Good-bye MINNESOTAGAL Blog, Hello NOVAKISTAN!

Wow, I can’t believe the day is finally here… I’ve been wanting to upgrade my blog for a very long time, but never had the guts to figure it out.  Well, this weekend, for some reason or another, I decided it was time to face my fear!  Nick and I put our heads together to come up with a new blog name that would better capture both of us, not just me.  And so the name NOVAKISTAN was born.  We secured the .com and were on our way… more on the trials and tribulations of this process at the new site!

From here on out, all posts will be going up on Novakistan.  Please check it out and change your bookmarks and links (thanks to all the  blogging friends who send people here).  Over the next few weeks I’ll be copying over the majority of posts on this site to the new one.  Looking forward to seeing you at the new site!

The Link: WWW.NOVAKISTAN.COM

Moving Through Darkness

July 16, 2010

The following is from DailyOm, a personal development site my friend Liz introduced me to that provides a daily dose of wisdom or inspiration.  What amazes me is how succinctly the authors can write and how spot-on the message often is for what I’m going through.  Here’s the one that arrived in my box today, which beautifully articulates why I’ve chosen the emotion-filled path of coaching Cancer patients.  If you like it and want to receive it daily in your inbox, just click on the link I provided above!

In life, most of us want things to go to the places we have envisioned ourselves going. We have plans and visions, some of them divinely inspired, that we want to see through to completion. We want to be happy, successful, and healthy, all of which are perfectly natural and perfectly human. So when life takes us to places we didn’t consciously want to go, we often feel as if something has gone wrong, or we must have made a mistake somewhere along the line, or any number of other disheartening possibilities. This is just life’s way of taking us to a place we need to go for reasons that go deeper than our own ability to reason. These hard knocks and trials are designed to shed light on our unconscious workings and deepen our experience of reality.

Often it takes something major to wake us up, to shake us loose from our ego’s grip as it struggles to maintain an illusion of control. It is loss of control more than anything else that humbles us and enables us to see the big picture. It reminds us that the key to the universe lies in what we do not know, and what we do know is a small fraction of the great mystery in which we live. This awareness softens and lightens us, as we release our resistance to what is. Another gift gleaned from going to these seemingly undesirable places is that, in our response to difficulty, we can see all the patterns and unresolved emotional baggage that stand in the way of our unconditional joyfulness. Joy exists within us independently of whether things go our way or not. And when we don’t feel it, we can trust that we will find it if we are willing to surrender to the situation, moving through it as we move through our difficult feelings.

We can take our inspiration from any fairy tale that finds its central character lost in a dark wood, frightened and alone. We know that the journey through the wood provides its own kind of beauty and richness. On the other side, we will emerge transformed, lighter and brighter, braver and more confident for having moved through that darkness.

I thought we needed a good laugh after the heaviness of the typhoon yesterday.  Watch this – it will crack you up!  People are so funny…

Typhoon Trauma

July 14, 2010

Typhoon season came in with a bang last night.  The weather service had predicted the typhoon to hit north of Manila, so no one was really prepared here for anything more than a few heavy showers.  While it was no Ondoy in terms of the scale and scope of the damage, poor Nick and I experienced significantly more damage than anything we’d faced last year.

Here’s how the evening played out.  I woke up around 2 AM to find our building swaying slightly in the wind (like California, the structures are designed to flex back and forth to protect against typhoons and earthquakes).  Let’s just say that it feels really creepy when you’re in it.  Our aircon had shut off, so I knew the power must have gone out and we were using a generator (we are very lucky to have one in our building, by the way).

I walked over to the window to look at what was going on (the wind was howling and rain was pelting our windows 39 floors up).  All of a sudden I was standing in water.  Uh-oh.  I immediately woke Nick and we surveyed the damage.  It turned out that water was seeping up through the floor boards and pooling in both our master and guest bedrooms.  It was the most bizarre thing ever.  The window wasn’t even leaking, just this mysterious stream coming out of the floor.

What did we do?  We mopped!  And mopped and mopped and mopped.  Until the fire alarm started ringing.  And then we panicked.  Now, it is common knowledge in the building that  the alarm often goes off when there is no fire.  However, Nick and I are both of the mindset of “Better safe than sorry”.  So we dropped the mop and kicked into high gear – we got dressed, Nick grabbed the escape bag (I told you it’s handy), and we bolted for the stairs.

So down we went, all 39 floors.  Surprisingly, no one else was joining us.  We arrive panting in the lobby to find calm, cool and collected guards who inform us that there is no fire in the building.  You can imagine our frustration at hearing this, especially when they couldn’t explain why the alarm was going off.

