Good Questions

Good Questions

Last week I went to sleep super tired every night. It reminded me of how tired my brain felt when first learning Spanish in an immersion program and family stay during the Peace Corps.

The combination of three children homeschooling and Rich and I both working from home means a lot of moving parts. Plus like us all I have been processing the emotions and stress related to COVID-19: fear mostly, and some sadness over personal disruptions and changes and more sadness as I worry about others and wonder how to help.

I’ve also been talking to clients about how to navigate this time. There is no one approach for everyone. Yes routines help. And mindbody practices like tapping and meditation help balance your nervous system and boost your immunity. Take shelter in your relationships, whether at home or virtually. And media limits help you stay informed but not overwhelmed. (This is a personal discernment, but for me the right amount is listening to NPR or the BBC once a day *when my kids are otherwise engaged because honestly they don’t need to hold all of this* plus checking in with the CDC and local officials online as needed. Otherwise I try not to fill the quiet space with news.)

This moment in time is funneling a big dose of additional stress through our collective lives.

So go gentle on yourself if you find that you are more on edge, if old Enneagram patterns emerge again or you pick stupid fights with your husband (or is that just me?).

So where am I finding comfort these days? In good questions. Questions that invite me into living answers.

Here are a couple of my current favorites. You might journal or hold them as a koan or puzzle that you meditate on throughout the day:

🍋 Where am I being carried? Meaning rather than thinking about all I have to DO and getting hung up in that perspective can I notice the places where life is already rising up to support me?

e.g. My neighbor who is facilitating a CSA farm share to be delivered to our cohousing community.

My son inviting me to skateboard and run with him (it’s pretty funny actually).

All the pear trees and other fruit trees blooming around my house.

Another question that nourishes me right now is this:

🍋Where do I find beauty?

Edible flowers + violet ice cubes

My girls playing together

Bird calls + trees that feel like wise elders in the woods behind our house.

I’m also thinking a lot about how I can support people through free resources and online offerings/programs and coaching.

Mental and emotional support is so vital right now. 

Here are some of the ways I’m supporting my online community during this time: 

On the Blog + Social Media: As many of us are sheltering at home, I’ll be sharing free resources + blogging more often for the foreseeable future. Two upcoming posts I’m planning are: How I am Boosting My Immunity During COVID-19 (you all know I love holistic care so in this post I’ll nerd out about herbs, oils and other tips) and The Change Cycle (A powerful tool + framework for understanding how humans move through a time of dramatic change.) I’m sure I will also share more about navigating relationship stresses with the Enneagram. I’d love to take any blog post requests you have. Please post recommendations in the comments or email them to me: cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

With Current Clients: At first I was wondering if coaching would feel different in this collective crisis but I’m discovering it to be a sweet moment of connection and a chance to practice flourish tools to boost resiliency. I’m also of course flexible if clients need to reschedule for any reason as we all settle into new routines and grateful to my husband who comes to sit with the kids while I have calls. Here is how one client put it this week:

“I’m feeling such gratitude for our call. I always do, but I admit I was curious to see how today would go, since dwelling on the pandemic isn’t exactly constructive, but I wasn’t sure how we’d focus on anything else. And it was great! Insightful, and I’m left with a feeling of well-being and hope. Also I can’t remember if I told you this but I finally got around to trying Tulsi tea and I’ve been drinking a ton of it. Nothing like endless quantities of a tasty hot non-caffeinated beverage to comfort oneself these days. Anyways, thanks again! 💗 Jeni

For Past Clients: Those of you who are seeking connection and conversation, I’m offering one-off sessions to connect, talk, and provide you the space to explore how you can be intentional during this time. Reach out to me at cp@courtneypinkerton.com to learn more and schedule a session.

For New Clients: I am thinking a lot about how to support new clients during this time. I am thinking about a “pay from the heart” pricing option for online programs for those whose finances have been impacted by the pandemic and also about reviving my “buy one gift one” program – so that new clients who have the means to invest in coaching are able to get help AND to open up a scholarship for an ER nurse or other person working on the front lines. I have preserved a handful of free coaching slots for prospective clients and you can email me at cp@courtneypinkerton and we will set up a time to talk. 

