The Good Medicine of Taking Yourself LESS Seriously

The Good Medicine of Taking Yourself LESS Seriously

I was in labor with Coleman, a hot sweaty day in August in our apartment in the artsy Boston neighborhood above the Puerto Rican bodega. I was scared – my first baby, all the unknowns – and trying to be brave and trying to prove something to myself, which was pretty much my unconscious modus operandi back then. In grad school. In relationships. All the time. So.Much.Proving.

Anyway it was kind of hurting in that stretchy way that labor hurts. And I was getting all uptight about it because I thought if I was really conscious or evolved I would be just gently flowing through the process.

My midwife sat down on the bed with me, afternoon sunlight coming through the window and gently asked:

“Could you just take this whole thing less seriously?”

Wow. What a great question.

We take ourselves SO seriously.

Each moment. Each strand of our identity. Each precious dimension of the roles we craft.
Each expectation we have for ourselves.

Honestly, its exhausting.

So I’m curious , whatever you are navigating today, what if you just took it a little less seriously?

Part of you may rise up sputtering: “But I have to work! Or parent. Or do ALL.the.things!”

I know you do love, and I honor that we live in the real world and you have adult demands on your time.

But sometimes we grip it just a touch too tight — straining ourselves in the process: diverting extra energy into squeezing life, when really it responds so much better to a light touch.

When we are present inside a moment it feels less serious:

there is more potential, more capacity, and more beauty.

It can be scary to live fully present in a life of so many unknowns. So the illusion of control is a nice strategy – but it gets in the way.

✨ So today – what could it mean for you to take life a little less seriously? ✨

Maybe you get to lay down your high-functioning overachiever and stretch beyond the voice in your head that whispers “if I don’t do it, nothing gets done…”

Instead practice participating with life. Feeling into what wants to happen. Playing your part in a larger unfolding. 

So how did things end with Coleman’s birth? I wish I could say that I was able to relax in that moment. But after 3 years at Harvard I was pretty bound up in my head and out of practice with embodied presence. But his birth ended up an EPIC lesson in the power of surrender. He wasn’t positioned well so things took a long time and hurt more than expected. We engaged in what I now describe as the midwifery Olympics to get him to pivot around. This went on for a long time. And finally I just sort of gave up. This wasn’t going the way I thought. It was harder than I thought. I had to dig deeper for resources I didn’t know I had and stretch into an experience that was different than the one I wanted. When I surrendered into all that I could not control – things slipped into place and the labor started to progress really beautifully. He was born as the sun set and warm orange light streaked across the room — matching Coleman’s hair. (I want to insert a baby photo here but at 14 I don’t think Coleman wants me sharing them. Here is one from a few years ago when we lived in Nicaragua. He was at my desk pretending to be a life coach. He would be a good one.)

When we soften and remember not to take ourselves so seriously, our spacious Ennea essence, our deepest wisest self, can shine forth. 🌅 This feels so much better. And gently and efficiently refills our inner energy reserves so we can enjoy more presence in our work and our play. Try it out and let me know what happens!

Warmly, Courtney 
PS Thanks to those of you who shared a review or submitted your name to the raffle to help me celebrate the 3rd birthday of The Flourish Formula. Congratulations to Helen, Erika and Mary for winning the 3 signed books! If you would like to learn more about how to work with your Enneagram type click here to order your copy. 📚

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

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Celebrating My Book’s Birthday + Raffle

Celebrating My Book’s Birthday + Raffle

The Flourish Formula is turning three years old!

If you have been with me for a while I want to thank you. We absolutely could not have gotten Amazon best-seller status without the help from this amazing community and specifically those of you on my book launch team.

Bringing this book into the world, a dream hatched on my 40th birthday on a rooftop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, was such a special journey.

It continues to bring me so much happiness to see The Flourish Formula grow out into the world and transformational resources, like the Enneagram, taking root in more lives. 🌱 

If you have a copy of the book I would LOVE for you to leave a review on Amazon.

I have a dream of getting to 100 reviews — that would be SUCH a wonderful way to celebrate with me and to help future readers discern if the book is a good fit for them. (I know the book has a lot of resources, so even if you aren’t totally all the way through, your voice and feedback really matters!)