But here’s where it gets really fun.  We walk back to the elevators only to discover that they are not working and there’s no ETA as to when they’ll be back up.  Crapistan.  Looks like we are spending some time in the lobby.  As minutes turned into hours I cozied into the plush micro-fiber cushions.  I would estimate we were there from 2-6 AM.  Here’s a little visual to bring the story to life:

Now, Nick got frustrated around 6 and made the trek up 39 floors.  I decided I was waiting it out until the elevator was back up – I was settling in nicely to my make-shift bed.  About 20 minutes after Nick made the climb, I was back up there too via the elevator.

Time to survey the damage.  Our bedrooms smelled like wet dog, but were not leaking nearly as bad now.  In addition, we now had water coming out of the ceiling in the guest bedroom.  I spent the day airing things out, catching up on sleep and contacting the Embassy to come out and look at it.

Some stats for Typhoon Conson:

  • 90% of the city was without power for the majority of today
  • 20 known dead thus far
  • winds were up to 120 kph
  • 1st typhoon of the season done, 20 or so to go

And that’s it folks.  There is no inspiring moral to this story.  Typhoons suck!  I’d take a blizzard any day…  :)

Like the picture above, I’m at a place with my coaching where certain elements are crystal clear and others are just beginning to come into focus.  Ever since I found coaching 3 years ago, I knew that, without a doubt, I had found the vehicle to get my message out.  The thing was, I just didn’t know what that message was or who it was supposed to reach.  3 months ago when it became clear to me that Cancer Patients were my people, there was this amazing sense of peace; a screeching halt to the non-stop searching I’d been engaging in for years.  The message materialized magically from there and I knew that I did indeed have the engine to power my vehicle now.

Oddly, once I decided to accept the “calling” to be a Cancer Coach, something strangely unfamiliar showed up in my life, namely: Paralysis.  Now fear I was familiar with, but this paralysis thing was an entirely new beast.  It sweet-talked me into taking naps instead of working on programs.  It whispered that there was “no rush” and then quickly changed tactics and made me feel overwhelmed.

This puzzled me because in the “World of Sarah” once I say yes to something and have a plan of action it’s really only a matter of weeks, if not days before I’ve manifested that thing and turned it from an idea into a reality.  Lag time is non-existent in my world.  So how to explain this inability to move forward with the thing I’ve been waiting forever to find??

It was only after talking this week with a mentor coach of mine that I was enlightened to a new way of looking at my perplexing behavior.  She listened to me articulate the above and instantly responded, “Oh, of course.  You’re simply getting ready to be ready!”  I think I responded with something like “Come again?  What the heck does that mean?”

She went on to explain that similar to having a baby, a major life choice can require a preparation period in advance.  A gestation period, if you’d like.  It is during this period that we make alterations in who we are being, so that we can consciously step up into the new path we have chosen. (ie: being a parent, coaching Cancer patients, etc.)  It made perfect sense once she said it, because there really was no other explanation to justify this abnormal behavior.  It also correlates with a common thing that frequently trips me up – failing to see value in “Being”.

As I’ve explained before, I’m a do-er.  My family were do-ers too and at some point I created a belief that my time was only being spent valuably if I was do-ing.  So you can imagine the tension that’s been inside me for the last 3 months since I knew exactly what I was supposed to be DO-ing, but could only seem to BE.  It was insanely frustrating, to put it mildly!

Instead of continuing to beat myself up, I’ve decided to change my perspective and see this “Being” phase that I’m in as something of value.  Just because I can’t SEE something happening, doesn’t mean that shifts aren’t taking place, right?!

I AM STATING THIS FOR THE RECORD: Starting today I will accept that I’m not ready yet (and be 100% OK with that)….. because, you see, I’m simply busy getting ready to be ready!  And when I am finally READY, my actions are going to spark something that will be felt around the world… and that kind of impact, my friends, takes some time to get ready for!

Readers- Let me know what you think …. In what areas of your life are you “Getting Ready to Be Ready”?  Is this a useful concept for you?

Ear Candy!

July 11, 2010

Can’t get enough of this new song by Sara Bareilles!  It’s on continuous play in our house at the moment…. enjoy!

