Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big. Find Your VOICE, Your MISSION, and Your MESSAGE.

Give It Words

In my last few posts, I’ve been writing about transition – what it is, what’s hard about it and what’s wonderful about it.

When I wrote that first post about transition a few weeks ago, I was steeped in the hard side of transition – the fog, confusion, the loss of an old self. Now, much of the time, I’m swimming in what is rich and exciting about transition – new ideas, new possibilities, the greater vividness and intensity of life that comes with phases of change.

One of the things that made difference – that made the exciting parts come to the fore, and the harder parts fade to the background, was taking care of myself in the little ways. I’ve been spending so much more time with people I love, and taking the time to get out and do my work in beautiful cafes – doing the little things that nurture me.

The second thing that has made a big difference happened right here. Writing about how I was feeling really helped. When I sat down to write that first post about transition, I didn’t know what it would be about. I wasn’t even yet using the phrase “I’m going through a transition.” I just knew I was feeling disoriented and sort of sad.

It was in the writing process that that idea – oh, transition - arose. It was in the writing process that truths about what I was experiencing came to the fore. Then I had some clarity, some concepts, to frame and understand my experience with. That helped.

Then remarkably, just a few days after writing, I shifted out of the state I had written about, and into the next phase of my transition. What had been stuck for a while finally moved.

Have you ever had the experience of writing something down, or speaking it aloud to someone else, and then feeling like as a result, it somehow lost its aliveness? Maybe you told a friend about a precious experience and then suddenly felt like it lost its magic. Or you told someone about a new idea you were feeling super passionate about, only to find afterward you felt inexplicably less passionate.

This is the negative side of how language can de-activate ideas and feelings, or cause them to expire. But there is a positive side too. As we find words for something, that something is changed by being named. It is moved from something formless and unprocessed in us to something processed, drawn out of the ether into form. It then takes a new shape in us, an evolved form, or simply moves onward, allowing space for the next energies to arise within us. From our perspective, this feels like we move through the thing, like what was “up” for us before just isn’t anymore, like we’re on to the next question, feeling, struggle, possibility.

It’s tricky, because we can also get in our heads with language. When we’re over-thinking, obscuring the truth, getting lost in intricate and irrelevant rationalizations or arguments, language is one of the star characters of the show. But that’s when we use language to try to declare our decisions, say what’s right, say what’s wrong, or define the future. When we use language simply to give words to our present moment experience, we tap its power as an accelerant of movement, a way of out of stuckness. It will never allow us to rush through or avoid what we need to experience, but it will us moving forward.

That’s not the only power of language during times of transition. For me, naming my experience, putting concepts and words to it, also gave my mind and ego enough of a foothold that I then could allow transition to happen in a different way. And it gave me a way to validate and connect with others around my own experience, which in itself was healing.

Sometimes we forget that language itself is a kind of gift for us human beings, a blessing, here to help us crystallize, draw forth, pieces of reality. It is hear to help us liberate what is inside of us, move it outward, and then let it go.

We can always remind ourselves about the gift of language, and ask ourselves: Am I fully using the gift of language – whether spoken or written – to help me move through your experience?

I think I’d make this one of my own top guidelines for transition: Talk about it. Write about it. Give it words.

When you sit down to write about it or talk about it you might feel like you don’t have any words, like you don’t understand a thing about what’s going on. That’s okay. Say that. And then see what words come next. The process is what brings clarity.

I’ve been loving thinking and writing about transition so much that I’m hosting a free call on Moving Through Transitions with Grace, this Wednesday. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ideas and tools for times of transition. If you did not get to sign up last week, you can sign up to attend live or get the recording HERE.

Love,

Tara

A Call with Me: Moving Through Transitions with Grace

I’m learning a lot these days, because I’m in transition.

That’s the surprising thing about transition: on the one hand, when we are in the “in between” – of career directions, relationships, life chapters – the action of life slows down. But the learning speeds up. Our inner life intensifies. There’s a kind of emptiness, but that emptiness is the container for intense growth.

After I wrote about being in transition last week, my colleague Heather Plett recommended a book to me, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. You know a book is probably gonna be really good when you are reading the 25th anniversary edition, and this one lives up to that. It’s calm and wise and layered.

There are so many ideas in the book that I love, so I’m holding a free conversation for us to talk about them. And today I wanted to share with you one of the ideas that I’m finding most helpful. One of Bridges’ tips for times of transitions is this: Take Care of Yourself in the Little Ways.

That sounds so simple, but it’s also wildly useful, for a few reasons.

