’t know!) and alongside it a longing for a different temperament (being thick-skinned strikes me as an easier way to go through life.)

Often, there is a not so subtle subtext to calling someone sensitive.

It can mean “suck it up, your emotionality is making me uncomfortable!”

Or “why can’t you handle things easier. Perhaps more like I do?”

Or even “please stop reminding me of the inherent suffering and deep beauty of life. I’m working very hard to keep from opening that door of recognition within myself right now!”

Yet the truth is—we need our sensitives.

But before I go any further singing the praises of sensitive people I must first insert a big caveat. Sensitives can get attached to their deep feelings and woundedness. This can lead to going through life simply waiting for the next sting to reinforce your story of yourself. And this, clearly, is not much fun.

So like any of our soul gifts, it matters how sensitivity is held.

But in a culture which values strength over almost any other attribute it is important to remember that sensitives are one necessary element in a healthy community.  Likewise, each one of us, regardless of our particular temperament, needs to integrate our sensitive parts into the wholeness of who we are. For it is out of this space of alignment that we live our most inspired life and in fact have our biggest impact.

Now it doesn’t always feel like leading with your tender bits is the way to go. In fact, I’ve spend years, (years I tell you!) pushing down my sensitive side. I’ve driven myself hard — working feverishly behind the scenes to make my accomplishments look easy. (My family and good friends could always tell you the truth of it.)

This is the unexpected pattern I see also in my client’s lives. Being sensitive hasn’t kept them from doing things. Big things. Things like running their own media or music companies, publishing popular books, managing international development projects, heading large non-profits, creating gutsy art, or radically reorienting their lives to be present with their kids. (Or all of the above!)

So you might not see their sensitivity on the outside. But while they are busy getting stuff done they feel the inner dissonance.

In fact, under tending to one’s sensitive side has serious repercussions. It takes a toll on mental health and physical wellbeing and can lead to high levels of anxiety and low levels of happiness.

But it takes a big dose of courage and daring to heed the desire of a sensitive heart for expression and to discern options for integrating it into work and family life.

Often rest is the first step.

And it can help enormously to find a skilled practitioner to help tune into this deeper register.

At different points in my journey I have benefited greatly from the support of an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, yoga teacher, naturopath, therapist, chiropractor, Reiki master, Enneagram teachers and several skilled coaches. I feel such deep gratitude for each one of these healers, there when I needed them (several are still in my life!) and always leaving me more restored and resilient than before.

This journey to honor rather than step over sensitivity is a central motivator behind my holistic life coaching.

Holistic coaching recognizes that a person’s heart, mind, body & spirit are in intimate interconnection and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Holism is a frequently used theory also in ecology and language. Think about the way a forest ecosystem is more nuanced than what can be captured in a list of its tree species or other elements. And the way a poem has more power than you might suspect if someone merely gave you a list of the included vocabulary.

How it is all knit together (forest, poem, you) and the interplay between all the complex elements is where the magic is.

What that means practically is that I support people in going through their body and its wisdom to re-design their life – using tools such as acupressure (tapping), stress reduction, and the biggie—meditation to reset neural pathways and open up new possibilities. All in a gentle, step by step fashion.

We do lots of other things together too of course, including talking, identifying personality patterns and deep desires, laughing, and sometimes crying (tears can be a holy part of letting out the old to make space for the new.)

And in this process people are able to honor, integrate, and ultimately employ their sensitive side as a partner and guide in life. What does this look like? The answer will be as unique as you.

For me holding energetic space for clients, hosting space at a retreat center, and writing as well as simple acts, like snipping a tiny bouquet of herbs for the tea tray give expression to my sensitive side. What a different feeling it is to treat this attribute like it has gifts to bring rather than driving over it toward my next goal.

Seriously, our world needs the sensitive people: owning their sensitive skillz and employing them to heal themselves and others, whatever their profession.

Because here is the secret. Your tender heart + underbelly is also where your deep joy is housed. Integrating that part of you is the most efficient way to go from this moment to your sweetest life—the one full of meaning and opportunities to serve out of your gifts, including, your sensitive nervous system.

Warmly,

Courtney

Over to you– do you identify as a sensitive?

How do you take care of and nurture your sensitive side as strength and not weakness?

I’d love to hear your experience… leave a quick comment below!

I’m sharing some favorite Vintage Bird posts this spring while I catch my breath from book writing. 
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about working with Courtney here or you can reach her directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Want to get the latest from Courtney? Sign up below for weekly updates on soulful living!