We are all in this together, friends.

Sending you love and a virtual hug on this day.

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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Guided Meditation to Balance Your Nervous System + Boost Immunity

Guided Meditation to Balance Your Nervous System + Boost Immunity

I know for so many of us right now it is easy to tip into our stress response and we need simple ways to reset. 

I created a guided meditation to support you during this challenging time.

This practice is the most popular meditation I have taught over the years because it balances your nervous system, your sympathetic or fight and flight/stress response and your parasympathetic which is the rest and digest part of your nervous system.

A balanced nervous system helps us metabolize stress and boosts our immune system.

If you are new to meditating or you have a regular practice, I hope you will try it out.

You can listen below. 

 

Or click here to download. Metabolize Stress Meditation

The guided meditation is 9 minutes. You can enjoy it sitting in a chair, cross-legged on a cushion or even laying flat on your bed like in corpse pose in yoga.

Once you do this guided meditation you can actually integrate this simple body practice in micro breaks throughout your day.

Please try it out and share with a friend you think could use some support.

We are all in this together.

Warmly, 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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How to Resource Yourself in a Pandemic 💓 {And Support Those You Love}

How to Resource Yourself in a Pandemic 💓 {And Support Those You Love}

I have something exciting to share with you today. But first my heart wants to talk about something else. Namely how to use mindbody tools and the Enneagram to resource yourself during times of stress.

I want to honor that there is a lot of fear in the air (and media) and it requires discernment to tell the difference between the micromovements that are ours to do in this situation  – based on our family, our health, our plans – and panic.

This is normal, human terrain. To be alive, in these human bodies, is to be vulnerable. We just normally live a few steps back from that awareness whereas the threat of pandemic brings it up close and right in front of us.

So I want to remind you of a couple of awareness tools to keep in mind right now:

🌊 Emotions pass through your body in 90 seconds. They are energy in motion, like a wave. So if you are navigating stress related to this current health crisis or any other kind of challenge, please give yourself extra room to feel your feelings. A feeling of safety is something we cultivate first in the body. So ground your feet. Let the fear or anger or sadness move. If you don’t hang on to them or push them away – these feelings dissipate, often leaving some new internal space or breathing room in their wake. This can help you feel more resourced.

🤏Try tapping! This super simple mindbody technique (a DIY form of acupressure) sends a calming message to your amygdala, which is the brain’s “smoke detector” which triggers your fight/flight/freeze response. Translation: tapping makes you more stress hardy. Try it out!

💗 Lean into your relationships *either in person or virtually* and allow them to shelter to you. It helps to remember that we all share the same human vulnerabilities and yearn for the same things: wholeness, safety, care, ease. Give and receive kindness from the people you love.

(The Enneagram is a huge ally here, see below.)

Regarding Coranavirus I am guessing and hoping that we may know a lot more in a month or two.

AND of course it is a good time to be informed. Gather information by visiting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) websites regularly.

But information alone does not help us navigate stress.

🌿 A verdent inner life is where we draw our courage and wisdom.

Nourishing our inner eco-system (in a culture that rarely acknowledges its existence) is how we take care of ourselves AND have the capacity to contribute in meaningful ways in the face of collective challenges.

So how do you cultivate a vibrant inner life? Well luckily there are many, wonderful tools that we can choose from and I have gathered a beautiful collection in The Flourish Formula and show you how to start using them.

And here is my exciting news:

Last week I was interviewed as part of the upcoming Enneagram Summit 2020 with a talk on “How to Help Your Family Flourish with the Enneagram.”

The Summit, hosted by Sarajane Case of Enneagram & Coffee, includes over 40 speakers covering a range of topics from work, romance and entrepreneurship (all through an Ennea lens).

I was so happy to have a platform to share tips for how to integrate the Enneagram into our family culture in a way that it life-giving and honoring to all.

(Btw I am talking about ALL families. Single or partnered. Children, furbabies, grandchildren, chosen family. However you define those people you love and hold most dear: that is what I am talking about. Especially but not exclusively the young ones in your life.)

