Your Inner Eccentric in 2011!

Eccentrics in Training—A VERY GOOD READ!

Guest Blogger:   Robin Sierra /  Image selection:  Yours Truly, Morgana!


Every year, Florence Foster Jenkins gave a private opera recital at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York City . She designed ornate costumes, at least three for every performance, including the Angel of Inspiration, resplendent with full feathered wings.

She also sang wildly out of tune, but this never stopped her from pursuing her vision of becoming an opera diva, nor did it prevent people from flocking to her performances.

She was like a character in a Marx Brothers movie; her complete lack of talent combined with her full-blown enthusiasm and extravagance became her glory, and tickets for the turn-of-the-century recitals were harder to come by than “a box at the Met on Caruso night,” as David Weeks describes in his book, “Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness.”  Her operatic career culminated in selling out Carnegie Hall at the age of 76.  She died a month later.

Eccentric in Training

Jenkins wrote her own epitaph: “Some people say I cannot sing, but no one can say I did not sing.”

There are people like Florence who have managed to retain their individuality in a rigid world, people who have not stuffed themselves into the tightly restrictive harness prescribed for us by our culture and families.  Some of these people we call eccentrics. Eccentrics have a reputation for being unhinged, but actually, they are often more courageous than the rest of us, and have something valuable to teach.

Two predominant traits of eccentrics are that they don’t give a damn what others think and they have an unwavering belief in themselves. They are willing to let their strangeness show and even amplify it. In the field of astronomy, eccentric means deviating from a circular form. These undaunted oddballs can inspire us to break out of whatever circles have been drawn around us, or that we have drawn around ourselves.

Your Inner Eccentric

Dr. Weeks says, “I think that we are all stranger than we think we are, and we try to control that, because we’re scared of what we’ll find in there.”  What we find may jostle a lifetime of habits and relationships.  It may require us to re-examine decisions and take risks. It may cause us to be ridiculed or not liked by others. But the reward we get  from easing that control is the liberating experience of a life fully lived, and the relief we feel when we let ourselves out of the bag.

I knew a man who failing as a farmer

Burned down his farmhouse for the fire insurance

and spent the proceeds on a telescope

to satisfy a lifelong curiosity

about our place among the infinities

Robert Frost

We often wait for our farms to fail rather than burning them down ourselves, unwilling to take the risk to be who we really are. Some people find it easier to break out and be themselves than others. Some people spend an entire lifetime holding themselves back or living someone else’s dream. The farmer in Frost’s poem initially didn’t believe it was possible to spend his time pondering stars.  It’s too risky for most people to even consider following their passions. What would the neighbors say about the farmer turned astronomer?  Probably that he was a farmer turned lunatic.


Lily Tomlin’s character Trudy, an eccentric bag lady in the play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, says it well: “I never could have done stuff like that when I was in my right mind. I’d be worried people would think I was crazy.  When I think of the fun I missed, I try not to be bitter.” How much fun and passion do we miss because we are afraid of, and therefore confined by, what others may think of us?  How much does the fear of being the outcast bag lady or the lunatic farmer keep us from taking risks to be ourselves?

We try to please those around us, even when they’re not around us any longer. Other people’s voices become internalized, and keep us from acting spontaneously, originally, creatively. If we’re living our lives imagining what others want from us, where is our real life?  Life becomes a phantom of itself. This is what’s crazy. Trudy goes on: “I made some studies, and reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it. I can take it in small doses, but as a lifestyle I found it too confining.”

Dr. Weeks found that eccentrics were healthier and happier than the rest of us, and attributes this to the fact that because they don’t feel the need to conform, they experience lower levels of stress, which causes their immune systems to function more efficiently, and they are therefore healthier. And when people are doing what they want to do, without worrying  too much about social repercussions, they are more joyful.

Nuns at Play

The point is not to emulate eccentrics just for the sake of being different. If you don’t feel a genuine calling to sing opera, it becomes an empty gesture, a sham. Whatever you do must come from a true place within. It’s  about being brave enough to reveal your particular authentic self. Eccentricity is a continuum. On one end is Florence Jenkins, on the other is a person screwing up the courage to ask a waiter to return the cold fettucini. Both matter.

You may consider practicing your own “strangeness” in small steps, remembering that what is a small step for one person may be an enormous one for another.

“Dare to do silly things” suggests author Ray Bradbury.  Wear goofy underwear to your next business meeting.  Thinking about your underwear may inspire a subversive smile on your face that may lead to your next creative act.  Sprinkle chocolate on your mashed potatoes, walk around backwards for a day, decorate your car with streamers and balloons, surprise someone with a birthday party when it’s not their birthday, put up Christmas lights in your living room in July.

You can use these things to prime the pump and coax out your unconventional self, which may give you the courage to step out of your prescribed circle, making more substantial changes, like executing a course correction in your career, bringing more honesty into your relationships, letting go of old patterns that no longer serve you, launching a new venture or simply spinning out of the orbit of other people’s expectations.

