Photo Aug 07, 1 05 24 PM

I know Valentine’s Day is kind of made up + commercial and all that. But I have to admit I’ve been feeling an extra dose of love lately. There is a sweetness in my life + experience that reminds me of what I have been looking for for the past several years. When Rosetta, our third, was a toddler and I decided to leave my job as the pastor of an emerging church — a role with a lot of creativity, leadership opportunities (and challenges) and a salary — I sort of felt at a loss. I knew I needed to move out of that role to honor some inner nudges, starting with my desire to be more present to my children and also more freedom to write + teach. Yet I also wondered (and felt very afraid of the answer) where else I might find the space to do the work called out of me.

And so began an epic journey with many stumbles into the realm of soulful entrepreneurialism. As this journey took shape I remember one thought which felt like a guiding light. {warning: this is a glimpse into my slightly morbid thought process}. I would look at parents who had kids in the hospital or gravely ill and how they talked about a bubble being popped in that experience– how they looked back at their life pre illness and saw how very good they had had it.  And that they were even learning to be grateful for the sweetness in their present day struggles.

Having a sick kid strikes me as the master class for self-awareness or personal development work. And I looked at those parents (not people i knew well but more friends of friends whose story I followed on Facebook) and I was inspired by them. I saw myself in their description of being “asleep at the wheel” or at the very least distracted from really appreciating the good things in my life. And I realized that I don’t want to wait for a big traumatic thing to wake me up to the sweetness that is here. I want to know how to taste it now. Not in a “I should be grateful” way but in a “this life rocks and I’m present enough to enjoy it” way.

And this Valentine’s day season, I have been tasting the sweetness. There are many reasons for this– I have had the opportunity to teach some pretty juicy stuff lately, especially in my Parenting with the Enneagram ecourse with Nancy Goodman as well as an opportunity to coach/teach as part of a leadership development program. (Which just happens to be bringing my all time favorite community organizing material– from a teacher at Harvard Kennedy School — to North Texas. More on this experience soon.)

But and this is the key bit, beyond finding my work satisfying– there is also space in my life for those crazy things which are not work yet bring me deep pleasure. I say crazy because I sometimes feel like I might be, when I look at how happy it makes me to engage in certain activities which are not at all impressive to my social self. Things like rooting succulents, making valentines out of travel magazines and discovering a new recipe my family (all five of us!) really enjoys. I mean these are things that my achiever personality is pretty unimpressed with. But my essential self squeals with delights and gets lost in them. The essential self, it turns out, is a simple soul who likes simple fare.



I may need an intervention. What started as one plant from my Granny has now turned into 11 Valentine’s Day gifts.

Now there are still days when my kids have to drag me from the computer screen and tell me to come push them on the swing. And there are evenings like this one when I finish a blog post with orange ear plugs blocking out the sounds of the Beach Boys + dinner prep in the next room. But more and more whether in my coaching, teaching, and most importantly in my down time I find it easier to show up with the fullness of who I am, wherever I am.

And I can’t tell you how much better that feels than all my previous efforts to squeeze myself into various roles: mom, activist, smart student whatever. And to find my meaning from the outside in.

That, it turns out, is backwards. And unsatisfying.

So if this resonates for you i just want to say– Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you give yourself a big box of chocolates, Fair-trade flowers or a visit to the massage chair. Because by your very path to read this blog I suspect that you too are on your journey to living more and more out of your essential self. And this is, undeniably, irresistibly, for the good of you, your fam, your work, your community and our planet.

So this is my effort to redeem an overly commercialized day with some genuine love from me to you.

Do you feel it?

love and all the good,


PS I have designed a flexible coaching option for you called DIY coaching, which allows you to schedule coaching directly on my online calendar. Grab a spot for yourself today! xo

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Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership 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 weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three young children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at or you can schedule a complementary clarity session to talk more.