In times of transition, we can’t really take care of ourselves in the BIG ways we’re used to. It’s the BIG stuff that’s shifting. The things that used to be the major ways we nourished ourselves (perhaps a certain type of work, or certain primary relationships, or a whole way of being in the world) is in flux. We don’t know what it looks like to take care of this newly emerging version of ourselves, yet.

In the absence of that clarity, however, we can take care of ourselves in the little ways, little cookie bites of goodness, so to speak. For me right now, that is time with the people I adore – more time than I usually give to that. It is making sure I get to work in beautiful cafes several times a week. It is signing up for a class – a new kind of class I’ve never taken before – that will give me some needed contemplative and creative time. It is not rushing. It is saying no to more of the things that are even a little taxing, a little annoying, or based in shoulds. It’s going easy on myself.

Of course, it’s always great to take care of ourselves in the little ways, but in times of transition, it becomes necessary in a new way. In times of transition, we often feel a little depleted. Transition itself is hard and energy consuming, so we need to do more to fill the tank. And in times of transition, most of the filling that is truly doable is the “little ways” kind of filling, the moment-to-moment, day-to-day experiences that replenish our spirits enough to help us continue walking through the transition waters.

Would you like to join me and other likeminded women for a call to hear more about moving through transition? If you are going through a transition, this is for you. If you are witnessing a loved one go through a transition, this is good for you, too. I’ll share some of my favorite ideas from Bridges’ book, and some other musings on moving through transitions with grace. It’s free, and you can attend live or listen to the recording. I hope you’ll join us for a rich conversation! Sign up HERE.

Love,

Tara

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“Don’t try to change the world before you read this book! In Playing Big Tara Mohr offers you the keys to unlocking your gifts, your potential and your power to make a difference. I guarantee that you will find yourself and your dreams somewhere in this book and when you do, Tara’s deep insights, her practical action steps and her real life stories will set you free.”  ~ Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author, My Grandfather’s Blessings and Kitchen Table Wisdom

Wish you felt more confident?

I certainly have, many times.

But now, after working with thousands of women to help them have the lives and the careers they desire, I feel very differently about confidence than I used to. And I think there’s an unexpected truth about confidence that is the very opposite of what women are being told about it these days. I wrote about that for LinkedIn’s Weekend Essay here. Come join the conversation over there.

And…have you gotten the Playing Big book yet? It’s my guide, my love letter, my toolkit for you – so that you can play bigger in going for your aspirations, and being utterly true to yourself. Pick up your copy HERE at Amazon.com, HERE at B&N or HERE at Indiebound.

Wishing you a fabulous weekend! Love,

Tara

the things that rewrite us

Yesterday, I wrote this on social media:

I am being reorganized by motherhood. To call it a “major transition” is to underestimate it, dramatically. I’m being reorganized, rewoven, repatterned. There is a lot to grieve in that, and a lot to celebrate. Can anyone else relate?

Those words needed to be said. They needed to pour out of me. And I needed to know I’m not crazy.

Turns out I’m not. So many of you wrote about how you could relate, and your words were honest and wise.

It’s New Year’s time, and this is certainly not a typical New Year’s post. This is the time of year when we usually talk about how we are going to shape our lives, our futures. It’s all about our personal agency, our thoughts on what we want to change and how we’ll change it.

This is a post about the opposite. It’s about the things that change us.

Our culture celebrates the individual that changes his or her circumstances, but we don’t respect as much how circumstances change us. In part, I understand that – when we overcome and respond to with what life hands us, that’s where the light often comes through, where courage comes in, where goodness can triumph. And yet, there is something that deserves more time and space in our collective conversations about this other kind of experience, about the way life changes us.

In our culture we also celebrate times of clarity, but do we give enough respect for their inevitable partners – the times of being unclear? I’m in one of those times now, as motherhood reorganizes me.

This morning I had the thought – “Oh that’s why they call it a transition period” – there is a period of time (as in longer than five minutes) that is neither A nor B but the transition.” I somehow didn’t quite know that, or at least I forgot it. I had been thinking of transition as change, as the swift, active movement from A to B, or as the time when you’ve got some A left in you but lots of new B…a sort of mix moment, a transit moment–but it’s not always that. Sometimes transition is also the strange period of mushiness and messiness and confusion that you live in for a while, between living in A and living in B.

I often don’t know how to write about living in one of those periods. I am being rewritten by motherhood and one of the markers of the hugeness of that transition is that I am not even sure how I am being rewritten. I can’t quite give you an update on it yet. ☺ The part of me that used to be there to interpret and watch changes is also in motion, also shifting, unavailable to give a tidy report.

But what I am learning is this: to be human is not just to change our circumstances, but to be changed by them. It is not just to direct the current, or find a way to use the current, but to be washed over by the waves.

