Tag Archives: Come Alive

Completion!

37538028_m
Susie’s Unfinished Stuff

When I was young I would spend my summers at camp, which had a wonderful arts and crafts program.  Almost every day I would spend time working on a summer craft project.  I loved the feeling of  working with wood.  I started spoons, forks, a lamp, a duck, a fish, board games – I had such high hopes.  Alas, I believe almost all of my projects ended up in a box of in-completes, like the misfit toys.  I’d start with gusto, but at some point the wood would crack, something would look more promising to start, or I’d simply tire of the struggle and give up.

My memory is that box in corner stayed throughout my many years at camp and was labeled – Susie’s Unfinished Projects!

It’s possible I have dramatized and over-personalized that box of unfinished projects, but I do know that I was one of the primary contributors.

Over the years the memory of that unfinished crafts box, and my success in filling it, has indeed haunted me.  See, I am just not that great at finishing.  I am all about the excitement and possibility of starting and the joy of learning, but I can be a bit weak on crossing the finish line.

So today I am celebrating a completion!  A solid start to finish effort on my part!

At the start of the year I was wrestling with my father’s dying process and all the unfinished business I had with some of the pieces and history of my life.

Over the years, I have done a lot of work in reclaiming my life and have shifted from focusing on the past drama, to now becoming a healthy, thriving person, charting my own destiny.

Still I knew things were resurfacing from the past, during the last few months of my father’s life and  I wanted to see if I was ready to integrate these pieces and feel complete.

I decided to embark on a coaching/counseling project with a highly recommended therapist in my area.

I’ve got to say, I had some fears of explicitly revisiting the past.  I did wonder if I was opening some crazy can of worms that I might wish I had left unfinished.  But I also wanted to discover if I had the resources to stir up the past and in the process resolve some of the reactivity I knew was a big part of my current charm. Okay. I call it charm, but I know some of you reading might have other words for my reactivity!

Well today I sat with my therapist after eight months of consistent work on a series of events from my life that have haunted me, and as we talked, I realized I was complete.  We talked about my intentions in starting the project and I realized I had done what I came to do.

I also had just come home from leading a Come Alive at The Haven in which I had stayed in touch with my joy, curiosity, and love of the work and the people in the room.  I hadn’t gotten impatient, reactive, nor found myself hooked in an old story.  Was everything perfect – of course not – but life isn’t about perfect.

In addition, in the process of my eight month reclaiming project,  I delivered our TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It!,  which was an on-stage opportunity to uncover my past and share it without crumbling.

Earlier today I also finished and published I written piece I am most proud of: How Surfacing Conflict Saved My Life.  For me it was a powerful experience of telling my story and not getting stuck or caught in how it would be received.

So today I walked out of my therapist’s office feeling complete.

As I drove home I remembered that incomplete crafts box and all those unfinished projects.  I thought about other in-completes in my life, like my book or relationships that no longer serve me. Things that I have started, but have not been clean, clear, or successful in crossing the finish line.

Today, I felt differently.

I am grateful for the journey and for my therapist’s reflection to me that my work with her is complete.

Wow!

So today I am celebrating!  It’s like taking a few of those incomplete projects out of the art box, finishing them, and placing placing them on the mantel, recognizing indeed they are done and are works of art – as is my life!

Celebrating The Haven!

Awesome Haven Cake!
Awesome Haven Cake!

What a wonderful weekend!! The Haven is celebrating it’s 30th Birthday, sort of all year, but this past weekend was the signature event. It was a celebration of the past, the present and the future of The Haven. Those that put the weekend together, Rachel, Louise, Morag and all of the Haven Staff, did an amazing job. This is their busiest time of year, Kids in The Spotlight ( a truly awesome experience for children – nothing else like it) a sellout each year for five weeks, finished it’s 2013 run on Friday morning. Plus, a wedding party on the island was taking all of the available rooms arriving Sunday afternoon. Not to mention, the start of Teens Alive and Come Alive on Monday. So even making this happen was a challenge. But not only did it happen, the weekend was a delightful experience and gathering of the old (folks who had 30 plus years of Ben and Jock programs and experience) and the newer, those who have become Haven folks under the Haven Foundation. It was wonderful.

