About Lee Woodward

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So far Lee Woodward has created 45 blog entries.

Quiet Is Tough

I heard a really intriguing quote this week.   I think if I had heard it a month ago, it may have gone unnoticed by me. I guess timing is everything.  Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, had the following to say, All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”  With plenty of sitting quietly in my room for the last two weeks I had to give this some serious thought.  This sitting quietly has been tough stuff! To be honest it has been tougher than I thought and for some unexpected reasons.  I thought I’d share a few of my quiet room discoveries in case you are feeling them too.

  • I am still a productivity addict.  I have made significant strides in my post corporate career life in detoxing from productivity overload.  Up until the last couple weeks, I thought I had kicked the productivity habit, unfortunately my habit is still there.  I want to feel productive…I want to have lots of stuff to do and juggle…action, give me action!!! When the best contribution I can make is to stay at home and remain calm, well, that is proving to be an uncomfortable place for me.
  • Things are not what they seem.  When I was doing lots of stuff and juggling it all, how many times did I offer to pay lots of money to have a day in which I could: read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe, do that home project…yes the list goes on.  Here I am with the opportunity to do those things and the bulk of things go undone. A bit perplexing based on how strong my desire was. I have to be honest with myself and wonder if I use my list of unattained desires as evidence of my incredibly productive life.  The discomfort of that thought may bring about a Netflix binge!
  • Old stuff feels new.  I think the most profound quiet room experience is that wounds I thought I had healed have another layer of injury.  I have found myself grappling with grief, sadness, loss and fear that I thought was healed long ago. I knew in times of fear, loss, sadness and grief I would feel those things, I did not expect to have them attached to specific memories and experiences that I thought I had laid to rest.  Perhaps this is a way to tell myself that I have experienced those things in the past and I will survive this too. I have to go with Shrek on this one, it’s about our layers…and there is always another layer.

It is apparent I will have more opportunity to hone my ability to sit quietly in a room alone.  I believe that life is about showing up and I am learning new ways to do that. I do want to learn to sit quietly in a room.   I am buying into Mr. Pascal’s belief that by developing this ability I will serve humanity better when I leave my room. I invite you to ponder how to sit quietly.  With that, I will leave you with what may be Mr. Pascal’s most brilliant words, “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”

2020-04-04T13:05:17-07:00April 3rd, 2020|

My Problem With Gratitude

I have been on a journey.  After finding myself disappearing for years, I have been on a journey to me.  I have been fortunate to meet amazing people who have helped guide me on my path.  One of the people that I am most fortunate to have met is Amanda Petersen.  She helped me realize that my journey is a spiritual one.  It was easy to fall into the trap of thinking that I was too bruised, broken or rough around the edges to think in terms of spirituality.  The word can sound a bit lofty right? That’s one of the things I love most about Amanda, she keeps spirituality real! I have had amazing self-discoveries on this journey and gratitude has been a big one.  This idea of gratitude, well it sounds nice, but up until recently I had some real problems with gratitude. 

From an early age, we learn that we are supposed to be grateful.  As children we were often told to be grateful in response to our desires…we were to be grateful for the veggies we didn’t want to eat and grateful for the jeans we did get, even if they weren’t the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with sparkly pockets!  The subtle lesson was, that by wanting something more or different, we were being ungrateful. Even as a child it seemed a little unfair to levy the judgement of ingratitude for voicing my desires. But let’s face it, the world does not look kindly upon ungrateful children, so I went with the path of least pain and resistance.   

We all know that life’s hardships become more difficult than veggies and designer jeans.  But here we are lugging around our gratitude baggage.  As we experience the unfair to the unthinkable, we tell ourselves that we are somehow supposed to be grateful.  The mature, virtuous and spiritual response is to find gratitude in the experience.  I may have swallowed my veggies, but I am not swallowing this!  So I figured this spiritual gratitude thing was not for me.  I determined I was too bruised and rough around the edges to be worthy of the enlightened experience of gratitude.  

