Author Archives: breanacrosshall

Christi Brittain: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Christi Brittain
ASL Interpreter and Artist

Christi Brittain, Interpreter & Artist at Freckles N' Toes

Freckles N’ Toes
christibrittain@yahoo.com

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?

 

 

Andrea Gehrz: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Andrea Gehrz
ASL Interpreter, Master Astrologer, & Owner of the Moira PressAndy Gehrz, interpreter, astrologer, author

971.404.5068 or agehrz@gmail.com

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about:

I am passionate about teaching the ancient science of light, otherwise known as astrology.  More specifically, I am very interested in resurrecting ancient Greek astrological texts in order to teach what I learn to modern day students of astrology.

Andrea Gehrz, chart reading, client, personal growth

Andrea, with a client

How do you feel when you are engaged in it?

When I am in the process of translating ancient Greek texts, I feel a great sense of excitement at what I find in the text itself.  I also experience a feeling of accomplishment at being able to apply the unique skills I have learned through sign language interpreting to these ancient and profound works.  To be honest, it feels magical.  Always.

ancient greek, translated by Andrea Gehrz

Ancient Greek

How has this work affected or changed your life?

This work has affected my life deeply.  Not only has it expanded my knowledge base in general, it also has opened my eyes to what is possible in one short lifetime. On a daily level, this work has given me a sense of purpose. No matter what I do, I always know that there are ancient Greek texts waiting to be translated, and students waiting to learn high level astrology.

book translation, Andy Gehrz

An Introduction to the Tetrabiblios of Ptolemy, Translated by Andrea Gehrz

How does it inform your interpreting?

In terms of interpreting, this process has attuned me to the importance of choosing texts wisely.  In my current ASL interpreting practice, I now attempt to focus my work on texts that excite me. I am much more likely to prioritize jobs that contribute to my core values in some way.

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

I do this work because I thrive in challenging situations. The work itself is continually interesting, and contributes to a more fascinating world. Working on ancient texts touches me in a way that the modern world cannot.  While today’s pace is quick and ever-changing, these ancient texts offer consistency and focus.

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

Open your heart to the wisdom of your highest self, your oversoul.  Consult often and with gusto.

Andy Gehrz

This is the second 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 someone who’s doing something great please email me!

Cindy Culpovich: Interpreter with Bright Focus

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting interpreters who are creating balance & igniting joy in their lives by putting their hearts back at the center of their work. My intention is to inspire us all with stories of people who are making their dreams a reality, people that we know and love. Sharing our stories gives us an opportunity to connect with and learn more about each other, with the added benefit of learning more about ourselves and what excites us. Get ready to be excited & inspired!

Cindy Culpovich
ASL Interpreter & Owner of Organizing Your Space

asl interpreter & organization expert Cindy Culpovich 

cindy@organizingyourspace.com or cindyculpovich@msn.com

 

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about:

I love people and having the opportunity to help people improve their lives and get out from under stress that’s weighing them down. It’s such a privilege for me to be invited in to people’s lives and that they trust me enough to allow me to help them with clutter chaos or other types of chaos that is causing them to be weighed down.

Cam Kitchen B 1

Before Organizing Your Space

How do you feel when you are engaged in it?

Mostly I love it. Sometimes it can be stressful helping people wade through paper and possessions that carry a lot of stressful memories or emotions in them, but the end result is very encouraging.

Cam Kitchen A 1

After Organizing Your Space

How has this work affected or changed your life?

I am constantly learning from my clients and growing personally as I do this work.

How does it inform your interpreting?

I see a link between my 2 professions. As an interpreter, I’m a communication expert and when I’m working with people on sensitive personal issues, communication is a huge part of it and my skills in that area aid in my success with clients. In the same way, working one on one with people helps me to hone my communication and learning to read people’s unspoken messages which helps in my interpreting career.

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

I love the organizing work I do because I love helping people. I also like the fact that I can earn money doing something that I really enjoy!

Cindy Horesback

Cindy in 1986

Which of your values does it represent?

My love of people and that people and relationships are the most important thing to me.

