Category Archives: Life Coaching

Choose The Easy Way + New Video From Granada

Years ago I had a dream — one of those ones which stays with you long after you wake up. In the dream with such tenderness I was told:

“You can do this the hard way or the easy way.”

It is hard to explain but I woke up so comforted by this dream. I felt the truth of that statement in my life.

And more and more I choose easy.

Perhaps like me you have a personality which pushes you onward: challenging you to strive, to go for it, to make your mark.

The rub comes in believing that it has to be hard work to get there. That you have to screw your buns to your office chair, grit your teeth, and MAKE IT HAPPEN.

And that is fine, that is our choice. Sometimes it feels good to really sink your teeth into a meaty project and get shizzle done.

But lots of times we make things harder than they need to be because of an internal standard we hold ourselves to and an unwillingness to let that standard slip and our humanity to shine through.

But what I am learning is that this is an equation: the more brittle and forcing I am the more I am met with that attitude in return. The opposite also turns out to be true. Showing my humanity, weakness, and foibles actually seems to open me to experience the humanity, kindness, and flexibility of others.

So I had this idea for what I would share this with you and on my website this week: a gorgeously complete retreat page with luscious photos similar to the one I had for the Mexico gathering

Well, ahem. That is not quite where I’m at. I found my energy really drawn to my children this week as they started their international school and totally immersed in Spanish. And so now it is Thursday afternoon and I am without all the pics I need and tomorrow (when this email goes out) I have a very important date at Managua International airport to pick up our cat.

(How hard is it to relocate you cat to a developing country in Latin America? Well, I will tell you. First picture how hard you think this would be: imagine finding a good foster situation, the confusing regulations on both sides of the border, the paperwork etc. Got a good sense of it in your mind?

OK now I want you to square it. That’s right multiply how hard you think it will by by that same amount again and you will just about arrive at where I am in this process. When we finally got the clearance last week– (which it turns out wasn’t the real clearance but at that time I thought it was — I was literally so relieved I had to lay down on our cool tile floor. I just couldn’t stay upright and exhale to the degree I needed.)

I digress. So I have Beatrix to meet and one of my favorite humans on earth turns nine tomorrow and needs to celebrate with flourless brownies (if we can find all the ingredients) and well — life.

And while my personality type would tell me to push though because I said I would have it done instead I’m opting for the other road — the easy one.

So what I have for you today is not the full on description but a fun video shot in Granada’s Parque Central. 

And more than anything I want you to know how excited I am about this retreat. How incredibly meaningful it is that I can connect so many loves of my life at one time: this nature-rich and colorful country where I lived and worked in the Peace Corps plus my book launch party (squeee!) plus the cobblestone streets of this 500 year old colonial town where we were married and now make our home.

And how it completely lights me up to imagine you here and being a part of it.

So if you think this invitation might be for you, it is 100% for you.

And while I don’t have it all slick on my website yet the funny thing is that the retreat is already filling up. At this point the suites are sold out and only three spots remain in the retreat house –a grand colonial casa turned boutique hotel.

(See what I mean about the magic of sometimes doing the easy thing?)

So if you want more support in shifting from pushing your life to feeling like your life holds you — the way that the salty ocean buoys you up when you float on your back and feel the waves — this is the place for you to be and the 8 step FLOURISH process is the coaching program for you (which you receive with your participation in the retreat so you can get started right away.) And trust me the women who are gathering are lovely, light-filled, truth seekers every one. Full of beauty and authenticity and kindness. Your group of women to gather with.

Are you interested? Here are your next steps:

1) Watch the Above Video

2) Read the travel + logistical details below.

3) Fill out this quick Retreat Interest Form and I’ll be in touch to answer any questions.

Now over to you.

This week how could you choose easy? Come on August is a great month for it! xo

Here are some logistical details about the upcoming retreat in Nicaragua and the special book launch party on Saturday night!

Flourish Retreat – Granada, Nicaragua

Friday October 20 – Monday October 23, 2017

Retreat Begins: 3:00 pm Friday October 20 in Granada

Retreat Concludes: 10:30 am Monday October 23 in Granada

Retreat Includes:

· Delicious local breakfast, lunch and snacks

· Special Flourish Formula celebratory book launch dinner on Saturday night

· Live group coaching and teaching sessions

· Gifts and surprises

· Transportation to and from the airport

Arrival Airport: Augusto C. Sandino International Airport – Managua Airport (MGA)

Depending on where you’re coming from in the US and your flight options, it may work best for you to arrive in Managua a day early, on October 19. If so, we recommend Hotel Las Mercedes, a Best Western which is directly in front of the airport. They have a shuttle which will pick you up with a sign that says “Las Mercedes” and drive you across the street. You can make your hotel reservation ahead of time via phone or over the Internet and the receptionists speak English. This can be a wonderful way to ease into the country – enjoy your time by one of their pools, dine at their restaurant or even book a massage. Then we will arrange your transportation to Granada on the 20th (See below.)

Ground Transportation: We will arrange your transportation from Managua Airport (or Hotel Las Mercedes) directly to Casa La Merced in Granada. Once you pass through customs, you will be greeted by a driver holding a card with your name or a group name, like “Flourish Retreat – Granada.” The driver will have your name on a list. Depending on when you arrive, you may be traveling with other participants. We will try to group you as much as possible, based on your flights.

We will also arrange your transportation back to the airport on Monday October 23.*

*Nicaragua is a beautiful destination. If you would like to extend your trip by coming early or staying after the retreat I encourage it and am happy to make recommendations regarding nearby sites like the Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, lovely beaches to enjoy, artisanal towns to visit and more.

