Asking for Help – It’s Good for Them Too

pexels-photo-242148-2I was sitting in choir at church this past Sunday and one of the littles out in the seats started itching around a bit, chatting loudly, stirring things up – normal 5 year old stuff. I saw her Mom, another choir member, getting agitated and worried and JUST as she got up to go take care of it, two older girls (say 11 and 12) buzzed in, took the little one and her pal in hand and took them out of service to engage them elsewhere. They signaled Mom: “We’ve got it,” and it made my heart full in so many ways. It is always good to see a Mom of a little one get a break, but it also made my heart full watching those girls take charge of the situation, and be trusted by the adults.

Mom could have insisted on taking care of it, and likely missed out on her chance to sing with us. She could have insisted on being the one to attend to whatever the need was, but she didn’t. She chose to allow the help, and those girls did a great job. And the pride showed on their faces later.

As I think about myself and my husband, I acknowledge that we don’t ask for help as often as we perhaps could. It seems easier sometimes to just push through than to figure out precisely what you need and then ask the right person, etc, etc, etc. But really, asking for help doesn’t just do good for the person receiving the help. It does good for the helper and most assuredly for the relationship between the two.

If you don’t believe me, think about a toddler. They are SO eager to help. Sometimes they are so eager to help that they make a right mess of things (ALL of the clothes in the basket: dirty and clean frolicking together), diaper cream ALL over instead of on the rash, cookie dough everywhere instead of just on the pan. They so want to help.

We imagine that it changes as kids grow older, but I still find that when we pose something to my kids (twin 11 year olds) as a problem that we need help with rather than say as a failure on their part to do their share (which would likely be both fair and accurate), the willingness goes up dramatically. What is it about being asked to help that does this?

I think there are messages inherent for plea for help:

  1. I trust you to help me,
  2. you are capable (grown enough) to help me,
  3. I also need help sometimes (a great equalizer),
  4. I feel safe showing you where I’m not perfect,
  5. everybody needs help sometimes,
  6. you are good at things, and
  7. you are a contributor to this world we share.

Too often I see parents, Moms especially – sorry, doing everything because it’s easier to just do it or they want their kids to have free time in a world that is dominated by schedules or they know that a child’s help might mean a different outcome than what they are going for. But what messages are we sending when we never ask for help?

  1. I don’t trust you to do this right,
  2. you are incapable of helping me,
  3. I don’t need anybody’s help because I’m grown up,
  4. I can’t admit when I need help
  5. grownups shouldn’t need help,
  6. you aren’t really good at things I need done, and pexels-photo-461049
  7. you can’t contribute here.

Yuck.

I’m sure there are other reasons we don’t ask for help. Stories we’ve written for ourselves about what parenting is about, what help means, what vulnerability costs, what it means to be an adult. And wrestling with those stories can take time.

So for some of you, maybe it’s easier to start by understanding that asking for help is helping your child, your partner, your friend or your sibling write a better story about themselves and about what it means to need help. How much easier would it all be if we could just learn to ask and to offer help and feel good about it? How good would it feel to nurture and learn to trust interdependence?

No, You Really Can’t Make Him Change

I got a newsletter today from an outfit that does self-improvement and personal development work and I was intrigued by one of the articles. The headline wondered if one partner can change without leaving the other one behind. It caught my attention because my husband and I are both in the middle of major life shifts (me opening my practice and him going to seminary), so I was curious to see what they had to say about the impact these big changes can have on relationships, and I was intrigued by this idea of being  “left behind.”

How to change your husbandIn the article I found the usual handwaving at the idea that we can’t change other people. It was brief and implied that the idea was assumed. Like, “of course you can’t change anybody else, only yourself.” And then the article proceeded to describe how you might actually be able to change your partner if you do it right – indirectly and by setting a good example, you know being a great role model for your child, I mean partner. You can praise them and be kind so they WANT to change. You can ask supportive questions rather than giving advice so that your partner will feel supported in pursuing change. You can make changing with your partner FUN, again so that your partner will want to change. So we can’t change other people but we sure can try to make them want to change?