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

If you can figure out what you love doing and pursue that as a career, you will be greatly blessed.

Interpreters with Bright Focus

interpreter with big heart

photo by andreamb

Interpreters have big hearts

As practitioners in a profession that demands the full and undivided attention of our bodies and minds, burn out is a legitimate risk if our hearts are not engaged in an equally inspiring task. When we show up day after day, with the belief that only our hands are valued, we can feel resentful, compartmentalized, and lethargic–all of our effort is going out and none is coming in. Energy doesn’t work this way; this is not sustainable.

self-care and inspiration fills the well

photo by BelleWood Gardens

The well runs dry

Life depends on a cycle of energy use and replenishment. Energy is a commodity that we depend on, yet so often we don’t pay attention to where we receive it. We have an amazing capacity for sustained work as long as we are receiving the nourishment and inspiration we need to keep our well replenished. If we’re continuously giving, and rarely receiving, that well runs dry and we come to a grinding screeching halt. This imbalance in our lives and the stress it causes can lead to all sorts of nasty ailments: body pains & injuries, illness, trouble sleeping, a general sense of crabbiness, and feeling stuck. No one likes these things.

In these moments of feeling trapped by the weight of the world, change seems like the last thing we have energy for. Mustering the creativity or the motivation to do something different is daunting, and so usually we don’t. Maybe we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. We’re too tired and can’t manage to even think about it. We don’t know what we’d do differently even if we wanted to. Our world looks like a dry, prickly desert, with no water for miles.

Your life is the sacrifice

If we choose to trudge on like this, the price we pay is in our quality of life. Sure, we are breathing. Our hearts are beating. But are we really alive? No. Not according to my definition. For me aliveness involves excitement about waking up each day, happiness and joy when I see the beauty that surrounds me–not just aesthetically but spiritually: the wonder of life taking place and people finding their way–continuing to get up, even when I’m bruised, rising because I know the responsibility for my life is all mine. I want to secure a steady supply of water, because I am creating something extraordinary with this one precious life of mine.

Water-Drop-Leaf-Header

Receiving is your responsibility

Fortunately water is not scarce. It can be found in every nook and cranny, often right under our noses if we open our eyes for long enough to see it.  A smile from a stranger passing by = a drop. The hug of an old friend = a drip. A 10 minute walk in the woods = a glug, and so on…until pretty soon the well is full. These are the moments we can miss so easily if we are looking down. But when really savored, these tiny offerings can make the difference between drought and abundance.

2 Tips for Keeping Your Well Topped Off

inspiration cycle

Arieh Friedner

1. Stand in the river

Put yourself in the flow of the give and take of life. Find a way to utilize your gifts and talents, and share them with others. You may think that this will deplete energy, but the truth is giving helps us to engage in the cycle of life and this brings energy back to us. Seek out those rivers in your life: a spiritual practice or community, running, yoga, being in nature, volunteering. The activities that feed you may be different, but you will know it when you engage in it by the energy and inspiration that it brings you.

2. Recognize the water that surrounds you

There is wonderful goodness all around, you need not look far. Right now I’m seated on a beautiful comfortable bench, made by my partner. This handmade piece of furniture is a gift of labor & love to our family every day. Kaden, my son, just looked up from his project and said, “Mom, I love you.” When I remember to stop and really take that in, feeling gratitude and love pour in and fill my well, I am recognizing that water. There are so many times throughout our days that we are faced with these gifts. The choice is ours to pay attention.

images

In the coming weeks I will be highlighting interpreters who have put themselves into the river by engaging in work that feeds their spirits creatively and gives them a sense of purpose. These Interpreters with Bright Focus can be examples and sources of inspiration for each of us as we move toward what sustains us in our lives. My personal vision is that creating and participating in this flow of energy, making sure that my well is continuously replenished, allows me to show up in the world as my best self in order to be of service to others. I hope that you will join me in discovering what you really want to create in your life when your well is there to sustain you.