Accommodations:

The retreat will take place at Casa La Merced, across the street from the church Iglesia La Merced, on Calle Real Xalteva in Granada. Check-in time is 2:00 pm. Check out is 11:00 am.

Your room options (on a first come, first served basis) are:

Suite: $100/night (sorry this is filled!)

Junior Suite: $90/night (sorry this is filled!)

Room: $70/night

All of the above have hot water and air conditioning. Some have two queen beds, some have one.

Currency:

The local currency is the Córdoba. A bank or ATM will change dollars at a little under 30 “cords” to $1. In most cases you can use US dollars, but will receive your change in Córdobas, which will be useful for small purchases. Many restaurants and other services also accept US debit/credit cards as well. ATMs work fine with standard VISA/MC type cards, though you may want to bring two different types if you have them. Good idea to bring cash as well just in case.

Curious to learn more? Fill out a quick retreat interest form and I’ll get in touch to answer questions and share more details!

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 and is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Coaching program. Courtney loves hosting retreats for women in nature and beauty-drenched locales, her next one will be held in Granada, Nicaragua October 20-23rd. In live events and through her coaching Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. This summer she moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities, and area beaches to find their perfect spot to land. Interested to learn more about her FLOURISH coaching program or upcoming retreat? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here

Want to get the latest from Courntey?  Sign up here and receive a sneak-peek into her brand new book The Flourish Formula . . .
Coming this Fall!

 

Anything Can Happen + Special Invitation to Book Launch Party in Nicaragua

Happy Friday! I have something special for you today — I open up about a motivation for our move which I haven’t shared about before and I also have an exclusive invitation for you. My October retreat in Granada Nicaragua is already filling up. In fact I only have four spots available. Also there are unique features of this retreat: a book launch party on Saturday Night — Trust me, I am making some really fun plans for us — plus the retreat is half price. Learn more in this quick video  xxo Courtney

We are engaged in a bit of an experiment at the moment: five of us in a two bedroom, one bathroom house. Not quite a tiny house, but at under 1000 square feet about as tiny as we can imagine going. The kids, amazingly, are totally down with the new space. Do you know why? The whole little backyard is taken up by one feature they couldn’t turn down: a pool.

Something I haven’t shared much about yet and part of the vision for this relocation to Nicaragua is our desire to live with a lighter carbon footprint. We wanted to live in a place where it was just easier and more fun to walk and opt out of cars and air dry our clothes and all the other tweaks we could imagine making.

There has been lots of learning this week as we figure out how to live together in this new proximity. Much of it good, some of it — the inevitable chafing and irritation — a challenge. But one we have the heart to take on.

As part of getting settled we finally fully unpacked our suitcases and I got out one of the few decorative pieces which made the cut when we sold all of our stuff: a simple textile from my trip to San Miguel de Allende back in November.  Hanging it above our new kitchen table brings me _such_ satisfaction. And coupled with my people, all now closer than ever, a sense of home.

It also reminds me of the desire I felt so strongly when in Mexico: a wanting to not just visit but to live in that kind of town with its cobblestone streets and slower pace. At that point Nicaragua was not seriously on our radar screen, at least not for this year or anytime concrete.

The most I could imagine was that maybe we could go to San Miguel for a month this summer. But even that felt like a serious stretch — how could Rich get the time off — etc etc.

Now we have made the transition: my husband resigning his nonprofit job after many years of service and deciding to work with and support me in my coaching biz, selling our house and belongings, moving, exploring Nicaragua and ultimately settling in what we think may be our new hometown, Granada. (The kids even start in an international school — with full on Spanish immersion, next week!)

And this process of getting settled in our new home has invited me to reflect on the desires which bubbled for a long time and led us here. A couple of years ago I even made a collage about them with my children during a long lazy vacation in West Texas. The collage is, what we call in life-coach land, a “vision board.”

How these work, like many tools of the soul or subconscious, I really don’t know. It just would seem that sometimes the language of desire is more material and visual than verbal.

So it helps to loosen things up and to play with color, texture and image without a firm sense of what you are creating. Things you didn’t even know you wanted come forward… the whispers of the life which beckons.

After I filled my vision board with all kinds of images — green and growing things, wise grandmothers and more — a few phrases likewise clipped from magazine ads and articles jumped out at me:

“Anything is Possible”

and “Follow in Your Children’s Footsteps”

And more recently “Greenhouse Living.”

I never knew exactly what these phrases meant but I glued them over the images. They seemed a mantra of sorts. Something I would hold in my mind as I periodically looked at the vision board propped in my office and marinated in the images.

And yesterday I looked up from my yoga mat, saw the textile blowing in the wind and remembered how I felt and who I was and what my life looked like when I bought it and I thought to myself: hot damn, anything can happen!

You can go from Dallas suburban 2500 square foot home (and everything in it!) to Granada miniature in just a few short months.

This process reminds me how flexible and bendable our lives really are. Not that we always want to make such dramatic shifts, but it feels good to know that we can.

And what a reminder of what the spiritual masters have taught through the ages when it comes to attachments: it is good to stay nimble.

So we are able to stretch and move as needed to heed the call of what we hold most dear.

As for following in my kids footsteps and green house living — those mantras feel closer than ever as well. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be with my children in this new way. I feel like a layer of stress dust has been washed off us all — the grind of commuting in the minivan up and down Hampton Road to school for example. (Trust me I was not a zen mama getting those kids out the door to school or picking them up every day.)

And the bougainvillea, hibiscus and citrus trees in my backyard thrive in the daily rains of this wet or “green” season in Nicaragua. I love that the doors are always open. We don’t even have a proper back door, just an iron gate and a screen. The greenhouse outside is really living with us.