Almost Wordless + Pics from River Retreat



One of the things I loved the most about the children I worked with in Nicaragua as a Peace Corps Volunteer was their incredible knowledge of the natural world. You could ask them the name of any plant or creature on their volcano and they knew it. (Well, I’m sure there must be something they don’t know… but I asked countless times and they were never stumped.)

If anything they almost had this attitude like “of course that is a Jocote tree” almost like “this is my Aunt Ruby, haven’t you met her before?”

They knew their bio region. They are from some particular place.

This weekend I taught a retreat on the Brazos river, not far from where I used to visit my granny. (This is why I couldn’t quite get it together to share my normal email on Friday.)

When my kids were little we had a Montessori teacher who taught us to always claim our natural resources. To help the children connect to this particular land. She said whenever we crossed over the Trinity to downtown Dallas we should say “there is our river!”

I love this. Now the Brazos river is not technically my river, but it might have been my grandmothers river and I’m claiming the lineage. At this retreat center the Brazos literally flowed in our backyard.

And the first night after it was dark I snuck out there… all my senses awake for the rustle of a snake. I sat on a swing and looked out over it, not even able to see it really but only feel into the dark coolness in front of me. The moon and stars arresting me with their intensity as I made my way back inside.

The morning we were to leave I took the remnants from our

Mind in the Jar meditation and dumped it on a tree to compost it. The last few beans and lentils left in the jar I swished in the river. Literally washing our worries away.

I’m not sure the coaching lesson in this post (does their need to be one each time?). Sometimes it is good to simply notice what wakes you up to all your senses. And to taste the gratitude for the Grandmothers and the bio region that reared you.

Warmly, Courtney

PS I am offering a special coaching program which starts tomorrow to share this whole new body of work called the FLOURISH formula! (a way to beta test these ideas before they go to print later this year.) This coaching program will include both virtual and in person components as well as group and one on one coaching. Everything will be recorded if you ever have to miss a call. Plus the program includes the opportunity to be an early reader for excerpts of my new book! I’m soooo excited to share my eight step formula for how to unlock your greatest professional and creative contributions and flourish in your personal life. It is going to be a very limited offering so if you are interested reply to this email to let me know and I’ll share the details! xxo Courtney

 

We are almost sold out but I have opened up one additional spot for my Flourish Retreat in San Miguel de Allende this May! If you want to join Jeni and an amazing group of women and enjoy the heated pool, yoga, group coaching, farm to table meals and more I don’t want you to miss it! Read all the details and reserve your spot here

xxo Courtney

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting busy women who want to unlock their greatest gifts and flourish in their personal lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read about options for working with Courtney here and reach her directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Celebration

Alright I don’t normally share pics from date night but this was too fun.  I took my husband out for a seven course meal (and lots of champagne) at a local farm to table restaurant to celebrate the completion of my book manuscript and to thank him for all the love and support he offered over the last several months.

I know celebrating can seem like a fluffy or inconsequential practice on the road to conscious living, but how do you feel when you don’t pause and drink in your own satisfaction and instead slam into the next goal?

It is rough, right?  An inner disequilibrium or sense of resentment can so easily bubble up.

This is because we are not made to be generative all the time, lovely. Though we live in a culture which would have you believe it is only “go,” “do,” and “more” which count.  We need times to rest so we can get back up and contribute full on again.  And the doorway we walkthrough to those times of renewal?  Celebration.

This can be totally simple, it need not involve fancy shoes.  The point is to be intentional.  To draw a sacred circle around a moment and lift it out of ordinary time, to what is sometimes called “Einstein” time. That more spacious plane.

Also it is vital to tune in to ask yourself what you authentically would enjoy.  Sometimes we get caught up in planning a celebration which looks good on the outside but actually feels empty because it is not what we desire.

The important thing to remember is that we celebrate with all our senses: so incorporate special smells, tastes, touches in your experience.

This intentionality actually reinforces what you learned in the push time.  Not only the lessons from the actual goal you accomplished but all those ancillary lessons from how it didn’t go the way you planned and the resiliency and other skills you had to access (perhaps like asking for help?) to get it done.

Celebrating is one of the most simple and powerful ways I know to show up for yourself and to build a sense of internal trust.  To feel seen by yourself for who you really are.  It is also a powerful way to build a life which fits you more and more… because what we pay attention to grows.