✨ And if you are new here, or don’t yet have a copy of the book, I am hosting a raffle to celebrate and giving away three signed copies! ✨

If you would like to be entered into the raffle you can enter your email address here.

Please share the raffle with a friend and sign up anytime before this Sunday 18th at Midnight EST.

I’ll announce the winners next week!

Warmly,

Courtney
PS 📚 I have created a photo collection below of some of the highlights along the book journey, from idea to reality. You can click on each photo to read more. xo 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

Surprise Yourself with Summer Fun ⛱️

Surprise Yourself with Summer Fun ⛱️

I am on my way out the door to a last day of school picnic hosted on a farm up in the mountains. I’m looking forward to celebrating the END of this wild year with other families and have promised I’ll get Rosetta ice-cream on the way home to initiate us officially into summer. 🍦

This month in my new group coaching program Garden Party we are talking about play and pleasure. I LOVE this topic. It is so powerful to remember what it feels like to open to unstructured delight.  To lose yourself in a sensory experience. To play without outcome. If your inner task-master tells you to play only AFTER all the to-dos are done, I hear you. I have a strong inner controller too.

And yet there is so much wonderful data that reminds us that we actually REQUIRE play and pleasure for mental health.

We know that work + work + work = burnout. But did you know that work +rest + work+ rest + work + rest is similarly inadequate?

We absolutely need those experiences that open us to joy, creativity, and presence. Without them we wither.

Most of the time those experiences are much closer at hand than we might think. Often we simply need to grant ourselves permission. Play and pleasure open the door to one of the questions that fascinates me about people: WHY do we love what we love? This is one of life’s mysteries. I’m talking about soul-deep loves. Essence-drenched delights. (In contrast to numbing strategies or “social self” experiences that we think we SHOULD want, but when we actually experience them discover that we find them less than satisfying.) I love many things which are unimpressive to my Ennea Type 3 Achiever personality.

I love playing urban farmer with my chickens. I love watching foreign movies like Roma. (Sooooo good.) And I love brewing up herbal teas and tinctures and learning more about medicinal plants. 🌱

At first the voice that pointed me in the direction of these authentic pleasures was so soft, I could barely hear her. I was really burned out and she was buried under my relentless expectations of myself – professionally and at home. But over the last decade as I’ve listened to this voice more and more she has gotten stronger. And now I’ve come to realize that at my core I’m actually really playful: I just need to give myself room to explore and express this part of me, without agenda or judgement. In fact I can tell when I have gone too long living in the “shoulds” of my day as I start to feel dull inside and resentful. Thankfully a little play goes a long way towards recreating the inner equilibrium.

Now over to you: What delights you? What experiences do you like to lose yourself in? Some of your favorite ways to play may lead to a satisfying outcome. For example I enjoy weeding and replanting our gardens each year. But it is also VITAL to include open ended activities that don’t lead anywhere in particular beyond pleasure in the moment. Things you begin without knowing how/when they will end. I call this “diversifying your pleasure portfolio.” For example, every Thursday night is my sola night, i.e. my night alone in my home while Rich takes the kids out for a meal, to play in the park or to hole up in the Common House of our cohousing community and binge watch Simpsons episodes. For me – an introvert in a 1200 square foot home with one husband, three children, 3 cats, and two birds: these evenings alone are heaven. I dance and make a simple meal and sometimes I’ll watch a show and drink a glass of wine. Normally my ears eat the silence like ice cream. But last week I did something that felt so decadent. I laid down on the outdoor couch on our deck, looked at the trees, and listened to an entire album. It was delicious. I didn’t really plan to listen to whole thing, but I got into it and I could think of nothing that would improve on the moment so I surrendered into it: the leaves swaying above head.

The Leonard Cohen tribute album from the band First Aid Kit flowing out of the speaker. Afterwards I felt so restored. So nourished. Some of your favorite activities will change over time. What delights us one year or in one season of life may feel stale in the next. But usually there are some core themes – we can look to our childhood self as our guide.

If you are passionate about inner growth and living a conscious life, and/or want to feel really happy, satisfied and relaxed inside your days, this may be the one missing ingredient to your custom flourish formula.

Let’s do an experiment! Add more play and pleasure into your life this summer and see what happens!

