We were born for these times...

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This story was the foundational inspiration for my starting the N.A.S.T.Y. lunch programs.  The gathering of women each quarter to provide community, support and inspiration has been a humbling experience for me.  I am forever moved by the courage and hope expressed at those luncheons.

Now....it's on to the next evolution in 2019.  Enjoy.

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale. 

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

What have you harvested so far this year?

Part of the magic of the Fall Equinox is the balance of night and day.  Both equal at this time of year.  It is in this balance time where we can pause and reflect on the bounty so far.  It’s a powerful time to rebalance, restore and refocus your energy.

Has this year brought you all that you hoped for? Did all the seeds you planted at the beginning of the year ripen as expected?  Were you moving so fast that you didn't notice that some places in your life needed nurturing?  No worries...here are some easy and powerful ideas to get you back in balance.

First release any guilt about not bringing to fruition all that you had hoped for this year.  Guilt is a creativity killer. It is not the best motivator – truly. So instead, let’s do a quick check-in and set intentions for the remaining three months of the year.  Here are some ideas for you from Christine Ayrlo of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

  1. Restore and rebalance. Become conscious about what your body is telling you needs attention, so you don’t run yourself ragged and fall over in a heap on December 31. When you take a power pause and listen to your body, you get guidance about what to proactively adjust in your day-to-day life. This rebalancing will help you stay devoted to your well-being as you move into the fall and the holidays, so you can complete the year with a full tank.

  2. Reflect and receive. Look back at the year thus far and see all you have done and become. One of the biggest reasons we feel overwhelmed and continue to stay stuck in the patterns of overworking, overdoing, and burning out, is because we don’t pause long enough to really receive what has happened. When you don't truly get what you have already done or become, you just keep pressuring yourself to do and be more. But when you pause to reflect on what has occurred, you stop making your choices from a place of stress.

  3. Refocus. Get clear on what matters and where to focus your life force for the remainder of the year. Just as in a field of vegetables, if you only have so many resources to give and you try to water everything, nothing really thrives. Yes, there are many things you could do during the last three months of the year, and many you want to do, but what really matters most? What will yield the highest returns, and the most nourishing harvest?

 The beautiful Queen of Autumn….

The beautiful Queen of Autumn….

Jumping Lettuce

As a neophyte gardener, I wanted to try lettuce this summer.  Bought my 6 small butter lettuces; planted, watered and loved them.

They grew so fast and I didn’t attend to them like I should and several of them “jumped”.  I guess it’s the lettuce version of going to seed. A fellow gardener told me they would not taste as good once they jump.  She was right.

So… to add to my Lessons from my Garden from last year…

  • We have good intentions and usually start new projects with lots of enthusiasm, care and good tools.

  • Because of the strong start, progress happens quickly...maybe more than we anticipated.

  • We get distracted by other projects and don’t pay as close attention.

  • By the time we get back to the project with our full attention, it’s still active but turned out differently than we planned.

I think this jumping lettuce is a good metaphor for both professional and personal projects.  With something brand new, we can not take our eyes off the ball no matter how good it may look on the outside.  This happens a lot with new employees. They show so much promise but are they “growing” the way you need them to?  Staying close, being watchful and letting them know you are there is what leads to a great start and proper maturation.

Want support on how to have make sure employees get off to a great start?  Let’s talk.

amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com

408-466-0604

 

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What happens on the Vernal Equinox?

From the Farmer’s Almanac…always a wise source…
 
The vernal equinox signals new beginnings and nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere. Many cultures celebrate spring festivals, like EasterPassover and Norooz.  Here are some ideas for you to take full advantage of the equinox:
 
Observe nature around you!

  • Worms begin to emerge from the earth. In fact, the March Full Moon is called “The Full Worm Moon” for this reason.
  • Notice the arc of the Sun across the sky as it shifts toward the north. Birds are migrating northward, along with the path of the Sun.
  • Speaking of birds, did you know that the increasing sunlight is what triggers birds to sing? Cool, eh? Enjoy our Bird Songs page.
  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day-length, too! Since ancient days, people have used them as indicators of when the weather is right for planting. For example: Blooming crocus are your cue to plant radishesparsnips, and spinachSee more of nature’s signs.
  • Of course, the longer days bring warmer weather! Both we and the animals around us strip off our clothes and heavy coats!  
  • Ready, set, plant! March is time to start gardens and sow seeds in many regions. See the Best Planting Dates according to your local frost dates.  

Some additional ideas to make the most of this powerful time from the Chopra Center.

Want support on how to have difficult conversations that you may not want to have but need to do?  Let’s talk. amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com (408) 466-0604

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Is it time for a big change?