Honestly this Summit feels like a visibility initiation as I am featured alongside many of my favorite Enneagram teachers and those who have nurtured my learning and growth in this field for over a decade.

But there comes a time when we need to own what we know and who we are.

Not from a showy, pushy way but more in a “hell yess I want to be on THAT team” and give it all I’ve got.

Which I did in the interview.

Next time I hope to breathe a little bit more during the conversation.

Which moved quickly and through some deep waters.

But I was _so_ excited I had a hard time sleeping the night before.

This happens almost every time I have the opportunity to teach the Enneagram to a new audience or in a more expansive way. It shows me I am on a “hot track” of growth and learning to expand my capacities.
It is also supremely uncomfortable and requires me to use all the tools I teach to keep my nervous system from overheating. 😉

So if you are interested to learn more about the Enneagram – I recommend you check out the Summit.

I think there will be a lot there to nourish you. The online Summit starts on Monday March 16 and the price starts at $27 if you want to listen live during the web-based event or you can upgrade for the recordings.

In addition to my talk I’m looking forward to one on compassion by Renee Rosario, a  favorite faculty from the Narrative Enneagram. Previously I have always had to travel to an in-person training to learn from her so I LOVE that Renee and many so many other gifted teachers are available in this accessible way. Reply here with any questions. Hope to see you in the Summit!

Love,
Courtney

PS Did you jump to the end? Here is the recap: be kind to yourself now and use the above tools to help with extra stress in your system. And you are invited to join me in the Enneagram Summit 2020 which starts Monday, March 16th. The price for the online event starts at $27 and has so much to nourish your heart and mind.

 

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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More Hugs + Less Go-Getter Ultimatums

More Hugs + Less Go-Getter Ultimatums

This week I have been navigating some new opportunities as a coach and author.  They bring with them more visibility and the chance to share my flourish teaching and to connect to a much larger audience.

It is really exciting and if I am honest, scary.

My nervous system has been vibrating with an extra charge the last several days. My sleep is a little wacky. There is a bite in my tone to my sweet husband as we discuss our taxes. I feel distracted while my youngest reads me her newest hand-drawn comic.

Luckily, I recognize these symptoms.

Like many of my clients, I am a recovering overachiever. And before my introduction to the Enneagram over 12 years ago, I would have chosen to kick these scared voices to the curb. I would try very hard to ignore them. To give myself phony pep talks/ultimatums like “You just need to put your shoulders back and go in there like you know what you are doing….”

But running from demanding inner voices had an unexpected outcome.

It would drain the sweetness out of the moments of culmination.

When the project was done, the speech given, the article published, the course launched, I had a hard time enjoying it.

I was more relieved than happy. In part because I didn’t really give myself any credit.

I kept looking to the outside and the outcomes and other people’s opinions to guide my feelings.

Now I do things differently.

Rather than pushing my way forward, I stretch in new directions. I let myself feel the pleasure AND the discomfort in the expansion.

Like a plant in the garden, to grow upward requires deeper and wider roots.

I am FAR from perfect but I do know how to help myself in these stretch moments much better than in the past. I lean on the tools and resources I have collected (the same ones I share here with my community and with clients.)

Practices like tapping and chigong bypass my thinking brain and soothe my body directly.

Meditation helps me remember that I am not just a separate lonesome self with something to prove but that I am held and deeply connected.

And the most powerful practice of all: telling the truth!

First to myself by simply acknowledging the fear or self-doubt that is present.

To make space for it and normalize it as part of growing.

To offer the scared one within a cup of tea and some compassion.

And telling the truth makes it easier to open to the relationships that surround me.

To draw in nourishment from my husband’s hugs and the ways my kids make me laugh.

To let myself take breaks and walk the hills around our house or head out to my monthly book club and enjoy a glass of wine.

To connect with my neighbors and reach out to my coach for encouragement.

Each microbreak helping me relax my death grip on my to-do list.

And enabling me to pick back up the work at hand with a lighter touch.

Sometimes people avoid diving into the Enneagram because they don’t want to be put into a box.

Again and again what it provides me is freedom.