Over to you– what big or little things are you celebrating in this season of your life?  Reply below and share a quick update, I’d love to hear and celebrate with you!

Warmly, Courtney

PS  I am going to be offering a special coaching program in April to share this whole new body of work called the FLOURISH Formula! (a way to beta test these ideas before they go to print later this year.) This coaching program will include both virtual and in person components as well as group and one on one coaching.  Plus the opportunity to be an early reader for excerpts of my new book!  I’m soooo excited to share my eight step formula for how to unlock your greatest professional and creative contributions and flourish in your personal life.  It is going to be a very limited offering so if you are interested send me a note at cp@courtneypinkerton.com to let me know and I’ll share the details!

xoxo Courtney

Just had to share this date night action shot. This is what happens when you give your six year old the phone.

xo Courtney

 

My retreat is _very_ close to selling out but I have actually opened one additional spot so that as many women as possible can enjoy this experience while still keeping in alignment with the boutique feel for the event and intimate group size. So if you want to join Jeni and an amazing group of women and enjoy the heated pool, yoga, group coaching, farm to table meals and more I don’t want you to miss it!  Read all the details and reserve your spot here.

xxo Courtney

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting busy women who want to unlock their greatest gifts and flourish in their personal lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can reach Courtney directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Wowsa The Book is Done + Everyday Beauty

Hello lovely.  I’m just back from my massage, high on endorphins and low on words. This was my treat to myself post completing my book manuscript.  That 200 page baby is in.  Wowsa.  Someday soon I’ll tell you about my final freakout and the encouragement of soul friends which got me through it, but for now I’m kind of sick of words.  So for this week I just want to share a few of my recent favorite pics: bowls of fruit that make me feel abundant,  my little one showcasing her art skillz at a city wide show and if you can’t read my gilded temporary tattoo message it says “Keep Writing Forward.” If we aren’t already I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and Facebook, where these were first shared. I’m wondering where do you find #everydaybeauty?

Also as I mentioned last week my developmental editor suggested that I do a beta test of my book ideas before publishing later this year which I think is such a fun idea.  So I am going to be offering a special coaching program in April to share this whole new body of work!  It will include both virtual and in person components as well as group and one on one coaching.  Plus the opportunity to be an early reader for excerpts of my new book!  I’m soooo excited to share my eight step formula for how to unlock your greatest professional and creative contributions and flourish in your personal life.  It is going to be a very limited offering so if you are interested reach out to me at cp@courtneypinkerton.com to let me know and I’ll share the details!

xoxo Courtney

 



Just one spot remains at my Flourish retreat! – Will you be joining Jeni and other amazing women in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico?  If you’ve been flirting with the idea I’d encourage you to go ahead and sign up now!  It is shaping up to be a magical group of women and I would so love for you to be a part of it. Plus I’ll be teaching this 8 step Flourish content live for the first time!  Let’s run away to Mexico together!

xxo Courtney

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching.  She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School,  is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives.  She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Dissolve The Box

When I was a teenager I used to really resent those Cosmo quizzes which would tell you your innate style.  The questions always felt so formulaic and I struggled to answer them accurately.  This weekend would I rather A) head out into nature in cutoffs, hair tousled and no makeup or B) get dressed up and go out with the ladies?

Um – both please!?

As a girl I had a love of fancy and sparkly things.  Then as I hit my Women’s Studies phase at 18 I cut off all my hair and dyed it red.

The night of my wedding in Nicaragua I had to send friends out to get more razors so I could finish shaving my legs and don my handmade wedding dress.  After two years in the Peace Corps living on a volcano I had gone pretty natural.

The point of all of this oversharing?  Those boxes –- nature girl, fancy girl — they don’t give me the space to live my right life, which includes both.

Only now as I land in my forties I feel the integration of these pieces.  My love of a stylish pair of boots and a good haircut can coexist with my appreciation of the outdoors.  Red nail polish can go with an afternoon gardening.  I don’t have to choose.

The spiritual masters call this frame of mind “non-dual seeing.”  It is about learning to see behind and around that very human impulse to put things in either/or boxes.  It is not so much blowing the boxes up as dissolving them into a greater force field.  Or realizing they were never really there.