But my journey does not end there because I met Amanda.   She provided me an opportunity to walk a different path. On this path I discovered that gratitude is not an action or an emotion.  It is not a response to a situation or experience. Gratitude is not about acceptance, it is about connection. Gratitude is our ability to connect to ourselves, others and the Universe, Source, God, or whatever word you use. Gratitude is not about accepting or being thankful for what is going on around us.  Gratitude is being in connection to our source of divine, regardless of what is going on around us.   I am going to ask you to take a moment and breathe that in…I don’t know about you, but I had packed a lot of guilt, confusion and failure in my gratitude bag over the years.  To unpack that weight and continue on my journey feels good! 

In these unprecedented times, we are going to experience a daunting amount of pain, sadness, fear and loss.  I will not ask you to be grateful for that, but I do invite you to explore gratitude. I believe that connection to ourselves, our community and our personal divine will get us through.  Know that I am sending you health, love and connection.  

If you are interested in exploring your soul-centered life please reach out to Amanda at Pathways of Grace.

2020-04-04T13:04:48-07:00March 28th, 2020|

It’s Time For Grit

The idea of grit is incredibly relevant right now.  Every aspect of our lives is being tossed around.  We are all trying to find the path to a new normal or at least a temporary new normal.  All of a sudden we are learning that our habits are not unflappable, our mindfulness is shakable, and our addiction to social media is real.  Everything we thought we had figured out may actually still be a work in progress. This is where the grit factor comes into play.  This is when we decide if we are giving in or if we continue to pursue our long term goals with passion and perseverance.

I first learned about grit when I heard  Angela Duckworth on my favorite podcast episodes of all time.  The episode is called Success on the TED Radio Hour podcast.  Angela’s personal story is intriguing and her work on understanding what leads to success in any given area of life is pretty amazing.  Her work concluded that one of the most significant predictors of success is grit…not education, not looks, not socio-economic standing…but plain old grit.  She goes on to define grit as, “the disposition to pursue very long term goals with passion and perseverance.” Grit is not for the faint of heart, grit is about stamina and understanding the difference between running a marathon and sprinting down the block.  This gritty success theory levels the playing field out a bit. If we are willing to pursue our long term goals with passion and perseverance we create a significant opportunity to experience success.  

It is going to take a lot of grit, as individuals and a community,  to successfully get through the pandemic. Amid all the chaos let’s play the grit game.  Let’s continue to pursue our lives with passion and perseverance.  Let’s practice being who we want to be regardless of the circumstances that surround us.  I know it’s not easy, but with the right amount of grit I know we can do it.  Check this out to see where you fall on the Grit Scale.

2020-03-21T07:21:38-07:00March 21st, 2020|

Learning To Walk

In my last dance lesson we literally just walked. I took step after step for one hour.  Dancing, like most things in life, comes to mastering the basics. The basic of all basics is taking one step that leads to the next step.  When you can master that basic, well then you can start to do some pretty amazing dancing. There is a running joke at our studio that after all the time and lessons we are still learning to walk.  It was on my outdoor walk (yep, more steps!) that I realized I had a different take away from my hour of step after step. I know I evolve and change, but I like it when I catch a glimpse of it consciously and get to enjoy the making of an a-ha moment myself.

I realize I have shifted my dancing from the mindset of, after all this effort I am still  learning to walk to how do I get the most out of each step I take. As I took each step in class I tried to go as slow as I could.  I wanted to feel my foot connected to the ground. I wanted to experience precisely where I was weighted on my foot. I wanted to take in how the weighting felt in my ankle, my leg, my spine and core…I wanted to feel the connection throughout my entire body.  Freeing myself from both the memory of the last step and the expectation of the next step, I got to be in the current step. I was able to savor the moments within the step. Being in that step allowed me to adjust, explore and create in the moment. I understand now that each step is its own dance and when I connect those little dances it is an amazing feeling!  

I realized my evolution is broader than my dancing.  I have a desire to be in the moment, to experience life fully, to let go of the past and simply be open to the future free of expectation.  Like in dancing, every step is not perfect. Life is made up of all kinds of steps…happy, sad, joyful, pain filled, but it doesn’t diminish my desire to be present for each step.  It’s those little connected steps in life that make up the dance and I want to savor each one.  