You know the adage – change is hard. I have definitely found that to be true with my organizational as well as individual clients, except when you have clarity and commitment to the change. The clarity part is particularly important because we sometimes move forward with the change with only a partial idea of what it takes or means. Like when you know it’s time to change jobs, but you have not done the internal reflection work to know what is it exactly you want in a new position. You just know it’s too toxic to stay any longer.

Here are some reflection questions you may want to ask yourself:

1) What have I learned about what is important to me in my current job?
2) What are non-negotiables for the new position?
3) How do I want to feel when I am fully authentic in my new role?

My coaching practice is grounded in helping with clarity and then commitment. I would be honored to help you find that clarity with a special time-limited coaching program consisting of three hours of coaching, practical exercises and a nature-based final session. Go to the Coaching for Life and Organizational transitions section of the website for more details.

 Want information about what’s my next step? Let’s talk. amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com (408) 466-0604

Want information about what’s my next step? Let’s talk. amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com or     (408) 466- 0604

Leading with Intent - Board Source Report

So much of my organizational work involves Boards. They are the SUPER volunteers of any nonprofit and can add so much to the overall performance and impact. And yet – do they?
Board Source – a leader in Board Governance and best practices, released a new report recently outlining some very important trends. I wanted to share a few insights and the link to the full report.

But first a little humor… and actually an important question to ask always.

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Insight #1:

Boards are no more diverse than they were two years ago, and current recruitment priorities indicate this is unlikely to change.

Despite reporting high levels of dissatisfaction with current board demographics — particularly racial and ethnic diversity — boards are not prioritizing demographics in their recruitment practices. Nearly a fifth of all chief executives report they are not prioritizing demographics in their board recruitment strategy, despite being dissatisfied with their board’s racial and ethnic diversity.

My perspective ~ I am really surprised at this result and, yet I know when I meet with Board members, they say they are committed to diversity but struggle with how to find diverse members.

I also have had the personal experience of being the only Latina on a Board and wondered if I was there just as a token. The Board had good intentions but once a member, neither staff or Board members really sought out my unique perspective hence, I left after one term.

So…how are you throwing the net out into the community to get qualified, committed diverse new Board members? What plans do you have to retain the members you have worked so hard to recruit?

Insight #2:

Chief executives and board chairs agree that the board has an impact on organizational performance, and that two board characteristics matter most: the board’s understanding of its
roles and responsibilities, and the board’s ability to work as a collaborative team toward shared goals.

For both chief executives and board chairs, these two characteristics strongly correlate to their perceptions of the board’s overall impact on organizational performance. While there is no evidence that this relationship is causal, it does document a perceived connection between board performance and organizational performance, and may point to high-leverage opportunities for board development and growth.

My perspective ~ The Board is a team just like the staff is a team. Many Boards do not see themselves this way but more like a collection of talented advocates. So how do help your Board behave more like a team?

One of the findings that I totally agree with is creating some social time between Board members outside of just regular meetings or retreats. They need to get to know each other as people. Even starting 30 minutes before the official start time and having some snacks creates an
informality that is important for team cohesion. 

I encourage whether you are a board member or staff to read this important update to Board best practices. Here is the link again.

Want information on how to have an open and productive Board conversation about diversity and/or go into more depth on the Leading with Intent report? Let’s talk: (408) 466- 0604 or amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com

Alaska – Native teachings for the Future

This blog is delayed a week because I wanted to share some pictures from our trip to Alaska.  

Whenever I go somewhere new I try to open myself to the wisdom and messages of the local nature, residents and serendipity moments.  I believe that the Universe is trying to communicate to us all the time but we are too busy in our mad dash world to get the messages.  When we travel, the normal distractions (like laundry, meetings, traffic) are not there and we can be more open and receptive.

So, what did Alaska have to teach me that may be helpful to you?

We are all connected.  We are all one.  No matter where we live.  This became so evident when we visited Sitka, Alaska – the home of the Tlingit Native peoples.  They have been here for thousands of years and for a few decades were scattered when the Russians invaded.

My indigenous roots come from the Mapuche tribe of Chile.  As I visited special centers and museums, I saw pictures of Tlingit that looked just like my ancestors.  What was more common is our love and commitment to family and caring for the earth. Does your family heritage and lineage have a commitment to family and the earth? I bet it does.

So how does believing that we are all one have an impact on the way we live our lives and lead our organizations?  Here are few thoughts for you.  

*If I stand strong, so can you.  If you stand peacefully, so can I.  We can learn from each other easily if we release the illusions of separateness.

*Seeing poverty in our communities can stir a desire to get involved and see what solutions we can contribute.  A hungry child is a hungry child ~ no matter the circumstances or location.

