Listen More Often

slide1This morning I had the pleasure of singing a song that cuts through so very much noise, which is a funny thing to say, that a song cut through the noise. The first line of the song is “Listen more often to things than to beings…” The song goes on to describe that the people we love who pass on are never really gone. They live on in the world all around us. And if we listen, we can hear them. My musical partner and I sang it for our church service.

Later in the service, a brilliant woman was discussing how her beliefs have developed and changed over the years. She described a moment in her childhood where she put her ear to the ground so she could hear the song of the earth. For her, this simply meant that there is a song in the earth, and that if you listen, you can hear it. I’m listening.

The theme of the day wasn’t about listening, and yet for me, it clearly was. And I heard it. I thought about what I do and don’t listen to, a notion I’ve been toying with for a little while. It is oh so easy to hear the loudest noises, to hear the spoken words, to hear the first reaction and move on. After all, there are so many noises to attend to. Continue reading

Busyness and Overwhelm

There are many reasons people become overwhelmed; for me, the fastest way to become overwhelmed is to have too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. I can’t tell you how many of my clients struggle to take care of themselves, to get enough sleep, to make appointments with me, to do the things they KNOW they’d like to do because they are too busy to do these things. “How are you? ” “I’m busy. Good, but busy.” Further conversation makes the good less clear and the busy REALLY clear. Out of curiosity I recently asked someone to describe a few days to me, to see what busy looks like, and I have to tell you, it was absolutely dizzying. She was seriously busy: good busy, but busy.

slide1The problem with this level of busy-ness is manyfold. First of all, being so busy usually involves limiting some kind of self-care, whether it be adequate sleep, eating good food, or having enough time to think about, feel, and process what’s going on in your life. More often than not, a super busy life involves at least two if not all three of those. Secondly, I believe that being so busy creates a sense of emergency in the body. There is little difference in the body between constantly rushing to get to work on time after the early morning drop-off and rushing to get away from a saber tooth tiger. We’re evolved, but we’re not that evolved. These fine distinctions don’t really matter to the body. Being busy, rushing, or just feeling busy all the time creates physical and mental stress reactions that are not good for us. Finally, being so busy often prevents us from doing things that nourish us, that feed our souls, that make life fulfilling, not just full. Continue reading

Maybe Those Invitations ARE for You

I’ve been telling my Facebook followers that I couldn’t wait much longer to start talking about Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior.  I did want to wait, though. I wanted to wait to give people a chance to read it themselves and I wanted to let it sink in after I read it. This book is so dense with humanity and wisdom that there’s a lot to take in. I considered doing a giant post on all the lessons in the book and decided that it would not do justice to either the book or to you. These lessons are rich and packed with meaning, not to be discussed in a sentence or two.

So instead, today I just want to sit with one idea, one quote from this book. It’s a dilly.

slide-1 In this part of the memoir, Glennon Doyle Melton is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, a reality for which she feels completely unprepared and of which she is certain she is not worthy. She experiences a turn, a shift, and makes a decision to believe something new. Her new beliefs, her new thoughts about herself and God and the universe led her down a new path. She explains: “I will stop deeming myself unworthy of invitations and trust the inviter. I will test out the ridiculous, nonsensical possibility that somehow, in some way I can’t yet see, I will rise to meet this call.”

This sentence stopped me in my tracks. Continue reading

How Busy Are You?

slide1Historically I’m a list maker by nature. It’s not the making the list that I enjoy. It’s the crossing it off, the checking the box; the little “done” bell that rings in my head when I complete an item on the list that I really love. I’ve so enjoyed this part of the list making job that I have retroactively added items that I’ve already completed to the list so that I can have the joy of crossing them off. Ding. “Done.” You get a gold star, oh yes you do. Look how productive you are. You are really doing it. Well, doing something. Well, doing lots of things.

These days, I don’t really make lists. I really don’t. Sometimes I’ll make a list of people I need to get in touch with, but I don’t cross them off. I’m noticing this change right now as I’m writing. I have stopped crossing things off lists. I’ve stopped ringing my “done” bell. Why? I think I’ve had a fundamental shift. And the shift has to do with busyness. Western culture hold busyness in very high regard. Busyness is productivity. Productivity is value. Value is worth. Ding. You get a gold star. Yay!!! Continue reading

When the Old Patterns Win

slide1Oh how much easier my day would have been…

If I had just said: “I need to go back to bed,” OR

“I’d really like to read for awhile. Would you like to read on the other end of the couch?” OR

“I’m going to put my earbuds in while I cook and listen to some music. Do you need anything before I do that?” OR

“I’m going to take a long walk. Will you please be sure your chores are done by the time I get back?”

