Just a few months after launching Ashley Strong Photography full time, I remember seeing this graph. It was a graph of the life of an entrepreneur. The reality, well that of excitement, then confusion, then I’ve got this, then a whole lot of who the hell am I kidding, what am I doing? The accuracy, well, I’d say 100%.
Over the years of being an entrepreneur, the accompanying emotions run the gamut. For this, it has been so incredibly important to both find a supportive daily ritual alongside check in points. Having a daily ritual, enables me to start the day, centering myself, filling my cup up so I can then spend the rest of the day helping fill up others. This, this in itself a whole separate, very in depth share.
The second aspect, are that of check-in moments.
What does a check in moment mean?
It simply means to check in!
Here’s how I do it…
1. Where am I right now, in my heart, mind and body?
Close your eyes for a few seconds to a few minutes. Begin focusing on your breathing, feeling your stomach expand as you inhale, feeling a full release as you exhale. I even like to put my right hand on my belly, my left hand on my check. After your moments or minutes, open your eyes. Begin in the circle that feels most intuitive. What do I feel right now in my heart? You can write words, phrases, draw pictures, whichever supports you in that very moment. Once you’ve completed, then move onto the follow two circles.
Once the circles are filled out, you then see that there are overlapping points.
Where are my heart and mind connected?
Where is my mind and body connected?
Where is my body and heart connected?
Then, the center point, where do you see commonalities between all three, your heart, mind and body?
Let this be a moment of check-in. Let this very realization bring you back to center. Maybe you notice you’re working too hard, too little. You need more time in nature, taking a yoga class or exercising. Maybe you’re so inspired and need to create space and time to put pen to paper. The answers, they will reveal themselves!
2. I ask myself, “Am I doing the best I can in this given moment?”
A question like this can go a number of ways. Keep it simple and let it just be and yes or no. Expand upon it. Break it down into prominent categories in your life.
Am I doing the best I can WITH MY BUSINESS at this given moment?
Am I doing the best I can WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE at this given moment?
Am I doing the best I can WITH HONORING MYSELF at this given moment?
Am I doing the best I can WITH A WORK/LIFE BALANCE at this given moment?
3. “Does it make me feel HEAVY or LIGHT?”
Oh, did I save the best for last? It really depends on the person and on the day! An old tool, of which I so sincerely wish I remember where this came from. Ask yourself, “Does it make me feel HEAVY or LIGHT?”
Take a deep breath. Again, ask yourself wither something evokes a heaviness or lightness. As a deeper check-in, I really like to expand upon this.
What does it look like?
I create two columns.
The other light.
Instead of just looking at one particular situation, I look at where my life is. What am I doing that makes my feel heavy? What am I doing that makes me feel light? This in turns gives me a more clear insight into where my time is being spent. Because afterall, don’t we want to be doing more of what brings us joy, versus depletes us?
My friend, use one, two, maybe all three of these resources to bring greater light into where you are at this very moment! You'll be surprised how quickly you find your center!
The rain has lifted.
The sun is brightly shining.
The flowers are beginning to bloom.
The greenery from the long winter rains is endless, vibrant, all around in-your-face-do-you-see-how-amazing-life-truly-is?!?
I light an incense, put on some meditation music, then pour my morning coffee, write my affirmations, pull my cards.
From there, it all depends on the sensations at hand. Some moments, it's on the couch in silence.
Others, it’s getting my running shoes on for a walk around the preserve behind my house.
Mornings, like today, it’s opening up the windows, the patio doors, turning off my meditation music and listening to the melodies all around us.
Immediately, it is birds.
Birds of all sorts.
Their wings flapping.
The melodies grow, getting louder and more full.
Then, they soften, creating space for a new set of melodies to be birthed.
This, this is my inspiration.
That of nature.
Nature, she is a goodness.
She is so incredibly intelligent.
She is filled with lessons.
She, she is a healer.
One card I pulled this morning, was that of grounding.
Connecting back to the source, to mother nature, to find, my natural rhythm, my equilibrium.
This, this doesn’t come as a surprise as these past few weeks have been jam packed. I mean jam packed.
When this happens, I am sure to leave space after the jam packedness ends to reconnect, ground, find that very center.
But, how, how do I even do this?
After-all, how do I make the time for it, right?
Life is just so busy, so full, time just goes so quickly.
I know, I know, I get it, I get it. I say these very unsupportive phrases all too often.
The truth, that which is most important, we will make time for.
Even in the fullness, the busyness, the feeling of time slipping away.
You see, I’ve come to find, there is always time. Maybe it’s waiting a few hours before jumping on my email.
Maybe it’s not turning on the TV for a couple days.
Maybe it’s keeping my phone in the room, the room I’m not in. Ouch. That kinda hurts, right? It kinda heals, my friend. Heals the soul.
Inspiration, it is here, it is now, it is all around us.
Busyness, fullness, running out of time does not exist when inspiration is present.
Some ways to tap into that inspiration.
Be blessed dear soul!
My morning ritual, well, it consists of brewing a fresh cup of coffee, lighting an incense, plugging in our all year round twinkle lights and sitting in a very specific spot on our couch the enables two views.
Left, outside the window are green rolling hills, a glow of the rising sun, an occasional bird passing by the window, expansiveness.
To the right, time capsules on a wall from living on Mafia Island, Tanzania, our two cats snuggling and fresh pink lilies that my sweet hubs surprised me with.
This very morning, I got mesmerized to that of the left of me. Before my eyes could make it to the windows, I watched the smoke of the incense dance in the morning light. Although coming from one place, the smoke was divided, a cream color dancing with a grey color.
Balance. Without the creme, the grey would not exist.
My friend, you cannot have the light without the dark, they need each other.
Where in life have you had both the light and the dark?
: Losing a client, while gaining three.
: Getting a compliment, while receiving your best wedding review.
: Ending a friendship, while developing a more supportive one.
: Feeling tired, while then having energy.
: Being inspired, while then feeling utterly defeated.
Do you see where I am going with this?
These, these opposites, they need each other.
As we experience the dark, it brings about a reality. A set of emotions, a response, a lot of times, reflection. Being in the dark, enables us to feel, feel fully. As we experience the light, it brings about a whole different reality. This time, a lighter, more vibrant set of emotions, subsequent response and natural reflections. Being in the light, it reminds us of the good, the inspirational, the sensational.
How can you break this down to better understand?
Take a moment to reflect on your left, where has there been moments of darkness followed by lightness or the contrary, where has there been moments of lightness followed by darkness?!?
Then, take a few moments for reflection, followed by supportive actions.
Friend, within each of these moments, is a lesson, a very specific lesson. All contributing to the wholeness, that is life. Because after all, we cannot have one without the other. It is interconnected, we are interconnected.