For me, it truly was like seeing the many, many layers of my own transformation and the people I can only call my ‘human heroes’ – those that have embodied and invited me to discover the life possible through open, honest relating. Not always pretty and polite, but real, raw, authentic and alive!

It was so fun to participate in a ‘worldwide’ streamed visualization led by Ernie and Cathy McNally, and I giggled as various memories surfaced from my own 28 year Haven epic! Next, was an amazing artistic adventure and co-creative process designed and facilitated by the wonderful Marlyn Farrell. I was resistant to go and came away loving the experience. There were so many magical moments and this post could just be a blow-by-blow of the weekend. But really that isn’t my main point. Still I am reminded of just how special The Haven is and my wish that more people knew of the place and the people that have made it possible for so many to transform themselves, their relationships and the world around them!

The magic of being together for a Haven Sunset!
The magic of being together for a Haven Sunset!

Of course, that magic does exist elsewhere, I don’t mean to imply that only at The Haven can one be transformed. No, but it is a very special place. Possibly because there are so many different types of leaders and people who come. It is a a place for the odd duck and the average Joe. It welcomes the righteous and invites each of us who come with our own set of assumptions to consider being a bit more curious. There are often strong opinions and people on missions. Yet there is this space that opens and allows for the most defended and the most vulnerable to sit together in a circle and simply be, breath, feel and converse. If that doesn’t help, well there’s dancing and music and great food. Not everyone walks away happy and blissful. No, that is not the purpose. The Haven is a space for all to come, to be, to speak, to join and to discover. Without answers or a right or wrong, just people being together. It is amazing what that alone creates!!

That is what was being celebrated this weekend. The space, the literal space and the metaphoric space that allows for transformation. Indeed, over my 28 years here, I have rediscovered myself so many times. I have connected and seen worlds and universes well beyond my limited physical possibility, and I am deeply grateful!!

Sunday morning we journeyed into a possible future for The Haven. The story boards and designs were collaborative process of dreaming BIG and looking at the reality of a property on an island with limits and by-laws. Again creating that tension that comes and builds when there is an opening, a curiosity, and a dialogue, allowing for a leap of innovation to take place. Yes,  The Haven is now shaping itself, utilizing all of it’s magic. People coming together to dream, to wrestle with reality, to wrestle with assumptions and use that juice to move ahead. No decisions were made. But I saw the possibility and the folks that were going to be furthering the plans, and again I was amazed. I have no doubt magic is in the making. The Haven Institute isn’t a static, still point. It is growing and transforming, just as I am. I may or may not like all the directions The Haven moves, but I love, that much like me, the property, the place is living and breathing and carrying on!!  Happy Birthday Haven!!

Susan Clarke is a long standing faculty member at The Haven Institute. She leads The Living Alive Phase I, with CrisMarie Campbell, October 16-November 10, 2013 and Couples Alive I – Foundation, Communication and Boundaries, Oct. 7-10, 2013. Susan Clarke and CrisMarie Campbell are also founders of thrive! inc., a coaching and consulting firm helping teams, individuals and couples make the leap to better results in their relationships, work and lives.

Home, Sweet Home

Home, sweet home.  I have been away since April 7.  Most of my time away was up at The Haven leading a Come Alive, followed by Couples Alive I & Couples Alive II.  It was a very full stretch.  Of course, I loved the work and the wonderful people I had the chance to meet and work with.  I am very fortunate that I get to do work I love.  We finished off the trip with a two day corporate client event down in Portland.

Couples Alive & On the Edge!
Here are just a few of the great couples having some fun!

There were many moments where I had some great ideas and/or experiences I wanted to share.  However, there wasn’t much free time so the imagined blog post were never completed. Now home, I have the time but not quite as inspired!

