When You are in the Flow

Let us be honest. In this series about reaching for juicy goals I am not dishing out advice akin to the cheesy self-esteem posters which tell you to shoot for the moon because if you miss at least you will land among the stars.

Because you won’t. At least not always.

Sometimes in fact you will go kersplat and it will hurt. Or jar you at the very least. (Remember our story of jumping mouse landing in the mud?)

Yet kersplat can be a vital part of juicy goal setting and achieving. In fact if we live to avoid the hard landing we keep our goals tame, and the world is poorer for it.

Below I offer a recent example of landing in the mud from my own life. I hope it helps you to be kind to yourself the next time you find yourself there and thus ever more nimble and willing to jump full out when the time is right.




Together my friend Lynn and I have six children. Whenever she visits I usually feel like I’m living into the best version of my commune fantasies. (I’ve been around enough communities to know that living together with your friends/fellow spiritual journeyers can go horribly wrong. But with certain dear friends, for short amounts of time, I can revel in a full house.)

Before she came I had gotten in touch with a book coach and scheduled a free consultation.

I kept waiting for the confirmation email with details— which never showed up in my inbox but I was too distracted with hosting and long, lovely conversations to try to figure out what had gone wrong.

Then the morning of the free coaching session arrives. My friend is packing up to leave that same day and the plan is that I hole up in my home office for this one hour while she loads the car and keeps an eye on the kids. (Did I mention how many we have and how very loud they can all be together?)

So just a few minutes before the time for the scheduled call I realize 1) I had missed the earlier confirmation email in spam and 2) I don’t know how to use the phone/web service to connect with the coach who is based in the UK.

To make matters worse I see her tweeting me @birdinhandcoach and giving me further instructions. In that moment with kids pounding at the door I couldn’t even figure out how to tweet back. (Judge me if you must, Twitter is not my love language. ) Aargh. I felt so lonely, like an astronaut who couldn’t connect with home base.

I missed the interview and even though I emailed her to apologize of course I felt bad for wasting her time.

As I left the office I had this urge to run away. Sitting with my friend in our final moments together I had an excruciating sense I was missing something else important. Yet ignoring my guest right before she left town felt wrong too.

It was all wrong.

Later that day I called my husband– grumbling about emails caught in the spam folder and naming the feeling of having “reached a couple of levels up the ladder” to this book coach and then come across as less than professional. Ouch.

Later after an SOS text message to my coaching posse I got a coaching session from one of my Martha Beck colleagues.

My coach friend asked if there was a metaphor for how I felt about the situation and I said I have a sense of tripping and landing, kersplat.

And my insightful coach said: “I have a hunch that you feel that you shouldn’t have played. That you think you shouldn’t have taken the whole week off to be with your friend and that your inner overachiever wouldn’t have let this happen. And a second hunch that you think ‘to go with the flow’ of your life means that things won’t ever go wrong.”

Shazam! A few hot tears later I realized, what a wakeup call!

I came to recognize that my overachiever impulses had migrated. I was on to them in regular life but now there they were perched around this book project, one of my juiciest new goals, like a row of vultures.

Hi friends.

She then asked me how I would feel if this book coach came back and said oh it is no big deal and suggested an alternate time. Hugely relieved I said. And that is where I saw it. The habit of looking to others for my validation.

With that dose of clarity I realized that it couldn’t be possible that my book depends on one person. And that if I was looking for a healthy working relationship it would be most helpful if I got to be a human in it. And could ask for and give grace.

Once I saw the bigger truth of the situation I tasted some relief. And with my hand on my heart, offering kindness to that part of me that just wanted to be told it was ok, I decided I would check my email one more time and then unplug for rest of the day/holiday. In that exact moment, 1:56pm (well one minute before) I got a kind email back from the book coach offering another time.

The next week I got that free consultation and some extra feedback to boot. When I followed up to reschedule I shared a favorite blog post, something I hadn’t thought to do before, which ended up seeding our conversation and sparking some fun emails back and forth with her reactions.  Also knowing how disappointed I had been when I missed the call I spent more time preparing, taking advantage of the extra week to gather my thoughts and questions.

But before I did all that back when I first got her email, I took a warm bath, feeling waves of relaxation where the tension had been held.

Now this is a minor kersplat to be sure. And as I revisit my earlier notes on it I find myself wondering, why did I take this situation so seriously?

But we don’t get to choose the moments we struggle with.

And if you have ever tripped over the same thing again and again (something to do with our Ennea type) or endured a mystery anxiety spiral, meaning you aren’t quite sure why you care so much but you just do, well then you know what I’m talking about.

So that my birders, is Myth #2 (when you are in the flow nothing will go wrong) busted.

But here is the good news:

If we can find freedom in the little moments of failure (remember it is the internal obstacles which are the most powerful) we create more space to let ourselves risk reaching for the juicy goals.

And we also find a well of compassion for others, in their respective mud baths, which makes the world a much friendlier and easier place to call home.

And now, over to you. I would love to hear about a time you fell down, especially if you got back up! Please leave a comment below– what you share may be just what someone else needs to hear.

Love and all the good,


PS I just purchased my airfare and car rental for the retreat I’m teaching in New Mexico this April. I can’t wait to commune with gorgeous mountains and the lovely women who are coming to learn my 3 favorite MindBody practices for de stressing (bonus they are all things you can do for yourself!) Ghost Ranch is surprisingly affordable as a retreat center so if you are at all curious (and in need of a long weekend breather) you can check out the details here. Join me and other change-makers for this intimate gathering and register today! xo

Enneagram Workshop

For those of you in the Dallas area I’m teaching a special workshop at Sync Yoga on connecting your head, heart and body centers using the Enneagram. It is Thursday, March 3 from 7-9PM in Sync Yoga’s gorgeous new studios in the Sylvan 30 complex. Price $35 in advance $45 at the door. Details + Register Here. Plus if you are looking to learn to meditate or deepen your practice join me Monday nights at 6:45PM at Sync and if you come to 4 of the meditation classes offered by the studio this month (we are keeping track by adding a heart sticker for each class to your Valentine strung up by the front desk) you can bring a friend for free to the Enneagram workshop!  I would love to see you there! Xo Courtney

Photo Oct 01, 12 56 17 PM

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 children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

Diggin’ this content? Sign up for weekly inspiration sent straight to your inbox!



This month I’m writing on the 4 key myths I had to burn through before I was ready to really own my own juiciest goals. If you have a juicy goal I hope this series might help you clear out any inner obstacles so the goal can go from “out there” to “right here + totally possible.” xo Courtney

Myth #1: To Be Spiritually Awake Does Not Mean Stay Small