Are you pulling back enough to gain perspective? + special February coaching prices

eagle on beach

Scroll down to learn about my special coaching prices this month, in celebration of the Lunar New Year!

One thing about my many, many years of journal-keeping is that certain patterns — truths about the way I live my life, the behaviors I resort to when I’m under stress — show up with (sometimes frightening) regularity on my quickly-scrawled pages.

One of these truths about myself, which I don’t necessarily like but am coming to terms with, is that I have a tendency to keep moving things ahead even when they’re not working.

It makes me feel virtuous to check off my daily to-do list, to be there for others, to get things done that feel hard. And, I also truly love these things — when they feel deeply right.

But sometimes, I have a creeping sensation that something isn’t quite right, and, in the interest of getting my work done for the day, I don’t actually step back and ask: Is this work, you know, working? Is doing this stuff contributing to what I desire in the long run?

I had a conversation with a friend recently where I told her about this tendency of mine to keep hanging in there, to keep moving something ahead, even though it’s not necessarily working for me, even though I badly need to press the pause button.

And she said, “Wow, you know, I think of you in exactly the opposite way. You always remind me of how important it is to focus on what really matters and to take time out to be present.”

Ack. Apparently it’s true that we teach what we (desperately) need to learn.

The truth is, I’m a lot better at stepping back and focusing on the big picture than I used to be. In my younger years, I felt like I was constantly on fast-forward. I have no idea what I looked like to others, but I had a huge fear of stopping and looking around.

I became monumentally out of touch with my own feelings, and it was only an illness at twenty-five that really slapped me into the reality of what was true for me: I needed to stop pushing, to stop trying so hard to be there for others, and to allow myself to simply be. Not just once in a while, but as a regular practice.

But, it is always a process, and many years later I still get caught up in pushing myself forward when, in fact, what is required is a giant step back.

those icky patterns show up on the pages of my journal

those icky patterns show up on the pages of my journal

Obviously, moving things forward is vital, but the best way to do that is through what we coaches call inspired actionaction connected to what is in the best interests of our essential self — not simply action for the sake of it.

And this can be truly challenging when we live in a society that rewards us for taking lots of actions, for “just doing it.”


Last year, I made the painstaking decision to move into a smaller home. It’s a lot smaller. (I wrote about this journey here.)

It was a complicated situation, but a defining aspect of it was that I was expending a lot of physical, mental, and emotional energy trying to keep up a house that, in the long run, I just didn’t actually want to live in. In the final analysis, I had to admit I just didn’t care about the things that came with maintaining a house.

I would look around at friends and think, well, they do it. It’s worth it to them. And I’d wonder if there was something wrong with me that I wanted to go back to small apartment living, at my age.

But when I thought about moving into a small apartment, where upkeep would be minimal, where maintenance would be taken care of by someone else, where I could feel like each room and each object was well-used and appreciated, I felt all lit up inside. It was my truth, even if it wasn’t somebody else’s.

It took me a long time, though, to actually pull back from my daily existence enough to see this truth.

And it was care of the house, in part, that distracted me from the truth. Whenever I got everything else done, there was always snow to be shoveled, or leaves to be raked, or a flooded basement, or an attic fan that needed repairing. But isn’t this what you’re supposed to do? I’d think. Grow up and take care of a house?


Martha Beck, in her book Finding Your Own North Star, talks about the difference between “mouse vision” and “eagle vision”. Mouse vision takes care of the small details that help us get things done each day. Mouse vision is very important, because it is only through tiny, individual steps that we make our way to completing our “big things.”

Eagle vision, on the other hand, is about the big picture — it’s soaring above the landscape so we can get a sense of the whole scheme and notice what needs attending to, what needs to be let go of, and when we need to fly in a slightly (or dramatically) different direction.

It’s easy to get stuck in mouse vision. If you find yourself saying things like, “I can’t believe how the years are getting away from me,” it’s likely that mouse vision is a little too much at play in your life.

Something I’ve noticed while working on novel drafts (which I will get into more in a future post) is that it is really important to be able to flexibly switch between mouse vision and eagle vision in the creative process. Just like in my life, I’ve had a tendency to push my writing forward even when something nags at me, raising its little hand and saying, “Hey! Something’s not working here!”

It feels so virtuous to keep plugging along, to write more words, to check that off my to-do list! Who wants to pull back and look at the work as a whole? Do I get a gold star for doing that?

But it’s so necessary, in our lives as well as our creative work.

How do you know it’s time to pull back and embrace the big picture?

• You feel like you are drowning in the day to day. It feels like you’re just going from one thing to another, putting in the time.

• You feel disconnected from yourself, or your creative work.

• You find yourself getting really angry when you have to perform certain tasks. (When I was living in the house, there came a point where any time something broke — the dryer, the lock on the front door — I felt like I was ready to kill somebody. This kind of anger is a sure sign that something needs to change.)

