Choosing to Listen Closely

I’m standing at an edge. Feeling fear. Unsure.

Is it about stepping off or stepping back?

Is it fear of reaching my upper limits? Or is it about self-care?

How do I choose? How do I know?

“Remember,” I hear Jovanna say from previous conversations, “There isn’t a bad choice. Neither choice is wrong.”  I agree, but I know that for me,  a decision to step back due to fear does not feel good. It is not life affirming. So the question is really about how to make the decision, not from a place of fear, but from a place of deep knowing. A place that doesn’t need everything figured out, all contingencies in place, a place of trust. And so……

What supports me on each side of the decision? In the short term and in the longer term.

A choice to rest, to be at home, to heal from six weeks of virus attacks on my system. To continue healthy eating without distractions and outside influences. To be comfortable in my own space. To nourish myself with familiar foods and creative soul practice.

Or

A choice to enter into creation in community, to build connections and relationships, to explore new  territory and potential partnership, to build skills. To live on an island and take a ferry to “work” for a week. To partake of city life.

I let the options sink into my body. I let them find their physical expression in my cells. Which gives fuel? Which gives energy? Take out all stories and judgement. The stories of “I should…”, “if only I..”,  “what if…..”, “you can’t..”.

I’m still unclear, but I am getting a sense of what is possible. What is possible if I don’t go? Spaciousness. Space to create, space to create, space to meet with possible partners here. That’s a whole different story than “What am I missing out on?”

I’m letting thoughts roll around in my head, like stones being tumbled around to find their shine. No attachment. No stories.

Make some soup. Make some granola. Let it all bake and bubble and percolate, along with the decision. Somewhere in that process, a shift starts to happen.

I think I’ll go. Surely I’ll be feeling better by Friday. I can work out the details that still feel problematic. I’m  feeling I can be in a place of trust on the rest. I’m feeling the lure of an adventure.

Then an email arrives:  “…as it turns out there’s someone we’d like to have attend the workshop in December, as Feb. will be too late for her. As we’re full up, it would be good to know what you’re thinking, and if you would like to postpone until Feb. it could actually work well. ”

The temptation to dive into story mode is strong. My little child self stamps her feet and crosses her arms. I see her standing there with her little pouty lip pushed out. She does not like this one little bit! My adult self sorts through the threads. It is still my choice. I can still go. But perhaps this is an indication that another time would be better.

The word “ease” comes to mind. Not “easy”, but “ease”. As in “flow”. Or the opposite of pushing hard, striving against, putting my shoulder to the wheel. That’s how I used to do things – push, strive, head down. I don’t know what life will be like in February – other than a strong likelihood of snowy and cold. But when I think of what would give me ease right now, the decision crystallizes.

I’ll stay home. Ease. That feels right. My inner protective guard  relaxes.

And immediately the floodgates open – all of the things that I had declined for the next 10+ days reappear and now they are possible. (Assuming the virus demon does not return yet again!).  I may not do any of them.  But there are project possibilities percolating here, and there are partnerships to develop here. And there are festive seasonal events that I had x’d off my calendar. What a delight! And I can put off my laundry yet again.

I’m relaxed and feel secure in my knowing. And I know that I could have felt exactly the same way had I decided to go. That’s pretty cool.

How do you decide? I’m really interested in knowing.

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Photo from here.

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Help. Thanks. Wow.

Anne Lamott says all of the prayers in the world can be boiled down into three words: Help. Thanks. Wow.

I’ve had a bit of a run of yuck.

Jobs I’ve applied for and haven’t gotten. Bills I really thought I’d paid, and it turns out I didn’t. Big, big bills. Roofing bills. Yeah, I know. How did I not notice that one? And sick, sick sick. On top of the usual, a stomach bug, then a cold and then the flu for 2 freaking weeks. More jobs I didn’t get.

It might have been a good idea to say “help”. Not to anyone in particular, but out into the ether. Call it the “universe”, “God”, “spirit”, whatever you like. I do believe there is something greater than ourselves. And I do believe that that energy is there to help us live to our highest purpose. What I forget, is to ask for help.

I tend to think I need to trudge through the wilderness by myself. I wouldn’t have been a good Moses.  Perhaps it comes from having only myself to depend on for all of these years. More likely it is that asking is hard. There are lots of stories wrapped up in why asking for help is “wrong”: I don’t want to be a bother. I’m not deserving. I did something wrong. It is easier to just do it myself. These are stories around asking people for help and if it is hard to ask people for help, why would I bother the big kahuna? Ummm. Because that is the job of the big kahuna. To help. So, I think I’m going to start asking for help more often. To actually make it a practice.

