Zen and the Art of Reinvention

Karen Schwartz  |  Business Coach and Consultant  | Advocate for reinventing ourselves 

Karen Schwartz  |  Business Coach and Consultant  | Advocate for reinventing ourselves 

This month I would like to introduce you to Karen Schwartz-Clover. Karen is a business coach and consultant who asks her clients to feel their way through decision making processes instead of thinking...and thinking...and stalling on decisions. Her philosophy is simple and straightforward and has helped ...............


In an age where everyone is trying to “manifest” his/her reality, I think I have learned some key points that are worth sharing. Creating a life and business that are nourishing, congruent, and sustainable has everything to do with physically feeling your feelings and using them to clarify what feels good and then taking strategic action. Wishing for something is ineffective.

Many years ago I began an apparel brand and garment manufacturing business. It was successful and grueling for a time. I longed for a mountain house, a cabin on a lake in the woods, and a little country cottage. All of the homes I daydreamed about were peaceful and quite the contrast to the urban flat I chose to live in to afford transition time to figure out what was next for me.

Once the inspiration hit, I set up a little office in a corner of my small space and started getting clear about my new business. I worked diligently and executed each step.  When things became too hectic, I would venture out to a nearby bookstore and look through design and decor books about rustic modern homes just so my mind could breathe. There were many sleepless nights back then --worrying about deadlines, design details, cash flow, and dysfunctional relationships. Thankfully, I was able to move into a perfect little house on stilts on the water on the San Francisco Bay.

The view from Karen's living room window overlooking Mount Timpanogos in Utah. | Photo credit: Milano Liberi

The view from Karen's living room window overlooking Mount Timpanogos in Utah. | Photo credit: Milano Liberi

On my very impassioned journey following my business vision, I met a man who had been busy building his dream houses.  I remember the first time I saw this house that I now call home.  I was in awe standing on the porch looking out at the mountains. I thought how great is the Universe --bringing my heart to the builder of a house with a view of our business logo, a mountain that looked like a woman. And, there right in front of me, was a mountain that looked like a woman, Mt. Timpanogos.

Breathe and Purge
After two and a half years of dating we decided to merge our lives. My dear friend Nicole, whom I met when she helped me get our first business loan, accompanied me in a U haul packed with furniture, art, and lots of high-heels to the mountaintop in Utah.  When we arrived, we looked around and wondered what I had done! The vestiges of bachelorhood overwhelmed me. My future husband had built a bar on wheels that he had positioned right in front of the big picture window obscuring the view. Nicole and I quickly named it, “The Monstrosity.” There were four lumberous outdoor bar stools ponied up to it. Then, there was a whole other series of bar stools alongside the concrete countertops. The rest of the décor amounted to a couple of stained and ripped couches, tropical plants, deer antlers, and fish nets draped “decoratively”.  Goodbye eight ugly, enormous barstools and ripped couches!

Get rid of clutter. The energy must flow. Out with the unnecessary! Often times, in life and business this pruning can take the form of a partnership or friendship. When you are growing a beautiful garden, you weed!

The Monstrosity Theory:
We decided to move the “The Monstrosity” into a corner and ended up using it at our wedding. It seems less ominous now with smaller bar stools around it and is often the place we gravitate to at the end of a dinner party.

You don’t have to get rid of the big, ugly thing obstructing the view. Move it to its new purpose. The Monstrosity Theory may relate to the talent you hire, a marketing or a design idea.

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Clutch your Teacup
Keep in mind that this co-creation business happens at its own pace! If it is done right, it takes time and most importantly, it takes lots of cups of tea or bike rides or hikes or yoga classes while tuning into your thoughts and feelings.   In a culture that says “Do! Do! Do!”-- I find that the most productive way to make business and life decisions is by Being. This lesson was hard earned!!! If I had grasped the calm, centered and emotionally aligned feeling that is necessary before making good business decisions, I would not have spent many years with sleepless nights and a crazy-making life running myself ragged in the rag biz..  

Do yourself a biggie---Feel into your decisions and don’t rush knowing what you want. And, while you’re at it, make sure it’s not just your head that wants it. Your feelings know what is healthy for you!  Let your emotions be your compass.  Take the time to explore your motives behind your ambitions. Ask yourself if it is ego gratification or success-seeking that is hiding behind the curtain. Figure-out if what you want is something that will actually nourish you.

Pondering Couches:
I pondered couches. Should they be chocolate brown? No, they should be black. Should they be leather? Yes, leather. Modern lines, black leather with big grommets. Then, one day while I was running errands in town, Norm (my husband) found the perfect couches, exactly as I had imagined, at a consignment store.

Pondering Couches is how I recommend pondering business decisions and life choices. Should I go this way or that way? Remember, when you have a big vision of where you are going, your job is to figure-out your next step. Next-step analysis is your key to success. It is your best tool to keep from getting overwhelmed and giving-up.  In this small and focused place, The Universe can co-create with you because you are tuned-in and not scattered.

Waa-La
The very day I decided I needed a cow hide rug for our living room, my rep called and said, “I have a black and white cow hide rug in my garage that my husband really wants me to get rid of; I’ll send it to you.”

Time and again, I follow the process of taking the time to feel-into what is next, and the perfect item, person, or situation appears. I stopped being amazed years ago and am now just grateful each time it happens.

Take a chance on a scary dog.
One night during a blizzard four years ago, I was home alone and was startled by a black wolf-like dog staring at me intently through the glass door. She was wet and cold and nearly starved. I took a chance and let her in and named her Maggie.  She has been a wonderful addition to our lives. Maggie had spent years sitting in a hole in the ice, envisioning her perfect family and a comfy bed by a roaring fire.

Calculated risks can pay-off. Your job is to DISCERN a calculated risk versus a careless risk. Careless risks reek of wishful thinking. 

Next!
At this point, the lesson seems to be about knowing when the cycle is complete and understanding it’s not about perfection.  If we focus all our energy on pondering couches or the perfect rug so to speak, we will miss out on all the new adventures waiting for us.

The process of starting my new business and dreaming of a life in the mountains has come full circle.  I am grateful that we live in a place where we grow our green drinks and curious moose stop-by.

Lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1.  Feel into your decisions.

2.  Don’t rush knowing what you want.

3.  Get rid of clutter. The energy must flow. Out with the unnecessary!

4.  Clutch your teacup and ponder.

5.  Take a chance on a scary dog.

6.  You don’t have to get rid of the big, ugly thing obstructing the view. Move it to its new purpose.

7.  Know when the cycle is complete.

8.  Understand it’s not about perfection.

Karen Schwartz-Clover

Karen Schwartz-Clover is a business consultant and coach. She specializes in business strategy, crossroads decision making and next move analysis. 
For more information she can be reached at: karensc111@yahoo.com