What would happen if we just decided that we can change and our partners can be whoever they need to be? What if only one person changing doesn’t mean anyone is being left behind? What if sharing a life path with someone doesn’t mean being cemented at the hip but pursuing our own interests and coming together in enjoyment and fulfillment? What if we stopped asking other people to change when we are uncomfortable?

Don’t get me wrong. I think couples can change together, grow together, share their learning and inspiration. We do it all of the time, but constantly wanting my husband to change in specific ways tends to lead to a great deal of disappointment on my part and confusion and irritation on his.

What if instead of putting all of this time and energy into leading that horse to water, we just stopped to take a nice long drink (not as a role model but for refreshment) and checked out our thoughts about our partners? What if we decided to accept them and believe that adults get to be who they are? What if we decided to change our thoughts and our feelings and let our partners be to develop and grow in their own way, at their own pace, in their own time? What could flourish in a relationship with that kind of space? What could you accomplish if you weren’t so worried about inspiring your partner’s growth?

Complete yourself

You can lead a horse to water, or you can trust your partner to know when she is thirsty and let her sort it out for herself. That doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive. And it doesn’t mean you won’t inspire each other to grow. What it does mean is that you won’t be hinging your own happiness on whether or not your partner jumps through hoops or folds the laundry or goes to law school. What it means is that you get to be whole, and so does your partner. Two whole people, with whole hearts and separate identities – together by choice for mutual celebration and support. Sounds pretty good to me.

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The Path of “We” and “Me”

I went to a masquerade ball on Saturday night. Yes, that’s what I said.

I hesitated to go. My husband is away for monthlong classes at seminary. It was EXCEEDINGLY cold (not really conducive for ball-wear). And I had a great lunchtime event that I felt like called for a few hours of putting my feet up.

But my friend wisely said: “Your children are with your sister. My husband will drive us both. C’Mon Cinderella. It’s time to have some fun.” And so I did.

photo-booth-wedding-party-girls-160420And I had SO much fun. I danced like I haven’t danced for YEARS. Got all sweaty haired and disheveled. I felt the freedom of doing something that was fun and doing it exactly the way I wanted to do it. I drank champagne. I nibbled on divine snacks. My girlfriend and I tried to figure out who was who behind all of the masks. And when the songs were right, we tore it up.

People expressed some sympathy that Scot couldn’t join us.

But honestly, he’s having SO MUCH FUN doing his thing. He calls all excited about theology… I try to keep up.

Last year I saw this month long requirement of his as a huge burden. I was angry. Not necessarily at him because that felt mean, but at the school for running things this way, at the extra work I had to do, at the inconvenience of it all.

This year there’s something different happening. A coach friend shared a vision of relationships as a path, and that sometimes there are divergences on the path – like when you’re hiking and there’s a little side trail that avoids the big rock in case that’s not your jam. She said people are often afraid of those divergences – what if we grow apart? But here’s a question I’d offer instead: what if we stop growing at all? What will we miss out on if we never take that divergence – if we always stick on the “we” path and never sidestep for a “me” minute?

When I was at the ball I noticed a young woman (her gown was fabulously sparkly) who very clearly LOVED to dance. She was dancing and singing along with the music most of the night. Her partner in crime was NOT as enthusiastic. And so, she spent a good bit of that dancing in a sort of muted way next to her partner’s chair. When she couldn’t stand it anymore, when the song was just too good ,she’d rush to the dance floor without him. I also saw him graciously concede a few times and join her for a slow song.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd I couldn’t help but wonder if she wouldn’t have more fun if she just followed that side path a little more often. If she wouldn’t feel more like herself, and he wouldn’t love the confidence and magic that comes with that feeling, if she could just trust that the “we” path could survive a few more minutes of unrestrained “me.”

