Help Me Select My Author Photo?

Something is happening to me lately. As you know, part of me desires to live in a cave and have only five garments of clothing and grow and eat my own greens and write away my life in blissful monastic solitude. And yet… that is not the life I have chosen.

I am a woman. And a mom. And an entrepreneur. And I have come to recognize that much of what we deem as “spiritual” or the “soulful” path is about the process that men need to go through to wake up. (Don’t get my feminist hackles raised about our “male as normative” culture and how we assume a man’s process is everyone’s process…)

So this whole idea of retreating from the world and wearing monotone robes — it is helpful to tenderize the ego for many men who have been encouraged/pressured to take their place at the top and make their mark from a young age. It lets the soul catch up.

But what I have observed in my own life and with the women I work with is that often we need a different path. Rather than taking ourselves down several notches we need in fact to inhale and take up our rightful space in the world. And taking up our space involvings first and foremost re-inhabiting our bodies. Which happen to be women’s bodies — bodies with breasts and bodies which have the capacity to birth life and are often a little softer around the edges. And this soulful process invites us to tend to our bodies as an act of exquisite self-care, not to cultivate the sparkle from the outside in or so we look good for others… but to share and shine from the inside out.

So I’ve been playing with these themes in my own life as I thought through what I desired for the author photo for my forthcoming book. I wanted something feminine and even a touch playful. My photographer asked me how I wanted people to feel when they saw this picture. And my answer is “invited.”

So many women I work with feel like they are pushing, striving, straining every day to support their life and the people in it. What if it could be the other way around?

What if we were invited to peel those fingers of control off our life and instead to receive so fully we couldn’t help spilling over into the lives around us?

Explaining and exploring how to do that is the heart of the eight step FLOURISH process in the book and my new signature coaching program.

So here you go — I’ve narrowed it down to four pics: #1 Kumquat tree, #2 Red Pillow, #3 Blue Wall, and #4 White Couch. I would so love to hear which one you could imagine on the back of a book and which one makes you feel most invited. I hope you will share your thoughts in a comment below. I’ll read every one!

xxo

Courtney

PS I am opening up another beta group for my 8 Step FLOURISH coaching program (Guess what?! this one includes the bonus of an adventure chic retreat in Central America in October of 2017!) If you are interested to learn more schedule your Complimentary Discovery Session here.

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 creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Formula Coaching program 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 thrive 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. Would you like to learn more about coaching options? Schedule a complementary discovery session with Courtney here.

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The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: What Really Happened in Mexico

Sometimes in lifecoach land everything can look like it is just fabulous. (See my recent post “You Make it Look So Easy: The Compare & Despair Economy .”  And well, the truth is, Mexico was pretty freaking fabulous. I 100% loved the women who came (we had an amazing group), the food from Via Organica was really delicious, and the retreat house completely satisfied my need for indoor/outdoor living space and beauty around every corner.

I’ve just gotten the pics back from Eileen, my VA and photographer who was busy capturing photos of the event and a bunch of head shots for me to find the one for my book cover. (You know I am going to show you and let you help me pick. Look for those plus a book update next week! For today just some fun black and whites which make me feel like a vintage movie star.)

But lest you think it was all smooth sailing, I have to also share about the moment when the bottom dropped out. The woman who attended the retreat have all heard this story already (and my VIP clients lived it in the flesh:)

So I arrived two days ahead of time and stayed at the bed and breakfast next door to our retreat house. I had worked it out with the owner of the house to go over a bit early the next afternoon to get acclimated and lay some treats out for my VIP clients (who were staying in the house with me and had the option of coming a day early.)

However… when I rolled my suitcase next door and rang the bell at the appointed time, no one answered. And no one answered. As I stood there in the midday heat I started to have a bad feeling — did the owner of the house not add this additional night to the contract? We had emailed about it and she said she would… but was it possible she wasn’t expecting us until tomorrow?!

Whatever you have anxiety dreams about: public-speaking, being at school and ill-prepared for the big test (I still have that one!), missing your plane etc, I felt like I was living my anxiety nightmare.

So what happened?

Well– I completely tripped my stress response. We are not taking a little subtle one, we are talking full blown fight/flight/freeze which for me looks like a kind of out of body experience. So I was sort of hovering above myself watching myself ring the doorbell again and again.

And into this state: kindness. Basically everyone who could have been nice to me was nice to me. Mr. Luis from the bed and breakfast next door realized my pickle and came out and got me, saying “Ms. Courtney please come inside and sit down.” He got me water and offered three rooms for my VIP clients (which was a huge relief given that they were arriving any moment from the airport). He called the landlord of the house from his phone because mine wasn’t working.

When my clients and assistant/hospitality goddess Katie arrived, they were so wonderfully gracious. The loved their rooms at the bed and breakfast and I took them to dinner and we had a wonderful time listening to the church bells and talking about what was stirring in their lives.

The caterer was super flexible about not being able to check out the space and kept telling me (in a nice way) to relax.

Meanwhile the owner of the house got my frantic emails and voice messages, realized her mistake and had the rooms fixed up pronto and worked out a smooth transfer with the bed and breakfast next door. So by the time we got back from dinner the house was open and ready for us. And even more lovely than any of us expected.

The best part of the story for me is how gorgeous the rest of the retreat was. It isn’t that there weren’t other snags. I started to call them “Mexican moments” like when we had to reschedule the yoga teacher or it turned out our dinner reservations were MIA.

But after you have stared down your worst nightmare, everything else feels pretty doable.

Also this story gave me some serious material to teach on. The first night we talked all about letting yourself receive. Which is such a powerful practice. So many of the women I work with are doers, dreamers, and contributors. They make their mark in big and small ways and never feel done. What a reminder that we cannot create the beauty we want in the world single-handedly. It is always a co-creation. With other people. And truthfully with Source, however you define it.

