a note of gratitude to you

Today, I am reflecting on the ongoing tumult which has become the norm in the country I live in. It’s been a tough week. As much as I seek to remain centered, so that I may be more of an observer and avoid the emotional charges or hooks that this week’s activities have caused in me, I have found it even more challenging to maintain that centered “heading” in the midst of extremely turbulent seas. I am once again reminded of the challenges that come with openly and honestly facing the days. Rumi’s beautiful poem returns to me again and again. I am also reminded of something Brene Brown wrote in one of her recent books, Braving the Wilderness:

True belonging doesn’t require that you change who you are. It requires you to be who you are.

Many days, I feel as if I am living in the wilderness…an unruly, no holds barred, desert which lacks the life sustaining dignity and respect each human deserves. So, as I reflect on what I observe in the visible collective, I wonder…is this who we are? Are we really being who we really are when we participate in the multiple activities stoking fear…anger? I will add here, that observing this behavior tells me so much about those whose words and actions are hurtful or demeaning to others. I send them compassion…for they are most in need of it for themselves before they can offer it to others.

I am grateful for the peace that I find here as I read the blogs I follow. You all offer the beauty of nature, poetry, story, photographs and even more of what I consider to be the personal expressions rooted in the creative center of love, in our hearts. Thank you for so openly offering your gifts and bringing the very best of what being human on this planet really is. This is a safe place, in a group of my choosing, to find that which inspires and returns me to the best of what we all have the potential to be.

To those who follow me, I am also deeply grateful that you take the time to read these posts and wherever possible to offer a comment or question. Your energy and engagement is most appreciated and continues to fuel the creative process for me that is the offering of my words and experience in this space. Thank you.

A final quote from Brene Brown, that I offer as hopeful inspiration for ALL of us.

People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.

May the long time sun shine upon you…ALL of you.

facing the days

 

I’ve missed being here…writing and sharing quotes, perspectives, thoughts and feelings. It’s been a desert of late. These times can be challenging to navigate when one enjoys writing as much as I do and have in the past. Even my journal had become a drought-ridden area that I simply could not walk through or even attempt to nourish.

There are many reasons for this, as my life these last few months has seen quite a few challenges. Navigating our interior spaces when the challenges outside of us seem to be never-ending can often keep us separated from the best of who we are. I did find myself listening more intently to my higher self, or God, or whatever you call that which is in everything. That alone probably kept me from taking a deep dive into dark places within that I have committed to not return to again. I am human, after all.

More than once during this period, Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, popped into my head. I thought on several occasions to go find it to read and re-familiarize myself with its words and inherent intentions and meaning. I finally did this last evening. Slowly reading through it, I was reminded that indeed, being human can have some challenges; and for some of us, these can come quite regularly at various periods in our lives. I was further reminded that the ways in which we greet these “arrivals”; the choices we make about how to receive and experience them makes the difference…all of the differences. How we feel, how we see other things in the day, the week, others in our lives and many times the places we visit or otherwise inhabit are all affected by who we are and how we feeling within ourselves.

I leave it here for you to read and interpret or intuit its meaning for yourself.

Namaste.

The Guest House

JELALUDDIN RUMI, TRANSLATION BY COLEMAN BARKS

 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 

With gratitude to Loco’s Photo’s for her willingness to allow me to include her photos in my blog posts. You can learn more as well as see some of her latest photographs on the Images page on this site.

plumbing the depths

Gratitude is the capacity to stare doubt, loss, chaos and despair right in the eye and say, ‘I am still here.’