Check out a fun practice to learn to savor the small moments in life here.

If you are interested in dancing and live in Phoenix, check out EuroRhythm Dance Studio.  They are my second family!

2020-03-18T19:54:54-07:00February 29th, 2020|

My Body Is a-Changin’

This last week I have been getting a lot of running “memories” via my Facebook feed.  I love to see the pictures of my past running events and the amazing time spent with friends throwing down miles and creating memories.  What I also noticed in those pictures was my body. I realized how much my body has changed in the last two years since I stopped running. As I looked at a leaner version of myself,  I heard Bob Dylan’s, “The Times Are a-Changin’” on repeat in my head.  I wondered to myself, how did this iconic song about massive and inevitable change pop into my mind when checking out my physique on Facebook?

Once I thought about that question, it made a lot of sense to me why that lyric felt so appropriate for how I was feeling.  The changes my aging body is experiencing at times feel massive and inevitable.  Everything about my physical appearance is changing and at a more rapid pace every year.  I have switched from thinking about pushing my physical boundaries to not getting injured. A pulled muscle at this stage leads to weeks of discomfort and inconvenience! There are times I will gently pull my skin back on my face to see a more taught and lifted view of my past.  I like how it looks…when I release my skin I have a brief sense of loss. Yes, this body is a-changin’!

It is natural to resist change, it is how the reptilian part of our brain tries to keep us safe.  But Mr. Dylan challenges this reptilian approach to life. His anthem reminds us that change is inevitable.  He goes on to warn us that the bigger the change the more we better step-up or be consumed by it. In other words, life will move on without us and we will be living life through our rear view mirror.  Those are wise and relevant words for me as I look at my reflection in the mirror. I can resist the change or I can accept it and move forward and embrace what I see in my reflection. In my experience, resistance doesn’t help me forward, it keeps me miserably tethered in place.  As I continue to experience the inevitable change of aging, I will heed Mr. Dylan’s wise sentiment and embrace the change while moving forward.  I invite you to join me on the journey!

Check out a tip I have on how to love our bodies through change HERE

2020-03-18T19:54:54-07:00February 21st, 2020|

Is Sexy A Four Letter Word?

I am going to be honest, S-E-X-Y is a complicated word for me.  I don’t think I am alone in my discomfort. I think a lot of women have discomfort with “sexy” and I think our discomfort fueled much of the discussion, backlash, support  and sheer energy exerted after the JLo and Shakira Super Bowl half-time performance.  As I watched the live performance and relived it with the after talk, my own relationship with sexy came front and center.  It is a word that I want to embrace, but wow does it have hooks for me! When something has “hooks” for me, my head swirls with monkey thoughts and I feel some sense of shame and resistance. Sound familiar?

My friends at Merriam Webster provide two pretty basic definitions of the “S” word.  Sexy is defined as: 1: sexually suggestive or stimulating and 2: generally attractive or interesting.   The second definition feels much safer to me, I tell myself, “yes, I can go there”. The first definition, well let’s say that has hooks galore for me!   I have found that when something hooks me I need to unpack it and get rid of what is not serving me. The half-time show did not start my s-e-x-y unpacking, but it did allow me to check in on my journey.   I thought I’d share some of my views along the way…

  • I want to feel sexy.  There, I said it and lightening did not strike!
  • Sexy is a personal experience and not a one fit all definition.
  • My sexiness is exactly that…MINE! 
  • The idea of being sexy can still make me feel unsafe. 
  • My desire to feel sexy does not make me less pro-woman.  
  • As I judge myself less harshly on my sexy desires, I judge other women less harshly on theirs. 
  • When I embrace what sexy means to me I can more easily ignore the external noise and be me.
  • Seeing and feeling my sexy is internal work.  My sexy is about me and for me. 