*Yes – organizations compete AND they can collaborate if they stay focused on the ultimate vision.  Working together for the common good.

The Tlingit people were kind, friendly and great dancers – just like me. : )

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Want information on how to access more authenticity for your organization or your life?  Let’s talk. amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com 408-466-0604

The Pooh Way ~ Lessons from the Tao of Pooh

I was so excited to run across this book that I had loved reading over 30 years ago. I was just getting into my spiritual mo-jo and seeing how ancient principles could be applied to current day dilemmas. Here is a great link for all things Pooh and a nice summary of the book.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the Tao of Pooh ~

“Just how do you do it, Pooh?”
“Do what"? asked Pooh.
“Become so Effortless.”
“I don’t do much of anything,” he said.
“But all those things of yours get done.”
“They just sort of happen,” he said.

One might think that this laissez-faire approach is not conducive to a productive life. But in the Tao one doesn’t force or interfere with things, but lets them work in their own way, to produce results naturally. Then whatever needs to be done is done.

Could going with the flow really be a key to happiness?

I think it’s worth a try. It takes really understanding the true nature of things whether it’s an individual, a family or an organization. It’s releasing need to put a square peg in a round role. Round pegs are
built for round holes. Square pegs for square holes. We know this. Be sure you know the shape that will work best to solve the problem.

I loved these posters that share some of the Pooh wisdom. I hope you enjoy them.

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Want information on how to use Tao principles for your organization or your life? Let’s talk. amari@mosaicconsultingcoach.com (408) 466- 0604

25 Things Awesome Board Members Do

I love sharing ideas and information from others, especially if there is a bit of humor and whimsy. The Nonprofit: Awesomely Fun website (www.nonprofitaf.com) is full of practical important information yet delivered lightly.

I really like a recent blog on what 25 things awesome board members do because I run across these issues with every client I have. Truly. 

It’s a quick read and lots of good ideas to discuss at your next Board meeting. Maybe turn it into a quick assessment and have all board members take as well as senior staff. See how close or away you are. Need help ~ happy to assist.

Here are a few ideas my clients wish would happen and a link to get the rest.

Promptly respond to emails. Oh please, oh please respond quickly to emails and phone calls. Awesome board members realize that sometimes we legally cannot move forward on stuff until there’s a board decision or an officer’s signature. They help us do our jobs by being accessible. Chasing down board members is one of the biggest frustrations we staff face, next to coworkers who leave dishes in the sink for days.

Fill their table at the gala. Galas are stressful enough. Awesome board members know that and work to fill their tables early. The Great Unicorn of Equity and Social Justice blesses all board members who fill their tables with minimum cajoling, haranguing, threats, and bribes.

Stay in their lane and focus on the big important stuff. Awesome board members understand the differences between their roles and the roles of the staff, and they stick to their roles. Unless the board is a working board, they do their board stuff and avoid micromanaging staff on operations and programs. They use their brain and energy on strategies and policies, not on ridiculous small things. They do not care why the toilet paper line item increased from $15 this month to $22, or argue with staff about what font to use on promotional materials.

Here is the link for the remaining 22.

Have you forgotten the lessons from an important mentor?

I wasn’t a super young professional but my time with Olga was my first non-profit Executive Director position of an organization that worked with students of color who wanted to get into the business world.  I had spent 10+ in corporate life and felt I had an inside perspective that I could share with the students.

But I would soon learn that understanding what the students cared and were worried about would be more important than any tips I had on how to navigate corporate life.  “It’s not about you mija…it’s about them”.

She also taught me the politics of the nonprofit sector and how always working under-resourced was/is the way of life in this sector.

I was used to having all sorts of resources when I worked for the corporate consulting firm or the bank. Setting priorities on where to spend limited monies was challenging. She guided me by asking…where will you have the most impact with the students?  “It’s not about you mija…it’s about them.”

At the event, I gave Olga a big heartfelt hug and felt the gratitude in my tears.  I will not lose connection with her as she is on her way to retirement and changing the world like she always has. Que bueno! (How wonderful)

Is there a forgotten mentor that you need to reach out to and say – thank you.  I bet they would be delighted to hear from you and it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate those whose shoulders we have stood on to get us where we are now.

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Are you courageous enough to own your treasures?

Tips for Creative Living from Elizabeth Gilbert and me ~

Three key concepts intrigued me when reading this book and in the context of helping my consulting and coaching clients.  The first was understanding the process of inspiration.  How do ideas come to us?  In the shower, walking in nature, maybe meditation. One thing I know ~ when I try to be creative, my mind finds all the ways to say ~ that won’t work.