And so I wonder my sweetums, what might you say yes to if anything was possible? I certainly don’t think we are all called to go adventuring in the tropics. There are a thousand hues of desire.

So this week I just wanted to share my mantras with you to try on, especially the first one, and let me know what comes forward in image, dream, or reality.

un beso,

Courtney

PS If anything is possible, what about you coming to join me for a Nica rendezvous? If you are interested just fill out this simple application form and I’ll be in touch to set up a call to answer any questions and discern if this retreat is a good fit for you.

I’ll be sharing more details next week once I have the full description on my website, but given that there are not many spaces I wanted to give you the special invitation to apply now. If something in you is stirring at the thought of being part of this eco-chic adventure enjoying fresh food and conversation and creating your own custom FLOURISH Formula I hope you will fill out the application and I’ll be in touch to talk more!

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 and is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Coaching program. Courtney loves hosting retreats for women in nature and beauty-drenched locales, her next one will be held in Granada, Nicaragua October 20-23rd. In live events and through her coaching Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. This summer she moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities, and area beaches to find their perfect spot to land. Interested to learn more about her FLOURISH coaching program or upcoming retreat? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here. 

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

 

Would You Like to Join my Book Launch Team + Receive a Free Copy? Here are the Details!


I have some fun news for you today, mi amiga. Our Bird in Hand team is growing and I’d love for you to join in the fun!

Specifically I am looking for 10 new members for my book launch team. Participation in this group includes:

1) An advanced-reader electronic copy of my forthcoming book

2) Treats and Surprises I’m only sharing with my team

And what does being on the book launch team entail?

It means that you resonate with my message of slow, spacious living in a hyper-driven world. And that you would like to help me connect to other women who you think would enjoy learning more about my curated selection of awareness practices called The FLOURISH Formula. (No hype — only deep shifts here.)

I am going for a big goal: Amazon best-seller status. And I can only do it with a team effort!

Here is how it works: on the day my book goes live on Amazon it will be free to download. We are launching the ebook in October and publishing the print book in January.

Amazon recalculates best-seller status on the hour, so if we can get everyone we know who might enjoy this book plus their dog and dentist to download it within that same hour we have a shot for getting the best-seller status!

This is important because then Amazon starts promoting my book to others who buy something similar. It spreads the message of these life-changing tools and techniques far and wide so that more women who feel trapped inside lives of doing, pushing, and achieving can find their way to a new equilibrium. A life which both feels good to be in and (ironically) unlocks their greatest gifts.

I believe with such passion that we need more women living in this inside-out way: unhooking from the praise and blame of others so that they can show up and make marks in this life.

Not from a place of needing the accolades or gold star to feel worthy but out of the fierce desire to serve which can only come when we are well-resourced from the inside out.

So how do you help share the word?

Well the best way for me to connect to other women is always through relationships, friendships and one on one recommendations.

So team members will share the book launch with their community. This could be as simple as emailing some friends with a special invitation. Or sharing on social media or face to face!

So whether you are new here or you have followed my blog for a while, if this sounds fun I would be honored to have you on the team.

Just reply here with a yes — I’m in! and I’ll share more details.

And stay tuned next week for a super special invitation to a book launch party I’m hosting in Nicaragua on Saturday evening, October 21st. Space is limited and I would so love to host you for this unique event in Granada, a gorgeous 500+ year old colonial town where we are making our home.

besitos, Courtney

PS I am also so delighted to announce that my husband Rich (captured above) is also joining the Bird in Hand team. There are many good things I could say about him and this dream of working together is one I have had for a long time — in fact it is what brought us together back in the Peace Corps when we were each selected to lead the orientation for the incoming volunteers. (Which involved traveling to Granada, spending time one-on-one developing training sessions on sustainable development and well, here we are 15 years and three children later!)

Rich is taking the lead on editing my book as well as lifting some back office/financial work off my plate so I can focus on the teaching, coaching and writing I love. He is a thoughtful gem of a human (a head type or type 5 on the Enneagram if you must know:) and hates being the center of attention so I will say no more. Other than he is very fun to work with and if you happen to connect with him via email or otherwise I hope you will welcome him to our Bird in Hand tribe. xo 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 and is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Coaching program. Courtney loves hosting retreats for women in nature and beauty-drenched locales, her next one will be held in Granada, Nicaragua October 20-23rd. In live events and through her coaching Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. This summer she moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities, and area beaches to find their perfect spot to land. Interested to learn more about her FLOURISH coaching program or upcoming retreat? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here

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

 

Our First Month in Nicaragua – Photos Revealed!

I realized this week that I have been holding something back from you. Out of fear.

It is funny that after five years of mining my inner process and sharing that experience in my coaching and writing I realize that I am now afraid…. of revealing how happy I am.

I have taught and coached so much about the heartbreak that comes from living a life which doesn’t fit and how I used to feel trapped in a relationship with work which required me to prove and push and strive to make any meaningful progress.

And how in an effort to heal my one very broken heart I ended up discovering and creating the process I now guide clients through and which I describe in my new book The Flourish Formula. (Coming this Fall!)

The FLOURISH steps lead us out of that place of rupture to a place where we can thrive. It is a journey of creating a life which fits you so authentically that it supports you rather than having to feel like you are the one holding it together all the time — giving, helping, leading, creating, striving, and reaching.

But what I didn’t expect in this transition to Nicaragua is the impulse to keep my experiences close and to not fully share how beautiful this move has been for our family. While I have been posting some on social media I’ve also been holding back — caught in an internal push/pull. In a way I guess I was afraid of being judged. Or that I would be seen as bragging or worse as false or a cliche.

Do you ever feel this way?

It makes me wonder why is it easier to be honest about the challenges than the joys and celebrations?