(Vacation is wonderful but we also need simple pleasures more regularly.) Post a comment below or send me a note to cp@courtneypinkerton.com to let me know what you are going to add into your pleasure portfolio this week!

Warmly, Courtney

PS If you would like to grab a copy of my book, The Flourish Formula, for you or a friend, it is a great read for the summer! ⛱️

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

You Can’t Fake Delicious

You Can’t Fake Delicious

At the center of my vision board for 2021 are four little words:. “You can’t fake delicious.”

They are my mantra. My touchstone. My reminder for when I get all tight up in my head.

Delicious looks different for different people. But it is undeniably fruit of cultivating our inner garden.

I thought it would be fun to offer a few “tastes” this week of what delicious looks like as I am inviting you to participate in my Cultivate Your Inner Garden Challenge.

So far I have talked some about what the Challenge is helping us each to remove (invasive weeds of imposter syndrome, self-doubt, perfectionism and other negative voices.)

🍋 But what do we gain from cultivating our inner garden?

🍋 How does a nourished inner eco-system make it more likely that we will succeed?

First, some truth talk in a culture addicted to speedy results and myths of individual success: some inner hopes and dreams take a long time to come true. (The one I describe below took more than a decade!) And almost always we need help from many other people to make our desires a reality. Inevitably there are some challenging surprises. 

Cultivating our inner garden helps us grow our capacity to be resilient and receptive.

If you have been looking for a good container in which to nurture some of your goals or dreams, even if you don’t yet know exactly how to make them real — ESPECIALLY if you don’t yet know how to make them real! — I hope you will join the challenge. Click here and enter your name and email.

You might want to grab a cup of tea for this story, which starts with me feeling trapped in my minivan in Dallas, enduring the 40 minute round trip commute I had twice a day to take my kids to school, even though I worked from home and longing for more beautiful hikes or nature immersions nearby.  

Read on for the full story + suprises.

Yours, Courtney

For each person who registers for the challenge I am donating a dollar to the Loveland Foundation to support their work in healing trauma in Black women and girls. 

Delicious Case Study Number One: Quality of Life

Years before I found myself caught in my minivan I was in graduate school in Boston. Rich and I were newly married after the Peace Corps. We had a tiny and growing family. And we caught wind of something called co-housing, a Danish model of creating little villages of houses 🏘🏘🏘️ around shared green space + a common house. I’ve always been interested in community. I vibe with what Francis Weller says in his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow, that there is a certain kind of sadness or loneliness we feel when we are hardwired to have a village around us and to live within a daily web of relationships and belonging. Even though at that time we were far away from being able to afford the homes I saw in cohousing communities in New England, a flame was lit in me. 🕯

The longing continued to simmer as we moved to Dallas, had our second and third children, bought a mid-century ranch home and developed our professional lives. I remember one vivid experience during my coach training program, where a friend and fellow trainee led me through a visualization exercise called “ideal day” where you imagine a future day, a regular non-vacation day, and what it feels and looks like. I had a hard time getting into the exercise until finally she said, “OK Harvard, put your brain on a shelf. And just tell me what you see.” With her caring support, a vision bubbled up from deep within. I see deer I said. We live on the edge of a greenbelt or nature preserve.🦌 

Another “soul ping of recognition” came when we visited family a few years later in North Carolina. Picture the drive, our three kids in the back of our minivan sedated with unlimited screen time and the occasional fresh bag of chips we tossed into the seats behind us. Rich’s eyes were closed beside me and I had a brief moment of communion with the road and the evergreen trees that appeared as we neared the Carolinas hugging us on either side. 🌲🌲🌲The Avett brothers singing on the speaker and I burst into tears. Something in me knew we were getting closer to our new home.

But despite our best efforts we couldn’t find or help create a cohousing community in Dallas and we couldn’t figure out financially how to move to NC and leave behind Rich’s job in the nonprofit sector. (There is a saying in Asheville. BYOJ. As in “Bring Your Own Job.”) 

We had maximized our quality of life in Dallas, living in the artsy/edgy part of town (Hello Oak Cliff!) Enrolling our children in nature-based preschools and Spanish language elementary. We had an amazing group of friends and my irreplaceable family nearby but still we felt stuck. 