I write much more about the Enneagram and mindbody and mind-set resources to help manage stress in my book The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

And this month I am doing something really special. I am donating 100% of the proceeds to social and ecological causes. (Since publishing the book we have been donating 50% to an amazing mentorship program for girls in Nicaragua. This month I am matching that donation with a second donation to tree sisters.org, who fund the planting of tropical trees, sequestering carbon and replenishing the world’s forests. Something hyperlocal and human-focused and something global. Because, balance.)

I hope you will grab your own copy or buy one for a friend.  

And I have a whole collection of additional resources for readers called the Flourish Kit.

Directions for how to access it are in each book.

Flourishing is never a solitary project. We are in this together.

Warmly, 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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Enneagram Medicine

Enneagram Medicine

My Enneagram Story

For years I’ve been in love with the Enneagram (12+ years in fact.) And so many times I was the one bringing this personality map up in conversation. And now I sense that the Enneagram is exploding 💥and expanding into more of the personal growth world which is making me SO HAPPY. And far from making me sick of talking about the Enneagram it makes me want to talk about it MORE without apology.

{I think I used to fear being an Ennea-nerd. Or people losing interest because it is complex. I am releasing those worries. Seriously No more.}

So I am going to be talking about the Enneagram more openly in my blog and on social media and share more (hopefully) useful little nuggets.

To get us started here is an excerpt from my book The Flourish Formula. If you want to learn more about how I coach folks using the Enneagram reach out to me at cp@courtneypinkerton.com. And you can also grab a copy of my book. Next we need to create an Enneagram emoji!  xo Courtney

“My Enneagram Story

Despite all these conversations, what I have never shared before writing this book is more of my own personal story vis-à-vis the Enneagram. What have I experienced that is so powerful and what do I hope for you?

I first learned about the Enneagram when a friend paid for me to attend a workshop with Dallas-based Enneagram Master Suzanne Stabile. This was an all-weekend affair in which Suzanne described each of the nine types is detail, one by one, as we slowly worked our way around the circle, or Enneagram diagram.

I had a hunch that I was a heart type. When she got to Type Three, which is also called the Performer, she started her description with these words: “Threes are the chameleons of the Enneagram.” Kaboom! I knew I had been found.

She went on to describe more Type Three attributes. Threes are often leaders and organizers, we prioritize and focus on our work and have a hard time slowing down to enjoy life. We are extremely goal-oriented but don’t hang around once the confetti drops on one of our goals, instead pressing ourselves forward onto the next one. The chameleon description points to the Three’s habit of shape-shifting or turning into the poster child of any group to which we belong, however temporarily.

We are very good at sensing the mood of the collective and becoming what you want us to be.

If this sounds familiar, Three may be your type. Many of my high-achieving clients also lead with Type Three. But it may not be. Hold that idea lightly while we continue to explore the Enneagram together. The U.S. is actually thought by many Enneagram teachers to be a Type Three country due to our emphasis on success and looking good.

Dallas, my hometown, is also understood to be a Three town: all sparkle, little heart (or better put, a disconnection with one’s own heart). If you are resonating with this Type Three description, it could just be a by-product or an overlay of the dominant culture.

Back at the weekend workshop, when Suzanne finished her description, she asked if anyone in the room thought they might be a Three. As I decided whether or not to raise my hand, I sat there excruciatingly aware of one painful detail. She had explained that Threes are often overdressed.

(Looking good is very important for this personality type.)

I looked down at my faux fur coat and the funky brooch that I had gotten as a gift for performing a wedding (it actually lit up and twinkled!) and thought, “This was probably a tiny bit too much for a Saturday afternoon at the learning center.”

I recognized that part of me that loved making an entrance.

Honestly, it was pretty uncomfortable to raise my hand (I was the only one) and claim that type. I felt really exposed. Not everyone feels this way, but Threes are in the shame/sadness triad (more on that in a minute), which likely helps explain my response. So please be kind to yourself if this process of identifying your type makes you feel vulnerable. On the other hand, you may feel super excited or curious or just neutral about discovering your type.