And why would I hold the good stuff back?

So I have decided I’m not going to.

Because here is the honest truth — I have never been happier.

Yes it has only been a month and of course we miss our beloved friends and family in the U.S. But Nicaragua felt like a kind of home to me when I lived here fifteen years ago and I have been relieved and delighted to slip back into that feeling once again.

And to drink in the crazy pleasure of living in a town as lovely as Granada, the Paris of Central America. Every house painted a different hue.

And of taking my children to swim on beaches with black volcanic sand and to watch them grow shinier and more confident in Spanish day by day.

And to have my husband now working with me (something I haven’t really shared with you before now. I’ll give him a proper intro and explain more how he will be supporting Bird in Hand Coaching soon). I think were were both surprised and excited about the opportunity for collaboration which opened as we stepped into this new framework for our life in Nicaragua.

And part of the process of getting comfortable sharing fully all that is going well has been to really recognize that part of me that at times has judged other women or avoided celebrating their successes — feeling that life was somehow a zero sum game. Holding to the painful idea that each accomplishment she marked off her list somehow diminished me.

This is a false economy. And I realize I’m being invited to let that habit go — even in the funny little corners of my mind where it has been hanging on (i.e. that one coach I met a long time ago when we were both just starting out who now has a gazillion followers on Instagram and makes 100K a month. I know, I know.)

It means I need to nod at the Divine in her and wish her well. Knowing that even if what she shares rubs me the wrong way that her dream life and business honestly doesn’t have anything to do with mine. Other than to affirm that so very many things are possible.

So what does this mean? Nothing is changing really– I’ll keep writing you my weekly love notes about what is stirring over here and sharing the best content I have about how to Flourish: in your inner life, your meditation practice, your relationships, your work, toda su vida.

Because I think we are all actually made to feel this good. It is just that we are required to clean out the inner clutter and restructure some things on the outside to arrive here more fully. And we don’t all start from the same place — life is totally not fair on that front. Some of us get dished up many more challenges and fewer resources. Yet we are all always invited forward into our own unique expression of a beautiful life. It is our birthright and our soul or our true essence always knows our way here.

Not that there is one specific place so much — flourishing is less a finish line than a felt sense. A homecoming. Settling into a life which rather than being hard and heavy and full of obligations which leave you unsatisfied and weighed down instead surprises and delights and buoyes you up.

This is what I want for all of us! Especially because this way of living actually frees up our energy for the contributions which are uniquely ours to make. Our legacy work.

So I’m committing to sharing my celebrations and to whole-heartedly honoring yours. In fact increasingly I think that celebrating another’s pleasure and success may be one of the fastest ways we draw it into our own lives.

Below I share some of the most luscious pics of our first month in Nicaragua, courtesy of my husband. Who in addition to being a beautiful human, is a beautiful photographer.

And I want to thank you all for your kindness and encouragement as we went through this big change. There is so much yet to figure out (school options, permanent housing) before we really land but so much to celebrate right where we are.

Love and all the good,

Courtney

PS. Would you like more info on the 8 step FLOURISH process and early access to my new book? You can schedule a complementary Discovery Session here to learn all about my new signature coaching program and upcoming retreat in Nicaragua. I really enjoy these no obligation calls which give you a taste of coaching and how I work with women. (Many report feeling lighter after them.) So whether you have worked with me before and are interested in a refresher or you are new to the world of coaching, I hope you will grab one today — I’d love the chance to help you discern and take concrete steps toward your custom FLOURISH Formula. xo

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 and is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Coaching program. Courtney loves hosting retreats for women in nature and beauty-drenched locales, her next one will be held in Granada, Nicaragua October 20-23rd. In live events and through her coaching Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. This summer she moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities, and area beaches to find their perfect spot to land. Interested to learn more about her FLOURISH coaching program or upcoming retreat? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here

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

 

My Nica Mini-Sabbatical + How to Create Yours

Walking down the beach on the Island of Ometepe last week I asked Rich a question and his answer made me laugh out loud:

The sun was setting

The volcano was covered in mist as if someone had gently tucked it in a blanket.

Our bare feet leaving prints on the black volcanic sand.

It seemed (to me anyway) to be the perfect moment to set an intention for this next phase of our life together. We had already enjoyed many long, languid afternoons dreaming and talking about where we are headed. So I asked: “Is there anything else you desire? Or a goal you want to name?”

To which he replied: “I am just really enjoying this moment: the movement of the lake, the mist, us together, all of it.”

I looked out over the waves and felt the laughter bubble out of me thinking “Of course, my sweets — this is why we are together!”

In any love affair there are a multitude of parts to play: sometimes one is the dreamer, one is the doer. One the artist and the other the checkbook. Or one the life coach and the other the data guru. I don’t think that these roles are bad in and of themselves as long as you stay nimble and don’t get wedged in only one spot. It is good to take turns playing all the parts. And truthfully the roles we play in a partnership usually reflect the voices and human aspects we carry inside our one self.

But what Rich reminded me on the beach in his turn of being the mindfulness teacher is the power of wordlessness.

As Martha Beck explains in

Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, wordlessness is the process of shifting your attention from the verbal part of the brain (which processes about forty bits of information per second) to the more creative, intuitive, and sensory brain regions which, you guessed it, process a lot more. (About eleven million bits per second, to be precise.)

What is so important about wordlessness? It is simply a deeper layer of our consciousness. It is what the mystics call “non-dual seeing” — because once we have words as our filter the sunset is no longer a cluster of felt sensations in our body but instead a bundle of labels: “orange” “streaked” “ohmygodIhavetoshareonInstagram.” And with the labels comes the impulse to classify experiences in a simplistic way: good, bad, up or down. We lose the taste, texture and depth of what is happening right now.