Right after I wrote the Flourish Formula, Rich and I decided to melt everything. We still didn’t know how to move to our dream house/community in the US, so we decided to take our kids on a global adventure. 🌎 We sold our minivan and home and all of our stuff and moved to Nicaragua. As Rich explains it, it was almost like the book was daring us to take our own dreams more seriously.

Our time in Nicaragua is its own big story but for today’s purposes I want to highlight that when we needed to come back to the US earlier than we expected, the pieces came together for us to first rent and then buy our home in a cohousing community. This was a wild and unexpected ride. 

Our house is on the edge of urban woods that we share with our neighbors. The creek which runs behind all of our houses is a wildlife corridor.

Shortly after we moved one day my husband put his hand on my back and said quietly, “turn around.” There was the most beautiful buck with a full rack looking right up through the window. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more witnessed in my life.

And so now we get to live the dream we held for so many years. The kids can walk to school, when there is school, and we have friends and neighbors to learn, grow, dance and karaoke with 🎤.

And we have shared gardens and trees who take all my exhales, the mindful ones and the frustrated periodic huffing (because hey, this is still real life!) and convert it to oxygen. And I get to sit here and write to you from my back porch office with birdcalls in the air and chipmunks and the world’s fattest hedgehog nearby.

Living here makes me happy. It fits me and continues to teach me some of the lessons — like how to live in rich relationship with the earth — that I am most eager to learn. 

Quality of life dreams come in many different forms. For example I worked with one client who wanted to wake with the ocean 🌊 and now daily walks the beach and enjoys the tides. And another who wanted a beautiful ranch/retreat house to be a hub for family and friends and now spends her days nurturing a space where roses, sacred conversations and creativity can bloom. 🌹 Many clients want a simpler, sane life that fits who they are now, not who they think they should be or who they used to want to be! 

It is also important to say that this past year has been a lot, with Covid fears, needed racial justice conversations and more. So it is OK, recommended even, to give yourself space and time to integrate all the lessons and clarity that this year has brought to the surface.

But regardless of externals, authentic dreams don’t go away. They seek and search for a patch of sunlight to take root in your life.

I hope this casestudy of my decade-long dream has been helpful to you. Click on the button below to read more details about the challenge and register. I would love to hear more about the goals and hopes you hold and to help them become real. I hope to see you inside! 

Warmly, Courtney

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

The Inner Creates the Outer ✨

The Inner Creates the Outer ✨

Today I am SO happy to let you know that the metaphorical garden gate is OPEN to register for the upcoming Cultivate Your Inner Garden Challenge! I hope you will join me for this free, five day online challenge which starts May 3 and learn to liberate yourself from painful negative voices and cultivate a resilient inner eco-system which nurtures your goals.

And because this invitation is going out on Earth Day 🌎 and in the wake of the verdict in the trail of Derek Chauvin, I also want to say the inner creates the outer. Meaning if we want to create a just society and to live with kindness on this earth, then that liberatory work actually starts INSIDE us.

Learning how to uproot negative inner voices like perfectionism and imposter syndrome is an act of activism and a commitment to inner freedom. It creates the resilient eco-system inside which is the foundation for a life of joy and satisfaction. It also helps us to work toward social and ecological change in a sustainable way that doesn’t burn us out.

One guilty verdict is only a drip toward the system changes and racial equity that we need in our country. But now is a time to honor the life of George Floyd and the brave women and men who have led and are leading the Black Lives Matter movement. I see you. As a white woman with many privileges in this caste system – I am listening and I am committed to learning what I need to learn and to unlearning what I need to unlearn to become a better ally.

For each person who registers for the challenge (up to 250) I will be making a $1 donation to the Loveland Foundation to support their work in healing trauma in Black women and girls.

Click here to join today! Flourishing is never a solitary sport.

And one more thing. It is ok to be tired. The pandemic, homeschooling, racial reckoning, environmental concerns. It is a LOT. Which is one of the reasons I am so thirsty for fun and am designing this Challenge with a very light and playful touch. (And some really great prizes!) Think of it as a virtual Garden Party.