For some reason, today I just didn’t have it in me. The new learning felt harder than the old habits, and here I am, with the headache, resentment, and fatigue I had on the first day of this particular school. I spent today hearing that old tape of “I have to do everything.” I was saying it in my head even when there was a live human standing in front of me asking what he can do. If I weren’t so tired, I’d find that pretty funny. Continue reading

There Are No Fresh Starts

That’s right. I said it.

freshstartsI said it even though I can’t count the number of times I myself have wished for one. For me the fresh start wish is more like an anxious whimper that comes out as: “I gotta get out of here.” This is my reptilian go to mantra when my situation has become uncomfortable to a degree that I feel can no longer tolerate. My lizard brain mantra flashes into my mind, unsummoned, unwanted, and unconsciously habitual and self-reinforcing. When the fish hits the fan*, something in me says it’s time to go.

Go where? Anywhere. Because anywhere is better than here. Anyplace is not this place and when I’m there in the anyplace else, everything will be different. And herein lies the first problem with the “fresh start” approach to big life problem solving. Anyplace else WILL be different in many ways I’m sure. It will be different enough in lots of day to day ways that will be distracting enough to last for a while, especially if they involve a new job, new community building, and new housing. What WON’T be different, though, is me. I don’t know who said it, but “wherever you go, there you are” must surely have been talking about me in my 20s. Continue reading

The Upside of Our Outrage

slide1There’s a lot of raw emotion out there these days, at least in the United States. Social media is full of accusations, outrage, opinion, art, strident cries for justice and humanity and pleas for civility and peace. I find it difficult to wade through the level of emotion so readily available even as I find myself feeling raw and edgy lately. I tear up more easily (in anger, fear, and out of waves of love and in awe of connection).  I feel my outrage surface more frequently. I feel the walls that have been holding me back, shrinking me to an acceptable attitude, crumbling one rock at a time.

I hear the pleas for civility and peace and I share that interest, but I also rejoice at the raw anger, fear and outrage I’m seeing, not necessarily at its clumsy expression, but at the acknowledgement of its existence. I rejoice at what I can only see as more people who are actually FEELING, who are actually asking themselves and then expressing to others how they FEEL about things. Is it ugly? Yes. Is it strident and painful to listen to? Sometimes. Is it uncomfortable? Always, for everyone. Is it justified? I have no idea nor do I wish to attempt to make that judgment. What I do know for sure is that people are feeling. People who have been “adulting,” who have been trudging along, who have been making do, getting by, stuffing their outrage, and numbing their unhappiness are FEELING. Continue reading

Resilience When You Take A Surface Hit

I’m feeling so lucky. I just got to spend 3 days with my Mom and my sister. We make an annual trek to the beach for a weekend and it is always restorative and fun. In years past we went either in May or September, when it was warm, and would spend hours walking or sitting on the beach, dipping our toes in surf, looking for shells and marveling at the horizon.

This year, we went a little later, in October. A week before our trip the weather forecast was already letting us know that it wasn’t going to be our usual magical weekend at the shore. A huge storm system was moving up the coast… very slowly.  As our trip got closer, there was a little uncertainty. My sister feared flooding on the roads. My Mom bemoaned the forecast but remained determined. They both optimistically packed swimsuits and beach towels, but we chose the car that rode highest of the road. I packed quickly the morning of the trip, after getting the kids on the bus, and didn’t even think about a swimsuit. Something in me knew not to bother. Continue reading

Life Skills: Planning to Achieve

Hey Everybody!

I don’t know about you, but as we move further away from summer and a sort of lax attitude about what happens when, the more planning/scheduling/driving around and remembering my obligations there seems to be. It is so easy to have the things that are important to me personally and professionally get short shrift as the pace picks up and the requests start rolling in. There are many good ways to protect our own personal projects and goals; many of these methods involve working on our thoughts about what we hope to do. Even if we’re clear about our goal and have eliminated our obstacles, however, there is one more BIG step to making that goal a reality: getting down to the nitty gritty and planning to achieve that goal.

I have to admit that planning the nitty gritty of my goals has never been a strong suit of mine. I have, in the past, bought and failed to use planners. I have written on and subsequently ignored calendars. I have let projects and goals go to the wayside because I was too busy with “everything else” that I was using my increasingly full memory to schedule. I have relied on intelligence and charm to carry me through. I have given up on major life goals and projects by passively letting them slip away. No More.  My current goals are too big and too important, and having done the internal work I needed to do to give them adequate priority, I realized I needed to learn how to make these things happen. What do I do to reach a goal? To finish a project?

slide2Well, I’ll tell you. And let me just start by saying I don’t have a planner to sell you. No calendars. No special journal. You will need some paper (or a computer if that’s how you’re most comfortable writing) and eventually you will want something to schedule your time in. I don’t care what you use to make note of your obligations to yourself, but I do STRONGLY suggest that you actually mark them down somewhere. My recent education in planning to achieve a goal comes from the fabulous Brooke Castillo thanks to her Life Coach School Podcast. I’ve added a little to her steps to include my own experience and thought process. These steps are not necessarily EASY, but they aren’t that hard either, and they’re far easier than just kind of winging it and hoping it works out. Continue reading