It is to let go of old selves, and to face the next chapter. To let them go with some gentle tears, or a few sobs, or a wink and an open hand through which they can slip away. It is to meet old selves again, years later, in the moment you’d least expect to. It is to surrender to change.

What in your life experience—parenthood or other rites of passage—has rewritten you? What was it, is it like, for you? And what do you want this new mama to know?

Love,

Tara

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the 1000 year test + upcoming europe trip

So many of us are faced with this dilemma: on the one hand, there is some project, some new direction, or some new career chapter we feel called toward. To start that school teaching kids music. To make a career shift from financial advisor to therapist. To write the book.

And yet on the other hand, we’ve got our current responsibilities. Kids to raise. Aging parents to take care for. Financial constraints. The feeling that life is full to the brim already and there just isn’t room for more expansion, for anything that will take more energy out of us, let alone more time.

When I hear women telling me about that dilemma (which they often do – so many of us have it), I always invite them to do this:

1. First, ask yourself if there really truly is a conflict between your dream and your life circumstances. Sometimes, limiting beliefs or false assumptions (and our fears) cause us to think our two goals are incompatible when they really aren’t. The limiting belief or false assumption could be that pursuing your dream would be all-consuming, or that it would take way from what you could give your family, or that it would drain your energy. Often these assumptions are not based in reality but rather come from our conditioned ideas about what good mothers or good wives or good daughters do. Or they are just mistaken impressions we picked up somewhere along the way. Other times, the issue is fear: we’re afraid to pursue the dream (because like all dreams it will ask us to risk failure and take us out of our comfort zones) and so our brain helpfully makes up lots of reasons to put action on hold, including that the dream just isn’t doable given our current responsibilities.

So question: is the conflict between your responsibilities/life circumstances and your dream really there? Are the two in fact incompatible? Maybe you can do the dream in a way that isn’t all consuming. Maybe it will dramatically enrich what you can give to your family, not take away from it. Maybe it will replenish your energy, rather than drain in. So first things first, rigorously question every assumption or belief you have about how the various priorities/loves/parts of your life can’t happily coexist.

If you discover that some of your assumptions are just that – assumptions – you can start to move forward on your dream in a way that also honors your other life commitments.

But if you find that yes indeed, there is a conflict between what you feel called to create/do/launch and your life responsibilities – let’s say you just can’t figure out how you could do that demanding tech start up while also being around in the way you’d like to for your two frail parents, or you just can’t figure out how to transition from being an attorney to a school principal while also paying off your student debt and raising your two young kids, then try step two.

2. Give your calling the 1000 year test. Ask yourself, “what is the form of this calling that could have existed 1000 years ago?” 1000 years ago, you wouldn’t feel called to be a school principal, but you might feel called to teach kids or to lead others who teach kids. 1000 years ago you wouldn’t feel called to become a graphic designer, but you might feel called to create beauty and order in visual form. 1000 years ago you wouldn’t have felt called to design an amazing mobile app for busy working parents, but you might have felt called to serve families in making their lives easier. Ask yourself, what’s the essence of this calling, the form that could have existed 1000 years ago?

Then brainstorm ways you can live out that fundamental call today. Five minute ways, ten minute ways, or a few hours a week ways. Ways you can live that calling while in your current job and circumstances. So if an attorney’s calling to be a school principal is, at its essence, about wanting to lead a team working for good, she can join a volunteer corps in her community. If the essence of her calling was about improving education, she can give her time, money and energies outside her current work to do that. If it was about being in a school environment, maybe she can start doing so pro bono legal work for schools.

I believe that every one of us can live out the essence – the 1000 year old elemental core – of our callings in our current lives, even if we can’t yet figure out how to live the particular form our calling originally took in our minds. And I believe we have a responsibility to our souls to be respectful enough of what call us that we find those simple, often mundane ways to live our callings out in some way, beginning today. Yes, today.

Click to tweet: Give your calling the 1000 year test.

And – Europe trip! I will be visiting Amsterdam, London, Bath, and Edinburgh this March, as the international editions of Playing Big make their way out into the world. If your company or organization would like to host a major talk or workshop in or near those locations, please shoot us a note at taramohr@taramohr.com and a member of my team will be in touch. Because my time is very limited on this trip, we will be focusing only a major, larger events, but if that’s a fit for your organization, please do reach out!

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“Don’t try to change the world before you read this book! In Playing Big Tara Mohr offers you the keys to unlocking your gifts, your potential and your power to make a difference. I guarantee that you will find yourself and your dreams somewhere in this book and when you do Tara’s deep insights, her practical action steps and her real life stories will set you free.” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author, My Grandfather’s Blessings and Kitchen Table Wisdom