This is what the Enneagram has really helped to deliver me from: not just the ways I can shape-shift or morph to be what others want me to be, but also the way I can be a chameleon to myself.

Not even letting myself know what I truly want. Going for the big credential over the tender nudge and doing what people want me to do, rather than risking my own truth.
In fact, for most of my twenties, I lived my life on two tracks: the real life and the resume life. For example….”

Grab the book to read the full story. I also share a free digital copy of the book at www.courtneypinkerton.com/freebook if you would like a taste before you buy. 50% of the proceeds of the print book go to support an amazing mentorship program for girls in Nicaragua.

#flourishtogether

xo Courtney
PS Do you know your Enneagram type? How did you learn it? I’d love to hear more of your story…. Leave it in a comment below.

 

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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.

 

 

 

How To Create Your Giving Portfolio

How To Create Your Giving Portfolio

Happy Friday! This week I want to share a favorite tool for the holidays: Creating Your Giving Portfolio.

Many of us like to be generous this time of year as we feel the gratitude for all that we have been given.

And it is a wonderful time to pause and reflect on where we contribute financially and with our energy or skills as a volunteer, and to freshen it up!

Read on for a guide to help you discern where you feel invited to donate or volunteer to nurture goodness and healing in our world.

I love this practice and it brings me joy to check in on the places where we have donated this year and to discern new priorities with my children. This year I am inspired by Tree Sisters and Training + Mentorship for Nicaraguan Women Entrepreneurs.

I hope you enjoy this giving portfolio guide and would love for you to share your favorite inspiring causes or organizations below and please share the guide with a friend! Warmly, Courtney

What is A Giving Portfolio?

In the same way that we can (and should) create a portfolio to diversity our investments.

The Giving Portfolio lets us contribute in a whole range of ways to the causes which move us and in support of the changes we desire in our world.

You can approach creating your giving portfolio systematically – like deciding to allocate percentages to certain causes. (For example giving half to issues which are “global” and half to “local” needs.)

Or you can just let it unfold organically.

We tend to do a bit of both in our family – trying to balance between human and green/planet causes as well as local and global issues.

Plus we want to leave room for inspiration or to give just because it feels right.

Here is an example of our current Giving Portfolio. Normally we support three or four at a time, sometimes more.

350.org — a global, green-energy movement to respond to climate change.

NPR  — so grateful for this news source.

Oxfam — we started giving to Oxfam when we were newly married and first returned from the Peace Corps. For us, this donation is a lifeline and a foundation of our family culture. No matter what season of our life and how much or little money we felt we had to spare (in grad school for example, or when our children were small and we dropped to one income for a season) we knew we wanted to be consistent with this one. Oxfam works to end the root causes of poverty. If you are looking for somewhere to give money to aid in the Mexico earthquake relief (or any natural disaster) they are a beautiful option because they are equipped both for immediate relief efforts and the long term support needed for the rebuild.

Tree Sisters is something I have newly learned about and I love the inspiring video (worth a watch!) and approach to greening the world and responding to climate change by nurturing tropical forests. 

and Training + Mentorship for Nicaraguan Women Entrepreneurs is led by a colleague and leader from Nicaragua who sees that empowering women entrepreneurs is the best way to help Nicaraguans navigate this time of political and economic crisis.

You can create a giving portfolio as a family or as part of a book club or other committed small group.

(You can read more about this and the origin of the giving portfolio practice in my life here.)

Now in some moments or seasons of life we don’t need to give more. In fact It is also super important especially for women to remember that giving is only part of relating consciously to money.

First actually comes the earning, then the saving/investing, then the giving. Which doesn’t mean that you can’t give before you have earned and saved a ton – far from it! But it does mean that if we are comfortable in our relationship to the first two aspects of money we will actually be equipped to give more. And from a place of giving well first to ourselves. 

Setting these contributions up as regular donations makes me feel like I am consciously putting my money and life energy toward causes I hold most dear. I feel like these donations are out working for me on the days where all I can hold my arms around is my own health, biz and family. This brings comfort and joy.

Now over to you.

What is in your Giving Portfolio?

Is your Giving and/or Volunteering wanting to grow or shift toward new passions?