I’ve been alert to this dissolving of dualism over the past few weeks as I have been in my creativity cave writing a book.  (Only two chapters remain, can you believe it?!!)  Next week I go to a special retreat with fellow authors hosted by my book coach where together we will celebrate our completed manuscripts and learn next steps!

Writing this book I’ve felt an integration within myself which I haven’t before experienced, at least not to this degree.  I’ve always struggled with feeling a certain heat and ambition internally, a desire to make a mark, to make the world better in some concrete and demonstrable way.  Yet the rub comes from the fact that my nervous system is pretty sensitive.  I have the opposite of what you would call thick skin.  Plus I’m a serious introvert.  An INFP on the Myers Briggs Scale.  A dreamer.

So how to create the impact I crave?  Clearly networking events are out of the question as they make me want to throw up.  It turns out that writing a book is a wonderful way for me to live into my own desire for impact and to be of service and do it from the comfort of my very own home!  I don’t have to pretend to be any different than I am.  I can be both ambitious and introverted.  Leader and gentle.  Doer and dreamer.

I wonder… what boxes do you have yourself in?  Is there a way to dissolve them so you can be your more spacious self?

Also I want to let you know that my developmental editor suggested that I do a beta test of my book ideas before publishing later this year.  Which is an idea I love!

So I am going to be offering a coaching program in April to share this whole new body of work!  It will include both virtual and in person components as well as group and one on one coaching.  Plus the opportunity to be an early reader for excerpts of my new book!  I’m soooo excited to share my eight step formula for how to unlock your greatest professional and creative contributions and flourish in your personal life.  It is going to be a very limited offering so I’m giving a shout out today to tell you about it. It is only for women who want to learn the formula for how to slow down and up your impact (you don’t have to choose!)  If you are interested email support@courtneypinkerton.com and I’ll give you the inside scoop!

Love and all the good,

Courtney

The Early Bird price for my Flourish Retreat expires next Friday March 17th at midnight and we only have four spaces remaining.  My retreats tend to sell out so if you have been flirting with the idea I’d encourage you to go ahead and take advantage of this $200 savings and reserve your spot today.  It is shaping up to be a magical group of women and I would so love for you to be a part of it.  Plus I’ll be teaching this 8 step Flourish content live for the first time!  Let’s run away to Mexico together!

xxo Courtney

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living.  Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives.  She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Vintage Bird: What to Do When the Wheels Come Off

Before we get to the vintage pic of me from the Peace Corps just a quick note to say hello from deep in my creativity cave. I’m half way through my first book! Six chapters submitted — each of them medicine for busy women who want to slow down while upping their impact and capacity to make a difference. Yay. Yay. YAY. I’m so excited to share and teach more about these keys which have changed my life and way of working.

Also I want to let you know I am going to be opening some special slots later in March for a new online coaching program for women where I will be rolling out this fresh content on how to slow down in a way that sticks and simultaneously share your most valuable gifts with the world. Space for this offering will be limited. It is a beta test recommended by my book coach and your feedback and experiences (with your permission of course) might even make it in the book!

Also I want to update you on the Early Bird price for theFlourish Retreat — a savings of $200. It will expire Friday March 17th. I’ve kept it active for a few extra weeks to give us all some breathing room — I feel like the mom of twins with this book project and international retreat all taking shape at the same time! If you have any questions or would like help determining if this retreat is a good fit for you, let’s hop on the phone to talk more. Here is the link to schedule your complementary conversation.

Love and all the good!

Courtney

There are moments when life is really intense: when you are integrating a lot of new lessons all at the same time. The above pic with a Peace Corps friend from my first few months in Nicaragua would definitely qualify as such a time in my life. I look back at that picture now and see a woman so tender around the edges. So much to learn!

Often these intense seasons come as part of a transition—when something has come to an end: a relationship, job, educational program or when something new has started: maybe you just had a baby, launched your own biz, or got a hit of clarity about your creative future and decided to jump into a new project.

The wheels come off the bus, so to speak, and you just have to walk up the mountain.

Maybe you feel ill-prepared for the hike you are on.

Or find that your load is too heavy to carry all by yourself.

Working with a new coaching client this week I was searching for a way to describe the benefits of the Enneagram. As any teacher who loves a personal growth tool will tell you… we risk spending too much time describing the tool rather than explaining how it serves people where they are really living. Where they (and we) need insight into those tight places. Like, today.

So here is my attempt to connect the dots.

