When Are You Holding Back?

Slide1My Mom and Stepdad have decided to move, and there’s a big downsize as part of that move. When we gathered on Easter, lots of stuff got distributed. I walked away with a mishmash of things including a box of CDs. On my way back to their house this past Friday to help clean out the cellar, I popped in one of them, John Denver’s Back Home Again. This album played a big part in my musical childhood. As my kids watched Percy Jackson and the whatever whatever whatever in the back (with headphones) I sang childhood John Denver songs at the top of my lungs. Both “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Grandma’s Feather Bed” are on that particular album and I chuckled to myself as I remembered his appearance on The Muppets singing those songs. If I’ve lost you completely because you are too young for any of this, you might want to plug the feather bed song into YouTube. I remember that Muppets appearance being pretty awesome.

At any rate, what I hadn’t remembered was another song, Sweet Surrender. “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE. LIKE A FISH IN THE WATER. LIKE A BIRD IN…”  “Mom, that’s REALLY loud.” Right, sorry, volume adjustment. Now, I don’t honestly know whether or not fish and birds are actually without care as they move through the world, but I get the point about being in the moment, being who you are, flowing, singing as you go to help your Mom pack up her house: “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE…” “MOM!!” Right. Not quite without care. It was not nearly as satisfying at lower volume. Surrender with twins is sometimes more challenging than surrender when I am by myself in the car. Continue reading

Loneliness and Connection

Slide1When I was a teenager, some research study must have been released about “quality time.” There grew to be a general agreement that it was not as important HOW much time you spent with a loved one as whether or not that time was QUALITY time. Suddenly we were all very worried about having important bonding time with people we cared about. What I find fascinating is that we’ve never, at least as a culture, applied the same standard to time with ourselves. There seems to be no general agreement that the time we spend with ourselves should 1) actually happen and 2) be quality time; in fact, you rarely hear people talk about “the time you spend with yourself.” It’s really curious if you start to think about it. All of our conversations about relationship and how to spend time appropriately to nurture those relationships have to do with everyone else. Don’t we need to spend time, and not just any old time but QUALITY time with ourselves? Don’t we need to know who WE are and take care of that person? Continue reading

The Mirror

I’ve come up against a challenge of age lately. It’s not a BIG deal, definitely qualifies as a “first world problem,” but it got me thinking about some stuff that I thought maybe a few of you could relate to. I have reached the point where in order to do something to my face that requires specificity of location (plucking hairs, putting on eye makeup, applying ointment to something that needs healing), I need my specs. I just can’t see the details that close without them. Problem is the specs get in the way of a majority of the procedures I would need to use the mirror for in the first place. “Ahhhh. THAT’s why those mirrors are around,” you know those magnification mirrors. Sometimes they light up so you can have some kind of notion of how sunlight or club light will affect whatever look you’re working on, but let’s face it, it’s mostly about the magnification. And those mirrors aren’t just sold to people my age (or my ocular age which is a bit higher) and older; all kinds of people are okay with looking up real close at imperfections on their faces so they can do whatever they need to do to feel good about how they present themselves.

Slide1It got me to wondering how we can be SO okay with looking with such great scrutiny and intensity at our faces and then refuse to look at the rest of us in the mirror at all. And notice I say “we” here, because this is something I totally used to do, avoid eye to body contact. The objection here is: “But you look great,” and that objection has absolutely nothing to do with what goes on in MY head. For years I did not actually look at myself in a mirror that showed more than my face while undressed because the critic in my head was OUT OF CONTROL. What other people saw was of little interest to me. It was what SHE saw, that mean girl in my head, that had worn me down over time. Better to avoid her altogether by not looking and getting dressed early in the shower to rest of world progression. Continue reading

Confusion is a Lie

“Confusion is always a lie,” said Brooke Castillo in one of her Life Coach School podcasts. Whoa. Maybe that’s not a big statement to YOU but boy howdy did it land with me. Let me explain a little.

I am a life coach, but this is not my first chosen profession. Heck, it’s not even my second, which is not to say that it isn’t the best for me, which it is…. oh boy. This may get complicated, but NOT confusing. A little mini bio for you.