You are all well aware of the fact that I don’t really believe in doing anything small, especially when it comes to milestone birthdays.  All it took was 5 months of hinting on my part before Nick caved and graciously agreed to host a 30th birthday bash for me (against his better judgment).  And what fun we had…

But before we go into all the juicy details of the night, let’s first explore why 30 is such a big deal for me.  Now, I find birthday conversations a bit frustrating at times because most people expect you to be depressed about getting older.  You see, that’s never been a fear for me.  Actually, for as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to be an adult.  This goes back as far as age 10 when my parents would be hosting dinner parties and I’d sneak down and put my ear to the wall of the adjacent room and revel in the adult conversation.  In high school I remember leaving the party in the basement and going up and chatting with the host’s parents (yup, I was a full-fledged dork).  Dare I say I even preferred talking to adults over my peers.  It was a sad day when mom sat me down and told me I need to spend more time with people my age!

I thought the 20’s would finally get me into the “adult club,” but it always seemed to elude me.  I still found that more senior adults disregarded my opinion because I was a 20-something or questioned my ability to coach them because of my lack of life experience.  And that proved to be insanely frustrating because what I’ve known for a long time is that is that age is irrelevant –  I just happen to be an OLD SOUL…..who now has the digits to back it up!  No more writing me off as a mistake-making 20-year-old because 30 is the REAL DEAL.  30 is maturity.  30 is baby-making time (a very grown-up thing to do).  And 30 is above-all-else, not the 20’s!

And so I’m sure you can see now why this was such a HUGE DEAL.  This was my débutante ball, my adult coming-out party and my day of birth all rolled into one.  Happily, the hubby came through big time on this one!  He started by surprising me with my gifts the night BEFORE my birthday.  This is unheard of in the Novak family, I might even go so far as to say it’s prohibited.  And since I believe in opening a gift as soon as it’s given, you can imagine that this has created some tension in our newly-joined family.  So imagine my delight when he proposed that I open it early!?!  YES PLEASE!

Again, I need to fill you in on some background details.  Being that we’re traveling like mad this year, we both agreed that we’d just spend $100 on birthday gifts.  Being the rule follower that I am, I stayed perfectly within the budget for his 30th birthday last December.  He got some very cool sandals, a fab new briefcase and an electronic helicopter (okay, it even sounds pathetic when I write it – but I swear, it seemed very adequate at the time).  Well, imagine my surprise when I unwrap my gift and discover a beautiful new phone (for texting, of course – I do now live in the texting capital of the world) that was well above the limit.  I was tickled pink and only feeling mildly guilty until we’re laying in bed later that night and he mysteriously pulls out another package.  Yup, you guessed it, that little punk totally broke the rules and got me the most gorgeous new long-range camera lens (a 55-250 mm).  I couldn’t decide whether to be pissed or delighted, as this was totally and completely unexpected (and inappropriate).  He looked so excited about it though that I just melted and buried my shame at giving him such crap gifts (stupid rule following – never again)!

Fast forward to my actual birthday: I decided to take a nice ‘n easy Manila pampering day since the evening was going to be very people-filled.  I managed to fit in a manicure, lunch out and a massage (of course).  Nick had rented a place called Nicotina’s for the evening.  It’s a favorite hang-out of the Embassy folks that we were introduced to earlier this year.  I immediately fell in love with the open-air setting, good food and live band!  When Nick suggested it for my birthday, I knew that was the perfect spot.  Here’s what it looks like inside:

The venue was AMAZING to work with.  We had about 30 RSVP’s, so Nick had pre-ordered 10 pizzas.  They allowed us to bring in our own cake as well, which was really nice.  Best of all though, Nick arranged the opportunity for me to sing with the band!  Talk about dreamy… that’s 1000 times better than regular karaoke!

Traffic was bad, so people trickled in throughout the night.  We started with lots of eating, drinking and dancing.  Once I was sufficiently relaxed I was ready to rock (I get insanely nervous when I haven’t soloed in awhile).  I started with my signature Karoake song, Alone by Heart.  Nothing like a classic 80’s ballad to belt out.  Once I was feeling good, we moved into some duets (with the band’s lead singer).  We took on Hopelessly Devoted To You from Grease and One Sweet Day by Mariah Carey.  To close down the set, my friend Jen came up and dueted with me on Alison Krause’s When You Say Nothing At All.   What you’ll notice as you watch the progression of these pictures, is that I’m getting more and more into it with my ENTIRE BODY.  Hands, eyes closed, head back – I brought it, diva-style!  :)  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night!  Thanks to everyone who made it so magical….

PS- Nick was on picture-detail for the night, so check out his work at SMUGMUG.

Bring it on 30, I am SOOOO ready for you!
It’s going to be a fan-frickin’-tastic decade ahead!

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