When you are in the middle of climbing a mountain and feel the strain of the task at hand -– it helps to pause and rest, to take off the backpack, get some bandaids out for your blisters, a long drink of water, and eat a granola bar. And most importantly, take the time to put the pack back on in a way that it doesn’t rub you raw on the assent.

That is a metaphor for what I would describe as the first phase of Enneagram exploration: identifying and recognizing your personality pattern, discovering how to “hold” your personality type in a new way and some immediate, practical resources. This helps you shake off some of those old habits of reacting to life out of fear, shame or anger and almost immediately begins to make the journey less painful.

So if you are climbing a mountain right now… consider how you can resource yourself.

In addition to observing your Enneagram type you might also want to focus on going to bed early, eating lunch outside or in a quiet place, sipping your tea in the morning listening to the birds or attending your favorite yoga class. I know these practices can seem so minor, but exquisite self-care, when you are in the middle of big hike, can make such a huge difference.

Then there are other times in life when you have time and space (or make time and space) to really take off the pack, open it up, spread out all the contents, and identify what you want to keep carrying, what is serving you, and what you need to let go of or replace.

You discern what is truly life-giving to carry and what is extra weight.

This is a process. I have discovered in guiding dozens of women through their transformational journey that six weeks is the minimum amount of time needed to really gracefully open all that up and ultimately put the pack back together in a lighter way.

It takes patience and encouragement plus fresh tools and the perspectives of others outside of your own head to edit all that down.

But seriously, who doesn’t want to be traveling lighter?

My particular mojo in this area is to help people fastrack the process — and to move as efficiently as possible through the “in-between phase.” Because it can feel kind of vulnerable to have your pack opened up and all the contents spread around. Especially if you are already a self-aware woman who has some change to make in the world but are simply going through a growth spurt.

The Enneagram was a lifeline for me as I transitioned five years ago from a salaried job with a lot of stress to starting my own business so that I could have the quality of life I knew I wanted — especially as a mother to three young kids.

My gratitude for the way the Enneagram lead me through that time of transition and left me lighter and cleaner is really the heartbeat of my motivation now as a holistic coach, writer and teacher. It is absolutely the encouragement I hope to offer to you.

Are you climbing up a mountain right now? What makes the pack lighter?

I’d love to hear more about your experiences. Reply here or schedule your conversation to talk more about the Flourish Retreat (where we will be doing a deep Enneagram dive) to see if it could be a fit for you. xo Courtney

You are invited to gather with other women in a home with a gorgeous interior courtyard enjoying a consciously curated experience where alone time is balanced with meaningful conversations and lively small group coaching sessions, where you have time to sit by (or in) a heated pool and journal, to listen to yourself and to be deeply heard, practice yoga (or not), enjoy the daily siesta with an actual nap (because we hear ourselves better when well rested) or by exploring the city on a solo adventure or with new or old friends — drinking up its ancient beauty and marketplaces.

Your experience will also include meal offerings of delicious, fresh local food, (breakfast, lunch and a snack, because you need good nourishment) and teaching sessions on incisive tools for self-awareness including the Enneagram and my 8 Steps to Creating Your Flourish Formula (fresh content from my book!) Evenings are free to explore, to rest, to enjoy local dining, to share, to listen, to read, to write, to get a pedicure or manicure, to buy a fabulous scarf. To drink hot chocolate and crumbly Mexican pastries. To enjoy.

Because beyond all of the beauty around you also hear the invitation to step deeper inside your own interior landscape….. I’m so excited to be sharing this new body of work with you for the first time live in this retreat. You will also be among the first to receive a copy of my new book! Space is limited. Reserve Your Spot Today!

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

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Vintage Bird: On Courage

I’m sharing some favorite vintage blog posts this month while I spend time working on my new book. This is one on courage I need to read again and again. xo Courtney

Lurching forward like a toddler learning to walk—this is how I experience life transitions. It doesn’t feel graceful or balanced and I’m acutely aware of my vulnerability as I lean into each next step. I lurch my way through big things like having a baby or deciding where to plant our family after grad school as well as more quotidian things like offering a new service through Bird in Hand, contending with a neighborhood conflict, or managing my own fatigue in the face of a long to do list and a short night’s sleep.

This weekend I left our three little ones and Richie and headed to a gorgeous retreat center on Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle hosted by Courage and Renewal. I was deeply restored by the company of wise guides (including Parker Palmer, a favorite author and wisdom teacher) as well as thoughtful peers.

