New Year, New Look

Call me a forever optimist, but there is just something about a brand new year that brings a sense of rejuvenation and hope to me. One of the reasons I am so uplifted is the bigger community I am feeling a part of — a community of people who are actively discussing personal development and embracing meaningful changes in their lives.

This collective positive energy and rich, deep conversations inspired me to revamp my blogging website and I am unveiling it today! It’s a brand new look with some major changes to my navigational menu. Gone are tabs that are no longer relevant and in their place are ones I believe better suit the evolving direction of my blog.

I have a renewed focus for my blog now. It’s my strong desire that it will become a resource for others — a place where they can discover helpful tools and teachers for their own self-awareness journeys. My new menu tabs include Noteworthy Resources, such as podcasts, books and Instagram influencers. Inspirational Quotes is another new tab. These are impactful quotes that guided me to start the personal growth journey and motivate me to stay committed to the ongoing work. Best of all, many of these inspirational quotes come from relatable peers who are deeply steeped in doing their own work.

When I first started Inspired New Horizons six years ago, my goal was to share with others what I was learning through my self-discovery journey with the intention that it might help others on their own path of personal growth. To be honest, I felt pretty alone in the process at that time. It was not a topic of regular conversation among most of my friends. My secondary goal with my blog was to keep myself committed and accountable to the inner work I was doing. I’m not only still doing that work six years later, it has become a part of my daily routine.

I credit Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle for the growing community that is keeping me so inspired these days. Glennon’s book Untamed unleashed a groundswell of women who began to look at their lives through very different lenses. Her “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast and her Facebook discussion groups opened up the floodgates of women wanting to share their stories and dig deeper into some serious personal development. Brene has been on fast-moving upward trajectory to get us to embrace our authentic selves and to shed ourselves of protective armor, numbing, debilitating behavioral patterns, and painful triggers. She calls for us to step into our vulnerability, courage and creativity and live a wholehearted life, rooted in grounded confidence.

Brene’s work has created several global discussion groups that I belong to, and honestly the conversations have been real, raw, meaningful and purposeful. All throughout the pandemic, I found ballast from the news and political chaos, in these discussions. I’ve made friends, gained followers for this blog and my Instagram posts, discovered incredible activists and had my faith in humanity restored. The diverse perspectives and heart-opening stories that are shared serves as a healthy reminder of the power of connection and empathy that Brene espouses.

I mentioned in a recent blog post entitled Becoming Part of Something Bigger how Brene’s latest book, Atlas of the Heart is an impactful reference book for anyone who is committed to personal development. She taps into the wisdom and research of so many of the teachers I’ve used over the past six years. This prompted me to make changes to my blog website to help others easily find these resources. It’s my hope that my personal stories will help others feel less alone when they peel back their own layers.

And this brings me to one of the most dramatic changes I have experienced and witnessed because of self-discovery and improved self-awareness. My close circle of friends these days is comprised of women with whom I can have deep, emotional conversations. No subject is off limits, no confidence will be betrayed, no judgment or dismissing of feelings. I have a beautiful jar of diverse, empassioned marble jar friends. My marble jar friends have revealed to me that they too now have the most remarkable collection of trust buddies. Somehow, over the past few years each of us has drawn to us the women we needed to help us excavate our histories, reframe them, and shine a light on all our potential and possibilities.

It is my hope that my blog posts will inspire others on their journey. I’m going to keep sharing my stories, the lessons I am learning and relearning, and the benefits that come from self-reflection and embracing change. I wrote a post entitled Awareness Activist some time ago — it is where I feel I make a meaningful contribution in this world. We cannot change what we are unaware of — and once we become aware, we can make better choices — for ourselves and others.

Wishing you Peace, Love, Joy and Hope in the coming New Year.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE:

I’m offering only one resource to accompany this post today. The reason is that this podcast is so relevant for reflecting on the past year and our own past, as well as for looking forward and pondering what will best support and guide us. I think you’ll really enjoy this conversation with Dr. Rick Hanson and his son Forrest.

How to Get the Most Out of 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lz17LizwD8

Inspiration from Imperfections

My Zoom book club has taken a summer break and I am missing the camaraderie of good friends taking deep dives into rich conversations about life. Perhaps it is why listening to Brene Brown and her twin sisters, Barrett and Ashley, discuss the ten guideposts of the Gifts of Imperfection has been such a treat. I totally marinated myself in the realness of these three sisters having those big conversations. Honestly, you would never have guessed that this was a public podcast. It just felt like being part of a no-holds barred girls getaway.