When I finished college with my bright shiny liberal arts degree (more like Nittany blue and shiny), I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do to support myself. To be honest, I’m not even sure I had any idea what I wanted to study while there. I knew what I didn’t want, and that helps, but it’s a big world and you can’t get where you want to be just through the process of elimination. I guess you can if you want, but man that’s a slow process. Continue reading

A Calm in the Digital Storm

I admit I’ve been feeling the pull lately.

giphyI’ve been spending too much time on social media, listening to the news a lot, quickly reading and sharing an awful lot of information. It’s gotten to me, pushed me over the brink a little. And truth is, there’s plenty going on in the world every day about which we could justifiably feel pushed over the brink.

The thing is, my being in that space doesn’t help. It doesn’t help me (for sure – I’d hate to see where my stress hormones are registering these days). It doesn’t help others if I lose my head and fail to think clearly, receive with compassion, respond with reason and love. It doesn’t help my clients if I’m distracted. It doesn’t help my family if I’m not present. It doesn’t help the world if I read the 10th version of the same piece of information. All I’m doing is inflicting repeated trauma on myself. I found myself in this position this morning. I had planned to do some writing work, putting together some programs and packages, but my Facebook feed got in the way. And then I stayed there, chained to my screen, reading what was basically the same thing over and over and over again; reading, sharing, reading, sharing.  It was a bit of a mess, and so was I. And we both know it doesn’t take national turmoil to have this kind of reaction to trouble. We get sucked into messes of all kinds on the regular. Continue reading

Surrender

This is the change I’ve been working on.

surrender1And yes, I’m telling you I’m working on surrendering, which is hilarious, and is so exactly me. I am so bad at surrender, that I think I have to work at it.

In my last post, I talked about surrender and acceptance as a possible response to a catalytic event. My discussion of surrender was brief though, and given events in the U.S. this week (to which I struggle to surrender at all much less comfortably), I think it’s worth taking a few moments to consider surrender further here.

What does it mean to surrender to an event? For many of us, surrender is synonymous with giving up, and giving up is really not encouraged in Western culture. What does it mean to give up and what does it mean to surrender? Are they the same thing? What do we give up when we surrender? Why does our culture look down on surrendering? Continue reading

When Someone Drops a Bomb

slide1No matter how we arrange our lives, there will be occasions when somebody drops a bomb. We get horrible news. We are betrayed or hurt by a loved one. We discover something we wish we had never known. We lose someone we care about. There are so many ways for this to happen and they’re all out there, those universe bombs. They are out there because no matter how we arrange our lives, and no matter how internally healthy we are, there is an awful lot out there that is simply out of our control. The question is not whether or not a single life will include these universe bombs, but what we do when they fall.

There are so many ways to respond, but they are not all equally effective. Continue reading

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

The Journey

IMG_4405-1“It’s about the journey, not the destination.”

Ugh.

This sentence has annoyed me so many times in my life, not the least of which was during a particularly arduous drive to an annual trip with family. Our trip is supposed to take about 6 hours. Known quantity. It is not a new trip. For whatever reason, when I plugged the same old info into the GPS, we got a route that claimed we would be arriving in 4 and one half hours… After I checked to be sure that I had plugged in the right destination, I rejoiced internally, celebrated technology, and began heading down the road on the charted course.

We calculated that the first big turn in the route would coincide with a time when it would make sense to grab some lunch, fill the tank before the drive through the hills, and exchange the morning’s tea and coffee for some water. Perfect. We were on our way. And then we realized, that turn in the road was a turn we’d made before. That sense grew that we were about to repeat an error that we had made in the past, but that promise of the shorter trip proved too tempting to pass up. Continue reading

Givers and Receivers

I know, you were expecting that “takers” part, but frankly I am bone weary of givers and takers conversations. I really am. I don’t find this distinction helpful, even in the moments when I can characterize myself as a “giver” in that scenario. Dividing into givers and takers just makes the “givers” angry at the “takers” and makes the “takers” confused by the accusation. My revised dichotomy is based on advice given to me about meditating. No, I’m not going to ask you to meditate, at least not right now, unless you want to in which case you should totally have at it.

Slide1The advice was to breathe deeply, relaxing more with each breath, and open to receiving. It stopped me in my tracks, or in my breaths I should say. Open to receiving. As I noticed my clenched jaw, it occurred to me that I was not even remotely open to receiving. And it seemed to me that stance was about more than relaxing by meditating. What was I prepared for? Why so clenched? Why am I glancing at the timer and hoping my jaw unclenches by the time I’m halfway through the “meditation.” I fear what I was focused on was a sort of tortured “giving.” Continue reading