Lighting Candles As an Act of Activism 🕯️

Lighting Candles As an Act of Activism 🕯️

It all started with my mom. I can remember as a little kid waking up and finding her alone in the study in the early morning, candle lit, in prayer. “We light the candle so we can feel presence around us. God is always there,” she said, “but the candle helps focus our attention.”

As my sisters and I grew we adopted the practice. One day on my year abroad, strolling the streets of London equal parts exhilarated and lonesome, I picked up a tiny candle holder and tea light to help me feel more at home. I can’t go into a Mexican grocery store without loading up on Virgen de Guadalupe candles. After growing up in Texas and years living in Latin America, they just call my name!

Now candle-lighting is like a family shorthand. When we are going through something hard or one of our kids is struggling, we send a group text: “Please light your candles.” “On it!” we respond, matches striking in unison in homes across Dallas and now in Asheville too. Sometimes we even text photos of our candles burning to bring each other comfort.

What I love about lighting candles is that it makes me feel like the candle is DOING the work for me. As a recovering overachiever I can turn even spiritual practices into a task or a “to-do.” Lighting the candle, I feel part of something bigger. “We witness your life” the candles say. “And we remember, even if you forget, that you are loved and held in the Wholeness.”

This has been a year of, how shall we put it?

Growth opportunities.

And we are entering into what is sometimes called “the season of light” because of the confluence of religious and spiritual traditions that relate to lighting the way in the darkness: Winter Solstice, Advent, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and more.

Our natural season (here in the Northern hemisphere at least) provides the backdrop, as we turn toward the winter hush and darkness. But these festivals of light draw from something deeper.

Lighting candles is an act of resistance. It means we see our shadow, we don’t ignore it, yet we choose to nurture the flicker of something luminous within us and to honor the radiant possibilities of our more loving nature.

2020 has been masterful at revealing our collective shadow: whether we are talking about systemic racism, or the way COVID moves through society hurting disproportionately our already vulnerable neighbors, or our practices of taking from the Earth more than we give her.

Earlier this week I opened my Flourish Holiday Playshop and had a bit of a Type 3 on the Enneagram freak out.

“What am I doing playing?” My inner gremlins sang out. “COVID is on the rise. What if people think I’m fluffy or weird? And did I really just put a picture of myself day-drinking in my sparkly holiday top and Target soft pants on the internet?” Maybe I should put this offering back in the vaults and we can all pretend it didn’t happen.

Then I went for walk. And I saw that the gorgeous grandmother tree in our neighborhood, one of those tremendous trees that just begs for a tree house or to get married underneath it, was being chopped down after the land had been sold to new owners. I cried as I passed by, literally feeling like I was passing a wake, her enormous body in pieces on the ground. And then as I walked and cried, I got mad. And I felt my hand tighten into my current somatic touchstone.

This is a practice I am learning working with a new coach. Your somatic touchstone can be any gesture which helps you feel connected to your body and your deepest truth. My somatic touchstone starts with my feet and spine rooted and strong, my heart open, and then my right hand goes up, like in the “resist” symbol of the protestor. And I feel my activist heart beating. My desire to do my part in contributing toward the needed changes and healing in our world.

So, lets plant some trees together. (I am planting a tree with Treesisters for every participant in the Playshop.) And let’s light some freaking candles. Let’s remember and nurture the love. Whatever and however it takes. Not as self-care alone but as activism. When we light up our hearts, we know what to do next. Whether that is giving money to a cause that inspires us, leaning into our creativity, nurturing a friendship or pouring attention in to our child or our body in need of care. We will know what is ours to do in the moment. And can also feel relaxed in the whole.

The Holiday Playshop is a container for a conversation more than it is a workshop. So I’ve decided to limit the participation in each Playshop to a small group size ripe for transformational explorations. (If you are like me and prefer teachers and guides who ground their woo, I studied small groups as a tool for social and spiritual transformation as my Master’s thesis.)

I also know that our lives and plates are full. So I’ll give a small teaching to spark our time together (something I’ll record for the members of the other Playshop to listen to at their leisure) and then we will open together into time to engage the frameworks and guiding questions in the written guide. I’ll help you navigate COVID challenges with extended family and other changes, discern what you are hungry for this holiday season and design a worthy experience for yourself. Together we will explore how your traditions can support you as well as what new ones you might like to create.

I’m especially drawn to working with people who feel a little adrift or have recently blended families or just want some time and space and help animating the holidays so they can feel relaxed and enjoy it. As I say in the video describing the Playshop, I see the holiday season as a holon or microcosm of a whole life. Whether you and I go way back or we recently connected, I’d love to have you! We can lean into our holiday traditions to help us restore after a year that has left many of us drained.