Currently, the biggest thing on my mind is my desire to create community and connections for myself here in Whitefish.  See, I found myself thinking about moving, and when I mentioned this to CrisMarie, she wisely pointed out that my solution might not really be solving my underlying dissatisfaction.  In the past six months I have been living on Gabriola Island BC more than I have been at home. Prior to that six month period there were some key changes in my connections here.  We finished our Masters program at Jwalan Muktika School for Illumination (JMSI) my term on the JMSI Board ended, my favorite hangout The Green Tea House closed, and we had a major break with some of our closest friends here in Whitefish.  Suddenly, Whitefish, though gorgeous and quite wonderful, seems more like a tourist stop than home.

After getting the first dose of wisdom from CrisMarie, she let that settle and delivered the second bit of input. Though she thought I thrived while engaged in a community, she didn’t think I was all that good at creating one.  Again, the feedback stung but had a lot of truth in it.  When I moved to Seattle, I did struggle to create the connections I wanted.  Mostly, I blamed that on traffic and too many choices.  Looking back more closely at my patterns, I noticed that I am great at jumping into groups and structures already in place, but may not be so great at building those connections myself.

So home again and this time without any long periods away for a while, I am hoping to break through and build the community I want here.  I know there are lots of possibilities. My first step is Whitefish Ladies Golf Night.  There are six of us who are game for being part of a team.  We play once a week on Tuesday evening.  I am not a great golfer, but the team agreed, this was for fun and connecting.  It’s okay if we lose or have big handicaps!

I would also like to start a monthly Body, Breath and Energy evening or Relational Health night in the Flathead Valley, bringing a bit of The Haven to Whitefish.  Of course, that will involve some marketing and may be more than I am up for.  Still, I would love to find some ways to do what I love right here at home.  Home, Sweet Home

I was happy to land back here in Montana.  Loved sleeping in my own bed and picking up Sooke, our most amazing dog.  Indeed, home is sweet. I just want to put a bit more effort into making it even better.  I’ll keep you posted along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leap of Faith

My word for the year is a phrase, “Leap of Faith”.  I was going to simply stick with the plan, one word for the year.  At first I thought Leap – however, that did not quite fit.  Faith wasn’t quite right either.  Then I saw this picture that I bought earlier in 2012 while taking Sooke to the vet.  I love it.  There’s the elder duck leading the way out of the nest up in a tree and then the little ones, look out and then finally, leap.  Their wings seem so small and incapable of flight.  Yet, there they go!

It's time to fly!!
It’s time to fly!!

Sometimes I feel like those little ducks.  Yet, I am much closer, may be even older than the mother duck pushing the babes out of the nest.  If I reflect on my life as it is now, I do see both, and in many ways both are taking a Leap of Faith.  Sure, the more physical evidence of the leap is seen in the baby ducks.  However, that mom, likely has some inner angst about what is about to happen and must have tremendous faith to step out of the way.  I relate to both.

This year we plan to re-launch Thrive!.  This in many ways will be a Leap of Faith.  We intend to bring our whole selves to this new business.  This means we no longer want to have our lives compartmentalized.  In the past, we had our corporate presence and we had our various more personal pursuits.  The revitalized Thrive! will be designed to integrate both.  We plan to maintain our work with leaders, teams and organizations, and we also will include our strong belief that business is personal.  That the corporate world would greatly benefit from embracing a whole person/whole team approach.  In many ways this concept is really mother bird speaking.  We know this concept is a mature and vital path that works.  We have been embracing it ourselves for years and have built a powerful partnership that continues to ignite and sustain our health, wealth and relationship.

The baby duck part of the leap is simply being willing to step out fully as who we each are and who we are together.  Last year we started leading the Couples Alive Series couples programs up at The Haven.  The Haven Institute has always been like a safe nest where I can learn and develop.  So it was easy to step into leading together.  We didn’t question out value or wonder about being accepted.  We simply brought all we have learned through being together for over twelve years and assumed if we were open, real and curious we had lots to offer any couple – same sex or not.

