Category Archives: Self-Care

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.

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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!

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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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.

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


Vintage Bird: How to Be Sensitive + Happy

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

How to Be Sensitive + Happy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet the truth is—we need our sensitives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Often rest is the first step.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warmly,

Courtney

Over to you– do you identify as a sensitive?

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

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

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

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


Celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warmly, Courtney

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

xoxo Courtney

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

xo Courtney

 

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

xxo Courtney

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

Wowsa The Book is Done + Everyday Beauty

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

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

xoxo Courtney

 



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

xxo Courtney

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

Vintage Bird: What to Do When the Wheels Come Off

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

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

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

Love and all the good!

Courtney

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here is my attempt to connect the dots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Vintage Bird: On Courage

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

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

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

Parker and Courtney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

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

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

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

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

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

You know I would love to hear about it.

Warmly,

Courtney

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

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

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

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