I Don’t Buy Books

9.8 times out of 10 I check out a book from the library before I’ll consider buying it (I’m so in love with the Multnomah County Library‘s digitized catalog and hold-placing system…ask me about it sometime!). I check out the book and read it before I ever think about buying it. Sometimes, if it’s really good, I’ll get a chapter in and know that I want to own it so I can highlight, sticky-note all my favorite pages, write in the margins and take it everywhere (aka: get sand, coffee, and water on it). Other times I read the library’s copy all the way through and then I buy it and read it all over again.

There are about a dozen books that have been super influential in my growth and development as a whole human who feels capable, confident, and happy on a daily basis. These books have shaped the way I think about myself, how I relate to others, and how I approach the work in my life–all things that contribute to making good stuff happen.

And you know how I know these are useful, inspirational books that I will refer to again and again throughout my life? I own them. Those are my criteria for buying a book.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Getting Things Done by David Allen: Mr. Allen’s theory is basically that we don’t do our best, most creative work if we are trying to remember all the many tasks we have on our plates. His book helps you to create a system for capturing all those things you are trying to remember, putting notes up on your fridge about, and leaving out on the counter and table to remind you. It changed the way I think about planning and moving through a project, and made my life a billion times simpler.
  2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: I haven’t read this book in 15 years but it had a profound effect on me back then. In fact, flipping through it again I have just made the decision to put it back at the top of my “to read” list. Some of Covey’s successful habits: begin with the end in mind, put first things first, seek first to understand then be understood, and sharpen the saw. Such good stuff.
  3. Loving What Is by Byron Katie: I think you all know how I feel about Byron Katie. In this book she teaches the basics of her inquiry process, The Workwith lots of stories to bring the process to life.
  4. Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver: While spending the week in the hospital with my partner, Bekah, and her broken leg, I devoured this book. I might make it an annual January read, as Tosha has a way of putting my heart in just the right space as to see synchronicity, support, and love everywhere. This is a shiny gem of an uplifting book, and not only in a fluffy way–but in a real, make-you-trust-the-universe-in-your-bones kind of way. This book had a profound effect on my own experience of spirituality.
  5. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: This is one of those “one-week-in” books: I just started it, but I already know it is going to be transformative. Julia Cameron teaches that in order to get creatively unstuck, we are invited to clear blockages daily by writing our “morning pages” and alternately fill up our creative well by taking ourselves on weekly “artist dates”. She then provides lots and lots of prompts for creative exploration and expression along the way in this 12-week book program.
  6. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez: To say this book fundamentally changed my relationship with  money is an understatement. The most lasting way is in my understanding both on a conscious and on a physical level of what “enough” feels like–a key distinction in their message that living within our means, having enough money to sustain our lives and take care of us in our old age, and to give back are all doable if we can stay really in tune with what expenditures of our life energy brings us pleasure and what ones are just too much.
  7. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port: Although my business is built on my passion for serving others, people can’t find me or connect with me if they are not clear on what I do. In this “marketing” book, Michael Port breaks down the keys to getting your message out there and changes the face of “selling” into a model based on being exactly who you are–your best most authentic self–and attracting exactly the clients you are meant to serve. I loved reading this book.
  8. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: A sweet collection of essays by one of the most honest and encouraging voices I have read. This book gives me hope about writing.
  9. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön: A contemporary spiritual teacher, Pema Chödrön gives us advice for not only dealing with the most difficult times in our lives (she does that as well), but the everyday difficulties too: the things that throw us off track, keep us stuck, or distract us in ways we haven’t been able to understand. She helps us to keep opening our hearts so that it is our love that is leading us forth instead of our fear.
  10. Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic by Mike Dooley: From the author of Notes from the Universe, this book on using the laws of the universe outlines exactly how to harness the natural laws that govern our world. From “understand your power” & “chart  your course” to “engage the magic” & “adjust your sails”, this book teaches solid strategies while inspiring.