Dropping into the more spacious perspective is important not only because it feels really good but also because our decisions and conversations stemming from this depth are infinitely more powerful. It is like a super vitamin for the dreams and new life you have growing within.  For most of us (perhaps the Dalai Lama as an exception) we toggle in and out of these states or perspectives. On the on hand we need and love our words. And there are definitely times to use them and even write down goals as part of the process of making them real.

But the verbal part of our brain is a good servant, not a good master. And we need to soak up lots of nutrients in that open state sans words before we try to make anything real. A lot of women are creating out of empty, which I know from experience, hurts. It is like eating yourself on the inside to create your life on the outside.

This topic has been coming up often this week with women in my coaching programs and it is such a powerful one: so many people are living whole lives based on pretending to know what they want.

It takes courage to drop into these depths and let yourself really listen. Honestly not many people do it unless forced by illness or challenge to such a place. And not only to listen but to trust that this time of non-doing, non-wording is actually deeply productive in creating what is next. A mini sabbatical for your brain.

Yet it can be so lovely, especially in the summer, to let ourselves move through that inevitable static which comes up when we slow down (you know voices that get louder on vacation either with the self-critique or impulse to stay busy.) But after the detox comes the quiet. Rest there and see what it whispers.

The last two weeks since we moved to Nicaragua I’ve been short on words and awash in Peace Corps memories and new experiences and exploring options and really good food.

So as I ease back into my writing rhythm I mostly just want to share this invitation: what experiences are opening you to wordlessness?

When and where this summer can you most easily tap into that creative and intuitive part of your brain?

Besitos,

Courtney

PS Do you feel like you could use some help calming down the inner static? Or maybe you hear some new desires bubbling but it feels overwhelming to figure out how even to get started? I offer complementary Discovery Sessions — a chance for you to air out your mind, get a taste of coaching, and answer any questions you have about my FLOURISH program and upcoming retreat. I love these light-hearted, no obligation calls: they are fun and women report feeling relief and clarity after we talk. None of us are made to figure this life out all by ourselves! Whether you are a previous client considering a summer boost or new to the world of coaching, schedule your Discovery Session here and I look forward to connecting soon!


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 and is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Coaching program. Courtney loves hosting retreats for women in nature and beauty-drenched locales, her next one will be held in Granada, Nicaragua October 20-23rd. In live events and through her coaching Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. This summer she moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities, and area beaches to find their perfect spot to land. Interested to learn more about her FLOURISH coaching program or upcoming retreat? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.

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

 

Find Your Meditation Groove! Enjoy Week Two of The Summer of Meditation Refresher . . .

While my family and I move to Nicaragua I’ve pulled together a Summer of Meditation Refresher for you. Whether you have done it before or this is your first time — the Summer of Meditation Challenge is a wonderful detox for your nervous system. Last year in addition to the eight guided meditation audios I added videos to explain each practice. I hope you enjoy this free resource and share it with a friend who could use a reset!

Sign up here if you would like a refresher email with links to all eight weeks of the Challenge. And look for me back in your inbox with Nica updates and photos to share mid July. xo Courtney

Can’t stop your mind when you try to meditate? Watch this week’s video for 3 tips to help you find relief from painful thoughts in your practice + in your life.

Repeat after me: the goal of meditation is not to stop the mind from thinking.

Make this your goal and you are sure to fail. (And be mean to yourself along the way.)

It is the nature of the mind to think. We think upwards of 12,000 thoughts a day (that’s 1,000 or more an hour!)

Meditation helps us strengthen our attention muscle so we don’t chase the thoughts like a puppy but instead can stay with ourselves in the present. Which is where we have a choice.

Interestingly, in meditation, thoughts can actually be one of the ways the body is releasing stress.*

A thought in meditation is simply inviting you to into your practice. This is the very moment where you are rewiring your brain to be more resilient by choosing to notice the thought and return consciously to the present moment. There are many tools which bring us back, the breath is one of them.

Try this week’s guided audio meditation to detangle your thinking.

Building our attention muscle in meditation we are more capable of noticing the painful thoughts as they emerge in daily life and creating a little distance from them. Which is how we grow our sense of freedom + agency in the face of life circumstance. Thoughts often position us as a victim.

Come home to the present and you remind yourself that you have capacities to respond creatively to life.

You are on your own hero’s journey.

What are some of your recurrent painful thoughts?

What are some of the painful thoughts you encounter regularly in your social context? Often people share their painful thoughts with each other without realizing. Rather than drinking in another’s anxiety… could you return to your breath and meet your friend or coworker with compassion even as you choose not to internalize their pain? This is a fresh form of thought leadership.

And Now Choose Your Commitment!

Take a moment right now, a few breaths, close your eyes and feel into your body. What is the right commitment for you?

Could you do this thought dissolving meditation for 10 minutes every day?

Or maybe 3 times a week? Or just once right now?

Share Your Commitment What you share may be just the inspiration another needs to hear. Share it with a friend or on social media. (And don’t forget to use #summerofmeditationchallenge so I can find + read all about your experience.)

Warmly, Courtney

*For more on this theme check out Sarah McClean’s book Soul-Centered.