• You start to get sick of hearing yourself complain about the same things, over and over.

The next step — as always! — is acceptance. This is where you are — and change is totally possible. What does a shift to a broader perspective reveal to you?

If you’re a little too entrenched in “mouse vision” and you’d like some support, I’m offering a package of three thirty-minute coaching sessions through Feb. 12 (this Friday). I don’t regularly offer thirty-minute sessions, so if this way of working with me appeals to you, I encourage you to check it out!

Also, through the end of this month, my 60-minute sessions and packages are at special prices in celebration of The Year of the Yang Fire Monkey! Find out more about this and my other coaching offerings here.

Eagle image © Cecilia Lim | Dreamstime Stock Photos

10 thoughts on “Are you pulling back enough to gain perspective? + special February coaching prices

  1. Love this entire post so much- really resonates, thank you! “This is where you are” is such wise advice. It reminds of something I read that seems to mesh with that. It was in reference to the holidays, and being around someone who is difficult to be with- about meeting them where they are. To disengage, to engage. To step back, to stop trying to control, to going from more of what you said- mouse vision- to eagle vision, in order to go back to meaningful mouse vision for those moments. (And I’m with you on houses- I’ve lived in two and I never quite clicked with them- but I have with apartments. To each their own!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathryn, I’m so glad this resonated for you! You make such a good point, and I totally agree that meeting others where they are — and maybe especially meeting ourselves where we are! — can bring such relief. I like how you applied the mouse vision/eagle vision to relationships — it definitely comes into play there, too!

      I wonder if there are “apartment people” and “house people”. 🙂 I actually really loved the house, but over time it began to feel more like “baggage” than a good fit as a living space. I seem to be really drawn to cozy spaces — still figuring out why that is!


  2. Hi Jill, Kathryn here again- was writing in such a rush, realized I didn’t mention exactly what you connected to immediately- the idea that as we can meet others where they are, we can meet ourselves where we are too. Applicable words for so much in life. And I agree about apartment and house people. I’m not sure either, as to why some are drawn to one over the other. But I love cozy too. It makes me feel safe, and therefore free 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that, Kathryn. Yes — meeting ourselves where we are is such an important step, and unfortunately, I think it’s one that many of us skip right over. I know I need to remind myself of it all the time!

      And “safe and therefore free” — I totally love that. 🙂


  3. Hey Jill:-) I love the mouse vision/eagle vision analogy, and know well the importance of being able to switch flexibly between the two, and not value or promote one over the other, but recognise they need to work in partnership, I need to revisit something I wrote a while back – a story about a mouse and a hawk which for me represented the mind and the heart, the heart being the mouse and the hawk being the mind, and how, again, the two, though apparently so different and even afraid of each other at times, need to work together to get the full experience of life. How do I know when I’ve lost the bigger picture? When I lose my sense of humour, when I feel like a victim, when there’s a lot of fear present. Thanks for a wonderful inspiring and wise post – as always! Love and blessings, Harula x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Harula! So good to hear from you. I love your ways of knowing you have lost the bigger picture — brilliant! Those are so true for me, too (especially the losing my sense of humor one!).

      Your mouse and hawk (heart and mind) story sounds fascinating — is it posted on your site? Yes, getting the heart and mind “together” can be quite the challenge. They often do seem at odds, and yet you’re so right that getting them on the same page allows us a fuller life. Thank you for your insights on this — I so appreciate them. 🙂


      • Hi Jill 🙂 No, I never put it up on my site, and now I can’t find it…doh!…I have soooooo many miscellaneous notebooks, but I’ll track it down. The reason I thought of it was because it also totally ties in with your idea of the detail and the bigger picture. Mouse was great at detail (safety, familiar, close by, warmth), but had to overcome fear and climb onto hawk’s back to fly and get the bigger picture. Bless you for showing an interest and for reminding me of a piece I now want to track down! Hugs, Harula xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you can find the piece, Harula — I’m loving what you’ve shared about it, sounds beautiful! (Sorry I can’t seem to reply right beneath your post.) I know what you mean, I have so much writing in various notebooks I can’t always locate it. Thank you for responding! xo 🙂


  4. ‘This is where you are – and change is totally possible.’ Yes! I love that; it’s definitely something I try to hold front of mind when things get sticky!

    Also I can definitely relate to the mouse/eagle thing {Martha Beck is so good at those catchy metaphors!} – in my experience it works very much like that in painting too. You zoom in and out, sometimes making broad strokes, sometimes tending to small details, then out again to gauge the feel of the whole and see if anything’s standing out in a jarring way. Of course the art studio is full of life lessons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tara, I love the painting example! That really is how it is, isn’t it — zooming in and out in order to gauge what needs attending to — in painting and in life! Our creative work is such a teacher for us in so many ways, as you said. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your insights!


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