🌿 Because your goals and hopes for your life matter. They are as precious and irreplaceable as you are.🌿

Growth doesn’t require beating ourselves up on the inside, riding ourselves hard or pushing ourselves forward. That is all part of the old approach. Instead we grow best when nurtured and in a safe environment. When we are given resources and frameworks that support us in healing our internal divisions. When we can clear out the inner voices that choke our hopes and create room to stretch in a new direction. A resilient inner eco-system is the foundation of a flourishing life.   

The simple shifts, practices and frameworks I will be teaching you in the Challenge can change a whole day, a whole year, a whole life. 

So come on in! Each day I’ll email you a brief video, plus details on a simple challenge action and a journaling prompt for those who want to take it deeper. Plus I am hosting live Q and A calls each day at noon Eastern for support and to connect as a community.

Please also invite a friend/s you think would enjoy it.

Together we can both be and support the change we want in the world.

Yours, Courtney 🌿

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

Naked Bees 🐝 + Help Naming My New Challenge

Naked Bees 🐝 + Help Naming My New Challenge

Hi beautiful, How are you?

Last week I shared about a new free 5 Day Challenge I am creating to help women tend to their inner garden and liberate themselves from invasive weeds of self-doubt, imposter syndrome, perfectionism and more! Many of you answered my survey and I am moved by what you have shared. In fact I am reading each answer and musing on what to call this new Challenge.

If you haven’t yet completed the survey I would love to hear from you.

Also as promised I wanted to let you know the other prize for the raffle for those of you who complete the survey. I meditated on it this week and yesterday morning as I woke up it came to me: Naked Bee Shimmering Body lotion.

I bought myself this lotion last summer when we were on a day trip looking for something fun and outdoors to do with our kids. When tubing on the river was cancelled because of thunderstorms we stopped in the touristy mountain town to buy everyone ice-cream (good pivot!) and ducked into a nearby gift shop.

Perusing the multitude of t-shirts and knickknacks, I discovered the shelf filled with fancy personal care products and bought myself some shimmering body lotion. It made me happy and even feel a little feminine all summer long. I would take a moment to rub it on my neck or shoulders and breathe in the scent of orange blossoms and honey. This simple, quick practice was a welcome self-care boost above the minimum standard of brushing my teeth.

There is so much going on in our world – why focus on body lotion?

Because right now little pleasures are actually serious medicine.
 
They offer a doorway into self-kindness. And when many of us are finding ourselves eyeball to eyeball with challenging inner voices (in part because of the added stress and limitations of lockdown), little pleasures can interrupt the trance of our Enneagram patterning and bring us back into presence.

My weakness for botanically-infused toiletries aside, nature is a powerful mental health ally. Whether it is a walk outdoors, a favorite herbal tea or essential oil diffusing, Vitamin N helps us get back into our body and feel more resourced for the challenges at hand.

So as we transition into warmer weather, please consider this your permission slip/reminder to refresh your pleasure portfolio and to lean on nature as your ally in metabolizing stress.   

And if you would like a chance to win a prize of the lotion or a signed copy of my book, or you just want to help me out and share your thoughts, please complete the survey by clicking the link here. (It is only six questions.)

And I hope you have a wonderful weekend. We are celebrating Easter with an egg hunt and al fresco bunch with some of our co-housing neighbors. And I’m really looking forward to a getaway to a nearby National Park with old growth forest!

I’ll be offline all next week for Spring Break but will pick the raffle winner when I get back. (I’ll see if Rosetta will help me and we may do another quick video of the draw!).

And mark your calendars: this free challenge will start May 3rd and I have even more prizes and fun in store for us, in addition to fresh teaching and the best resources I know to help us root deep and flourish, even when life feels bumpy or intense.

xo Courtney

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

Something New 🌿

Something New 🌿

We are just edging into spring here in Asheville and I’m so enjoying the sun. We don’t get it every day, which, of course, makes it all the more precious.

During the last couple of months I have been nurturing some new work: a free challenge and a new coaching program focusing deep on the garden of self-awareness. My biz coach calls it Flourish 2.0 because it is a fresh iteration of my whole coaching methodology.

What is changing?

When I wrote my book, I focused the chapters on the challenges of living life at a painful, rapid pace and offered tools that help high-achieving people slow down to accomplish more.

I am a human-to-resource matchmaker and I love sharing tools that we can use to disrupt the trance of habitual living and to open to more presence. So that won’t change.  