How about you? Which path are you on? Do you like your reasons for being there? Do you feel like yourself? It’s worth a moment to consider.

I’ve done that. I’m going to go dance some more.

Rewriting Your Family Stories for the Holidays

There are so many great things about the holiday season, and for many folks that includes spending time with family. For many, that particular part of the puzzle is more complicated than just straight-up joy. There may be a variety of reasons for that complexity, but I guarantee that if there’s baggage there, there are also stories.

A friend of mine likes to say that one of the reasons that our family is so good at pushing our buttons is that they are the ones who helped sew them on in the first place. Our families of origin are co-creators in some of our worst stories. The negative things we tell ourselves are sometimes just echoes of things we were told as kids. The negative ideas we have about relatives may have been formed on the basis of one particularly bad interaction, or a pattern that held 20, 30, 40 years ago. Those stories don’t age well. Our stories get more entrenched the longer we let them stick around, and our ability to see evidence that suggests that we’re wrong diminishes over time.

have a better holiday with your familySo there’s the holiday dilemma for many people. There are still these stories about who we are, about who they are, about the way “we” do things, and then we’re all supposed to get together and have the best time we’ve had all year, which I’d like to point out, is also a story.

Here’s the thing. All of that stuff is optional. All of it, from the bottom to the top. Getting together with your family is optional  – and I hear all of you saying: “but you don’t understand, you don’t know my family. I could never get away with that because….” Yeah. Optional. You can choose not to participate. Might there be consequences? Yes, but it’s still optional. And the way those consequences impact you? Also optional. But I realize that kettle of fish might be too big to consider just this minute.

Let’s assume that you still want to get together with your family, just without so much tension or anxiety or whatever form your holiday complexity takes. You can totally choose to do that. It may take some practice, but it is totally do-able.

First you’re going to need to become a keen observer – not of what everyone else is doing wrong or saying wrong or being rude about – but of what’s going on in your own head and how it impacts your heart. You need to notice what you are thinking about these people and about yourself. You need to notice what assumptions you are making. You need to notice how you are interpreting what they say (even when you have tons of evidence from the past that points to your interpretation being absolute truth). You need to notice what you are thinking that is hurting you. Examples of family stories you might want to pay special attention to: your “role” in the family, how you’ve “always” gotten along or not gotten along with so and so, the way so and so REALLY feels about you, anything you need to prove to anyone, your level of responsibility for the happiness of others – am I hitting anything for you yet?

Here’s the secret about this first step: if this is all you do, it will still help SO MUCH. When you become an observer of your thoughts and feelings, you are far less likely to get caught up in them and react/act impulsively/co-create drama. When you become that observer (the watcher), you give yourself a little emotional distance and it becomes infinitely easier to allow multiple interpretations, to see other perspectives, and to simply allow other people to be wrong, rude, or hurtful without it having to mean anything to you personally. Watch yourself with curiosity and compassion and your family gathering will be a whole different ball game. Notice how things change. Notice the amount of personal power there is in how you respond and react (or don’t).

If you want to take it a bit further, you’ll need to acknowledge that the things that you are thinking may not be actual facts. They may be opinions and you could be wrong. They may be assumptions that you’ve been making for years. They may be someone else’s garbage that you’ve decided to lug around. If you’re like me the idea of just being wrong doesn’t really help, but it sure does when I realize that means I get to decide to think and feel something different. I’ve talked a lot about this thought changing business, but it’s rarely as transformative as it can be when we decide to take on our family stories, those carefully sewn on buttons.

 

So what can you do once you’ve decided that maybe the things you are thinking aren’t serving you? How do you think something different? You choose and practice new thoughts.