Which leads me to “thanks’. In connection with a course I’m doing, I have been keeping a gratitude list for a couple of weeks. It is something I’ve done off and on in the past and I find it to be helpful. It gets me to focus on the good, whether that is the tasty pumpkin pancakes I made this morning or the four  pieces of actual real mail from real people that arrived in my mailbox this week. It is a practice of observance. As one who tends to meander through my days in a bit of a fog, this calling to attention is a good thing.

And then there is wow. Or Wow. It is “thanks” with a double shot of espresso. It is for breathtaking, awe inspiring, the heart opening. Anne writes, “Wow comes in all shapes and sizes, like people. There are the lower case wows. These are the times when we sink into something modest that delivers above and beyond. When you crawl between clean sheets after a hard day, you are saved. You are the best sandwich ever. You’re being taken care of from the top and the bottom, with not a crumb or a lump or a wrinkle. Wow: you can’t believe you felt so low and lonely till you thought to change the sheets.”

And then we have the “upper case Wows”. Like love, and art, and real magic, and music. Like landscapes that go on and touch the sky. Poetry. That video of the baby twins being given a bath under running water. Flash mob marriage proposals. Bat Kid in San Francisco. Upper case Wows change us.

I had an upper case Wow come in an email this weekend. “I am delighted to tell you that one (or more) of your pieces of art have been included in my upcoming book, The Geography of Loss: Embrace What Is, Honor What Was, Love What Will Be. love, Patti.”

Wow. WOw. WOW.

Holy freakin’ Wow!!!!!!!!!!

My art work is going to be in Patti Digh’s new book!!!!  MY. ART. The art I almost didn’t submit. The art I almost didn’t finish because the lizard voices were howling in my ears so, so loudly. But knowing that not finishing and not submitting would have been a betrayal of my self, I did finish and I did submit. It was something I needed to do, whether or not it was accepted. But WOW.

And just so you know…. I submitted that art over a year ago. September 17, 2012. 11:55 pm. With a deadline of midnight. Wow.

I’m a fan of Wow. And wow.

Tell me your wow. Upper case or lower case. Doesn’t matter. I really want to know.

p.s. I’m getting my “Help” list ready. There are small asks, like my eaves trough needing to be cleaned out. But, baby, there’s a big, honking humungous ask on the table right now. In fact, there are two of them. So, if you want to ask on my behalf, I’d be more than happy to receive. Thanks. Wow.

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Patti Digh @ TEDxIndianapolis

Ninety percent of you will have seen this.

But for the 10% that haven’t, here’s Patti speaking at TEDxIndianapolis on October 22nd.

I went to a camp that Patti held in early October in Georgia. It was the Design Your Life Camp.

I wasn’t feeling the need to design my life. I was feeling my life was pretty fine as it was. I wanted to go because I love what Patti writes, how she lives her life and how she sees the world. She has taught me a lot over the last few years. Plus, she was bringing together a TON of my favourite people that I’d never met before – some famous, some not famous at all.

I’m not ready yet to talk about my main takeaway from camp. It is one of those percolating things. One of those Grade 4 science things, like where water sits on the surface of the ground and gets muddy. As it filters through the layers of the earth, it will eventually come out clean. I’m not at the clean stage yet. I’m still very muddy. It’s a process.

While we’re waiting for the clean water, have a watch. Patti is at about the 40 minute mark.

http://new.livestream.com/tedx/TEDxIndianapolis

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A Friend you haven’t met yet….

One of my favourite tv shows is CBS’s Sunday Morning. It is a news magazine show that covers a broad range of topics. The approach on Sunday Morning though, feels different. It always feels like it is put together by someone (someones) with a heart. There is almost always something about connection, to each other and/or to nature.

This speaks for itself. I’ll just let you watch.

 

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What Would Love Do?

What would love do?

It is a question I’ve asked before. A question I will ask again. A question I asked yesterday.

I was having a near panic attack over a financial issue that had come to a head. I was scared. I tried to solve the problem in a couple of different ways and hadn’t found a way through. I emailed my brother, gave a brief description and asked for suggestions.

What I got back was a series of questions along the line of “How could this happen?”, “Didn’t you ask x, y and/or z?” , “Why didn’t you x, y, z,?”

It was like being kicked in the gut. Every single one of my buttons was pushed, and pushed hard. I heard the replay of tapes from my father. I heard the gremlin voices telling me I was stupid. I felt the pain of the six year old who got caught doing something she shouldn’t, although she hadn’t really meant to be bad. Do you have those tapes? Those buttons? Sigh……..

Over the last few years though, I’ve developed a few strategies and connections so I don’t continue in that downward spiral.

In the Project137 prompts for the day, was this: Today, when you get upset at yourself or someone else, ask yourself this question: “What would love do?” Repeat as often as needed.