Parker and Courtney

We read poetry, we walked and talked in the woods, we ate ridiculously good food from the onsite garden (and everything was gluten free!) and we talked about the deep stuff of life: how to find the courage to rise up within ourselves and inhabit our own most beautiful and authentic life. Together we explored how to serve and to love in the multiple roles represented — as educators, ministers, social entrepreneurs, community organizers, foundation directors, writers and artists– and how to continually nourish ourselves as we stand in the “tragic gap” between the present moment and the world as we yearn for it to be.

I left the island with a full heart and a new metaphor from Mark Nepo to describe the art of facing change (which is really the art of living– given that change is a constant):

Salmon have much to teach us about the art of facing things. In swimming up waterfalls, these remarkable creatures seem to defy gravity. It is an amazing thing to behold. A closer look reveals a wisdom for all beings who want to thrive.

What the salmon somehow know is how to turn their underside—from center to tail – into the powerful current coming at them, which hits them squarely and the impact then launches them out and further up the waterfall; to which their reaction is, again, to turn their underside back into the powerful current that, of course, again hits them squarely; and this successive impact launches them further out and up the waterfall. Their leaning into what they face bounces them further and further along their unlikely journey. (From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (2000))

Now my people are not fish people. I was reared in a city which rises like cotton stalks from blackland prairie– the historic land of the longhorns– and a climate often dry and hot. Maybe that is why this description struck me with its freshness.

Honestly it is a bit of a revelation to even claim some of my choices as courageous. I tend to look at myself through a pretty critical pair of glasses (which has to do with my Enneagram type but critical self-gazing is a practice many of us share regardless of personality type). When wearing these specs I see myself take a step in a new direction and I’m too busy wishing it had looked like a ballet leap to commend myself for the lurch.

But upon further examination I can see the courage flowing under the surface in such moments. Below the static of anxious thoughts in my head, a squeeze in my heart or tightness in the gut—which seems to be how my body holds the tension of change—I do sense a deeper energy propelling me forward when I honor my core desires and soul truth about the work and life which is called out of me.

I’m no ichthyologist but I imagine it wouldn’t really work if the salmon faced the current with their scaly back– the part of their anatomy more suited to deal with the harshness of a wider world. Somehow it’s the collision between the power inherent in the stream and tender fish belly which propels them onward.

So too in my life I observe this paradox: when I am willing to be vulnerable to the beauty and suffering embedded in the moments of my days and to do the work of positioning myself well a midst these tensions I experience a holy encounter with the unfiltered power of life. This feels simultaneously like a smack to the core and a leap toward home. And then I regain my senses, hone in again on the direction I am called, and position myself for another blow.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

If not fun this salmon metaphor strikes me as true. And while it can be hard to see the courage within our own lives I definitely see courage flowing through the lives of the women I work with.  I see it as a coaching client names a dream for a new career which more fully matches her deeper self and take concrete steps in that direction. And when a different client strives to cultivate her children’s sense of mystery and wonder — reaching for an honest answer to their profound questions even as she herself doesn’t have it all figured out.  Women bravely living their own creative tensions.

As Nepo explains: “In order not to be swept away by what the days bring, we, too, must find a way to lean into the forces that hit us so squarely. The salmon offer us a way to face truth without shutting down. They show us how leaning into our experiences, though we don’t like the hit, moves us on.”

Now its not all lounging around and waiting for life to smack you. Salmon tap into a deep inner wisdom and as I understand it work pretty hard to swim the wrong way up the stream to their hatching waters. But when the going gets really rough, when the ascent is impossible to the naked eye, that’s when they rely on the energy of the current rather than their own volition.

What experiences are you leaning into in the stream of your life?

Are you able to identify and align yourself with this deeper energy of courage? 

You know I would love to hear about it.

Warmly,

Courtney

PS. Early Bird pricing for my upcoming Flourish retreat in Mexico expires soon so I’ve set aside some special slots for phone chats next Wednesday, March 1. If you have any questions or would like help discerning if the retreat is a good fit for you, schedule one today. xo Courtney

You are invited to gather with other women in a home with a gorgeous interior courtyard enjoying a consciously curated experience where alone time is balanced with meaningful conversations and lively small group coaching sessions, where you have time to sit by (or in) a heated pool and journal, to listen to yourself and to be deeply heard, practice yoga (or not), enjoy the daily siesta with an actual nap (because we hear ourselves better when well rested) or by exploring the city on a solo adventure or with new or old friends — drinking up its ancient beauty and marketplaces.