And here’s where you think I’m going to hand you a bunch of really sunshiney affirmations – no worries on that front – like, at all,. When you choose to believe something different, you don’t just decide to feed yourself a really pretty sounding lie – even though to be fair you may have been feeding yourself an ugly lie before. When you want to change how you think, you need to choose a new thought that is better than the old one, but still believable. Sometimes you need to give new thoughts a test drive – is this something that’s going to cause me to constantly argue with myself or does it bring a little relief, a sense of possibility, a little compassion to myself or others. You have to choose to actively practice a thought that will improve your situation but that maybe isn’t quite the rainbow glitter unicorn of a thought you’d really LOVE to believe if it wasn’t so incredibly outlandish.

When you feel your old story rearing up, remind yourself that it’s a choice, and actively think that new thought. Remind yourself that you aren’t responsible for everyone’s holiday or that you have no idea what they think of you. Remind yourself that you don’t have to revert to your 14 year old self. Remind yourself that you get to decide who you will be both within and outside of the family.

Reduce your family dramaAnd then notice how you feel. And notice what happens to your complex family gathering. Notice as your ability to enjoy increases and your stress level decreases. Take heart in your capacity to change yourself and, oftentimes, everything around you, just by changing your mind.

 

Whose Battle Are You Fighting?

There have been a lot of hard things lately.

The news has become excruciating.

Some of our relationships are strained by p

olitics.

We’ve got problems and we can’t seem to even agree on what those problems are.

Our thoughts create problems

And that’s just the big stuff.

That doesn’t even get down to the every day hard, the busyness, the job, the elusive work-life balance.

It doesn’t even cover our romantic (or not romantic) relationships and our parenting.

It doesn’t even cover our chronic illnesses and hurts.

Things seem really hard.

And saying that there are difficult circumstances doesn’t begin to account for how difficult they can become due to the way we think about them.

 

How We Make Things Harder

During the last few months my husband and I have been attempting to renegotiate the division of domestic duties. Let me give you a little background. 10 years ago I decided to stay home with our twins and the I made that choice, I assumed most of the domestic responsibilities (because raising twins was clearly not enough). My husband became the breadwinner and I became the bread maker. We plugged along like that for some time. And he got busier, adding a side hustle (out of love) and eventually adding grad school (also out of love). I also added work (out of love) and eventually he whittled his way down to two occupations (side hustle moving forefront and grad school). As I began to nurture my practice and continued being the everything to all people, we felt the need to redistribute the burden.

Our acknowledgement of that need, however, didn’t make it easy to do.

We stalled.

We delayed (him I think because it was not top of mind for him and me perhaps because it seemed easier to just do things than to have a hard conversation about them).

We bickered about the bits that were falling through the cracks.

And I felt resentment growing, like an invasive weed.

And as my resentment grew, I thought of my mother and the women of her generation, so many of whom nurtured a garden of invasive resentment weeds because they felt that they had no choice. I thought of how much my position FELT like that. I thought about how things SHOULD be. And I fumed, growled, and cried, and left things undone out of spite. I grew short with him and with the kids. And I buried all of that in getting busy doing all of the things that poor me HAD to do. No time to be polite. No time to really engage. No time to have a real conversation.

And the a friend said just the thing I needed to hear. Actually 3 friends said similar things on the same day, which even I must concede sounds a little like divine intervention stepping in. All of these wise women asked me to reflect on my husband’ nature. “Is he an old-fashioned guy?” “Does he think you should have to do everything?” “Is he so swamped that he can’t even see what’s happening?”

Leaving the Story Behind

Arguments about HouseworkTheir wise questions pushed me to step out of the argument that I had created and to step back into a conversation with my reality, not my mother’s reality, not women’s reality, not a previous generation’s reality. I suddenly realized that a big part of what was making this so hard was me. I was turning a problem, a challenge, into a full-on ideological issue. I was defending women everywhere.

There was no need for me to do that in THIS particular case.