At its core this is what my 8 step FLOURISH coaching program + book is all about: designing a life which supports you, rather than feeling like you have to push, strive, and hold it all together at home, work and everywhere else. If you are interested to learn more (this online program includes one on one coaching sessions with me and a special retreat in Nicaragua October 20-23!) schedule your complementary discovery session today. I’ve now opened up slots in July… be one of my first coaching calls in Nicaragua! I’d love to share how it is going and hear what is stirring for you. A Discovery Session is simply a conversation between the two of us. We start (as I always like to) with an exploration of where “the rub” or challenge is for you currently, which could be big or small. After I help you gain some clarity vis-a-vis a current day struggle I also share those coaching and retreat details and answer any questions you have. Together we determine if working together is a good fit. They are fun and open to anyone interested in exploring the retreat and/or coaching support. Grab one today! xo 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 thrive in their personal lives. Courtney is relocating to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory (which is where they met and wed as Peace Corps volunteers) and her three children. Interested to learn more about working with Courtney? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.

Want to get the latest from Courtney? Sign up below for weekly updates on soulful living + a bonus chapter of my upcoming book The FLOURISH Formula!

 

Want to Find Your Meditation Groove This Summer? Join the Summer of Meditation Challenge!

While my family and I move to Nicaragua I’ve pulled together a Summer of Meditation Refresher for you. Whether you have done it before or this is your first time — the Summer of Meditation Challenge is a wonderful detox for your nervous system. Last year in addition to the eight guided meditation audios I added videos to explain each practice. I hope you enjoy this free resource and forward this post on to a friend who could use a reset!

Sign up here if you would like a refresher email with links to all eight weeks of the Challenge. And look for me back in your inbox with Nica updates and photos to share soon. xo Courtney

PS I’ve opened up space for Discovery Sessions for once I’m back in the saddle in mid July. So if you are curious about my October retreat or the special new 8 week FLOURISH coaching program I’ve designed (which includes excerpts from my new book) go ahead and grab your spot today! xo Courtney

To avoid the most common frustration I hear in my meditation class and elsewhere– let’s skip the sit all together today, shall we? No need to force your mind to be empty. Instead, walk.

And try out this delightful, simple, easy practice from Thích Nhất Hạnh, master of mindfulness and all things good:

Oui + Merci.

Listen here for the Oui + Merci_Walking Meditation.

On the inhale you say “oui…oui….oui” and the exhale “merci….merci…..merci.”

We say yes to life. And thank you.

But wait doesn’t it have to be harder than this? Um, no.

Actually it turns out that being kind to yourself and treating this meditation project as play is so much more likely to open the space for you to grow into a new routine this summer. So if you need a metric, something to keep an eye on, rather than noticing how many thoughts you have (which are actually evidence of stress leaving your body…more on that next week) — could you instead observe how kind you are to yourself?

How kind are you when you miss a day of meditation? Or aren’t able to do your practice when you planned? Or find yourself distracted and in need of redirection to the mantra and the footstep?

Might you be even kinder to yourself next time?

Kindness is the secret sauce for any kind of inner growth.

And Now Choose Your Commitment!

Meditation reconnects you to your sense of choice and freedom in each moment: freedom to enjoy your life, freedom to be with what is here, freedom to begin again.

Engage your sense of choice as you design your practice this week.

Take a moment right now, a few breaths, close your eyes and feel into your body. What is the right commitment for you?

Could you do this walking meditation for 10 minutes every day?

Or maybe 3 times a week? Or just once right now?

Could you begin to play around with different times of day to see what works best for you?

If you already have a regular sitting practice, perhaps you want to add this in as an evening practice or before you sit?

Share your commitment with a friend and or social media (Don’t forget to tag me + use #summerofmeditationchallenge).

Social accountability helps to make it real.

While the gold standard for rewiring your brain with meditation is 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks, the benefits come much sooner and even with smaller doses.

And the best meditation is the one you do. Oui? Oui.

And merci.

Courtney

At its core this is what my 8 step FLOURISH coaching program + book is all about: designing a life which supports you, rather than feeling like you have to push, strive, and hold it all together at home, work and everywhere else. If you are interested to learn more (this online program includes one on one coaching sessions with me and a special retreat in Nicaragua October 19-23!) schedule your complementary discovery session today. I’ve now opened up slots in July… be one of my first coaching calls in Nicaragua! I’d love to share how it is going and hear what is stirring for you. A Discovery Session is simply a conversation between the two of us. We start (as I always like to) with an exploration of where “the rub” or challenge is for you currently, which could be big or small. After I help you gain some clarity vis-a-vis a current day struggle I also share those coaching and retreat details and answer any questions you have. Together we determine if working together is a good fit. They are fun and open to anyone interested in exploring the retreat and/or coaching support. Grab one today! xo 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 thrive in their personal lives. Courtney is relocating to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory (which is where they met and wed as Peace Corps volunteers) and her three children. Interested to learn more about working with Courtney?  You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.

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

 

Yoga in Your Underwear + Other Things That Surprise Me

I feel like I’m eating my memories. As I downsize or “smartsize” our household what frees all the stuff is to tell the stories. Like when I encountered that opposition research report I created as a nineteen year old intern in DC. (You know I love politics right? — and it is always wise to do research on one’s opponents. It is part of what keeps democracy healthy:) Anyway at the time it all felt deliciously subversive. Still kind of does. But once I told our ten year old Coleman all about my time working in our Nation’s capital I could just pull out the plastic spine and toss that report in the recycle bin.

I already enjoyed all of these experiences the first time around but now I get to savor each momento and release them: trusting that they are alive in me. There is no buffer. No box that houses them. I have to be the one who lives like she is filled up by all the goodness, challenges, and love I’ve known.

Honestly I feel so grateful as I sift through the past: vision boards, old photos, cards and well wishes. A tender box full of notes from friends and family on our wedding. Even my old Peace Corps address book — full of names and details. It is amazing the layers of life we have unearthed.

Amazing and a bit overwhelming, especially here at the end. Rich and I keep looking at each other and saying: “Let’s never do this again.” Meaning let’s never live buffered and buffeted by so much stuff that it is this exhausting to find our way out. Going forward we want to be nimble and live with a lighter footprint.