Ladies, we did not get to our “sexy” discomfort alone.  We have been helped along the way by all the crazy messages we get about our sexuality, our bodies, and our worthiness in relation to both.  Add to that, the all too common sexual traumas experienced by women, and yes, a half-time show can get us feeling all over the place. If sexy is a four letter word for you, I offer you the invitation to take some time to unpack your relationship with sexy.  If you find shame and resistance that don’t serve you, consider leaving them behind. Regardless of how we each decide to do or not do sexy, let’s support each other along the way. Like most things in life, we are all just trying to figure it out.  

Check out some additional tips I share on how I did my unpacking on Sexy HERE.

2020-03-18T19:54:55-07:00February 13th, 2020|

Picture of Beauty

This week I have been thinking a lot about how I perceive things and how those perceptions shape my beliefs.  I have been on a journey to understand my spirituality and what that means to me. As part of this journey I have started to explore my perceptions and my beliefs related to God, Spirit, the Divine, Universe or whatever word you choose.  An amazing exercise has been to view various photos and to journal about what they say to me spiritually, how do I see God in a given photo. The photos have ranged from brilliant moonscapes and stars to cluttered desks and unkempt people.  The more fantastic and pleasing pictures made it easy for me to see something spiritual in them. But a cluttered desk or a person sloppily dressed looking dazed and confused? Well, I had to put more effort into those. After some contemplation, it made me realize that my perceptions often limit my view and skew my vision.  My limited view effected what I believed.  I realized that I had developed a belief that the messy stuff in life didn’t encompass the Divine.

I think as women, we skew our vision when it comes to beauty. We often have a brilliant picture in mind when we think about beauty. Majestic waterfalls, sunset skies and yes those beautiful faces in magazines.  So when we see a picture less majestic, less brilliant and less photo shopped, we question the beauty of the picture.  Let’s face it ladies, we don’t always glow like a sunset and we certainly can’t photo shop our lives. So where do we fit in our perceptions of beauty? When we look in the mirror, what picture do we see? I realized after looking at the cluttered desk that I did see the Divine in that picture. Because life can be messy, disheveled and not perfectly in place doesn’t mean that it’s any less Divine.  So ask yourself, how does your perception of beauty shape your belief on what you think about your beauty?  Because I can tell you, that when we look in the mirror and what we see is not perfect and is slightly disheveled, we should be able to clearly see our beauty. When we don’t, I think we should gaze lovingly at our reflection and allow our vision to adjust.  I believe that we are all beautiful.  Here’s to you beautiful!

2020-03-18T19:54:55-07:00January 31st, 2020|

I Admit It, I Am Incompetent

Being considered stupid or incompetent ruffles my feathers.  If I were to list the top things I don’t want to be, incompetent would be at the top of the list. It makes me cringe thinking anyone would think I am incompetent.  I think we all have a word like that, it could be greedy, weak, selfish, vain, this list goes on.  Let’s face it, most of us have more than one word that makes us cringe.  When my “incompetence fear” is in full swing I tell myself it is only a matter of time until I am found out. My fear will be confirmed, my fate as incompetent sealed.  My coach, Rachel Jayne Groover, has a novel approach to overcoming such fears.  She says you have to own it.

It makes sense when you think about it.  If I can admit I’m incompetent then it’s power to hold me back dissipates.  The practice isn’t about throwing in the towel and telling myself that I am completely incompetent in everything.  It’s about recognizing the things that I am incompetent at and realizing that the world did not stop spinning!  The reality is that I am incompetent in many things and in the spirit of owning my incompetence I thought I would share a few.

Here I go:

  • I am horrible at directions.  To me, any way I am facing is north.  
  • Math in my head.  A calculator is required for pretty basic stuff.
  • Search Engine Optimization.  I have a really good guy for that! Check him out.
  • Putting together IKEA furniture.  
  • Astrophysics.  I love Neil deGrasse Tyson, but completely incompetent here.