And when I stopped arguing for everybody’s reality, we were able to have a conversation, a real conversation. I was clear. I was heard. I was acknowledged, and now there’s a plan. When I stopped dragging all of these other people into the issue, when I stopped thinking it was bigger than it really was, when I adjusted my story to account for the reality of who my husband is, who I am, and how we operate, I was able to articulate my needs and my feelings and they were met with exactly the kind of reaction that I would have hoped for. It turns out I didn’t have to fight the power this time.

Why does that matter? Am I suggesting we all stop fighting for the big ideological issues? Absolutely not. Anybody who know me knows better than that.

What I am suggesting is that some problems, some challenges, some issues are just not that complicated or that hard. We get it all tangled up together. We come to the problem with our politics, our feelings, our baggage (and usually a few other people’s baggage as well) and we make it so complicated. Some problems just aren’t that hard.

Rest Into The Problem

I got a little e-mail from one of my mentors, Martha Beck, earlier this week that suggested that when you are stuck and things seem difficult, maybe it’s time to rest into the problem, to stop pushing so hard. And this feels like THAT to me. “Renegotiating” our domestic division of labor was something that I was pushing very hard on, not just because I wanted it done, but because there were principles at stake.

When I rest into the problem, when I get quiet, when I quiet the clamor of ideology, culture wars, activism and outrage, I see things differently. I don’t become a Stepford wife. I become the me who KNOWS how committed my husband is to equality. I become the me who KNOWS how hard it is to take on domestic tasks when you’re out of practice. I become the me who honors the scope of the work I’ve done for these 10 years by not imagining someone could just scoop half of it up and do it efficiently at the drop of the hat. I become the me that KNOWS that we, individually and together, are okay.

Rest can bring truth
When things get hard, what can we do? Rest into it. Get quiet. Reduce the clamor from the outside world. And from THAT space, learn what to do next. Learn what feels like ease and clarity and love and freedom. Learn what feels like truth that is only YOURS.

 

Rethinking Rejection

Ugh, the R word, rejection. When I talk to friends and clients, and when I dig down to my own motivations and rationales, so often there is, at bottom, a fear of being rejected, of not being liked, of being left, or being laughed at and thought foolish, or being deemed unlovable, unworthy, or thinking those things ourselves. There it is, right? One of the big ones, the big fears, the ideas that keep us up at night and make us want to stay in bed in the morning, just the same in adulthood as they did when we were in middle school. If I dare to ____________, I will be rejected.

Slide1We don’t want that – and hey, we’re only human. Our need for inclusion in the group is totally natural, evolutionarily reasonable, time tested and thorough. And so when we sense that possible rejection (whether we are right or not), we shrink. We shrink from possibility. We shrink from inspiration. We shrink from the limitlessness of our capacity because we are afraid we will no longer be loved, be included, be deemed worthy, be part of the group, be allowed to sit by the fire when the nights are cold and the days are difficult. We shrink from who we could be. We shrink from who we would be. We shrink from who we ARE already.

I heard a story on the TED radio hour (during a long car drive, so I didn’t get all of the details) about a man who decided he’d had enough of his overwhelming fear of rejection. He set out to intentionally get rejected, as an exercise of facing his fear and reducing the meaning of each rejection because he knew that many more had already happened and many more would come. What he discovered is that rejection was not nearly as wounding as he thought, and that when he was SURE he would be rejected, his request was met with curious agreement. In other words, he got a WHOLE lot of what he asked for, even though he really didn’t expect to. But those surprises really weren’t the point. The point was to reduce the sting of rejection.

Our reaction to rejection is complicated, and it is SO far reaching. She said she wasn’t interested. She didn’t ask me to collaborate. He didn’t call. He didn’t laugh when I thought I was funny. We take ALL of that and we make it mean the worst things we can think of. We interpret their “no’s” as more than just: “No, not that specifically, not now.” There are a variety of problems with all of this interpreting.