Your experience will also include meal offerings of delicious, fresh local food, (breakfast, lunch and a snack, because you need good nourishment) and teaching sessions on incisive tools for self-awareness including the Enneagram and meditation. Evenings are free to explore, to rest, to enjoy local dining, to share, to listen, to read, to write, to get a pedicure or manicure, to buy a fabulous scarf. To drink hot chocolate and crumbly Mexican pastries. To enjoy. Because beyond all of the beauty around you also hear the invitation to step deeper inside your own interior landscape….. I’m so excited to be sharing this new body of work with you for the first time live in this retreat. You will also be among the first to receive a copy of my new book! Space is limited. Reserve Your Spot Today!

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives.  She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

What Cues You to Slow Down? How Good Are You at Ignoring it?


How do you know it is time to slow down?  Do you?

This is one of the themes which has come up interviewing busy women for my book i.e. “Help! I want to slow down but I don’t know how!” Does this resonate for you?

I thought as one first step we might all do a bit of an experiment this week. You don’t have to change anything about your life, but simply notice the cues your body sends up, like red flares in the night, suggesting that you should adjust your pace.  For me the two strongest signs are my right hand getting cold (a classic stress response for me) and shallow breathing which makes me feel all fuzzy.  If I ignore those and press on at warp speed for days or longer, I often end up hurting one of my toes. Catching it or stubbing it on my way around a corner too fast. This whole pattern I have come to recognize… And I have a couple of choices. I can press on, which I have plenty of experience doing.  Or I can notice when the cue is more subtle and take a 5-15 minute break.

Maybe I’m also naturally hungry. Or just need to feel the sun on my face. (Eating lunch outside is one of my favorite “conscious living hacks.” OK I hate the word hacks but you know what i mean: a quick tip which does multiple good things at once.)

Vitamin D, check! Vitamin N (nature) as I watch those lovely swirling swallows, check! Unitasking i.e. eating my lunch without doing anything else, check!

My other current favorite is Five Two Seven breathing. Inhale for a count of five. Hold for two. Exhale for a count of seven. Long slow exhales are calming to the nervous system. It is a great reset. What body signals tell you that your pace is unsustainable? What helps with the reset? I would love to hear, just reply here and let me know. Who knows you might make it into the book!

Also I want to let you know that I’m going to be taking some weeks off blogging while I care for my book baby. During this time I will be sharing some of my favorite Vintage Bird Posts. I hope you enjoy them! And while I’m not currently taking new clients I will be opening my coaching calendar again once the manuscript is done mid march.

xxo Courtney

(Photo Credit – Eileen West)

P.S.  Did you hear about my referral bonus for the retreat in Mexico?

Step one: Share with your lovelies + invite them to Flourish on my behalf since you know them and you know me and that is the best kind of connection.

Step two: If one of them decides to attend I reach out to you to offer a bonus coaching session and taste of the content from my book/retreat which is my new Flourish Formula. (8 steps which enable you to make your greatest creative/professional contribution and have a thriving personal life.) I love growing relationally so I’d be honored if you would forward this email on to a friend.  (All the details about the retreat are below.)

You are invited to gather with other women in a home with a gorgeous interior courtyard enjoying a consciously curated experience where alone time is balanced with meaningful conversations and lively small group coaching sessions, where you have time to sit by (or in) a heated pool and journal, to listen to yourself and to be deeply heard, practice yoga (or not), enjoy the daily siesta with an actual nap (because we hear ourselves better when well rested) or by exploring the city on a solo adventure or with new or old friends — drinking up its ancient beauty and marketplaces.

Your experience will also include meal offerings of delicious, fresh local food, (breakfast, lunch and a snack, because you need good nourishment) and teaching sessions on incisive tools for self-awareness including the Enneagram and meditation. Evenings are free to explore, to rest, to enjoy local dining, to share, to listen, to read, to write, to get a pedicure or manicure, to buy a fabulous scarf. To drink hot chocolate and crumbly Mexican pastries. To enjoy. Because beyond all of the beauty around you also hear the invitation to step deeper inside your own interior landscape….. I’m so excited to be sharing this new body of work with you for the first time live in this retreat. You will also be among the first to receive a copy of my new book! Space is limited. Reserve Your Spot Today!

Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives.  She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Coaching for Soulful Women