Now we want to be more transparent in who we are out in the bigger world, to take the leap of faith and trust that we can fly. Sure, may be not everyone will like discovering we are not simply a business partnership.  However, I believe until now our biggest doubters have been ourselves.

Aside from the work transition and re-launching, I am also leaping into the world of writing.  I have been writing for years.  It has been my path for integrating and revealing to myself my inner world.  More recently I have stepped further out.  Through my blog and writing for 406 Magazine.  Yet I don’t think of myself as a writer.  I don’t fully commit to that path.  This year I am making the leap.  I have signed up for a kick-off workshop with writers I know will challenge and encourage me to go deeper and broader.

So my phrase, Leap of Faith, fits for me.  I am both mature and quite young at what I am jumping into.  I have a solid foundation that I can count on and I am ready for new ground and possibilities.

Though what intrigues me most is the space between the young ducks just launching themselves out of the tree and the older duck giving the push.  That space is where faith becomes something beyond leaping into the vast unknown or holding faith in that which is known for someone to step into.  The space is yet another aspect to leap of faith.  I believe it is that middle ground.  I must leap.  My wings are not young and new – my wings are scarred and older.  I have known the pain of crashing into the ground and failing to fly.  Yet I must still step from the tree and take the leap.  Knowing I have the heart and courage of being both young and old.

So I am thrilled to take the a leap of faith into 2013.

Susan Clarke is a long standing faculty member at The Haven Institute. She leads The Living Alive Phase I, with Carole Ames starting Feb 13 – Mar 10, 2013 and Come Alive April 7-12, 2013, and with CrisMarie Campbell: Come Alive Oct 13-18, 2013; and Couples Alive I – Foundation, Communication and Boundaries, April 15-19, 2013 and Couples Alive II – Edge, Igniting Passion & Aliveness April 19-23, 2013.

 

I Remember. Come Alive, Rocks!

I just finally watched the new Come Alive video on The Haven website. I thought it was awesome. I wanted to find a way to share it with everyone who has ever asked me, “What is it you do at The Haven?”

Yes, I have taken the Come Alive journey many times. Twice as a participant and countless times as a leader during the last twenty two years.

I still remember my first Come Alive. I came with my sister, Penny. I thought I was dying. I had been given three months to live. My doctors were not too happy when I announced I was going across the country to take a five day program called Come Alive. They thought that was a waste. Of course, for me, I had nothing to loss. So I went.

I believe those five days turned my life around. I was so inspired by the leaders – their caring – their open, honest way of being with people. They were not trying to fix me or others, but simply listening, supporting and modeling vulnerability, curiosity and faith. I wanted what I was witnessing. I wanted that more than I wanted to cure cancer. I wanted to learn to relate with that level of authenticity and alive-ness even if it only lasted three months.

I was encouraged to breathe every day. Jock was often dropping by to offer acupuncture. His visits were short, frequent and just the right amount for me to gradually open up to what was happening. I witnessed people sharing a depth of feeling and vulnerability I had never seen before. Of course, I had moments where I totally doubted the process, even got angry about the fact that I was just getting this now with only a short time to live. The beauty of the program was that I traveled to so many places through listening to different stories than my own and never once thought I had to change or be different. I was simply invited to be me and to be curious about how I had gotten to where I was – not as a victim but as a response-able person. It was exciting to have people not feel sorry for me but instead hold me as able. They believed in me and with that invitation I came alive!

I didn’t really remember the models. But I did remember Jock’s tears, as far as I knew, no one had ever cried with me. Here was this doctor with big salty tears running down his cheek. This gave me the permission I needed to cry as well. We did this together, and I will never forget what that felt like. I remember the honesty and warmth of the group as each person revealed some aspect of their life that was raw and new to them. We each held an open space for whatever someone needed or wanted to explore.