Firstly, what if most people are being upfront and honest and what they really mean is only: “No, not that specifically, not now”? What if we took the risk of taking adults at their word so that we can get on with things, so that we can be told “no” without it shaking us to the core, so that it doesn’t have to mean that lack of interest in one project is a statement about worth and value? What if we just decided to ONLY hear what is being said without filling in all of the spaces? If that’s a groundbreaking idea for you, I suggest you run at it full speed right away.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, what would happen if we remembered that, as Brooke Castillo says, adults get to do what they want? What does this mean in this context? It means someone gets to say “No” to you without it being a major drama. And you know why that’s really great? There’s more than one reason: 1) it means you won’t be stuck in some weird relationship or project with someone who doesn’t want to be there; 2) it means when someone says no, that’s the end of the transaction, no leftover trails or wanderings – it’s just a simple no; and finally 3) you also get to say no when you want to and therefore you get to curate the way you spend your time, the projects you are involved in, the e-mails you receive, heck just about anything – without, that’s right WITHOUT drama or interpretation on the part of the other adults involved. If we decide that saying NO doesn’t mean everything when people say it to us, it’s reasonable to conclude that it doesn’t mean everything when we say it to them.

Slide2The interesting thing is that stepping out enough to risk rejection might bring on some rejection – I don’t want to lie about that – but it also brings SO much freedom. You can be yourself. You can see who stays, who goes, and you can take some of those “No’s” as surface, minute, and temporary, just as they are meant.

You can take the chance on showing up, showing you, being seen, and in my experience so far, the people who matter most will not only sill be here, but will be delighted to SEE you. And others will show up; your tribe will find you. You will not have to sit away from the fire, in the cold dark night. You will be at home, as yourself, with people who love who you really are. What are you NOT doing because you’re sure you’ll lose them all? What are you still doing to stay safe and warm, even if it means you are not even a little bit yourself? What would it take for me to get you to try a little rejection? I’ll talk you through it.

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

I have a confession. When I was working through my life coach training, there was on teacher who kind of irritated me. When I saw her name on the roster, I rolled my eyes and sighed and figured it was going to be a waste of my time. I still attended those classes, but it was with a sense of duty and obligation, rather than curiosity or joy. I listened with maybe 60% of myself and got through it. I checked the box. Why did I react that way to her?

I think there were a few reasons, so I’ll give you the surface ones first. First of all, I just wasn’t ready for the part of the course she was teaching. I was still working on some things that made it hard to hear what she had to say. Secondly, the material she was teaching was stuff I didn’t feel as naturally drawn to – had already decided it was not my strong suit, so I probably wouldn’t enjoy it or benefit from it. Now with just those two surface reasons, there’s plenty of room to talk about how I was limiting myself and how I got in the way of my own experience. Yes, yes, yes, all true, but I think the bigger issue for me with this amazing master coach and teacher was that the way she presented and held herself in the world was immediately off-putting to me. You say: “Wait, that’s not the surface reason?”

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. And I’m saying that because my reaction to her and the way she walks through the world had zip zero to do with her and EVERYTHING to do with me. What you may not know is that I’ve changed. For a long time, I was keeping an awful lot to myself. It was easier to just go unnoticed than to jump into the fray and risk failing or looking stupid, or just having some kind of negative attention come my way. It felt safer to just muddle through, get done what I needed to get done. I was okay after all, and that’s good enough, right? Right? right? right…

Slide1Not for that coach it wasn’t. Just okay was definitely not good enough. She was so out front with herself that she was like a bullhorn for strength, power, and joy. I didn’t realize the bullhorn she was toting (metaphorically, she’s not THAT out there) had a message just for me. And that message said: “Where ARE you? Why are you hiding? Why are you playing small? What happened? Where’d you go? You didn’t always do this. What’s changed? Won’t you come out and play? Won’t you come out and BE YOU?” So, I ignored her. Yep, I did. I admit it. Just decided she wasn’t my cup of tea, played myself some soothing music, made sure I was calm and moved forward with my day.