Timely, no? I could not figure out for the life of me though, figure out how love would respond to  my brother. I wrote and vented on our forum, and in not too long, the turn-around came. It wasn’t about my brother. It was about  me. What would love do in this situation for me? Ignore the rest. What would love do for me?

I wrote: …What I do know is that loving me is the only thing I know how to do right now. The only thing I know for sure that matters. Loving attention to me. Loving me. What might that look like? Turning off the tv. Done. Eating something healthy. Done. Have a soak in the tub. Okay, I can do that. Clear some space. I can do that. Work on next steps – pursue job leads, workshop options, make art. I can do that. Bit by bit. Breath by breath. That’s what love would do.

It is true. I was angry with my brother for his response. But his response was his response. A response he has learned (in a big way from our father) and that has served him. It had nothing to do with me.

I was also angry with myself – for asking, for panicking, for getting into the situation. I couldn’t change the past, but I could change how I treated myself about it.  I could treat myself with grace and compassion. I could say, “Oh sweetie, I know, I know. You made a bit of a mess. It’s okay. Here, take a breath, have something really nourishing. It’ll be okay. You’ll figure it out.”

And you know what? I did. I did figure it out. After writing on P137, I had help from an on-line group I’m in. They helped me see the thought patterns that had me bogged down. They helped me see that I was, in fact, looking for someone to rescue me. (ouch) They reminded me how cute I am when I mess up. They reminded me that it is when I mess up, that it is then, more than any other time, that I need loving kindness from myself.

What do you do when you mess up? Do you have self-care practices that nourish you when you need it most? I’d love to know!

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Breathe, just breathe.

Want to read Patti Digh’s take on “What would love do?” Click http://www.37days.com/2011/06/what-would-love-do.html.

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Finding what you look for…

There’s a lot of woo-woo talk out in the world, and sometimes it makes me uncomfortable. “Think this”, “believe that”, “hold a sunflower in your left hand and a dahlia in your right while  doing tree pose for 30.72 seconds and the world will be yours”.

I  made that last one up. Could you tell?

But seriously.

I do believe in the power of noticing what my thoughts are doing inside my head. Sometimes they are spinning around, doing the hamster on a wheel thing. Sometimes, more rarely, they are focused, still, clear.

What I do know is that what I look for is what I see. When I look for kindness, I see kindness.  When I look for beauty, I see beauty. When I see judgement, I realize that is where my focus is – even if I wasn’t aware of it. And boy! It sure does jump up and hit me in the face.  (Judgement is a big theme for me right now. Sigh.) Paying attention to what I’m “seeing”, can tell me a lot about what I am thinking. Paying attention to my thinking can affect how I see the world. And how I see myself.

This short video fits right in with this. What are you looking for? What do you see? I’m interested to know.

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Thanksgiving Day

It is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. A year ago I wrote this draft post, never finished it and never came back. Until today. Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I don’t know if there is a message in this, but I surely do appreciate the humour. The coming back to this blog has been a slow, long-time in coming. Hints of this, nudges from that. And now I’m back. Here’s what I had to say a year ago. I promise it won’t be another year before I return.

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It is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. A day for turkey and cranberry sauce, gravy and veg.  Leftovers for a week. A day for family and friends and acknowledging gratitude for all that we’ve been given.

I’ve had Thanksgiving in a variety of forms over the years. This was a new one.

I’d planned to go to my brother’s for the weekend. The big draw there is my niece. The second big draw is the turkey dinner, of which my favourite part is the turkey carcass because of leftovers and then, the soup.

But the combination of my on-going exhaustion and their plans to have Thanksgiving dinner at the golf club meant that there would be no carcass. No leftovers. There would be no soup.

So, I stayed home. As much as I wanted to see Hailey and spend time with her, I just didn’t have the gas in my tank to go. My need for rest outweighed everything else. There were a few gremlin thoughts about that, but with a bit of work, the I sent the gremlins back to their cave.

But I also wanted that turkey, that carcass, that soup. So I made a huge splurge. I bought a turkey. A turkey for one. Well, it was a 13 lb turkey for one. I made a plethora of roasted veg, stuffed the bird with gluten-free stuffing and opened a can of cranberry sauce. It turned out fantastically. Actually, the stuffing was inedible, but the rest was fabulous.

I felt guilty having such a feast for just myself. I thought about calling various people and asking them to come over and share the bounty. But I had no energy for another person. Instead, I received this unusual gift, given to me by me. Not just the food itself, but the time, the attention, the preparation and the awareness of giving myself what I both wanted and needed.

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And this year? No turkey, but an organic roasted chicken. And there will be soup.

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