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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 → Surrender

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 → When Someone Drops a Bomb

Time/Space Alchemy Made Easy

I got an e-mail message on Tuesday morning that stopped me in my tracks.  The title for the message and the first couple of paragraphs called out to women who don’t believe they can do it, whatever their “it” is; women who think they don’t have the special magic in them to make their lives what they want them to be. The author, the fabulous Susan Hyatt, went on to point out that it could well be that women who feel this way are currently mis-spending their special magic in endeavors and pastimes that waste it.

She then challenged the reader: “Start today, by removing one thing from your life that feels draining to you. One thing, no matter how small. It might be a TV show that exhausts you or a social commitment that bores you. Subtract it from your life. Boom. You just took back some of your power. Keep going. You won’t believe how much better you feel.”

slide2I LOVE this. So much of our culture seems to push us to ADD something, to “find” time (or better still “make” time – a mystery that has eluded me for decades), to be busier, to do more in order to do better. What if the first step in real time/space alchemy is not one of addition but a series of pointed subtractions? What if removing that which is draining creates both the time AND the energy for that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Continue reading → Time/Space Alchemy Made Easy

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 → Listen More Often

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 → Busyness and Overwhelm

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 → Maybe Those Invitations ARE for You

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 → How Busy Are You?

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 → When the Old Patterns Win

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 → There Are No Fresh Starts

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 → The Upside of Our Outrage