But what was previously a linear process comprised of eight steps that correspond to the word FLOURISH has now revealed itself to be circular and three dimensional.

In fact, it is a garden. 

A garden with sections that correspond to the seven critical parts of life that require dedicated attention and cultivation.

And at the center of this garden is a fountain that flows into and nourishes all these other parts of life. That is what we are going to talk about in this challenge and new program. And I would love your help to design it!

A lot of attention has been paid to the struggles of the year, and there have been many: pandemic, isolation, strain on relationships, grief and self-honesty regarding systems of racial oppression in the U.S. and around the world, and continued economic practices that take more from our earth than give to her. 

And yet, 2020 and the pandemic have been MASTERFUL at one really important thing: surfacing the old habits and patterns of self-talk that are draining. 

Because, hello, we need all the energy we can get. 

And in this time of increased stress, we can more easily see where we get in our own way. 

I used to call these inner voices “gremlins.” And perhaps you can relate to hosting erratic inner voices that turn on a dime. Voices that go from quiet or neutral to harshly judgmental or caustic, in the same way gremlins go from cuddly to eating your face. So, in that regard the name works.

However, I’m increasingly thinking of these inner voices as invasive weeds which hog all the nutrients and disrupt the natural equilibrium of our inner eco-system. (You know I love a botanical metaphor!) 

Many times these painful thoughts, like imposter syndrome or perfectionism, aren’t even ours. They are internalized voices from the overstory of culture.

And they are PERSISTENT.

When you encounter one of these voices, like your inner critic or doubter, they don’t give up easily.

Mostly we respond with one of three strategies:

1. We ignore them.

2. We yell at them.

3. Or we try to argue logically.

As you know none of these strategies works.

What to do instead? Well, that is going to be the topic of this new challenge. But I could use your help. Please complete this survey to help me better understand where these voices show up in your life.

And, for fun, there will be a raffle for everyone who completes the survey. The winner will have a choice of a signed copy of my book or another very fun prize I’ll tell you more about next week. (Giving your email is optional but I need it if you would like to be entered for the prize!)

The new challenge starts in early May and I’ll be pulling the raffle winner soon so I hope you will take a few minutes to complete it. (It has 6 questions.)

xo Courtney

📸 Photo credit to my husband Rich and daughter Rosetta for the above pic. We had a day of play last week in the gardens at the Biltmore Estate.

P.S. You will see in the survey that this program is directed to women however I just have to give a shout out to the amazing, conscious men who are part of this community and coaching clients. You are welcome to complete the survey too. Maybe one day we will have enough of a posse to create a group for men! 

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

Let’s Do the New Year Differently. Plus, Upcoming Summit! ✨

Let’s Do the New Year Differently. Plus, Upcoming Summit! ✨

Even though February is nigh, let me wish you a Happy New Year!

Each January I tend to tweak or re-imagine my process for setting intentions, and this year I have learned a few powerful new options I wanted to share.

If you are still feeling oversaturated from 2020, or not in the mood to dream and plan, I’ve got you! These options are nourishing and varied, and may surprise you.

Option 1: Nothing New for Now

A coaching client shared this resource with me and I think it is brilliant. This mantra underscores how important it is to know and honor where we are in our own change cycle.

Just because there is “new year” or “planning/calendar” hype in January doesn’t mean it’s the right time for YOU to be dreaming.

If your plate feels very full, or you are still digesting all that 2020 brought, please don’t add pressure to map your future. There will be a right time for you to dream what is next. And, in fact, the fastest and most easeful way forward into future clarity may be to stop fighting the rest and integration time you need.  A nap can be your next best step. Or a salt bath. 

I have been healing from gum surgery this last week. Even though I’ve been on my own ‘overachiever recovery program’ for years, I still fight it when my health requires extended days of rest or healing. I usually give myself a set number, like the four days I slotted after gum surgery. Then, after that, I expect myself to “be back to normal.”

The body, as we know, has its own timeframe.

This week gave me an opportunity to really watch how I talk to myself when I’m physically vulnerable and to practice relaxing control.

While this isn’t easy and requires stepping over several Enneagram type voices inside, I am learning that the more compassionate I am to myself, the more present and nimble I am to changing circumstances. This approach allowed me to show up in small ways in my work and family when I could, which has been so meaningful for me, and to be generous with myself when I need to rest.