What do you say, are you in? I’m offering pay from the heart pricing which starts at $67 and includes a curated Holiday Playshop library of additional digital resources which help you flourish this holiday season and beyond, all in little “bites.”

I think it’s going to be awesome. Please join me and wear your cozy socks and your Granny’s Christmas brooch or anything else that helps you step into your holiday season with playfulness and conscious intent. Let’s grow the love, one home at a time.

Warmly, Courtney

PS Once you register, I’ll reach out to ask you which Playshop you plan to attend so I can keep an eye on numbers. I’m hosting one this Thursday evening the 19th and the second on Saturday the 21st. The bulk of both Playshops will be the same but they will each include a mini teaching to help with a particular holiday challenge. Read all the details here.

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified holistic life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is a student and a teacher of the Enneagram who has helped hundreds of conscious women, and a few inspiring men, pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the flourish coaching methodology and the Flourish Formula for Families. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband Richard Amory and their three children are making their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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Happy News! Flourish Holiday Playshop ✨Now Open

Happy News! Flourish Holiday Playshop ✨Now Open

I am so happy to share that doors are open to my Flourish Holiday Playshop, which I will be offering at two times next week. Registration gets you access to both playshops! Which will also be recorded.

You can read all the details, including pay from the heart pricing, and register here.

I would love to see you in the Playshop!

Courtney
PS Once you register you gain immediate access to a Flourish Holiday Playshop library. So you can start getting in the mood for a beautiful, nourishing holiday season. Ready for some good cheer? Check out the deets + join me.

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified holistic life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is a student and a teacher of the Enneagram who has helped hundreds of conscious women, and a few inspiring men, pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the flourish coaching methodology and the Flourish Formula for Families. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband Richard Amory and their three children are making their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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My Inner Witch is Coming Out of the Closet

My Inner Witch is Coming Out of the Closet

Hi beautiful.

I found my right place on the planet when we bought our house earlier this year. (At least right for right now!) One reason, among many, is that I’ve landed in a neighborhood famous for its Halloween festivities. I can’t tell someone in Asheville where I live without them saying how great it is around here on Halloween. I’m thinking we must attract a bunch of theater folk and other creatives because MAN do the neighbors go all out with the costumes and spooky staging.

I’ve found such joy the last couple of years wandering the streets with my children, sipping local chai cider and reveling in the witchy fullness of the night.

This year, of course, trick or treating is cancelled so Rosetta and I have been getting creative about alternatives. I’m organizing an event at our cohousing community—an adult costume party with the kids as judges—and there will be story telling in the woods and a bonfire and maybe a dance party under the full moon. Last night I tried on my costume. I’m going to be a Monarch in a queenly purple robe under a crown of butterflies. 🦋 I’m wearing my wedding dress beneath the robe because it is the most fabulous floor-length garment in my possession. This seems like a good year to dig deep in the closet, all in the service of the fun and festive.

Last week I asked for help designing my first Flourish Holiday Playshop. Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences. There’s still time to complete the quick survey. If you do it by midnight on Halloween, I’ll enter you in a raffle and the winner gets to choose from a signed copy of my book, a free hour of coaching for themself or to gift, or a beeswax candle.

Honestly, the Playshop surprised me. It emerged recently in a mastermind session with my new business coach. She is all about tuning in deeply to the soul and using our businesses as vehicles to create a more just and mutually sustaining economy. In this group call, she asked me how I would like to feel in January and what work would bring me deep satisfaction. I felt a surge of energy as I told her about this playshop idea which had been bubbling under the surface and said, “I feel like my inner witch wants to come out of the closet!”

I love ritual—and I studied it at Harvard Divinity School. It is a powerful tool in the journey of flourishing, and something I use myself and with clients. Even so I feel like I haven’t owned my ritual love fully in my teaching and online offerings perhaps because talking about traditions, inherited religion and chosen spirituality in this postmodern context quickly gets us into deep and complex waters.

Well, this year I am not afraid to go there. In fact, I think we could use some intentional care around our seasonal celebrations so they can nourish us. Turning on the news can provide enough fodder to break your heart in nine separate ways. As we round out 2020, we need practices that FILL and FUEL our hearts.

Seasonal holidays are one of the easiest and most natural spaces for me to play and to feel part of a larger story. (If you want to read more of what I mean by the “Holidays” and my personal story and perspective, you can read about that here.) Whatever your inherited or chosen traditions, playing and feeling part of a larger story is powerful medicine in a moment when we are riding wild waves of change. Rituals and celebrations provide a container to hold the fullness of emotions we feel as we move through life. They give us context. They provide roots and wings, stories and brackets, that help us make sense of and weave meaning out of the pain and joy of life.

