I Know You’re In There

It is so so so doggone easy to get into a habit.

A habit of turning on the radio or TV when you get in the car or enter a certain room;

A habit of leaving a dirty dish on the counter instead of in the dishwasher so it can call of its friends to join it over time as others see what a good idea you’ve had;

A habit of waiting for a break in the conversation to give your response;

A habit of making sure everyone else has clean underwear without checking your own drawers (see what I did there… drawers… sometimes I crack myself up);

A habit of saying: “No, it’s fine, I’ll get [do, make, clean, carry, fix] it”;

A habit of thinking: “I’ll do that as soon as _______”;

A habit of caring for others instead of yourself;

A habit of ALWAYS thinking;

A habit of filling up all of the spaces with information, sounds, stories, words, entertainment;

slide1A habit of being the last in line;

A habit of going to bed last and getting up first;

A habit of saying yes when you mean no;

A habit of eating the leftovers nobody else wants;

A habit of carrying all of the bags in at the same time rather than asking for help;

A habit of giving up before it actually becomes an argument;

A habit of dressing for function not form and assuming you could never have both;

A habit of being satisfied with not bad;

A habit of shrinking when the voices get loud;

A habit of hiding when it’s time to dance.

I implore you, do something different. The world needs you at your real size, at full volume, on the dance floor, on the street, at the podium, at the lectern, on the phone call, in the studio, at the microphone, on the bullhorn, at your laptop doing YOUR thing. There is nobody else like you. We need what you have inside. If you don’t bring it, where on earth will we get it? Do something different. See how that feels. Call me and tell me about it, put it on my FB page, or tell me why you think you can’t 240-367-9730. I can help.

Ten Lessons of Loss

slide2As many of you know I lost my father just over a month ago. It has been a difficult time, but it’s also been kind of amazing. There has been so much compassion, so much rest, and so so much to learn. I’m only beginning to be able to give words to the lessons of loss. I share them with you to offer some small consolation if you foresee or have already experienced your own great loss. There are life lessons to learn, as gently and slowly as needed, even in this difficult time.

  1. Grief will not be denied. The wording on this one is from my friend Dixie St. John who just happened to post it on FB about a week after my father’s passing. Resistance to grief is futile friends. There is no shelving grief, setting it aside, saving it for a rainy day, stuffing it. You might manage it, but if you insist on refusing your grief, it will wreak havoc. Grief will not be denied.
  2. Grief is extremely physical. I slept. I ate. I didn’t eat. I wanted a long shower. I wanted to be still. I wanted to run very fast and then do absolutely nothing. The task of grieving uses physical energy. Most people who are grieving need more sleep than they usually do. The immune system doesn’t work as well as usual, so getting that sleep is critical. There are actually studies indicating that there is a greater risk of a variety of health problems when we are grieving. Treat your body with kindness. It’s working hard.
  3. Grief can strip away what’s not important. If you’re like me, grieving will make it abundantly clear what you really care about in the world because everything else will fall away. Really, for me everything fell away for a little while and it seems to be returning in the order in which I cherish it. Pay attention. If you’re at all confused about what your priorities are and what needs your attention, grief will clear that stuff up for you real quick.
  4. Grief can teach you to ask for help if you let it. You will have to let it. It’s your choice.
  5. Saying no is allowed, often necessary, and doesn’t require follow-up or an explanation.
  6. Grief is best shared with others who are grieving. Relaxing while grieving is easiest for me either by myself or with people who are also grieving. There’s so much I don’t have to explain. There’s so much I don’t need to worry about. Mutual comfort, distraction, and the warmth of the bond.
  7. People want to help you but they don’t know what to do. People become tender footed around those who are grieving. They want to be sure that the help they offer is the help you want. So they make general offers. “Let me know how I can help.” They mean it. Believe that they mean it. If you are comfortable, let someone know what would be helpful. It’s okay to let someone make your life easier.
  8. People want to say something loving/kind/meaningful but WILL get it wrong. You can choose what you hear. I began to interpret all the things people said after my father’s death as “I love you. I care that you are hurting.” Everything that was said helped when I listened through those ears, the ears of my heart.
  9. Many decisions can be made solely on the basis of how you feel. After my Dad’s death a pervasive fog set in and yet I made decisions, even if that decision was to say to someone else: “You pick. I can’t care about that right now,” and to genuinely release the topic, because I didn’t really care about it. I followed my feelings on eating, sleeping, resting, skipping group activities, just about everything and it helped to just let myself follow how I felt.
  10. You can and will survive the loss of those you hold most dear; it will be easier if you allow the love and care of those around you to shore you up. It will also be easier, in the long run, if you allow your sadness, your anger, your relief or whatever you are feeling to be exactly what it is whenever it is happening. You have a right to feel your loss and only you get to decide when you are done.

My wish for you is that your own lessons are gently offered and lovingly received. Be gentle with yourselves.

In peace.

julia

Out With It Already!

How often do you say NO?