What I discovered in this practice is that often my fear of incompetence actually made me more incompetent.  How many times have I not asked a question out of fear of being viewed as incompetent? By not asking, I actually remained less competent than had I asked the question!  It’s a little ironic isn’t it? By avoiding what I don’t want, I get more of it. (I wouldn’t mind if my fear was dark chocolate.) The flip side of that irony is that by owning what I am most fearful of, I actually become less of it.  By owning my incompetence I let go of my fear of being seen as incompetent.  More importantly, without the blinders of fear, I recognize that I can become competent in things that are important to me.  Just for the record, that does not include putting together IKEA furniture.  

2020-03-18T19:54:55-07:00January 22nd, 2020|

Faking It

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes I fake it.  I must admit that the idea of “faking it” rubs me the wrong way.  It seems disingenuous and insincere. I like to think of myself as authentic and real.  But as illogical as it may sound, I have learned that if I strive to be authentic, I need to fake it at times.

Merriam Webster provides the definition of authentic as: real or genuine: not copied or false: true and accurate. True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.  Roget’s International Thesaurus offers the adjectives of novel, original, creative, and revolutionary to describe authentic.  Let those words sink in…Authenticity is not a passive pursuit. To be authentic we must push past our boundaries, seek out growth and change to move forward.  Authenticity is a revolution! Being authentic takes work.   On best of days that can be a tall order and on tough days it can seem daunting.

Honestly there are days when I don’t feel equipped to handle the journey of authenticity, I don’t feel up to the revolution.  It can be the lack of energy, self-belief or skills.  Regardless of my mindset, I need to show up and do life.  So sometimes I just have to fake it.  I need to put my big girl panties on and show up the best I can.  My head is telling me I am not novel, creative or being true to my own spirit.  My mind tells me I am a fake.

I am here to tell you the mind is wrong.  I have learned on my journey that faking it is not the same as being fake.  A necessary part of pushing past our boundaries is stepping into new territory.  To move forward we have to jump in and go like we know what we are doing.  We have to tell ourselves we can do it, then we fake it ‘til we make it.  Faking it is about taking risks and being willing to fail in order to grow and evolve.  Being fake is about staying in our comfort zones and pretending we are on the journey of authenticity.  In other words, sometimes we have to fake it to keep it real.  So be willing to fake it and enjoy the revolution!

2020-03-18T19:54:55-07:00January 17th, 2020|

A New Routine For Mistakes

Lately, I’ve been thinking about mistakes.  It’s a relevant topic for me since I am learning new dance routines!  Believe me, making mistakes is not new to me.  I make mistakes of varying size and consequence on a consistent basis.  And I must say that I am good at deconstructing my mistakes, attempting to understand where it went wrong.   As a self-aware, reflective and mature adult, this is what I am supposed to do.  We have all been told since childhood to learn from our mistakes and to not make the same mistake twice.  I am guessing that I have spent countless hours and untold energy examining my mistakes based on this mantra.  I believe there is some value in reflecting on our mistakes, but dancing has taught me that this approach doesn’t always work.

I have accepted the fact that every time I dance I am going to make mistakes.  Ballroom dancing is hard and mistakes simply come with the territory.   I have also realized that my usual approach to “mistake management” doesn’t work on the dance floor.  I needed a new routine. Thanks to dancing I am learning the steps to cha-cha right through my mistakes.

  • Step One:  Own it.  I tell myself that the misstep is the step I intended to take. I must simply use that step to get me to the next one.
  • Step Two:  Wait for it.  When I make a mistake I slow down, breathe and wait for the next beat.  If I am focused on catching what I missed the new beat will pass me by.
  • Step Three: Sell It.  Smile through my mistake, dance as if I nailed it, and boogie on. And what I’ve realized is that when I am willing to do this, the audience boogies right along with me.

So that’s it…three steps.   But they aren’t simple steps. We’ve been taught to stop our dance when we make a mistake.  To figure out the misstep before we take the next step.  When you are on the dance floor there is no time for that.  Before you know it the song will be over and you won’t have danced your dance.  So we can use our mistakes as a reason to stay off the dance floor or we can shake it ‘til we cha-cha.  I vote for shaking it!

2020-03-18T19:54:55-07:00January 6th, 2020|