Can you let yourself also choose to rest as part of a broader cycle of renewal or do you always feel like you “should” be doing more?

Leave me a comment below.

I’d love to hear! 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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Freshen it Up

Freshen it Up

I first shared this post during our year living in Nicaragua. While I’m not decorating a palm tree this year, when I reread this post so much remains true. Our holidays are part of a living, dynamic family culture. They hold space for us to feel our full feelings and to slow down enough to access the deeper registers of life. Read on for questions and tips which help your holiday practices feel fresh and alive and nourishing to YOU this season. Love and all the good, Courtney 

True celebrations need room to breathe. And one of the most challenging aspects of preserving your own growth through the holidays is to find room for what you desire amidst the pressure of family expectations and traditions.

If you feel stuck in a rut with how you or your family honors the holidays – first pause and ask:

What would actually be the most meaningful for you?

Just like birthday celebrations, this can change year to year.

Maybe this season you want more nights at home with a good book or writing by the fire and less out at holiday parties.

Maybe you want a real tree with just white lights and a handful of favorite ornaments rather than hauling out seven boxes from the attic.

Or maybe you want to decorate a palm tree with pink, turquoise and silver baubles and three kinds of lights (including the blinky ones). Or is that just me?

Sometimes what we crave is simplicity and space. But other times we actually want to put in more effort because it feels meaningful for us at this time. (Like challenging yourself to make a whole holiday meal out of purely local ingredients.)

Freshening up traditions is about finding the sweet spot of expressing your own spiritual and deeper values in a way which feels authentic to you now.

I’ve been amazed to notice how what I want for the holidays is different this year than in years past and informed by the “more is more” aesthetic of the tropics — which honestly starts with the over the top abundance of the natural world here, like the wild bougainvillea which hangs over my pool.

Also I’ve been trying to listen well to my children to observe which of the traditions that we had this time of year in the US still feel good to us here (hot chocolate surprisingly, makes the list, even in this heat) and which we are ready or willing to let go of… like cozy nights in front of the fire. And then there are some traditions which we are having to lovingly reinterpret. As I wrote about this week over on social media: “I can’t even tell u how much I love this tree. The funny thing is that the first tree we tried from our patio was a total fail. It was a sort of tropical cypress and though Christmas-tree “ish” it just didn’t work.

It was like worse than a Charlie Brown tree.

I went on a walk with my sweet husband after we decorated it and talked _the whole walk_ about how it wasn’t right and what were we going to do and were we asking our kids to bend and stretch too much? Was the lack of anything close to a regular Christmas going to put them over the top? I was really worried about it. I know it’s a little thing but for some reason this year when I asked them to sell all their belongings and move to a tiny house in another country I worried this was when the wheels would come off.

The next day while they were at school I un decorated the tree (a first!) and we decided to go for the palm instead. Rosita who helps us at home came by and I told her the problem and we totally got into redecorating this one in a race to get it all festive before the kids came home.

They walked in and we both held our breath. And the kids declared it Beautiful! And way better than before.
What a lesson that sometimes you can’t go back. And if u try too hard to replicate something it ends up weird or forced. Better instead to be where you are and find the beauty. I love it when life and my children conspire to teach me the big lessons…”

Now what to do if you feel obligated to holiday traditions with your extended family that are no longer so fun? I definitely encourage you to move very slowly here and with low expectations of being able to overhaul the whole thing. Family traditions have their own gravitational center.

But see if you could shake up just your part — maybe bringing a new favorite recipe, or suggesting a new outing which you’d actually enjoy for when family is visiting you. These simple things can help you feel more like you, more comfortable in your own skin. And they may even make it easier for others to express new preferences as well.

Another tip is to make sure that you are celebrating the holiday intentionally yourself or with your partner or smaller family either before or after the big group events. Again going filled up rather than needing to be filled can be a game changer and tending consciously to your own celebrations big and small is one of the best forms of soul food I know of.

One of my favorite metaphors for freshening up a family holiday is to think of what happens when you host a garage sale:

What are the extra things you are ready to get rid of – to convert that into currency for new experiences?