It all felt less pressurized.

I realize the old approach was dualistic and laced with pressure to show up either “full on” or “off.” I’ve been playing in shades of gray.

After days in bed/on the couch, I opened my journal to do some reflection and found that there was so much clarity ready to be harvested. Things I didn’t even realize I knew somehow got worked out under the surface during my down time. This was a delightful surprise and a reminder of *ironically* how efficient rest really is.

Option 2: Make a Gratitude Board for All That You Learned 

I love vision boards and the magic they bring so much so that I usually make one or more per year and keep them propped above my desk or on my bookshelf to remind me where I’m going. But, until now, I’ve always made them for the future.

2020 was such a unique journey. As part of a process of mapping the future I was invited by my coach to create a gratitude board to harvest the lessons of the past year. This process was deeply gratifying. I captured both big things, like the gratitude I feel for the poll worker featured at the top (I love that she looks like the patron saint for democracy) and the little but vital delights the year brought, like repainting our bookshelves, creating a seasonal home office on my porch, and time with our children. 

If you aren’t a vision board person you can turn to a fresh page in your notebook and write down what lessons you are grateful for learning this past year. The key is to settle yourself into the posture of a learner. Because if you are the learner, then you have the power to transmute the challenges you experienced into lessons that fuel your way forward and everything is compost for what wants to grow next.

I also like to put my hand on the vision board — or the lessons harvested in my journal — and do some deep breathing. I imagine that all that is old or stale from the past could just gently rinse off me, and that the lessons I name and honor are rooted deep in me for the future.

This practice really gets me in touch with my heart and is a wonderful release, which makes space for the new.

Option 3: Open a Dialogue with your Future Self

If you do want to do some visioning for the new year (or already have), consider making your intentions stronger by opening a dialogue with your future self. You can do this during meditation or in your journal.

Allow yourself to imaginatively inhabit the person you will be at the end of 2021 and feel into the gratitude you would feel when you experience the goals you are naming. 

This is also a great way to check your intentions: if you can’t imagine really embodying them, then maybe they aren’t your deepest or truest desires. Sometimes we get caught in “should” goals that come from our ego or our social selves. True soulful intentions feel delicious to imagine.

Going through this process of dialoguing with your future self, not just once but again and again, makes your intentions much more powerful. It infuses the words on a page with an emotional quality that you can feel in your body.  

I hope these ideas serve you now or the next time you are ready to release the old and dream new dreams for your life. 

One of my intentions for 2021 is to find fresh ways to connect to people and nurture this online Flourish community. I have been blogging regularly for many years and I love to write. But I also have an urge to connect more through interviews and online summits, and maybe even host my own summit one day.

So, I wanted to share with you that I’ll be featured in an upcoming summit with a session on Understanding Yourself (and Your Parenting) Through the Enneagram.

This summit is a free 4-day virtual event to help moms of kids with medical conditions go from being overloaded to feeling calm and in control. 

As a mamapreneur with three children ages 10-14, I believe parenting is one of the masterclasses of personal awareness work. But I am especially touched to be part of an event that is supporting moms of children with medical conditions because of the extra intensity and energetic demands these families face. Whether the medical condition is something visible to the world or mostly invisible, I know many moms are pouring their hearts into their child/ren’s thriving. (More challenging now because of the added isolation in a pandemic.) My sister Heather is a pediatric physical therapist and her work with families has long been an inspiration to me so I’m so proud to be a part of this event! 

If you know a mama with a child with a medical condition who could use some support and resources, I would love your help connecting. Please share this blog post with her. And if you are a parent and want to check out these great resources, you can read more and register right here.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

Courtney Pinkerton is a certified life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

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 life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!

 

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 life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever's Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More.

Courtney is an inner life coach and Enneagram mentor. She helps conscious women (and a few amazing men!) to pursue their most salient creative, professional and quality-of-life dreams and to discover more pleasure in their everyday.

She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is a certified Wayfinder life coach and has been studying the Enneagram with master teachers for over a decade. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband and their three children now make their home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

Want to get the latest from Courtney?

Sign up here and receive a digital copy of The Flourish Formula... Which has earned Amazon best-seller status in Meditation, Time-Management and Life Skills!!