Perl's Nest

I’m on an airplane right now en route to California for a life coach extravaganza (that is not the official name of the event but it might as well be:) If I could send you a pic of the sun reflected in the ocean I’d do it.

But instead I share one of the most beautiful pics from my week right here in regular life land. I took the kids to a fun event at our sculpture garden here in Dallas over the weekend. One of the stations involved making your own bird’s nest out of recycled materials. I swear I thought I was the only human who liked to do that. au contraire! Above Perl showcases her design.

Also… let’s talk about dreaming + scheming.

When I transitioned into coaching now three years ago— there were several elements which enticed me into this field: I am a continuing ed junkie, I can’t stop engaging in and sharing my experiences with holistic modalities—that had to be useful in some actual job– and I wanted to design an online space which could be a ‘watering hole’ for thirsty travelers en route to their essential selves. (Did you know Bird in Hand was inspired by a vintage tavern sign?)

But I remember a particular “ping” of recognition around the idea of being able to couple my career with traveling. Coaches can coach from anywhere … and often do. I saw that in the founder of my first coach training program who was teaching from Hawaii, and I thought, “um… how do I get in on that gig?” Not that I wanted to teach with him or be him, but I wanted to be me experiencing the joy of travel and learning as well as opening that door for others.

This weekend feels like a beautiful chance to live into that desire as I travel to the San Luis Obispo area for a two day event as part of the Martha Beck life coach training program.

It addition to staying at a resort on the beach, this gathering gives me a chance to meet up with people I have been training with over the phone and online for the past eight months and to celebrate! Also it is a chance to learn from and experience group coaching from master coaches in the field. All while breathing in the briny air.

Truthfully I’m kind of giddy about the hours on the airplane to read all by myself with no little people to attend to and keep quiet. Everything else feels over the top.

‘Dreaming + Scheming’ is part of the change cycle. It comes right after death and rebirth. And right before the hero’s saga (where all those dreams come into real life and knock you on your ass.) In route toward the promised land.

What am I talking about? The Change Cycle.

This lovely framework is one of the most useful bits I’ve gleaned from Martha Beck’s course.  Anyone who has gone through a big transition (which is, ahem, everyone who is honest) might recognize these stages.

There is a whole lot more to say on this framework (indeed it warrants its own blog post) but today I want to offer some tips for those of you who find yourself in square two. This is where you have outgrown the old way of doing things or being yourself but aren’t yet to the new equilibrium.

Hint: you can be in different squares or phases of the change cycle in different components of your life: health, family, career, spirituality etc.

Square one is often about grieving or letting go of the life we thought we would have or the person we thought we were (or should be).

You will know you are entering into square two when you get these little flashes of inspiration. A ping of soul recognition. Like I felt when I saw that coach teaching from Hawaii. Wait a minute… something in you wakes up as if from a sleep and focuses. I think I might want that. Not is a superficial grabby way. But in a deep spirit of recognition. I think that might be part of my authentic path of growth and service….

If that happens your inner critic might also stir and immediately begin to play whackamole with that or any other desire.

“You will never be able to afford that”

“It will take you too long to build up a whole new career”

“Whatever whatever… it will never work.”

Here is the truth:

Desires need space and breath in which to ripen.

And it is always a good starting point to simply notice these deep soul nudges and make space for them.

So you can surrender them.  At this point you may be saying… What?!

Yep. This is the two part process:

1) Name + honor the desire.

2) And lay it down.

So rather than seeing yourself as the main actor in making it happen through gritted teeth. Consider yourself more an adventurer looking and listening and watching for how that desire might take shape in and through your life.

Often this is a surprise. Or comes to you more as a gift you say yes to than an experience you drive or engineer.


The theme of the art event “anything is possible” is a great mantra for dreaming in square two. Just as a case study here is a map of how my desire came to form in real life:

I feel the soul ping around the desire to travel and learn as part of my coaching practice.

I sign up for a series of Enneagram trainings in Boulder where I met new colleagues (one of which became a special friend. )

We do our enneagram work + dream + scheme together.

She also hired me to help her write some copy for her website. She sent me a website she liked as a demo. I liked that website too. I resonated with the story of the coach on the demo site (ivy league credentials plus a desire for a more holistic coach training program.)

Through the demo site I connect to the Martha Beck website.

Shazam. I know I have found what I have been listening for. 

And now here we are 3 years after the original desire & 8 months after the training program started and I’m headed to meet my fellow trainees & master coaches in person at a beautiful resort.

So this one desire for learning-rich travel to delish locales is connected to others: like my desire for new relationships with a tribe of fellow mind/body enthusiasts, as well as a desire to engage in a robust coach training program where the learning + authenticity is prioritized rather than the performing or pretending you have all the answers. (Martha gets it, she has multiple Harvard degrees and knows what that will get you and what it won’t. And so this program is gentle with my recovering-overachiever tendencies).

That is how our deeper desires work.
They often work in tandem, like signposts coming in from different angles to direct us toward our most soulful path.

I hope this little example is helpful to you in discerning your own soul nudges and tracking how they ripen.

As always I would love to hear about. If you are feeling brave, leave a little comment here. Others at this watering hole might want to learn from your story.



PS If  you are feeling the nudge to dream + scheme your next phase of life please schedule a complementary laser coaching session. The growing can be so much more fun with support and fresh tools.  xo

If you would like to read more about the change cycle, check out Martha Beck’s book Finding Your Own North Star. 

UpLevel FilmingCourtney 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 conversation to talk more.

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