And what are the treasures you forgot you had?

So now over to you…

How are you planning to freshen up your holidays this year?

What are you ready to let go of? What treasures did you forget you had? I’d love to hear and hope you will share your experiences in a comment below.

Warmly, Courtney

Originally Published Dec 1 2017

 

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.

 

 

 

Don’t Go Hungry

Don’t Go Hungry

Family Photo

I had a fun Thanksgiving hosted by new friends in a beautiful colonial home. They threw open their doors to all the expat/American folks in Granada and dozens of us came together in their patio courtyard for a lively potluck among the palm trees. It was really tasty and my husband and I were so grateful to not have to try to cook a turkey in our tiny kitchen and to be able to introduce visiting family, his sister and dad, to more of our community. I even scored the elusive family photo! (Don’t mind Perl. I made her wear a dress).

But I broke a cardinal rule for myself and came to the party hungry.

The gathering started at 3PM but we didn’t really eat until after 5PM and by that time I was ready to gnaw off my arm.

Similarly it doesn’t serve you to head to family gatherings hungry for approval from your parents, your siblings or other relatives.

Now of course don’t go and be a robot or totally frozen inside, but I am pointing out how much pressure it can take off you (and them) if you don’t really expect your family to be excited about your new low-sugar diet/Chi Gong practice/Enneagram course and how it has all changed your life.

I encourage you to feel totally empowered to hold all that goodness inside. Seriously, you don’t have to share it. In fact, as Brene Brown reminds us, people have to earn your vulnerability. Think of all that is stirring and shifting inside you as a glorious secret, a new way of living which is opening you wide to life.

Filled from the inside out, it can be easier to simply practice the art of listening.

Strange things can happen when you don’t need the people in your life to validate your choices.

Knots can untangle. Ways can open. Ease can find you.

Now please don’t ignore your own needs and go to extremes (which can trigger our inner martyr). So if someone is talking nonstop and it exhausts you, feel free to share some of your own thoughts or simply excuse yourself to get a drink of water or head to the bathroom.

Family gatherings are the masterclass of personal development work. 

And meeting resistance to your growth is actually a really important part of the growth process.

So if you have been feeling pretty enlightened on your recent retreat but find you are climbing out of your skin sitting next to Aunt Margaret — know that this experience is 100% normal. To be expected even. Have some compassion for yourself.

Similarly, you growing and changing can provoke all kinds of things in the hearts and minds of people who know you.

Maybe they are afraid they are losing their connection to you.

Maybe they feel like you are so advanced you don’t need them anymore.

Maybe they are just busy inside of their own pain and confusion.

Or perhaps your journey is waking dreams of their own which had gone dormant long ago.

All of this can be uncomfortable. So hold them with compassion too.

Yet here is the thing: you can’t do anything about your family or any one else’s reaction to you. You can’t even really know what it is.

What you can do something about is how well nourished you are going into any conversations or family time which you find challenging.

Meditate, exercise, get a good night sleep.

Fill up on your favorite self-care strategies and love yourself well before you head into the festivities.

Don’t go hungry.

Love, Courtney

Originally Published November 2017

 

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.

 

 

 

How to Pack And Prepare for a Solo Retreat

How to Pack And Prepare for a Solo Retreat

Last month I went on a retreat with one of my best friends in West Texas. It was amazing. We talked and we also didn’t talk. She brought me treats from the farmer’s market, including tomatoes that reminded me of my granny’s garden and the best melon I’ve had in years.

She also sat and listened as I shared thoughts, fears and tears related to some unexpected medical challenges our family is facing this year.

And I had the amazing privilege of reading the first chapter of her new book and hearing about her creative process.

We went out at night to the dock and looked at the moon.

We drank vino verde.

And talked about our kids growing up and life’s other capital M mysteries.

In other words. Heaven.

My husband who has years of experience in the catering realm and often intimidates other people in the kitchen — says that being a good cook is actually much simpler than most people think. In fact it is really about two things: Knowing what you want to eat…. And knowing how to make it. That’s it! A super easy definition of success. No fancy kitchen gadgets required.

