More Everyday JoyThe Way of Compassion

What Is the Easy Place? Interview with Melinda Elliott

By August 6, 2010 8 Comments

Today I’m happy to welcome life coach and fellow bogger Melinda Elliott. I really enjoy her blog The Easy Place, where she writes about growing our self awareness, one step at a time, so that we can create our lives more consciously. Read on to soak up Melinda’s wisdom.

Your blog is called “The Easy Place.” You describe “The Easy Place” as a state of being, where “What happens to us…might not be easy, but we are easy, we’re able to sit quietly when the hard stuff hits and stay grounded, clear and present.” Tell us more, what is The Easy Place? How do we get there?
To put it simply, in The Easy Place we react to what is — to reality, rather than what we make up about ourselves and the world. I’m wired to overreact to a multitude of things — indifferent sales clerks, family members who misunderstand me, insensitive boyfriends, imagined slights, people who disagree with me…the list goes on and on. From the perspective of The Easy Place I’m able to see what’s real and what’s not, to determine how meaningful it all is, and, finally, to manage my reactions to what I encounter.
We get to The Easy Place through self awareness and self acceptance. We need to understand our thought processes and triggers well enough to interrupt and reframe them when we get off course. This includes the thoughts that we beat ourselves up with, our imagined or magnified flaws are some of the most damaging untruths that we make up. And here’s where self acceptance comes in — we need to stay connected with the fact that we are ok as we are. We need to embrace who we are at our core and live it fully.
Wise Living is all about is finding and doing one’s “right work” — the work that brings you fulfillment and that you feel called to do. What is your “right work”? What has been your journey to doing it — including the challenges along the way and how you’ve overcome them?
I’m lucky enough to finally be doing my “right work” as a writer and Life Coach. This is the work that resonates with my values and who I want to be in the world. I spent most of my life as a corporate employee and, while it wasn’t exactly hell, it was a kind of limbo. Some of it was positive — the recognition, the challenge, the money, but much of it was soul draining — doing work that wasn’t meaningful to me, tying to live up to other people’s ideas of who I was supposed to be.
I’m just starting to get to the really challenging part of my life, I think. Sure, I’ve had the same types of struggles most of us have — I was divorced young, I spent about a decade quite poor, I’ve had problems with my family, etc. But those are the types of challenges that are survived by simply enduring them until they were over.
Now, my challenge is to step up and step out, to be big and bright and create something that people will value. And I’m finding this much harder than anything else I’ve done in my life.
It’s so true – showing up fully and playing big is not easy, and there are certainly set backs along the way. How do you see “failure” these days? Can you share a recent “failure” in your life, and how you responded to it from a spirit of “the easy place”?
When I left the business world to become a life coach I imagined it would be similar to a project at work — I’d do A, B and C and then I’d get lots of clients and lots of money and I’d be done. I was used to success coming easily, and I was unprepared for the real world of small business.
There’s a friend I used to work with who cringes in embarrassment when I talk about my coaching practice and my blog. In his eyes I’m not making enough money to be considered a success and he feels sorry for me. It makes me laugh. My work today, while it doesn’t provide me with a lot of money, is the most fulfilling, life-enriching work I’ve ever done. My old job doesn’t start to compare.
Thankfully the kind of quick success I envisioned didn’t come easily, or I never would have made it to where I am now. I love this place of in-betweenness, this place where I learn something new about myself and the world every day. I’ve enjoyed a lovely kind of drift as I try new things and see how and if they work out. I’ve gotten to see how it feels to network (don’t like it), fine tune my coaching skills (satisfying) and use a blog to communicate what I’m learning (love it!).
So it left a lot of room for you to explore and learn. I know part of your journey lately has also been about letting go of people-pleasing. Tell us about that.
I simply realized that what others thought of me wasn’t as important as I was making it. I have a terrific coach who is not in any way a people pleaser (in the negative sense), and after a few times of telling him my dramatic stories of rejection or embarrassment and getting a “So what?” in return I realized that most of what I was reacting to wasn’t really meaningful.
Love it. Another thing I love in your writing is the idea of choosing “forgetness” rather than “forgiveness” in difficult relationships. Tell us about that.
Forgettness is doing ourselves and others the kindness of just letting things go. When I think about my family the “It’s ok,” that forgiveness would require sticks in my throat, because things still aren’t really ok. But I want to move on, and I want them to move on. And that, to me, is what “forgettness” is — a fresh start where the past is in the past.
Very helpful. I love that concept. At Wise Living, we also talk a lot about the importance of “creating white space” — creating downtime and empty time for reflection, rest and just being. What does “white space” time look like in your life, and how do you ensure you actually get some of it?
At this point in my life I have the luxury of lots of “white space.” I think that I got so burned out from living the corporate schedule for so many years that I’m finally allowing myself to rest and, luckily, it’s possible for me to do it.
I love to read, and I’m a nester so I enjoy working on my house. I’ll also confess that I enjoy watching TV – I love the all the silliness, mystery and vicarious adventure that’s available as I sit on my sofa with my cat on my lap.
My daughter recently moved to Arizona and I frequently visit her — she lives in the high desert so you can go from sun to snow in the same day, it’s amazing country.
But what I keep coming back to is writing. It’s by far the most rewarding, exciting, and inspiring thing in my life right now.
What are some of the resources (books, blogs, or tools) you’ve found most powerful in your journey of finding “the easy place” in your own life?
Honestly, the most powerful resource I’ve found has been my coach, mentor and friend, Michael. He is a deeply spiritual person who has taught me a huge amount while also being one of the funniest people I know. Michael has a clarity and honesty when he interacts with others that have helped me learn to detach from the excess emotions that can toss me off course.
I’ve also discovered a number of fantastic bloggers, you among them. You write beautifully and are so creative with your content that I find myself thinking “I wish I’d thought of that!” when I read your work.
Something else that I’ve become involved in is Myers Briggs. For any of your readers that might be unfamiliar with it, Myers Briggs is a tool for indentifying and understanding normal personality differences. The Myers Briggs perspective — that we are all ok the way we are and no characteristics (e.g. extrovert vs. introvert) are better than others has been a powerful concept for me and my clients. I became Myers Briggs certified and am passionate about people knowing and understanding their type.
There are also a few books that stand out for me:
· How to Be An Adult by David Richo is the best book on boundaries I’ve found.
· Healing Your Emotional Self by Beverly Engel and Loving What Is by Byron Katie have both helped me find reality though the tangle of reactivity.
· The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner provides terrific information not just about dealing with anger but also on how to set limits with others.
· Creating a Charmed Life by Victoria Moran is a deceptive little book that looks like fluff but is packed with the best advice. I’ve given a copy to everyone I know.
· Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton have helped me become a better writer.
Thank you for those kind words about my writing. And this is a great book list. All of the writers you mention are people whose work I enjoy as well. What else about living wisely would you like our readers to know?
For me, living wisely is all about self awareness, self acceptance and full self expression. With self awareness comes the ability to see the truth, with self acceptance we learn to love and use our truth to make life better for ourselves, and with full self expression we’re able to use our truth to make life better for other people.
Thank you, Tara, for this opportunity to share my story and my thoughts!
Thank you Melinda, for sharing your wisdom with us! May we all find access to The Easy Place within.

Learn more about Melinda’s coaching here, or visit her blog here.

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