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Archive for October, 2012

Tonight I completed another thing on my life list. Getting my picture taken with one of my favorite authors!!

Brene Brown and I

I was blessed this evening to have a few moments with Brene Brown.  Long enough to dare greatly, stumble over my words about how powerful her work has been for me and for my adult self to try to remain cool, calm and collected while my inner 8th grader danced around and wanted to show her how cool I thought she was, how much I knew we could be BFF’s – if only she knew me :).

I gave her my book… and not for the reasons that people would probably assume.  I gave her my book because 2 years ago when I saw her speak I gave her a letter about how important her work was and how it truly changed my life and the way I looked at myself, at others, and most importantly it gave me language for who I wanted to be.  It was my very first “Brave Letter” and it was one of the first times that I did something where I was that brave and honestly didn’t care what the response was- because for me it was the act of stretching, it was the act of knowing that she knew was bravery was and she would receive it with love and compassion.  What she did with it was nothing personal, it was the act of me stretching that was the teaching for me.

And now two years later, thanks to employing my own vulnerability, to as Brene says- “calling deep on my courage” I have something to show for it.  And I gave her the book one because it was way outside my comfort zone, but it was also a part of me saying “look, you have placed your heart and soul in these books that you have shared with us, you have risked, you have been vulnerable, the least I can do is offer you a little piece of my heart as well.”  It was the quickest way to show her that YES your bravery has elicited a response… YES your bravery has started a domino effect… YES your work matters and your willingness to be in the arena, your willingness to show up inspired me to do the same.

It happened to correspond with Alana’s release of the Transformation Talk that she and I did a few weeks back.  And I wasn’t sure when it was going to go live so I had honestly forgotten about it.  And so here I am… in an interview where I am “in action” and don’t have a chance to think about it, to delete, only show my “best self”… but yet, when I watched it I watched it with kind eyes, with excitement and curiosity.

I am so excited to be a part of what amazing work Alana is offering to the world.  Her writing is simply beautiful, her willingness to be present, to share deeply and her authenticity shine through both in her words and through her interviews and in her work.  Powerful things happening in her little corner world!

So today I am going to live into Brene’s words from the Gifts of Imperfection:

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

And trust that I did just that today in a variety of ways.

 

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In our Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook obsessed culture we tend to believe what we see and we forget that there is a story behind every picture, behind every post.  Sometimes there is a larger story that we don’t know, and sometimes we assign stories where there are none.

There is a balance to walk, a fine line.  Currently I am going through a difficult period of my life, relationships shifting, anniversaries of difficult things, learning more about some situations that bring sadness. And yet, in spite of it all I am experiencing a deep sense of peace, of connectedness and of deep trust through it.  And through it all there is so much to celebrate- births, beauty, deepening of relationships, love and so much more.

It is the Cone or Crap debate from the Ted Talk- Gratitude, Gifting and Grandpa by John Halcyon Styn … which do I focus on, what habits do I cultivate, what tools do I have to help me navigate the difficult places.

Grandpa & Halcyon – Tickled Pink

I realize now that it is this mental discipline that determines the degree in which you enjoy your life. It is so simple: Focus on the good.

But in our modern world it isn’t simple at all. Our advertising bombards us with the message that we are not enough and we do not have enough. Or news relentlessly tells the story of doom and fear.  It is no wonder that so many of us struggle with unhappiness and depression.  It takes a committed practice to stay focussed on the good.  (Or frequent visits to an especially magical Grandpa.)

But since Grandpa is no longer here physically, I developed a  little trick to snap myself into the Grandpa mindset.  It is called, “Crap or Cone.”

Visualize yourself  holding an ice cream cone in one of your hands…and with dog crap on one of your shoes.  This is the state of our lives at every single moment.

At every moment there are aches and pains, work to be done and people who don’t like you.  At the very same moment, there are gorgeous flowers, laughing babies and your favorite foods.  There are always both. And the degree in which you live in Heaven or Hell is determined by where you place your focus.

This is not the same thing as pretending that you have no problems.  Time and energy should be put towards addressing the crap on your shoe.  (My grandpa spent a few moments EVERY DAY writing his congressional representatives.  But he didn’t spend the rest of the day complaining about the issues.)

The problem comes when we make our lives all about the crap.  And in a world so focused on problems, that crap-focus is an easy trap to fall into. In fact, it is scary how often you will see people set down their cone, take a huge whiff off their shoe and demand, “Oh this is horrific…you have GOT to come smell this!”

Some people will argue that focusing on the good is simply not facing “Reality.”  But reality has almost an infinite amount of things for us to pay attention to.  Yet, our lives have a finite amount of moments.  Where we place our focus is everything.

When you start practicing focusing on your cone, you start to realize just how much there is to be grateful for.  So much in nature. So much in our own bodies. So much in our fellow human beings.  We are practically swimming in an avalanche of ice cream.