I think designing your own deeply restorative retreat is the same thing.

It is about first tuning into what your soul is hungry for. And then knowing how to design and gift yourself that experience.

I made a free and lovely how-to guide to help you. Maybe it is a throw-back to my years in Boston when everyone seemed to head to shore come August, but I think it is a beautiful time of year to sneak away and gift yourself a big exhale.

Click here for the guide. I even tell you how to create a retreat in your very own home!

Love and all the good, 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.

 

 

 

1000 things I’ve been meaning to tell you

1000 things I’ve been meaning to tell you

Hello beautiful! I have missed you and this regular blog space. But every so often I need to go quiet. I need to stop doing ALL the things. Even the things I love, like writing. It’s almost like I have to test my own hypothesis. Slow down and accomplish more? Try stop completely and see what happens. Of course, I still attend to the things that are uniquely mine to do. Care for my body, enjoy my children and husband and show up and be present for my coaching clients. But beyond that, I need to be reminded of what it feels like to simply breathe in and out. To lay down my agenda and let life find me and lift me up. Here are some adventures I have had lately and some fun updates + resources I want to share!

The Enneagram App. Watch out world, the Enneagram is going virtual. Do you know that for the first time ever the Enneagram surpassed Myers Briggs in google searches this Spring? Join me in a happy dance as the transformation and compassion generated by this personality map ripple ever outward. Also, I’ve been approached by the developers of a new app, called True Self, and we are exploring some exciting collaborations. They have had over 200,000 people take their free Enneagram test. I’m often asked about the best online Ennea resource and the truth is there hasn’t been much available in terms of a free, quality online “quiz.” I am excited by this new option (they use images rather than just words) and would love for you to check it out and tell me what you think!

I’ve also been having fun travelling again. It took me a full year of NOT. GOING. ANYWHERE to recover from the whirlwind adventures of our year in Central America with three kids and two cats. But my wanderlust has finally awoken from its slumber and I’ve been getting out the suitcases for our family vacation to Charleston SC and visiting family back in Dallas. I also went on a mini-retreat out in West Texas with my friend Lynn, which was so restorative. Plan your own private solo retreat with my guide here. And I’d love to connect with you over on Instagram, where I share what is current in travel + life.

So what’s next? I have some fun things brewing so keep an eye on this space. Will I pick back up with weekly blog posts? Honestly, I’m not sure. One of my coaches told me this week that my only job is to show up, to ride the creative/spiritual inspiration current, to share and educate and to invite people into deeper experiences and opportunities. She also told me that all the good stuff in my business flows through relational connections, something I knew but it felt so good to hear her mirroring this back to me and encouraging me to allow myself to tweak every aspect of my biz to honor what comes naturally (and to delegate the rest to my virtual office manager). There is such freedom in knowing what you are great at AND what you suck at. The truth is that hyper-consistency is not my strong suit. Nurturing relationships and following inspiration, hell to the yes. So I’ve given myself permission to not feel like I have to write on an exact schedule and instead to craft this biz around my natural rhythms. Some months you may hear more from me and some less as I settle into this flow.

Trust me, many more thoughts to share but now over to you. I always love to hear how you are. Whether you are new in this space or you and I go way back, I hope you will leave me a comment below and tell me what you have been loving lately.

Love and all the good, Courtney PS What is in my flourish formula this summer?

Long conversations with friends

Our neighborhood Tuesday-afternoon farmer’s market

Taking over managing both our family and my biz finances and loving my regular “money dates” and the way it makes me feel so informed and resourced. Check out The Art of Money if you want more on this theme.

Vino Verde (a tiny bit effervescent and the most gorgeous tint of pale green. I was introduced to it in Costa Rica and now have found it at Trader Joe’s!)

Summer Reading! Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered (not an easy breezy beach read but compelling and one of those books that has stuck with me.) Also need a dose of Magical Realism? I’m loving everything by Sarah Addison Allen (a native of Asheville, NC) especially Garden Spells. And of course I love to hear when you grab a copy of the Flourish Formula or share it with another busy woman in your life who is looking for a way forward and some room to breathe in her calendar and her life.

 

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.