Category Archives: Life Coaching

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!

 

We are Moving to Nicaragua! (This is not a metaphor :) )

I have some big news for you today… my family and I are realizing a long-held dream and moving to Nicaragua! My husband, Richard, and I met there in the Peace Corps and married at the close of our service. We chartered a bus to carry all of our US guests from Managua out to this little rural community where Rich had been living and working for two years and his host family was throwing us the wedding in their patio. We also hired a truck to bring guests from the town where I had been working over the mountain to the celebration. It was one of the most gorgeous, complex, and love-filled days of my life. It also happened to be my 27th birthday.

So when my oldest Coleman was born a few years later, with him came the dream to take my children to Nicaragua some day. I knew there would be a time when the desire to fully immerse them in Spanish and to open up their lives to a broader landscape, to tasting different foods, sights, smells, and enjoying new relationships would trump everything else.

This year we arrived at that moment and the reasons to say no to this crazy dream paled in comparison to the reasons to say yes. In many ways this is one of the goals I have been building toward the last five years with my coaching business: the capacity to work from anywhere and be location independent.

So… here we go! Five one-way plane tickets are purchased, passports are in order, and adventure on the horizon.

There are many details yet to finalize. Honestly I’m having to lean deeply into my morning routine, meditation practice, and evening walk with my husband to keep my wits about me as it all takes shape. Yet I am amazed at how pieces keep falling in place when I don’t force or push them.

We plan to stay at least two years and then… we shall see.

The best part? When we told the kids we were prepared for anything: hot tears, the desire to stay with friends, etc. But honestly, aside from missing their Grammy and Granddad, they all three looked at us like they couldn’t believe their good fortune. As if they had just been waiting for someone to come along and take them on an adventure. To get a little closer to nature, to live more slowly and simply, and to test their mettle in a new language and culture.

What a gift.

They remain in good spirits as this all gets a lot more real as we sell our house and organize the estate sale. (Everything must go! It turns out you pay a high customs tax to ship things to Nicaragua so we are liquidating our belongings, minus a few treasures my sister is graciously storing in her attic).

And Rich and I alternate between looking each other in the eyes and feeling like our hearts are blooming and we are shedding about 2000 pounds, and being petty and blaming each other for little Craigslist missteps and scheduling miscommunications. (Hey, this is still real life.)

In such snarky moments we like to remind each other:

“No one is coming.” (Something I often feel in the intensity of parenting — where are the reinforcements?!)

And “We are the ones we have been waiting for!”

But most days I feel like I’m falling in love. I honestly am not sure I’ve felt this expansive in a loooong time. It is not just romantic love, but that love you feel for life itself and for the limited trips we get around the sun.

It feels pretty intimate to be opening up this process here with you and on the interwebs — because I’m clear we are stretching here and leaning into a new lifestyle with many complex factors. And what if it doesn’t work? What if it fails to come together and we return to the US with our tails between our legs?

But for better or worse I can’t not share what is happening with you. I can’t keep it close to my chest. All I can do is what I ask my coaching clients to do when they are navigating a big shift: get really still, listen for the one next step, and take it. Plus asking for your support and well wishes and encouragement. And to trust that I can tell you the truth: the good, the hard, the whole of it.

So look for more lessons learned in this process in the next few weeks (like how to navigate the emotional process of zero-sizing your household) and more. And please forward this email if you have a friend you know harbors a similar desire to relocate or make a big lifestyle shift. Plus make sure to follow me on Instagram and FaceBook for more behind the scenes snapshots of the process as it unfolds. Also I’ll be launching my book from Nicaragua in the fall (and going for Amazon best seller status — something we can only do all together!) so look for more details on that as well.

Love and all the good,

Courtney

PS A friend who is also writing a book and I were talking recently and I told her that this whole move feels like a gift from my book. The process of working through these 8 steps in the FLOURISH process as I wrote it (because you can’t write about something without really going there inside yourself, if you know what I mean) opened up the space I needed to say yes to this next level of my life. And the results from women moving through my first Beta group and the Mexico retreat only further confirm for me that these are incisive awareness tools which when used together in a conscious way have the capacity to shave a lot of the extra time and pain off the process of evolving.