Robin Sierra is an artist, Bereavement Counselor and Creativity Consultant who has been guiding people through personal transformation for over 30 years.  You can see her artwork and more writings at  Contact:

Mid-Term Election, Leave the Coliseum!

Sooooo, I am lying face down on the table relishing my weekly scenar treatment where my body talks to my body and sorts itself out.  Penny, the practitioner, says:  “So what do you think about the election?”

I immediately do the “blowfish puff up thing”, ready to give my best pontification on the latest, and then, sanity prevails.  I hear myself say: “Well, I have decided to leave the coliseum.” My body immediately  relaxes and I laugh, as so often happens when a truth falls from my lips.  So, I rewind and muse about what I just said:


I have this stunning picture of Congress as opposing teams of gladiators running around screaming at each other, whacking away with swords, blood flying and when enough of that has gone on to please the crowd, they march off. Steeped in self satisfaction, they revel in a job well done, backslapping team members, relishing the good pay a gladiator gets, and believing that opposition has once again saved the day.

Well, NO, opposition does not save the day! Opposition gets stuck in opposites, and opposites get stuck in polarities and polarities cause paralysis.  Nothing really changes because everyone continues in the same loop of illusion that truly believes that two parties in opposition can accomplish anything.  The truth is that two parties in opposition just stay stuck in opposition. Politics in a nutshell….

The absolute beauty of lying on a table in a half sleep is that my civilized mind was more or less off duty allowing the sanest solution to this very tiresome political masquerade to pop out, so simply and so brilliantly.  I can choose to leave the coliseum.  We can all choose to leave the coliseum!

Now as a coach I am compelled to milk this metaphor for all it’s worth.

Where  in your life are you convinced that opposition is necessary or the norm and so you suit up as a gladiator? Is it in your job? Your primary relationship?  At bored meetings?  Is it when involved in legal stuff or health care stuff or religious stuff?   Might you think that a contentious atmosphere, a good skirmish frought with antagonism and opposition is really proof that you are doing something.  Proof that you are a professional?  Proof that you are doing your job?  Proof that you have power?  Proof that you are right?

So, what if opposition, debate, and party politics are dinosaurs–so tired, so weary, so dead that there is nothing to be done but pull the plug. What if that same opposition and debate and politics goes on inside of each of us and depletes us and makes us weary, literally gives us chronic fatigue.

Well,  your coach says “enough is enough”!  If you’re tired or disillusioned or checking out, then leave the coliseum. The game is over when the gladiators walk.  Suit up for a latte,  sit down and try silence.  Who says conflict, opposition, and two of anything with opposing views is the way to any sort of truth for yourself or for the country.

Morgana Leaves the Coliseum!

Leave the coliseum wherever you’ve got one going in your life and give your armor to Good-will!

Now, there’s a concept.

OH, and bless Rumi who said:

“Beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field.  I will meet you there.”

(“no armor allowed”)  Well, I said that actually!

Stressed On Starbuck’s? Cultivate Parasympathetic Mind!

Stressed on Starbuck's?

So, we humans have two complementary aspects to our nervous system: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.

Our sympathetic, known as the “fight or flight” component, ideally keeps us safe from mammoths marauding through our real estate and unfriendly tribes seeking to co-opt our uteri (is that a word?) to fatten the tribe’s population.

In our culture, however, we have turned this sympathetic function into an over-adrenalized lifestyle that equates excitement and stimulation with a life well lived.

I call this the “Starbuck State of Mind” or the caffeine driven rush to “DO”, at all costs.

In small doses, the sympathetics are a valuable asset to staying alive and well, but as a dominant way of moving in the world, we are left with sleepless nights, mind- numbing fatigue, sexless sex, and lives designed in a cuisinart.  Sort of a chronic PMS state of mind!

Parasympathetic Mind

The balance resides in cultivating the other aspect of our wiring, the parasympathetic mind.  It is in cultivating the 4 R’s of PSM that we flourish.

We feel creative.  We feel that “let me at this day “ feeling. Inspirations well up.  Visionary thinking appears.  Deep wells of loving connection flood the numb spots.

Just think about the last really good massage you had or moments after deeply focused love- making and you will remember that you felt still, open, and connected, euphoric even, with an “all is right with the world” mind state.  That is a parasympathetic state of mind!

The “gift of the 4 R’s” is the reward for cultivating PSM:  REST, RELAX, RELEASE, & REPAIR. When we cultivate experiences that evoke the parasympathetics, we receive bliss  free of charge and the more we conduct our lives from there, the deeper the rest, the relax, the release and the repair for whatever in our psyche (soul) or body needs repair.

Cultivating PSM in our lives begins with 4 questions asked lightly and gently of ourselves:

  • What wants to rest?
  • What wants to relax?
  • What wants to release?
  • What wants to repair?