I ask because I find that I say it a little more frequently than a lot of folks I know and I still don’t say but half the time I think it. And when I do say it, it’s usually work. Like I have to put that NO through a series of tests to be sure that what I want to say is, in fact, NO… Let me give an example.

slide1I play music with some friends and we had an acquaintance come to a rehearsal to feel out the possibilities of playing together. He’s a very good musician. As we played, I liked what I heard him adding to the songs we’ve been playing and I could imagine a richer more full sound developing as we grew to know each other better. Towards the end of our available time, however, we decided to stop playing and talk about what moving forward would look like. As he talked, I felt myself closing up like fan. I sensed a mismatch on so many levels that I found it hard to even engage in the conversation. I felt the shift from listening to waiting for it to be over. So did I wait for a pause and say I wasn’t really interested; thanks, but it doesn’t really feel like a fit to me? No, I did not. Continue reading

Overthinking Joy to Death

Something really weird is going on.

As context: I have a tendency, on average and below average days, toward overthinking things. I have an idea about changing something, say scheduling a trip to visit a friend. I’ll start by gathering some info (my M.O.) and then I think, and think, and think, and think, and often I think about whether or not I SHOULD do it (I keep encountering the role this word has played in my life) for long enough to either lose interest or be distracted by some more pressing concern, like what I ‘m going to make for dinner, or why my calendar is blowing up. I overthink my intuitive urges to death.

slide2Right now, though? I assume it’s because I don’t have the emotional energy for the overthinking part, but maybe it’s because I’ve unchosen SHOULD for 2017. Either way I just don’t seem to be going there in the same way. There’s been a lot more action, albeit it slow and gentle. I have a notion about something and maybe I gather some info, but mostly I do something about it. And you know what? Things are SO much better. Even in this time of sloth paced engagement, I am making more important strides than I have in months. I feel more able to see a desirable path in front of me. I am more clear about what needs to happen next and I’m more willing to see where that leads. And all of THAT is adding the hope and joy that I need to weather this loss. Continue reading

Making Space

I’ve decided to handle the beginning of this year in a different way than those past. This is largely a result of my father’s death at the end of last year, but this side effect is not necessarily unwelcome. The fact of the matter is that I have slowed WAY down. I am finally heeding the call I’ve been hearing for some time. For the last year when I’ve heard the call to slow down, or when one of my kind coach friends suggests that maybe that’s the song in the distance, I’ve said: “But I’ve already slowed down. How much slower can I get?” I had no idea. I could get a lot slower. And I have.

And so I’m taking my New Year’s self-review and plan at a different pace than I have in years past. In the past that process has usually involved some sort of self-evaluation that revolves around places I’m doing it wrong and then a series of promises of how I’m going to do it right. I usually scurry to sum up those promises on New Year’s Eve so that I have something meaningful to say when my wonderful friends and I have our ritual resolution discussion.  Yeah… none of that has happened, and it’s probably just as well because that process did me NO good. The self-abuse followed by a promise to be a good girl just isn’t going to cut it, and honestly it never has. Continue reading

The Bare Minimum

In the days following my father’s passing, I was in a complete fog and was fully reliant on people around me to tell me where I needed to be, to feed my children, to make me tea. Now I seem to be in a different phase. I am largely keeping track of my own schedule, although it is somewhat limited right now so I confess it’s not all that difficult. I am feeding my kids, and making all but my first cup of tea for the day. But I feel unease, I would say dis-ease, but it’s not that bad yet. I have this sense that I SHOULD be doing more (there’s that word, the one I was going to UNchoose this year).

If I sit with should, I can give you a fine list of all the things I SHOULD be attending to right now. And I struggle nearly as much with the unease this creates as I do with my own grief. Truth is my body will not have it, will not have me doing more than I can right now. I fall asleep sitting up, typing. I nearly fall asleep at the dinner table. A dear friend reminded me that grief will not be denied; my fatigue tells me this is so. My dear coaching friends remind me that grieving is my job right now. My darling brother asks if people are wearing clothes and if anyone is starving. My sister and I check on each other, giving each other permission to opt out of our shared obligations and joys. Right now it’s all about the bare minimum. Continue reading

Let That Dissatisfaction Heal You

slide1Yesterday we held my father’s memorial service. During the service, rather than a eulogy or a homily, my three siblings and I took the opportunity to share stories and memories about Dad, who he was, who he was to US. At the reception that followed, I had many people tell me that they were moved by my remarks. Many others expressed that they found them helpful, that my story about my Dad shined a light of hope on family conflict, illuminated a path to breaking destructive patterns or to healing hurts so that relationships that are just okay can become deeply fulfilling. My Dad and I walked that path. Continue reading

When Words Are Not Enough

 

My father has died.

And now I must practice all that I preach.

I must allow the feelings, as awful as they are.

I must seek out stillness.

I must say no, be gentle with myself, listen to the small still voice that is kind and compassionate.

I must remember to breathe, eat, and sleep.

I must allow the kindness of others when I have the strength to receive it and forgive myself when I do not.

Grief will not be denied. It is perhaps the most honest emotion in its insistence on being dealt with. I shall honor mine as I honor my father.

Be kind to yourselves friends. All of it, even the very worst parts, works better when we are kind to ourselves.