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Archive for the ‘Shifts’ Category

Unfolding

Words to tuck in your heart…

“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awake your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”

John O’Donohue

 

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Unfolding

The internet is full of little gems like this article down below.

I like to think of myself as a cultivator of gems, sifting through things, pulling out little shiny pieces of goodness cupped in my hands, offering pieces to others to admire, to turn over in their hands and hearts, and see if they want to take a piece of what I have offered into their own lives, to tuck a piece of it into their own hearts as I have done.

There are so many gems, so much to be discovered, remembered and shared. And in that spirit I offer this gem that I am tucking away to ponder as I move through this day.

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

 “The Disease of Being Busy” by Omid Safi

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are always themes that tend to emerge when I pay attention.

Right now it has been the significance of small kindnesses, the need, both physical and emotional of so many that is so evident at every turn,  AND the flipside, of the ability of all of us to meet those needs at various times and in various spaces and how so often when it is right it takes so little effort.  Also, this idea that I am called to meet those that I can, but also to trust that others will step in as well, and to learn to discern when, where and how to step in, to fix, to let things be, to release.

In paying attention I have been reminded of many things:

I have been reminded that not every problem is mine to solve,

I have been reminded that I have a lot more to give than I realize,

I have been reminded that kindness- no matter how large or small- can transform moments, individuals and lives,

I have been reminded of the power of presence,

I have been reminded of the gift of being present,

I have been reminded that I am much happier when I pay attention to where my joy, my love, my kindness overflows and giving from that space,

I have been reminded that I need to include myself in the grace and kindness I offer.

In this interview, Krista Tippett from On Being interviews Nadia Bolz-Weber: Seeing the Underside and Seeing God:  Tattoos, Tradition, and Grace .  Pastor Bolz-Weber talks about the idea that we are here to be a community to one another, that we are here to help carry the burdens for each other, and to offer grace.

“And so it’s like this thing like I don’t think faith is given in sufficient quantity to individuals necessarily. I think it’s given in sufficient quantity to communities. The same with that whole thing like God will not give you more than you can bear. I don’t think God will give you more than a community can bear. And we’ve individualized this thing of faith so much.”

And ever since hearing this interview I have had many things from it that I have been pondering and playing with.  One is how many times I have been taking on things that are not my own, letting the heaviness weigh me down and missing out on being present for those who are here in front of me who I am called to be there for.  I have been missing the grace that is present in so many ways.   And secondly, the freedom that is granted when we can rely on each other to help shoulder the burden.

Currently one of the families that I love and cherish is going through a difficult time, and seeing the community rally around them, seeing the love that is shared, the prayers that have been sent, the ways that they have been held has only reminded me that we are that community.  We are here to offer grace, to offer love, their burden is too much to carry alone, but together, together we will walk through it.

That word,

GRACE

has been showing up in my reading, my conversations, my thoughts and prayers a lot lately.

So I am paying attention.

Grace, the power of it, the spaciousness in it, the lightness of it.  It is something that has been fun to play with, to continue to ponder.

And so I ask you.  What have you been paying attention to lately?

 

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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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There has been a lot of learning happening for me lately (Note To Self- that is what happens when you ask for seeing where you can grow).  And as always life is happening despite my best efforts to catch it, quantify it, name it, control it or stop it, it keeps going.   Themes keep popping up as they often do even though it is different places, different people and I don’t have to fear because if I don’t pay attention there are always other opportunities to learn, relearn, remember and re-frame.

In the midst of relearning a particularly difficult lesson a friend wrote a blog post that spoke straight to my heart.  When I had asked if she had written it just for me she responded with this:

It’s the most magical thing about blogging: every post is like a message from my wisest, kindest self to the soft and confused animal me, but when I publish, it also seems to be just what someone else needed to hear.

From the beautiful and brilliant Jill over at A Thousand Shades of Gray.

How often do we assume that we are the only ones struggling with something, to wrestle alone with our thoughts, fears and doubts only to hear when we finally gain the courage and bravery to share we hear “Me too.” (one of the themes that has been in several places)

When I write I am able to be wherever I want or need to be.  Writing allows me to go to the spaces I haven’t yet claimed for myself, it allows me to play with new ways of being, new ways of thinking about things.  It reminds me that even in the midst of my deepest doubts there is some wisdom to be accessed, some new way of looking at things.  I believe that we all have that wise self within, some call it a Higher Self, some call it God… that little voice that travels along with us for the journey.  For me the best way to access it is through my words.

At one point I struggled with that… shouldn’t I be writing what is true?  What is “real”?  And yet, it occurred to me after rereading Rilke’s quote one day:

…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
in Letters to a Young Poet

For me that is one of the most beautiful gifts that writing offers the ability to live (or in my case- write) into the answers. There are so many times that I have reread journal entries knowing about who I wanted to be, what I wanted to have for myself and I find myself now living those things as my truth.

And perhaps that is what true friendships do as well, they allow us to try on new ways of being, little changes to see what works for us and holds us gently as we do that.

Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light.

– Jennie Jerome Churchill

My prayer for you today is that you put yourself in the best light, and allow yourself permission to be exactly where you are right now, knowing that you are living your way right where you need to be.

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So much beauty
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
There is no way that I could repay all of the kindness, the gestures and outpouring of love and compassion that I have been offered as I walk, run, stumble and leap with joy on this journey of life, particularly since losing my brother… and these words resonate deeply.  And perhaps that is enough.  And yet to continue to seek out ways that I can pass along that gift- that gift of being seen, of being heard, of being loved so deeply- but remembering that my gratitude alone is enough.
 
 
These past few years have reminded me of how connected we are, how vulnerable and just how strong.  But the one thing I know is that we all benefit from the little kindnesses that we offer every day. This quote reminds me to stop keeping score but instead try to make my life an outpouring of gratitude, to continue to show up and when it is all said and done with every fiber of my being simply say thank you.  And to know that is enough.
 
 

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Brene Brown, one of my favorite social workers and authors, has a wonderful book called The Gifts of Imperfection.  [She also has done my favorite TED Talk of all time (which if you haven’t seen it stop right now and watch it!).]  And I can’t wait to read her newest book that was just released and I can’t wait to get my hands on: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection she talks about vulnerability and how important it is to be vulnerable, and to be willing to share our deepest, most authentic, wholehearted selves with another… with one caveat… with someone who has “earned the right to hear your story.”

So often we shy away from being vulnerable, from showing tremendous courage in showing ourselves to another because we have been hurt, and often it is because we have chosen to share with someone who hasn’t earned the right to hear our story.   It is a learning curve to figure out this vulnerability piece…

Trust, vulnerability, love and boundaries sometimes have steep learning curves.

When I was thinking about these things, I came across this poem from Hafiz:

Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.

Hafiz

What a beautiful image, someone who has woven pieces of our soul into a blanket to protect us.  Those are the people who deserve to hear our stories.

My wish is that all of us have people in our lives who have earned the right to hear our stories.  People who have taken our pain, our loose ends, and who have taken the bits and pieces and gently and lovingly woven a blanket to protect us.

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