They remind us of what we know deep in our bones. That this moment is precious and fleeting. That this is our time to stand tall in the forest and feel the pleasure of shaking off dead leaves in the autumn light. One day in the future, we will all be logs but, for now, we live. Well-crafted rituals and celebrations show us how to live more fully from that awareness, even as we turn our attention back to daily life. They gift us the “time out of time” spaciousness we all crave.

I hope you find fun ways to celebrate this Halloween season, a cultural moment with many textures and layers and deep spiritual practices around honoring and communing with the luminaries and ancestors who have gone before us.

I’ve gathered some seasonal treats for you below from prior writing and social media posts, including my visit to a Nicaraguan cemetery celebration on Day of the Dead or Dia de los Difuntos. 

And please do take a moment to share your thoughts with me in this simple survey. I’m using this information to design the most supportive and resource-filled Playshop I can for you.

With hopes for lots of full moon magic for you and yours this weekend. 🌕

Love, Courtney

Fall Treats from Courtney 🍂 ☕

I hope these images and reflections nourish you like a pumpkin-spiced latte.  Enjoy! 

Adventures in a Nicaraguan Graveyard here and a quick video with music here

Slaying your own Dragons – Halloween reflection for parents + pics of our first Halloween in Asheville with new friends.

The Blog Post You Don’t Get to Read on seasons and self-compassion and my favorite pic of a tiny pumpkin spiral labyrinth!

Getting Into the Season from deeeeep in the archives and includes a sweet pic + instructions on how to create your own ancestor mobile. 

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified holistic life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is a student and a teacher of the Enneagram who has helped hundreds of conscious women, and a few inspiring men, pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the flourish coaching methodology and the Flourish Formula for Families. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband Richard Amory and their three children are making their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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Help Me Design My New Flourish Holiday Playshop + Gift Raffle ✨

Help Me Design My New Flourish Holiday Playshop + Gift Raffle ✨

This year the holidays are going to be different for most of us.

You may not be able to travel or gather like you normally would.

You may be talking with your extended family around how best to navigate COVID risks.

Should you meet outside? Wear masks? Stay home and gather for (another) Zoom conversation? Mail gifts? How can you do this whole thing …. differently?

Religious and cultural holidays, like anniversaries, have their own kind of power and magic. They are one of the thin places, where mystery can find us amidst the pressing fullness of daily life.

This year all kinds of traditions are going to be wonky and reimagined.

Yet we NEED our spaces of comfort, joy, and light more than ever before.

So I want to create a special offering: A Flourish Holiday Playshop, and host it in November before Thanksgiving in the U.S.

It is a playshop instead of workshop because we all need some fun. But I’ll also be bringing the most powerful resources I have to support you. I’m really looking forward to it!

To help me design this playshop I have created a SHORT surveyIt takes about 3 minutes. And just for fun, I’ll host a raffle for those who complete it. (I haven’t totally figured out the prize yet, but I love presents. I will probably let the winner choose from a signed copy of my book, a free hour of coaching to use themselves or to gift, or a yummy candle.) I hope you will complete it, I would love to hear from you.

Warmly, Courtney

PS. Let’s say a little something about the “holidays.” I love postmodern spirituality and could nerd out a WHOLE lot about this topic and probably will. What I mean by the holidays is roughly late November/US Thanksgiving through the new year. Depending on your culture and traditions, this time includes Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hannakah, Kwanzaa, and other holidays – or none at all. Since we are talking about this, here is my short hand for religion – it is a whole lot less about what you BELIEVE i.e. head assent, and a whole lot closer to the question “What do you BELOVE?” And I also don’t think we have to mash all the gorgeous global religions together and say “it is all the same.” What to do instead? Friendship. Be friends with people and in relationship with people (including yourself) who belove different things. And listen to them while also allowing yourself to water deeply your own spiritual mother tongue or preferred chosen spiritual path. Increasingly people are fed by more than one tradition or are holding different traditions in the same family. As for me, I call myself a “Buddheo-Christian.” I grew up Methodist and have been meditating since I learned how at the Homeopathic hospital in London during my year abroad. I weave both of these loves together in ways that delight me (think garden Buddha and Day of the Dead altar with all my favorite mystics). I love the desert mothers and fathers of the Christian tradition (who may have had a hand in creating the Enneagram) and the liturgical year, with all its myriad feasts and fasts. And I love my husband who is trained in ecology and whose patron saint could probably best be described as Jane Goodall. But beyond all these elements of my story is this: I LOVE holding space for people to examine what they belove and I am super comfortable with all the traditions or none at all (hey, that is why I went to Harvard Div school and studied alongside such a diverse crew. We laughingly said the only thing we could all agree on is sitting in silence 😊). It brings me a lot of joy to venture into these waters with you. And if you think some reflection on YOUR holiday season, whatever that means to you, could potentially be helpful or fun, I hope you will fill out the survey and tell me more. xo Courtney

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified holistic life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is a student and a teacher of the Enneagram who has helped hundreds of conscious women, and a few inspiring men, pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the flourish coaching methodology and the Flourish Formula for Families. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband Richard Amory and their three children are making their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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The Chickens Are Out. And I Don’t Have Pant’s On 🐔

The Chickens Are Out. And I Don’t Have Pant’s On 🐔

It sounds like a bad dream but that is how my day started recently, not yet dressed and the chickens on the loose.