This week I opened up another beta group for the FLOURISH coaching program (which includes excerpts of the book) and already I love the women who have joined and am inspired by the way they are saying “hell yes” to what is next for them: a less busy life full of the things they most desire, more self-compassion and space in intimate relationships, and a life and a schedule which supports them rather than the other way around. If you are interested to learn more I’d love to hear what is stirring for you and share the details. I have a few more spaces this month before we head to Nicaragua and I take some time to get settled, so schedule your complimentary discovery session today.

xoxo 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!

 

Mexico Photo Reveal + More


Sometimes things are too hot to share right away, do you know what I mean? Not just hot as in steamy but hot as in alive, penetrating, unfiltered. In our social media compare and despair lifestyle we sometimes don’t even get a chance to absorb a new experience before we feel compelled to pivot and share it.

There are moments where that is super fun (my son just joined Instagram yesterday, watch out!) and other times where it can rob us the full immersion in the now.

While I couldn’t stop sharing vignettes of my Mexican adventures on Instagram and Facebook the day before the retreat I found that tapered off as I entered into the teaching zone. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I used to attend births as a doula: it turns out time is quite bendy and flexible and it is possible to drop into another experience of time when you feel something precious unfolding. The phone just naturally falls out of your hand.

But once home and having caught my breath, what a pleasure to share some of these photos of the vibe and the gorgeous participants with you.

Yes we had surprise salsa dancing lessons.

And sprinkling of rose petals in the fountain (a custom in San Miguel de Allende.) We did it to mark our intentions for the gathering.
And delicious meals and conversations.

And treats.

And some of the most brave, lovely and inspiring women I could imagine.

Here is one account of the experience from Katie:

“As I am soaking in what I learned in your book and program and tweaking my daily life and imagining my Flourish calendar and seeing myself in my Enneagram type and the neglected side of it and having epiphanies….it’s all because YOU WROTE THIS BOOK!

This program is awesome, life-giving, life-changing. And the strange part of that is, in a weird way, it doesn’t seem new or novel or beginner in anyway – it feels ancient. I almost could have bypassed telling you how fantastic and inspiring and exploding this book and program is because in a sense it seems like it’s been here in the world and it’s a resource that one can build on AS A BASE for a really fulfilling life and THAT is what is so amazing – the flow and the guidance and the language and the care – it is solid like a big sequoia tree. It’s just so integrated and complete that it’s hard to believe you just did this! I don’t know if my words are saying how truly impressed I am by the love and care in which you share your gifts with all of us, and how talented you are at what you do.”

Like Katie I was also surprised by how much the content affected me. Again and again I am reminded that with this kind of work I can never dial it in. I have to live what I teach, and each time at a new level. I am inspired by the shifts in client’s lives and feel myself invited into fuller expression. And these tools in the FLOURISH Formula are so incisive they leave you no where to hide, even from yourself.

While that can sound kind of scary it actually frees up enormous amounts of energy to focus on the things which are most dear and life-giving for you. Sometimes the shifts are subtle but important and other times big changes come out of this process: the decision to change careers or relocate or have another baby. (All real examples I have witnessed with clients.)

I have some big lifestyle changes brewing with my family which I can’t wait to share more about. So stay tuned for those details in the coming weeks. The process of writing the book and teaching this content stirred things up for me in ways I honestly wasn’t expecting. But here we go — you can never go backwards, only forward into your next change cycle.

So if these photos are making you think you would like someone to take care of you for a change, and to enjoy a consciously-curated experience which supports you in gaining clarity and growing resiliency: I am opening up another beta group for my 8 Step FLOURISH coaching program. And this one includes the bonus of an adventure chic retreat in Nicaragua in October! I’d love to hear what is stirring in your life and share all the details. Schedule your Complimentary Discovery Session today!

All the good,

Courtney

PS Holy cow thank you for the feedback for my author photo. I was so touched by the thoughtful responses and encouragement. Wow what a boost before I share this book baby with the world! The results are still coming in but it looks like the popular vote is between the red pillow and the white couch (both pictured below), with many others voting for the kumquat tree and the blue wall. What to do? I plan to digest this feedback and my next step is to work with a book cover designer who may have insights as well. But no matter what I’ll be using all these photos on my website and in social media so thank you again for your feedback, it was so fun! And to Eileen West for her incredible photography skillz, both for my author photos and for the lovely pictures of the retreat featured above. 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 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 tips on soulful living + updates I only share with my list!

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.

Want to get the latest from Courtney? Sign up below for tips on soulful living + updates I only share with my list!

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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