Brene and her sisters used the Summer series of Unlocking Us to talk about how they use the 10 guideposts in their own lives. Mostly they talk about how challenging it is to break old habits and integrate new ones; how helpful it is to unpack how they developed learned behaviors earlier in life that aren’t serving them so well now. They took those deep dives into two of the ten guideposts every week. There was a lot of laughter, some very serious aha moments and a warm wash of being heard and valued that felt like a cozy blanket and a hug.

They used the Wholehearted Living Inventory as a starting point for each week. Brene offers this tool on her website and encouraged her listeners to take it before they listened to the podcast. Brene’s approach is to consider using a gas tank analogy for each of the 10 guideposts — measuring how full your tank is on each of the life skills. This is so much better than viewing it through a strength and weaknesses lens. That mindset alone makes such a difference. It is also a relatable and relevant way to look at how we are showing up in life.

As the three women talked about having just a half tank in some of the areas, it opened up a lot of really good dialogue about awareness and change. It was a safe and inviting space to do that exploration and excavation.

And….the reality is that even when we have the best of intentions, it is really hard to have a full tank in all ten of these guideposts at one time. To me, it is the interweaving of these guideposts that creates a strong framework for personal growth. When we only have half a tank in one area and we might have 3/4 of a tank in another. That combines to lift us up — to a better version of ourselves. It is the natural rhythm of life, an ebb and flow of our emotions, events, energy and intentions.

Check out this awesome diagram for the 10 guideposts. The left hand side in bright green are the qualities to cultivate. The right hand side in “stop this” red are the things to work on releasing.

Brene and her sisters use a lot of the same tools that I do to help them integrate the guideposts into their own personal growth journey. The enneagram is a great resource for understanding our core motivations for some of our learned behaviors and best of all it helps us recognize our blind spots. The enneagram also uses a measurement approach similar to the gas tank analogy — it is a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy. When we move to the healthy end of enneagram type, we are using our gifts and talents in the best ways possible. We find more joy and fulfillment in life and others enjoy being in relationship with us. When we start operating on auto-pilot and act more unconsciously, we move to the unhealthy end of the spectrum. Often this is when we begin to have relationship issues, are prone to numbing to avoid painful emotions and make poor choices.

Being a big believer in both the enneagram and Brene’s work, it was so beneficial for me to hear how using these tools in tandem were so meaningful to Brene, Barrett and Ashley.

Another area that really resonated with me was the candor with which these three siblings could talk about their childhood, the experiences that shaped them as they were growing up. Brene is the oldest and she assumed the role of protector for her younger sisters. Like so many of us, their childhood also had dysfunction weaving through it and this set them up for many of those roadblocks that are in that red column above — being a control freak, having a need for certainty, always comparing ourselves to others who seem to be doing it right, working ourselves to exhaustion to prove our worth.

As they discussed these experiences and how it shaped each of them, they also revealed how they were coming to know their parents in a whole new light — mostly as messy, flawed and big-hearted human beings doing the best they could at that time. This is one of the gifts is truly a blessing that goes both ways — adult children gaining a deeper perspective and parents being given space and grace for all they navigated, often with little support for their overall quality of life. This is where we often discover the root causes of so many of our unconscious behaviors that are listed in that red zone above. Brene research shines a light on the armor we use from one generation to another to be protect ourselves. Getting our family skeletons out of the closet is just like mom or dad shining a flashlight under our bed when we were young, confirming that the monster was mostly a figment of our imagination.

I see a lot of overlap in the discussions that Brene and her sisters had and my Zoom book club. We are taking what we are learning and applying it to our lives — past and present. Applying it to the past fosters healing. Applying it to the present frees us to live authentically. We are helping each other along the way through honesty and vulnerability.

I’m also part of several Facebooks groups that revolve around Brene’s Dare to Lead teachings and Glennon Doyle’s game changing book, Untamed. For the most part, the women and men in these online discussion groups are strangers. Yet there is a clear understanding that we are there to support each other with respect, kindness and empathy. The outpouring of stories, questions and a need for supportive help is profound. Every single day, there are a handful of stories that look and feel much like pages in the book of my life. It is incredibly uplifting to read the touching, encouraging responses. It is even more profound to see how many people have overcome tragedies and adversities and now are shining beacons of hope for others.