Which isn’t to say that the fierce downsize is right for everyone. I have friends who create nests padded with gorgeous fuzzy throws and layers of books and treasures which feel just right to be in. Like their whole home is their art. And I enjoyed making home art too for a season.

But every family gets to create their own culture and values to live by — a process which changes and grows over time if we let it. The important thing is to not let the relationship to the stuff trump your relationship to your own wellspring — to that inner invitation and your willingness to say yes to it.

And as I say adios to this home and prepare to receive another in its stead, some things have surprised me:

I find myself saying goodbye with a real feeling of tenderness to the flora and fauna of this micro eco-system. I have long had a fondness for the family of lizards which share my yard with me — craggy, horny-toad looking specimens that remind me of West Texas. And I find myself petting and whispering to the regal ivy plant which has shared my office with me from its perch at the top of the bookshelf.

Also I’m already craving things that I don’t even really eat now but that I know will be hard to come by in Nicaragua: like a nutella sandwich on gluten free bread. Anticipatory nostalgia.

Other surprises include yoga in my underwear. The clothing situation (living out of a suitcase and cleaning and sorting the rest of my clothes for donation) means that I have no idea where my yoga pants are at any given time. So rather than skip the midday stretch when I need it I have taken to stripping down. It’s easier that way. Honestly I think that is how the original yogis practiced anyway.

Lastly I am surprised by my insatiable desire for jumpsuits from Anthropologie. I’m sporting one in the video above from San Miguel. (Kicks happen when your retreat photographer brings out your silly side.) It seems to be all I want to pack so if you see me in nothing but Anthro jumpsuits for the next two years on Instagram, now you know why.

And with this post I sign off for a couple of weeks while we make the move. I have however set up some Vintage Bird love (including a refresher on the Summer of Meditation Challenge) for you to enjoy while I’m winging my way south. Also I’d love to stay connected on Instagram and Facebook.  And I’ll have lots more fun updates regarding where we land and how this is all taking shape on the flip side. Trust me, I got a big surprise this week and I’ll be so excited to share it with you!

For now I’m off to sort through the final boxes of high school photos. The kids saw my prom photo a couple of nights ago. They said it wasn’t too cringe-worthy, which I took to be a complement. Tonight’s challenge: turn six shoe boxes of pics into one. Here we go!

Warmly,

Courtney

PS Have you found your sweet spot between a cozy nest and freedom? Or do you feel too far in one direction (like your stuff weighs down your choices) or the other (a rigid minimalist)? I’ve been on both ends of that spectrum and would love to hear! Also what helps you find your balance? I’ve created a new post over on FB on this topic so hop over there and share your thoughts. xo

At its core this is what my 8 step FLOURISH coaching program + book is all about: designing a life which supports you, rather than feeling like you have to push, strive, and hold it all together at home, work and everywhere else. If you are interested to learn more (this online program includes one on one coaching sessions with me and a special retreat in Nicaragua October 19-23!) schedule your complementary discovery session today. I’ve now opened up slots in July… be one of my first coaching calls in Nicaragua! I’d love to share how it is going and hear what is stirring for you. A Discovery Session is simply a conversation between the two of us. We start (as I always like to) with an exploration of where “the rub” or challenge is for you currently, which could be big or small. After I help you gain some clarity vis-a-vis a current day struggle I also share those coaching and retreat details and answer any questions you have. Together we determine if working together is a good fit. They are fun and open to anyone interested in exploring the retreat and/or coaching support. Grab one today! xo 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 thrive in their personal lives. For about four more days 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. Interested to learn more? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.

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

 

What I’m learning About Keeping it Together When Everything Around Is Shifting

Anytime I go through a big change there is a moment of reckoning. The reality of having to let go of one life (or dissolve it) to make space for the next. That moment has arrived.

And with it the big feelings and body sensations. This has been intensified by four days of solo parenting while my beloved is in Nicaragua doing reconnaissance and exploring a job opportunity. (I know… I know… it is funny how when you say yes to a big shift sometimes other possibilities open you weren’t previously even considering!) I’ll keep you posted on how all of it shakes out, but in the mean time here are some of his Nica pics to whet all of our appetites for what is to come!

During the intensity of this final phase before we move (10 days and counting) I am acutely aware of what helps me ride the waves of this transition. In addition to the oases I wrote about last week in my blog post about liquidating our household (i.e. the key pieces of furniture we have kept to the very end which are like islands of sanity as we sell, move and otherwise dismantle the rest) — my morning routine is also vital to helping me keep it together.

I explore the power of a custom routine in the intro to my forthcoming book:

“Life is not only about being generative. It is also about receiving. In fact it is not knowing how to receive which blocks many women from truly sharing their gifts.  So we will teach you how to go receptive in a way which feels authentic to you. This enables you to learn how to know and trust yourself. So that you can operate from a steady core even as you reach and stretch. And how to craft your own custom formula of mindbody and meditation techniques which make you feel so held and seen in your own life. Which greet you in the morning and tuck you in at night and catch you when you are crashing and celebrate with you when you fly: resiliency.

So my fresh-squeezed lemon water in the morning to awaken the senses has never tasted so good. My five minutes in bed journaling and answering three questions every day (more on those another day – they are worth their own blog post!) – keeps me grounded. My morning 20 minute sit is non-negotiable. As is my evening walk to discharge all that hyper energy of responding to FB inquiries of people interested in various items. I love decompressing on the stroll with my husband as we enjoy our country lane in the city for a few more days.