Like so many families, we are getting creative with our back to school choices this year. Online learning was not working for our youngest so we decided to enroll her in a Waldorf educational co-operative on a farm. This new setting is a great fit for our girl and for this COVID moment. She has a small class, a seasoned teacher and lots of time outside.

Rosetta came home the first couple of days radiant with happiness and cooked to a crisp because she fiercely resisted wearing a sunhat or sunscreen. I tried all my tricks, even sharing the fancy sunscreen I picked up this summer in a tourist town in the hills of North Carolina. It smells like wild orange and honey! We rustled up every hat in the house, including this awesome one I brought back from Costa Rica. And she was not having any of it. 

On her third day, I woke up to Rosetta already in tears and her dad deeply frustrated at her unwillingness to put on sufficient sunscreen or a hat. We decided to let her stay home for an “integration day” — to keep her from further baking, douse her in aloe, and find a solution.

But when you rideshare to the new school with your cohousing neighbors, one change can lead to wild chickens.

Our neighbor’s daughter didn’t want to go to school without Rosetta or accept the ride from Rich, and her dad was in the middle of cleaning out the coop. He decided to drive his daughter so she would feel more comfortable and left the chickens in the care of my friend, who had an early and important meeting. So she called us. All this went down, as do the best family challenges, while I was still in pajamas. I threw on clothes and Rich and I channeled some deep muscle memory of life with chickens from our Peace Corps days in rural Nicaragua and we worked together to get the hens all back in the coop. 

What helps me navigate bumpy days like this one?

Where it all goes off the edge before I even have my yerba mate?

The Enneagram. It walks me home, again and again, to myself. And from that deep place of essence, I can most easily identify the choices and supports that make the moment lighter.

Depending on the day this could be yielding to the needs of my body and rest, or remembering that emotions are intelligent and slowing down enough to feel them in my body or identifying and dissolving painful old thoughts that are adding extra pressure. 

The other thing that I find essential to my wellbeing right now is connecting to friends, coaches, and mentors who hold the bigger perspective and remind me of the deeper truths I can lose amidst the intensity of daily life.  

And when all else fails I take a breath and remember the mantra pinned to my vision board:

“You do not have to be enough.
Being you is enough. Anything beyond that is a bonus.”

One of my deepest hopes for this challenging time it is that it might grow my capacity to be ever more authentic in my life and work, to laugh at myself, and to honor, WITNESS and support other women who are similarly committed to inner growth and caught in new and upending challenges.

If you are ready to release extra pressure and find more ease in your relationships, starting with your relationship with yourself… Here are three ways I can help:

Grab a copy of my book, The Flourish Formula (paperback or Kindle) to learn more about the Enneagram and a wealth of mindbody practices which help you come home to yourself, get clear about next steps and enjoy resiliency in the face of the unexpected – Click Here.

Join my Flourish Formula for Families self-paced course. Find more ease in your relationships and learn fresh stress-reducing tools that you can immediately apply yourself and share with those you love. Pay-from-the- heart pricing is now available, which brings the price to under $100. Your enrollment supports the Loveland Foundation to provide mental health support to Black women and girls. Click Here to learn more.

Consider one on one support. I have been coaching for 8+ years and I love working privately with conscious women (and a handful of men). We really get into your Enneagram challenges and stuck places and help you find lasting relief. I have two spots opening for private clients starting in September. Send me a note to cp@courtneypinkerton.com with the word “September coaching” in the subject line for more info and to see if it is the right fit for you. 

I hope you have a beautiful week full of growth, ease, and goodness.

🍋 🌿 Courtney

PS How did we solve the power struggle with Rosetta? We ordered her a special hat with a dragonfly on it, the symbol of her class at school. I think the tender pain of a burned scalp may also have persuaded her change in attitude. 😉

The first of what I am sure will be many photos of our new chickens. Here Rosetta and her friend are putting the chickens in their new home on the day they arrived.

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified holistic life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is a student and a teacher of the Enneagram who has helped hundreds of conscious women, and a few inspiring men, pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the flourish coaching methodology and the Flourish Formula for Families. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband Richard Amory and their three children are making their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.