So there it is — Brene’s podcast, my Zoom book club and these online discussion groups — all taking that leap of faith and sharing their imperfections and vulnerabilities — and inspiring each other to keep going, keep growing and lean in to those who care.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Check out the Wholehearted Inventory Assessment in the Gifts of Imperfection Hub. Listen to the Summer Series if you’re looking for motivation and inspiration for integrating the 10 guideposts for Wholehearted Living in your life.
https://brenebrown.com
Glennon has evolved through many chapters of her life, often sharing those experiences in great detail in her books. In this one, Untamed, she really pulls the layers off the onion, offering poignant self-examination stories that many of find so relatable.

Please check out Nedra Tawwab — especially if you want some solid footing when it comes to setting healthy boundaries. I discovered Nedra through a Being Well podcast with Dr. Rick Hanson and his son, Forrest. I follow her on Instagram and absolutely love her Nedra Nuggets! https://www.nedratawwab.com

Beautiful Cheetahs

It was early Spring, 2020 and things had come to a screeching halt as we went into lockdown due to the global pandemic. Looking back, that was probably the compelling reason that a group of mostly strangers agreed to participate in a bi-weekly Zoom Book Club. We surely had the time, and frankly we needed something stimulating to distract us. The hook was set when we learned that first up was Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Most of us had recently read Untamed and it’s one of those books that make you want to jump up, dash out and go make changes in the world. So we had energy, we had ideas — and we were quarantined. A lively discussion about this book was an invitation we could not refuse.

If not for the quarantine, it is quite doubtful that our dynamic little group would have ever come together in the first place. We would have all been busy with life as usual. We might have had a few conversations about snippets of revelations we had, but it is unlikely that we would have been able to keep it going more than a month or so.

Little did we realize the seeds of friendship that were planted on those first few Zoom sessions. We had no way of knowing what the universe had in store for us — a group of mostly strangers from different states.

We had a pastor, educators, leadership coaches, retired bankers and a chair of her local political party. We were daughters, mothers and grandmothers. We were married, divorced, widowed or single — or had been all of these at one time or another. We were diverse in our ages, experiences and interests.

The common denominator was evident during our very first Zoom session. It was our mixed bag of strong emotions in an unprecedented time of great uncertainty. We were all scared for ourselves, our families, and the world at large. Those seeds of friendship began to sprout as we revealed the concerns that were most relevant to each of us. We got a glimpse of each other’s vulnerability. Looking back, I am aware that there was no judging present as we got to know each because we found the common thread instinctively pulling us together — to share and to listen with grace, open hearts and open minds.

As the months of quarantine continued, so did the Beautiful Cheetahs zoom book club. It was the one bright spot that we all looked forward to every other Thursday evening. Before we would dive into discussing the book chapters, we would update each other on how we were coping, what was unfolding in our lives and families. Sometimes we would vent about the toxic news cycle. We’d share diverse opinions and a wide array of resources to expand our knowledge and understanding. These conversations were sorely needed and much appreciated. It was a chance to offload some stress, a place to ask compelling questions and hear varied perspectives. It was a glimpse into how each and every one of us and our families were being impacted by the turmoil in our country and around the globe.

It was a revelational microcosm of what was transpiring collectively in our country. There is no doubt that we benefited from hearing each other’s stories. It reinforced our common humanity and our human frailty not to mention the importance of connection. We saw job loss, virtual school, social isolation, business disruption, births and deaths through the eyes and hearts of each other.

And all of this happened before we had even opened our copies of Untamed to discuss the assigned chapters!

So let’s zoom out to take a look at what took place when we did turn our attention to the book. At first blush it would seem that none of us had come anywhere near the metamorphosis that Glennon Doyle has in her 40+ years. She has gone through many transformations to get to her true self. She is refreshingly candid about how hard that has been and she offers wisdom that can only come from deep introspection. We were eager to rally around her book and collectively motivate each other to unleash our own inner cheetah.