Yes, it’s true, I have from time to time ignored messages that I would benefit from, but I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t ready. And that’s okay. The thing is, I began to change anyway. I began taking risks. I began being more assertive with my opinions (rather than forgoing or taking a passive aggressive stance – “Why don’t you guess what I’m thinking?”) I began moving forward on silly domestic projects that had been stalled for weeks, months, some even for years. I began sharing more of the hard stuff. I began asking for help when I needed it. And as I did these things, a whole lot of other stuff changed too.

I found myself craving new music. The well-known soothing soundtrack that I’d arranged around me for years grew tiresome. As I reconnected with myself I felt moved to reconnect with music that inspired action, that expressed anger, frustration, and motion. I reconnected with dreams and desires I’d long put out to pasture as unrealistic and therefore not worthy. I got out in front. I even put myself first (whoa!) and decided not to apologize about that (double whoa!). I established my practice to help other women start to do the same, to reconnect with their core, to wake up to their own capacity, and to get out in front.

Slide2And then one day, a little video showed up in my Facebook feed. It was her, that coach and teacher who I’d written off before. I clicked on the video and was delighted to find she was speaking to me, and I was hearing it. I no longer found her anything but helpful, inspiring, quite amazing really. All that lukewarm negativity I’d felt before (but kept to myself, BTW) had nothing to do with her. It had EVERYTHING to do with me and the part of myself I saw in her, the fear I felt at the idea of being more like her, the lengths I’d gone to to stuff my own amazing because I’d tried and failed, or I was too tired, or I couldn’t possibly do all that, or “that doesn’t work for people like me.”  So much of what I thought was a reaction to her was just an old, tired conversation I’d been having with myself for far too long. Seeing her, and knowing she was fabulous whether I admitted it or not, pushed my little light-hiding buttons. But I don’t need those buttons anymore. I imagine I’ve sewed on some new ones, but THOSE buttons are gone. Game on.

Who pushes your buttons? How much of your reaction has nothing at all to do with that person? How much of your reaction has everything to do with some story you’ve told yourself about who YOU are? What could you learn by listening to the button pusher? What could you learn by really seeing the button pusher in you?

Soul Sisters – How to Get Some

Just got back from a whirlwind training and retreat in Savannah, GA. While we were there, my new friends and I were marveling over how well we got along, how easy it seemed to open up and share, to spend time together, to accommodate each other, to spend time in common space. These are things that have not always been easy for me, and yet I came away from my 6 day trip with soul sisters. I shared things with this group of women I hadn’t told anybody before. And then I came home, and found them all online where we gather every day to greet, share, and encourage. And I stand in wonder, so tempted to think it was the way we came together. It was the power of the gathering that made the difference… but my wise self knows better. 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

Relationship Transformations

I wish that I could count the number of hours friends, well and me too, have spent trying to figure out WHY their partner does X. We speculate, we run hypotheticals. We call friends and get them to participate in speculating and running hypotheticals. All the possible variations, all the possible explanations, all the ways the past gives evidence to whatever theory we’re developing.

slide1And it’s not just the speculation. We THEN make all of those speculations and hypotheticals mean something as though they are fact. The “could be” becomes the “is” somewhere between our heads and our hearts. “If this is what’s going on in his head, he really doesn’t love me at all.” “If he doesn’t understand what I’m saying, he doesn’t care about me.” “If he can’t answer this question, we really have no future.” “If she…” okay, I admit I was going for gender neutral there, but do men do this? It’s an honest question. If they do it, they don’t include me in those conversations. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t include me in them either. I’m not much fun to have around if what you are really looking to do is get yourself good and worked up over a hypothetical. I imagine my girlfriends will give it up soon as well.

Why? There are two reasons I’m not down with the hypothetical relationship analysis: 1) there is no point in reacting to a hypothetical as it potentially has absolutely no basis in reality and 2) engaging in all of this speculation and hypothetical meandering is entrenching yourself in the part of your relationship that is none of your business. WHAT?! Yeah, that’s right I said none of your business. Continue reading