And 2 bonus books…cause I just couldn’t stop at 10:

Anxious to Please: 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice by James Rapson: Most of the pain in my life up until my early 30’s stemmed from the belief that I needed the acceptance of those around me in order to be ok. This book, which I quickly followed with Byron Katie’s, radically shifted the way I saw myself and my relationship to others. Learning to really take care of me by being trustworthy and kind to myself and the realization that, no matter how smart I think I am, I am not in control of other people’s feelings set me on a path to feeling healthy and happy in my skin nearly 100% of the time.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: I am including this book on reputation alone…I haven’t even read it yet! But based on my own journey toward a life of more mindfulness and presence, I have to agree that this is the single most important factor in happiness, clarity, and success. This is the next book on my list to read, so I’ll let you know what I think.

So, what books are on your Top 10 list??

Breana 1

With love and bright focus,

Breana

 

Synchronicities

This week’s call has been ruminating with me, and funny synchronicities are showing up–guiding me to not move on from this topic too quickly.

Synchronicity 23WE ion-bogdan dumitrescu

flickr @ion-bogdan dumitrescu

When I hung up, after talking about noticing obligation showing up in words like “should” or “have to”, I discovered this sweet Note From The Universe in my inbox:

No more “supposed tos,” OK, Breana?

You’re not supposed to work harder, look better, sleep less, sell more, run faster, talk slower, be happier, stay longer, leave earlier, cook, clean, negotiate, settle, start, stop, move, try, win, shake, rattle or roll.

Other people made all that up.

I love you the way you are,
The Universe

Oh, you can do any or all of the above, Breana, you so can, but you’re not “supposed to.”

flickr @david ascher

flickr @david ascher

And then this article from Tiny Buddah caught my eye. In it Jordan Sibila describes the experience of striving to be more than you are, and the sense of dissatisfaction that so often plagues us–especially as American women. She says it so beautifully:

We are all engaged in this battle of the heart (truth) versus the mind (illusion).

As we discussed on the call this week: this is where the stress shows up! It is this conflict between the truth that our hearts are so naturally in touch with, and the illusion by which our mind is so easily swayed that creates the perfect incubator for rapid-growing anxiety, fear, and frustration.

She goes on to so honestly and accurately describe her path to the solution that so many of us are seeking:

After five years of living in the dungeon of desolation and desperation, I realized that the only thing keeping me shackled to sorrow and sickness was my own mind.

I realized that if I was going to insist on restricting, I needed to restrict the amount of negative self-talk I had allowed to infiltrate my mind instead of restricting the amount of food I allowed to enter my mouth.

If I was going to binge, I needed to binge on opportunities to make meaningful memories with friends and family instead of binging on anything and everything I could find in the kitchen.

If I was going to insist on purging, I needed to purge through tears, laughter, and signs of affection instead of purging up the remains of my last meal.

If I was going to be free, I needed to be authentically me.

flickr @anton burmistrov

flickr @anton burmistrov

Uncovering the layers of belief that cause stress has been for me the greatest way to move toward more authenticity. The more I can see a thought for what it is, without getting sucked into the emotions that accompany believing it, the more free I am.

I wanted to add a resource to our notes in addition to Byron Katie, whom I adore. Grace Bell is a facilitator of The Work who lives in Seattle, Washington. She hosts groups with really interesting and rich discussion topics, and sends out a wonderful daily email applying inquiry to a specific example each time. Her writing is so transparent and honest, and I learn so much from reading the universal thoughts. Check out her website and sign up for her notes to see for yourself.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me or book an exploration session if there is a way I can help you move toward your dreams today. It is my honor to help create a nation of people doing their heart’s work and serving others in bliss.

Breana 1

With love and bright focus,

Breana

Week 3: Watch What Comes Up

Once your vision is brilliantly clear, and your tasks are all broken down into the smallest possible steps and outlined, a funny thing can happen. You start to feel doubt. You blame your kids/boss/partner for your lack of time. You visit the refrigerator instead of your desk. What happens to us in these moments between excited, hopeful visioning and actually making it happen? Today we discuss these emotional reactions of ours and how to use them to enact some serious core-level change!

Download the slides

Listen to the recording
(We had some funky-tech-business on our call yesterday–still working on getting the recording.)