Also the explorations of the steps in the FLOURISH process about the mind/body connection and the Enneagram were totally enhanced by my recent experience.

For me, doing this work is all about equipping women to be their most resilient selves. And that was the best takeaway, that I could switch gears from a total shame spiral (I’ve done something wrong here or this problem wouldn’t be happening) to receiving help and ultimately not just moving on, but teaching from that fresh breakdown/breakthrough space. (Which is where the best learning is for each of us anyway.)

So look for lots more lovely pics soon. Seriously I can’t wait to share. But always know there is a back story and growing pains for every accomplishment. (At least there always is in my life. If you figure out how to do it differently I want to know!) The pic above is a fun black and white of me teaching. If I look ridiculously happy with that Enneagram book in my hand, it is because I was ridiculously happy teaching the Enneagram and the other steps to this powerful group of women.

If you want to create you own custom resiliency plan so that bumps and bruises are more quickly and easily converted to fuel for your most desired life — I am opening up another beta group for my 8 Step FLOURISH coaching program (Guess what?! this one includes the bonus of an adventure chic retreat in Central America in October of 2017!) If you are interested to learn more schedule your Complimentary Discovery Session here.

Warmly,

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 creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Formula Coaching program 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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You Make it Look So Easy: The Compare & Despair Economy

Hello from Mexico! I am en route to San Miguel de Allende for my FLOURISH retreat for women. If we aren’t already I hope you will connect on Instagram and Facebook to catch the behind the scenes beauty. (I’ve even got a photo shoot planned. I need a proper head shot for my book cover plus San Miguel begs to be photographed!)

Today’s blog post is about a tender subject for many women: the economy of comparing and despairing. I wrote this post after a recent vacation in the Carolinas and it has been “in the vault” waiting for a special day to reveal. Today is that day! As always I’d love to hear what it stirs for you. Leave a comment below about your own habit of saying “You make it look so easy” or your (surprisingly freeing) list of things that do not come easy! Read on for details on my yoga crashes and more. xxo Courtney

 

Recently I hiked down a trail in one of the largest temperate forests in rural North Carolina. At the peak of this trail we were awarded a view so expansive my 9 year old son remarked: “I don’t know why everyone talks about nature being destroyed. From here it totally overwhelms the towns which are tiny!” It was true, the lush green treetops carpeted the landscape, blissfully dwarfing the human-made structures. (Maybe there is hope for our sweet planet, yet?) My eyes and soul felt like they could relax.

On the way down I passed a retirement-age couple. While this trail was marked as “moderate” they wore serious hiking shoes and walking sticks and seemed to be wrestling with the path. As I came up behind the husband of the duo struggled through a particularly craggy section of rock, calling it an “ankle buster.” He suggested that they let me go on and I passed and continued down the trail. The woman called after me, part frustration and part admiration: “You make it look so easy!”

I paused. Wishing I had a better response I smiled tightly, thinking of my husband who worked for years as a caterer and learned the perfect response when people complimented his food: “I’m glad you like it.”

I was wanting a similar phrase: a way to acknowledge the compliment but turn it around and say, “Hey — look at what you are doing. I hope I’m out in retirement moving my body and taking on challenges. Enjoy yourself!”

This phrase “You make it look so easy” rattled around in my head for the next few days. And as I reflected on it I unearthed the trap of this complement: how often we look at people and evaluate them (and ourselves) only on those things which seem to be coming easily.

Maybe I am nimble on my feet on a hiking trail. But I definitely haven’t always been. My mother had to sign me up for dance lessons as a child because she said I was like a “little elephant” stomping around the house.

And I distinctly remember the moment in Peace Corps training when one of my fellow volunteers inspired me to really loosen my stance and showed me how to jog down steep trails, a practice I had never before tried. Two years on a volcano gave me ample time to learn and whenever I’m on a hill I feel this old muscle memory kick into place.

Even so I’m far from an elite hiker, as evidenced by the fact that I was moving quickly to catch up with my nine year old son and husband who were soundly beating me down the mountain. That is the slippery thing about comparing. There are always people who are better, which leaves us chasing something we can never catch. Even if you are killing it from someone else’s perspective, likely you still find yourself coming up short.

I’m curious how many things do we really need to excell in to have a full and meaningful life?

For me, writing is one thing which comes easy. Gardening another. Also deep conversations about new growth and the way life is surprising us with its magic and grace. And the joy of breaking a complicated idea into little lovely pieces, like on ramps to the beauty and elegance of the whole structure. So that is like four things? Sure there are a more but honestly when I start to think about all the goodness just the ones I’ve listed here bring into my days, it is starting to feel like a full life.

What comes easily for you?

What have you worked hard to cultivate to a point where it looks easy now?

And of course there are other areas of life where we don’t naturally excel. This is where we get support. Or rest in the web of our connections and let someone else catch that. For example, I have a coaching client who is an engineer in a national lab. She is literally a rocket scientist and her research makes her come alive. How easy is it for me to say, “Oh honey, I’m so glad you have that covered because it is so not my area of expertise!” Similarly accounting comes to mind (despite my dad’s hopes).

This can be a fun exercise of freedom: listing all the things you aren’t good at.

What don’t you make look easy?

Lets see: in addition to engineering and accounting for me that list includes handstands (I crashed into the wall at a recent yoga class), planning logistical details, and smalltalk of pretty much all kinds.

Thank the sweet heavens we don’t have to be good at everything. I’d love to hear what comes easy to you and what doesn’t in a comment below.
XO

Courtney
PS 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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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.

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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.

Coaching for Soulful Women