 John Halcyon Styn

Concentrating on the crap won’t make my dear one’s cancer disappear, or bring back a loved one, or keep another from her hurting heart… but only focusing on the cone, the delicious parts of life like the beauty of the autumn light, the fact that my words have been pouring forth and I feel connected to the juice of life in so many ways, that doesn’t fit entirely either.  When we aren’t honest about where we are really at, where we struggle, how we are really doing there is the loss of the opportunity to make a connection, to really meet each other where we are at. And I have found that my relationships have thrived where I share all of me, the cone and the crap, and where I make space for people that I love to be who they are and where they are at.

At the same time I have started to set more boundaries around how much crap talk I can handle, and I no longer spend the amount of time I used to

Those who are interested in living wholeheartedly know that behind the perfectly captured photo of the angelic toddler there were the moments before with the meltdown because they didn’t want to wear matching socks, or because they wanted to do it “all by myself”.  And we have those same tantrums as adults, we just seem to hide them more effectively.

And as I strive to live a life where words like- authentic, congruent, intentional, wholehearted, clarity are used daily. I find myself celebrating the cone, but acknowledging the crap and learning to walk that balance.

And it has been a helpful practice to remember that people’s cultivated lives aren’t always a reflection of the entirety of their lives… and there are people that are brave enough to share all of themselves with people who have earned the right to hear the entirety of the story:

Share tenderness with people who have earned it. Trust is built in small moments over time. Work through your stories one-on-one before sharing them publicly. Be careful whom you trust with your tender places. Hence, boundaries are important.

It’s a privilege to see me outside of my armor. People have to earn that right. There are people who are not safe, so limit time around them or else be armored / boundaried around them.

Thoughts from a talk by Brene Brown on Bettina Shzu’s blog

We are all in process, we are all doing the best we can with what we have, and we are all deserving of so much love and kindness.

If anything I would ask that you remember that what you see often isn’t the entirety of the story, and that sometimes we forget that other people have the same fears, struggles and issues that we do.  We are so similar and we tend to spend so much time making ourselves so separate, so special… and yet… what peace, what wonder is found when we realize that we are all such magical beings full of light, love, tender moments, frustrations, fears, regrets, anxieties with a hope that is woven through.

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Sometimes…

Fall 2012

Sometimes it is words of others that remind me of all of the things I need to hear…

Here are a few blog posts that struck me the past few days and I am hoping that they touch your heart as well.

The Permission Slip– Susannah Conway

Oh Susannah, how did you slip into my soul and write out just what I needed to hear?  After reading this and my soul sighing deeply I realized that I needed some space, and some silence.  So I spent the next 8 hours in silence … something I will repeat again very soon, and for a longer period next time.

What Your World Is In Need Of– Valerie Tookes

Beautiful to me because of this:

It has never been true, not for a moment, that criticizing or shaming ourselves leads to love. Only love leads to love.
~Geneen Roth

and this:

In order to provide THE world with what it needs most, I must provide MY world with what it needs most which quite simply is me.

A me – who acts authentically, her heart filled with love and compassion toward herself and others.

A me – who is so filled with a peaceful spirit that joy and happiness just radiate from her eyes.

A me – who is mindful enough to notice and provide deep rest and comfort.

A me – who can reach out in connection with passion and purpose to support others when she is feeling 100% fully herself.

And this: Day of Rest– Jill

Because of this:

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver

So much beauty in the world.  And on the days when my heart is weary and my soul tired and sore there are so many others who remind me of the beauty in the midst of it all.  And for that I am grateful.

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Autumn 2012

A Blessing

May the light of your soul guide you
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

John O’Donohue

Sent to me by a friend just when I needed it, perhaps you needed it today too.

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Fall Flowers

One of my favorite things is to listen to the essays of This I Believe… just hearing the beginning introduction I will pause, stop whatever I am doing, let out a sigh and settle in.  I have yet to listen to one that doesn’t make me think, ponder or look at the world in a slightly different way.

These two ideas from Kevin Kelly and his essay The Universe Is Conspiring To Help Us caught my attention and have been playing in my head and my heart since I heard them…

I have developed a belief about what happens in these moments and it goes like this: Kindness is like a breath. It can be squeezed out, or drawn in. To solicit a gift from a stranger takes a certain state of openness. If you are lost or ill, this is easy, but most days you are neither, so embracing extreme generosity takes some preparation. I learned to think of this as an exchange. During the moment the stranger offers his or her goodness, the person being aided offers degrees of humility, indebtedness, surprise, trust, delight, relief, and amusement to the stranger.

And this…

When the miracle flows, it flows both ways. With each gift the threads of benevolence are knotted, snaring both giver and recipient. I’ve only slowly come to realize that good givers are those who learn to receive with grace as well. They radiate a sense of being indebted and a state of being thankful. As a matter of fact, we are all at the receiving end of a huge gift simply by being alive. Yet, most of us are no good at being helpless, humble or indebted.

One of the gifts that being broken open has taught me is to learn about the heartbeat of generosity, that there is a moment in-between when we allow ourselves to be open enough to receive, or when we can choose to block the gifts that are in front of us.

It has become my prayer to remain open to the gifts, the love, the abundance that is laid before me on my path.

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