I also need liberal doses of body care: chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture have all been really important. And sleep — though I confess I didn’t do so well with that one last night. Naps are featuring prominently.

And at the same time the routine holds me I also am invited to be flexible. So the last few days I’ve dropped a rung or two down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as I focus on keeping us all fed and watered and healthy. I still am meditating and doing yoga but not at my regular times — because I’m driving my kids back and forth to horse camp and by the time I’m back home I’m too hungry to sit or do yoga so I do it later.

And sometimes I’m too tired to meditate sitting up. That is when I take a twenty minute “medi-nap” — listening to a favorite guided meditation in my bed while I rest.

Summer is a time to be flexible with our routines and to nourish ourselves in playful ways. Whether it is a big move or summer travel and leisure I’d love to hear how you keep it all together even as the ground shifts under your feet! I’ve been tweaking my FB business page to get it ready to be my author FB page when the book comes out this fall and I would love for you to connect over there and share your thoughts

Warmly,

Courtney
At its core this is what my 8 step FLOURISH coaching program + book is all about: designing a life which supports you, rather than feeling like you have to push, strive, and hold it all together at home, work and everywhere else. If you are interested to learn more (this online program includes one on one coaching sessions with me and a bonus of participating in a special retreat in Nicaragua in October!) schedule your complementary discovery session today. This is a conversation between the two of us where you share more what is stirring for you and I share all about your coaching options and those retreat details. I have just a few spots available next week before we take off I hope you will grab one today! xo 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 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. Interested to learn more? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.

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

 

Lessons Learned from Liquidating My Household


The wisdom teachers are right when they say not to worry about things ahead of time. When we first decided to move to Nicaragua we debated whether or not to get a storage unit. But given the open-ended nature of our plans, it just seemed odd to be paying several hundred dollars a month for a tiny room of dusty stuff in Dallas.

Even so the idea of liquidating everything tripped my stress circuits. My husband Rich and I had the conversation about it shortly before I left for my retreat in Mexico and honestly I couldn’t absorb the idea or imagine the process of selling everything then.

But when I got back and we had the conversation with the kids — and they surprised and delighted us with their enthusiasm and the ease with which they took the news — somehow the stuff got a lot easier to let go of.

It reminds me of a lesson I learned from Ms. Maggie, Coleman’s first preschool teacher in Boston. As I completed grad school and we anticipated our move to Dallas with Coleman who was not yet two, she told us to prepare him for the transition by gently reminding him that “we are home” whenever the three of us were together: at the grocery store, at the park, in the car.

Home is felt sense. People more than a place.

And sometimes to say yes to the next phase of your life you have to blow up the box or dissolve the box you are in.

Now selling everything and starting fresh is not always the best solution. In fact I’ve done it a few times before when I was younger and more mobile, only to have regrets about things I had to repurchase.

But this one feels different. Maybe the third time is the charm? It feels very clean. Like Elvis has left the building. The home juju just isn’t in these material possessions any more. And to hold any one object up and weigh it against a Nicaraguan sunset. Or more time in the hammock. Or more just saying yes to my kids, or hiking and exploring new areas of natural beauty. It is as if each item is rooting for me to let it go and yearns to be in the “for sale” pile.

At the estate sale this weekend people kept asking if I was doing OK. Or almost apologizing for walking around our house. We kept telling them, no one has died. You are doing us a favor!

And I was surprised how emotionally light the process was after I found a home for a few special (almost sacred) things: my mandarin, kumquat, and fig potted trees, my garden Buddha and dove, vintage turquoise glider, and fountain. Plus the kid’s art and our framed art collected through the years and photos from our Peace Corps era and wedding. A few old letters and the like. All of which my sister will integrate into her new outdoor living space or store for us in the attic.

The rest – is ready to move on. With the exception of the vintage desk on which I write these words. Selling this beauty smarts a little. When I got it I thought it was the desk I would have for my whole life. But I am trying to just be with the feelings and listen for a solution. It is too ginormous for my sisters to babysit for us. If you have any ideas let me know! I’m flirting with the idea of donating it along with some other furniture at the end. Somehow that might make it easier.

Now we are in a gloriously awkward in-between phase. Here is a tip: make sure you have the suitcases before you disgorge your kids clothes and sell their dressers. There are clothes everywhere.

Plus of course I stayed up too late prepping for the estate sale and with all the dust swirling and countless hands and people I interacted with I came down with a summer cold.

What I am learning makes this all easier is to create little oases of calm. We are keeping a few important pieces of furniture until the end — sold to friends or others willing to wait to pick them up until the day before we move. My bed is one. (Helpful as I’ve been living in it with a box of tissues and diffuser nearby.) Our kitchen table another. Our favorite couch a third.

In the wake of the sale with so much emptied out I can really see the bones of the house again and am reminded of when we first moved in. I feel such gratitude for this house we bought when I was pregnant with my third and had a  two and four year old. It literally has been the space in which I raised up my young, kept them safe, and equipped them for the wider world.

I’m sure I am way too close to this process to distill anything down to easy “tips” or life-coachy expertise. But I can say that it has been such an affirmation of the way the outer and inner life mirror each other. And in both spheres in certain moments what tastes the sweetest is not something you can hold in your hands, but simply the space for the new.

Love and all the good,

Courtney

PS I do want to thank each of you for your kind and encouraging words last week — it meant so much to me. I’ll keep you posted, each and every step. Also my second beta test for the FLOURISH 8 step Coaching program is off and super fun! If you would like to learn more about this powerful coaching program (with group and one on one coaching, excerpts of my forthcoming book plus the bonus of participating in my upcoming Nica retreat in October) grab a complimentary discovery session here and I’ll share all the details!

xo 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 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. Interested to learn more? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.

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