Monthly Archives: November 2013

Taking the Next Right Step

If you are like me, you are busy and have a to-do list a mile long. There are the “This Week” to-dos of grocery shopping and buying socks for your kid, there are the “Must Get Done In April” tasks of birthday shopping for your partner’s gift and planting spring seeds in the garden. There are the 6-month goals which for me include cleaning out the basement and attending the 9 day School of the Work, and then there are the big dreams like traveling to Thailand Australia, or getting out of your corporate job and into full-time work that you’re passionate about.

Every day brings more to-dos to the list and sometimes it feels like between work, taking the dog to the park and feeding the kids there is no time, no hope, for the more important but less urgent things. Pretty soon “clean out the basement” (even if it is to make way for the new exercise room I really want) or “travel to Thailand” (even if it would be incredibly fun and amazing) seem like they are farther and farther down the list and less and less like possible realities.

Stop for just a second. Breathe.

I know that when I start feeling overwhelmed by life and all of its fullness and complexities, first I need to get really present (all I ever have is this very moment), and then I can choose the very next right thing to do.

Stopping allows me to break the lines of attachment (aka: stress) between the present and the past (“I really should’ve gotten something done last night after I put the kids to bed instead of watching a TV show.”) or the present and the future (“There are so many things between me and the house I would love to purchase in 5 years…I just don’t think I can manage it.”). That breath gets me into the here and now and grounded right back in my body, allowing me to connect with myself and my options–and from that place I am my most creative self. You might be skeptical, but I’m telling you, this is exactly how it works for me. From this place of presence and connection I can ask “What’s next?” and the right thing arises every time. I do that one thing mindfully and joyfully as if it’s the only thing there is, knowing that when the time is right the next right thing will show up.
Try it! Right now:

1) Stop.

2) Breathe.

3) Do the next right thing.

And leave a comment to let me know how it went!


Christi Brittain: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Christi Brittain
ASL Interpreter and Artist

Christi Brittain, Interpreter & Artist at Freckles N' Toes

Freckles N’ Toes

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about.

I am an artist. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I used to draw pictures of aliens when I was young. I remember being in summer camp when I was about ten years old and I saw a teenage girl drawing a giant picture of a woman’s eyes. I studied the way that she drew the eyes, fascinated with each little detail. I was determined to draw eyes too. After practicing and practicing I finally got it down. I began drawing eyes on everything, including my aliens. Eventually I ventured into drawing full faces. I would occasionally draw pictures of men and children but I favored drawing portraits of women. I drew images of fictional women as well as portraits of people that I knew and photos from magazines. I also liked to mesh human features with nature.

I recently discovered paint and fell in love with it instantly! I have no idea why it has taken me so long to get my feet wet. After my first painting I knew that I wanted to try to sell my art or at least share it with others. I have wanted to be an artist since I was very young, but always put it on the back burner because of my confidence in my work as well as a fear of not being financially successful. People have been asking me where I got my sudden courage to pursue my dream. After some reflection I’ve realized that it began when I married my amazingly supportive partner last year and then fully bloomed when I finally got the courage to chop my hair off! I know that it sounds a little bit simplified, but it’s true.

Freckles N' Toes PaintingsHow do you feel when you are engaged in it?

I’m a mother of two beautiful girls, a spunky four year old and a giggly four month old. I interpret in the evenings and come home exhausted. When I get home at 11:30pm to a quiet house, I stay up and paint. All of the tough VRS calls, the exhaustion, the teething baby, all goes out the window. I can engage in something that is all my own. It is very freeing and relaxing. The only way that I can describe it is pouring my soul out on paper. It feels similar to when I hear a song and it carries me away to an old feeling or memory. The one problem is that I sometimes paint until 2:00am and then tend to the baby all night. I often get lost in the process and lose track of the time.

Christi Brittain paintingWhat aspect(s) of yourself does it allow you to express?

My art mainly focuses on the empowerment of women as well as the abstract quirky thoughts that I have from time to time. I was raised by a very strong mother and her beautiful lady friends. I also have a group of women that I am very close to. By being there to watch these ladies blossom, and sometimes struggle, I have been inspired and empowered. I incorporate my life experiences as well as theirs into my work.

6 year-old Christi and Mom

6 year-old Christi and Mom

How has this work affected or changed your life?

I feel more centered and connected to those around me. I think that a large part of this is because I get a chance to really relax and unwind during my painting time. It has helped me to stay spiritually connected and it gives me something new to be excited about.

How does it inform your interpreting?

I have more patience and compassion when I am not stressed out. When I come to work I feel more at ease and I’m able to direct my thoughts to ideas for my next painting in between jobs/calls. This helps me to let go of the last job/call and be mentally prepared for the next. I’m also learning new art vocabulary, which is never a bad thing when it comes to interpreting!

Free Your Spirit Freckles N' Toes Painting

Why do you do this work? What’s your motivation for doing it?

I paint because it is fun and it makes me feel amazing.

Which of your values does it represent?

All of them! That is the neat thing about art. I can incorporate anything I want into it.

What advice do you have for someone just beginning to align their work with their heart?

Embrace it! Don’t be scared, just trust the process. As one of my paintings says,

“Believe in Possibility.”

Believe in Possibility Freckles N' Toes Painting

This is the third post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know an interpreter who’s doing something great please email me!

My Best Year Yet

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver

fall leaves road

Every fall I spend a night or two away, alone, gathering the highlights and disappointments from my previous year, extrapolating lessons learned, re-committing to my values and the roles I play in my life, and setting goals for the year ahead. This process is outlined in Jinny Ditzler’s book Your Best Year Yet, which is a contender on my shelf of Top 10.

Best Year Yet by Jinny Ditzler

This tradition began for me in 2008. Embroiled in the not-so-easy task of raising small children, continuing my work as a sign language interpreter, managing rental properties, and being a stellar wife, my then-husband Rich and I adopted the practice of stealing away overnight to clarify and re-commit to our values and priorities. We worked through this process individually and then shared our highest hopes and deepest intentions with each other, lending support and accountability and in the process strengthening our own resolve. This process became a centerpiece of our year, and we would return rejuvenated and inspired with a clear and do-able action plan for the coming weeks and months.

Breana at Best Year Yet 2008

Breana at Best Year Yet 2008

When I came out in 2010 and Rich and I ended our marriage, this practice became my lighthouse–keeping me anchored in my values, successes, and intentions even as the seas raged around and within me and my world felt so very vulnerable. Taking the time to be still and quiet, to reconnect with all I held dear, was an act of faith and self-love.

Today I spend much more than one night a year alone and contemplating these foundational structures of my life. I take time every morning to nourish myself and affirm my vision, and yet, this special weekend remains a touchstone–a time to be quiet and still in nature and to get a bird’s-eye-view on this one precious life I am living.

Hank at the beach

Hank in heaven

This morning Hank and I woke in the dark to the tinkling melody of raindrops on the tin roof, cuddled up in a sweet cozy trailer on the Oregon coast, with nothing to do but play, ponder, and write. As the wind smacked wet needles across our cheeks we headed to the beach and played fetch in the flying sand, watching the sky lighten around us. On this beach 100 miles from my bed, from my kids and work and partner and friends, I get to take a good long look at what I’ve created and then etch the intention on my heart for what will come next. In this trailer I take complete responsibility for the beauty and the disappointment in my life, and I employ my boundless creativity to make it exactly as I envision. When I return home this evening I will have a single-page outline to guide me into this coming best year, my well overflowing, energized and ready to serve.

From this carved-out space between days I send up a flare to you, dear reader. How will you claim a sacred moment for yourself to make the most of your one precious life?