Untamed became both a framework and a bridge for us. We all confessed that we loved the book, saw ourselves in chapters of it and were inspired for some metamorphosis of our own. The timing was so right. Even though it seemed the world was standing still, change was occurring all around us — a telling metaphor for our own reflecting. The more we discussed the book, the more we realized that even though it appeared on the surface that we had been standing still in our own lives, changes had been occurring all along.

We would dive into a chapter, reading aloud a sentence or two that resonated deeply — and that would be the catalyst for one of us to share a personal vignette from their own life story. Thank goodness for Zoom, because we could see the facial expressions, the body language that enriches a story. If you pay close attention, you can not only feel the story as it once happened, but can even see the indelible imprint it left on your friend.

While I don’t remember the details of the very first deeply personal story that was shared, I do recall that in that moment there was an unspoken understanding that this was a safe and sacred place for each of us. And so it began — organically — a group of women holding space for each other to tell their most vulnerable stories without holding back. As is often the case, our experiences or circumstances may be remarkably different, but the context is the common ground. We could so easily put ourselves in one another’s shoes.

Having these deep conversations was cathartic. Free at last from stories buried so deep within us that we had even forgotten some. Stories that needed to come out just like a splinter so that healing could begin. Stories that we did not realize were our very own “cheetah” moments – not til one of us piped up with a fresh perspective and an “atta girl”. We cried, we laughed, we shook our heads in disbelief and we air toasted our bravery.

Those initial seeds of friendship grew exponentially over this past year. We often reach out to each other independently of Zoom sessions through email and texts and best of all phone calls. Some who were friends before Beautiful Cheetahs have really deepened their friendships. Some of us have gained incredible new friends we would have otherwise never even met. We have helped each other through very specific challenges in supportive ways that came from our own personal experiences.

We offer each other a unique space to explore new ideas or approaches. It’s fun — it feels like going on a shopping trip with friends that bring things to the dressing room that you would never pull off the rack. We help each other with fresh perspectives and reframing. We eagerly say “hey, you can try something new!” We celebrate breakthroughs and wobbly first steps in the right direction.

Over this past year, we have had the privilege of getting to know our friend Sally’s beloved mother Isabelle, through colorful stories and delightful anecdotes. Our hearts were always warmed by the lifelong devotion of our friend and her mother. While we were all busy trying to get better at being authentic ourselves, 95 year old Isabelle showed us what life looks like when you embrace your true self and live every moment in joy and gratitude.

Diane, the ever gracious pastor in our group officiated at Isabelle’s funeral just last week. AnnaRuth, Barbara, and Linda were able to attend the service in person. I participated virtually as did some of Isabelle’s family members who live in New Zealand. Thank goodness for technology and how it can bring us all together for moments like this. Isabelle’s “going home” celebration was the most touching memorial I have ever witnessed. The colorful memories that family members shared about Isabelle were a testament to a woman who seized the joy of every present moment. Listening to Sally tenderly weave the rich stories of Isabelle’s life, especially as she neared the end was incredibly beautiful. Being able to see and hear Sally’s son and daughter share their memories of their beloved grandmother was heartwarming.

After a year of quarantine and zoom meetings, my friends who were able to be physically present for this lovely service were overcome with emotion at being able to actually see each other. We’ve grown so close, but from a distance. The gift of being together was not lost on them. I was sitting alone 2,000+ miles away, having just closed my laptop, reflecting on that beautiful service when my phone rang. It was AnnaRuth. I was so touched that she would call me as soon as she got to her car. Now I was overcome with emotion, a warm wash of that feeling of true belonging. I confided in AnnaRuth that her thoughtfulness in calling me immediately felt like I was being pulled into a hug. As we shared highlights from the service that went to our hearts, we also marveled at the deep personal bonds we have made with each other — because of a Zoom book club.

To say we have witnessed remarkable personal transformation would be an understatement. While it is true that each of us independently has experienced so many growth spurts over this past year, it is the collective bond of deep friendship that is so rare. We went into a lockdown and Zoom book club as mostly strangers and a heart full of untold stories. We are emerging a year later with six trust buddies who love deep conversations and who support each other on this journey to be the best versions of ourselves. That is a truly miraculous metamorphosis.

These Beautiful Cheetahs tip our hat to you, Glennon Doyle.

P.S. Did I mention that we are only half-way thru Untamed a year later?