Sit easily with these questions.  Let the answers for TODAY bubble up,  no efforting here.  You are listening to a deeper truth rather than your mental myths.  Be patient.  Answers will come.

You have begun cultivating parasympathetic mind. Think of it as a seed bed that you cultivate.  It is a garden requiring space and aeration and tending so that creativity, deep feeling, and deep rest can bloom.

Here are a few experiences that have helped me in my own cultivation.

  • Go to Nature, it is your natural habitat and your true homeplace! Sit with a tree,  your plants or near your bird feeder—any aspect of Nature.  Go early in the AM before our planet revs up for its day or go at dusk when activity is waning.  Breathe deeply as you say to yourself:  “I live from my soul’s pleasure.”  “Circumstances in my life come and go like the weather.”  “My feelings come and go like the weather.”  “Doors open.  Doors close.  I am safe.  It is only change.”
  • Make up your own phrases that create feelings of ease, release and comfort.  Cultivate “habits of healing” replacing learned “habits of harm”.
  • Discover music, movies, and animal relationships that move you, not stimulate you, but move you, evoking tears that well up and spillover, a deepening of your breath, and inspiring felt moments of release; delicious liberating release like a 3 day orgasm!
  • Buy a giant bubble wand and bubbles. Go to your deck, yard or to the water and wave bubbles madly into the air.  Watch them float skyward, catching each breeze, or bouncing on the water’s surface.
  • Add words of love for yourself to each bubble. “I am well.”  “I am kind and gentle in my thoughts.”  “I am tender with myself.”  “Every day above ground is a good day!”
  • Cultivate the art of laughing deeply and crying the same. Be the actress, play the part until you feel it.  Empty yourself regularly.  Risk it.  You will repair psychically and physically. You will live more for your soul’s pleasure.
  • Download “Turning Depression Into Expression” FREE FROM ME to THEE!

Be Well.  Espresso in moderation, but espress you exuberantly!  OMG, that is so cheesy…..

Travel Keeps Me “Macro”!

From Depression to Expression or Are you enjoying a midlife meltdown?

“Travel Keeps Me Macro”. A friend once said this to me in a starbuck moment. More precisely, she said that travel was  food to her and that she had to allow herself one international trip a year.

As Americans, we do not live in “a Europe” where other cultures are often a train ride away. We have to exert a bit more effort to “see the world” and yet the nourishment that comes from conversations and shared laughter with other peoples is beyond words, literally.

Without even knowing the resident language, I have had more “heart” encounters with people in other countries precisely because we did not have words.  We had shared moments moved by music or good food or yes, a good laugh!

Homogeneity is boring and limiting. If you are feeling the squeeze of depression or the roller coaster ride of midlife changes, this coach recommends a journey.

Small life equals small dreams. Macro means big dreams, “living big”.

Edge women, women willing to bust through what is deadening their life experience, welcome difference, the eclectic (what a great word), and the unexpected, all of which travel abides.

If you are living single,  it’s time to mingle. And if you are partnered, it’s time to fly solo and stretch into the new. If going international is not an option today then go find a wide open landscape in which to dwell for a time;  a grand canyon or an ocean somewhere to love up on (at this time of stress for our oceans).

Make choices and decisions from the life you want to live and not from the circumstances of your life right now.

If you do not know what that life looks like then all the more reason to take a journey and dream it up in your journal as you go.  You will then have the blueprint and can get busy on bringing it into form, one choice and one decision at a time.  This is the way out of depression and the way to turn midlife into an adventure!

Trust me.  I’m a coach and I know.

Ready for a guide and navigator to help you “get going”?   I’m an email away!

Overcoming Depression: Get Out the Weed Eater!



When our minds experience depression, it is like a garden that has been taken over by weeds. To heal, each weed must be up-rooted, examined and tossed. Brain weeds, as I have come to think of them, are as tenacious and intertwined as what we find in our yard.

There is no quick fix like a drug or an admonition to “just be positive” that works for the long haul because the root of each brain weed is a thought or belief that chokes our life force, snuffs our “muchness” as the Mad Hatter teaches in the new Johnny Depp film, Alice in Wonderland.

 I walked around for years telling myself: “Well, this is just the way it is, so live with it.” I was convinced that it was a “chemical thing” or an genetic mole on my DNA.  Now, I know better and I work the weeds before they takeover.

One way I do this is using “thought work”,  a  method developed by Byron Katie. Having consistently used this method,  one day I looked around and I couldn’t find my depression.  Oh, I looked all over for it, believe me, skeptical that this life long companion would actually leave me. It was gone.

Next, I began turning that energy, once so consumed in depression, into expression. What you see here is one outcome of that!  A result of the magic of cleaning out, clearing up and tending my garden.  Weed eating always comes before the new stuff, the new dreams, the new plans,  the new ways of walking in the world.  Now, this is how I coach.  Are you ready to take back your garden?

Domesticated Mind: The Underbelly of Depression