Yes, I remember. That first five day program turned my life around, and I have never gone back to the lonely place I knew before arriving on Gabriola at The Haven. So I will gladly share this video and hope it goes viral. There is place, and it is worth visiting. Pass this on!!

Here’s the link to the new Come Alive video!!

Susan Clarke

Life Lessons from The Games

I have been soaking in as much of the Olympic vibes as possible.  Last week on my way to The Haven for a Come Alive, I caught the skytrain down to the heart of Vancouver and enjoyed just walking and chatting with folks.  Of course during the Come Alive my energy and attention shifted to the folks in the group.  Though I found it quite fun to check out the results either online or through dinner conversations.

Now back at home I am watching with CrisMarie, an Olympian from the summer games.  In the past she wasn’t too fond of  watching.  It seemed to stir some pain from her own Olympian disappointment in finishing sixth.  Fortunately she seems to have come to a different place now.  Able to recognize the amazing triumph of making it to the Games and competing at that level and even drawing from the disappointment to speak about the lessons learned about teaming; primarily the difference between being a boat of champions and a championship boat.

It is interesting to me to watch the athletes.  Especially the ones expected to medal.  So much pressure.  Some seem to embrace that moment and rise to the occasion.  I am not just speaking of those who win their Gold, Silver or Bronze but also about those who don’t,  yet still stay thrilled with the moment and able to recognize that on that one day they did not win.

Personally I believe it takes excellence and dedication over time to make it to the Games.  It takes a peak moment to win the Gold.  Very different.  One not better or worse then the other.  But different.

I love the events where some unexpected contender races to the lead, surprising everyone.  I was watching the USA hockey team beat Canada 5-3 and watched the goalie defend 45 shots at the goal, only allowing 3 to get in.  I could not help but wonder was that a peak moment or a sustainable performance.  Just the fact that Canada got 45 shots on the goal versus 20 some by the USA, who was the better team and who was having the better moment.

That is what makes the Games so interesting to me.  There is just that drive that allows someone or a team to come together and practice and dedicate themselves to making it to the greatest sporting event.  That effort alone is something any Olympian I would hope could recognize and honor for themselves.  Then there is the moment – the event.  Some will rise that day and fly; others will put their heart in the event to simply be beaten by a better performance and some will fall and never cross the finish line.  Indeed that moment can be crushing after all the effort.  Still I can’t help but believe that  there will be a day when each and every athlete that walked through the gate during the opening ceremonies can and will fully embrace the accomplishment of that – with or without a medal to show for it.

In the Come Alive we talk about the Power and Strength Model. This is a continuum that we are all living and choosing all the time.  The power side of the model deals with control, roles, security and dominating the world around us.  The strength side deals vulnerability, authenticity, risk and finding our will from within.  For me this is the essence of the Olympics.  I see and hear the continuum being played out through these athletes.  The power in winning – taking the podium. The strength in competing – rising with or without a medal.  Some will get fixated on their moment.  That moment may be one of greatest or humility; victory or defeat.  Some will flow through the moment.  Again through the high of winning or the low of falling short of their dream.  I can see it on their faces as they embrace their team mates or not, speak to the press or not and through the awarding of the medals. With some  the fixation is clear.  This moment will define them for some time.  For others it is simply another piece of the fabric of their lives.  May be a bright spot but still just a piece and they are already moving on.

We are all like these athletes. Life is like the Games.  Fortunately not being captured on TV.  Yet still working with that same dynamic.  The moments and the day-to-day effort it takes to make those moment possible.  We are our peak experiences as well as the little choices we make every day.

Sometimes I get stuck focusing on the moments and miss the opportunity to move on.  Sometimes I forget to celebrate a moment and move on too quickly. Indeed life is always offering me so many opportunities to wake up – in-the-moment and over time.  I would like to be one of the ones who does indeed wake up and can celebrate that I made it to the Games and gave it all the power and strength I had to offer; with or with a medal.

That would be cool!!