Diana Butler Bass

Our lives are filled with challenges – great and small – every day. The ways we accept or reject the opportunity that challenges bring us informs who we believe we are. Finding our way forward through these challenges can seem very difficult and being grateful for them? Well, that’s another thing altogether – especially when we are walking through an emotional minefield.

~~~~~

Nearly three years ago, The house I had lived in for nearly 11 years sold, after being on and off the market for about twenty months. When it finally sold, it was a cash sale and I had thirty days to vacate. You might think I was ready for such an event, since I had waited so long for the house to sell, all the while donating, selling and generally thinning out thirty plus years of many things – from clothes to furniture and decorative items of all kinds. Well, thirty days notice isn’t enough time to do much of anything except pack what was still out and in use, have it put into storage, and find a place to stay for what I had planned would be about three months. I packed up my two furry companions, my computers and suitcases of summer clothes and drove six hours to a coastal area for a relatively brief stay.

I was reminded that having plans doesn’t always guarantee that all will work out the way you think it will or want it to.

Two years and twenty months later, I moved into a new home. Evacuating for the hurricane last September provided an opportunity to look at the area I was moving back to with new eyes. Having a home built without being there every week to check the progress was an exercise in trust and faith.

Has it been an easy transition? No. I have met very nice, caring people who have worked tirelessly to see that things which were not as they should be or otherwise went awry were put into the condition they should have been in or to correct problems and deficiencies. And…we receive what we give. Kindness begets kindness. And of course, it goes even deeper than that. That is for another post, however.

Then there are all of those boxes. All of those boxes….many of which were packed four years ago and others nearly three years ago. Watching the endless stream of boxes and other furnishings come off of the trucks, I could feel my energy plummeting. Wishing I could be excited, I could only feel the feelings that I can describe today as overwhelming. I started asking those question of myself that are rooted in self judgment…and I know better. The good news is that I turned those questions into acknowledgement. I started to embrace the fact that all of those boxes and furnishings represented thirty or more years of my life – with all of the experiences of that period – contained in what I watched come into the house. The bulk of those boxes went to the basement.

I am far from being finished with the sorting. I even had a number of days when I couldn’t even go to the basement to look at any box, even if I thought it contained something I was looking for and wished to have out to use. It seemed to be unbearable at times. Some of the boxes I had previously opened took me to places within that I was unprepared for. The house that had been sold was larger than the one I live in now. That house had been filled with lots of love and wonderful memories and I was truly ready to leave it when I did. For a long time it felt as if it held me comfortably as I entered a new phase of life at the time. It had become so much for me to maintain that I knew I had to let it go. What had once held me, was then holding me down.

My spiritual director helped me find some perspective about my discomfort with going down to the basement to open those boxes. In many ways, the placement of those boxes and the process of going through them is metaphoric…as I plumb the depths of feelings that arise about each item that I remove from a box and consider its placement or disposition.

I know as humans, we either embrace of resist discomfort of many kinds. When we are busy and moving fast each day with so much on our “to-do” lists, we eschew discomfort, pain, grief and other feelings that might potentially slow us down or take us to what I often refer to as, “dark places”. And yet, our freedom, our bliss, our joy can only be found and authentically experienced when we allow the light into those dark places, by embracing the discomfort, pain, and grief. We fear that experience. We feel we are not equipped. We numb those feeling with lots of busy-ness, over-doing, over-committing to others and turning to substances which keep it all at bay. There is always someone who is willing to hold our hands as we walk through these experiences. Plumbing the depths of ourselves is the journey.

There are no obstacles to the path. The obstacles are the path.

 – Zen saying

As I continue this journey, I continue to process many memories; seeing what I may not have seen before and taking perspectives that I wasn’t sure I was capable of. This deep dive will keep me occupied for a while. The days are a mixture of lightness and darkness. Over time, I am confident the balance will return and perspective will be easier to take than it has been these last few weeks.

Back to the boxes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

resistance

This is NOT about resisting any government actions, beliefs, or an individual’s ideas and words about what we should be doing, thinking, etc.

What we resist, persists.

 – Carl Jung

I could write even more about an externally focused and instigated resistance. In fact there are many examples of this all around our world today. However, the resistance that I am focused on today is our internal resistance to ourselves. Many are not even aware of this internal resistance. Over the years, I referred to it as my head being out of sync with my heart. Even as I knew that I nearly always listened to the messages in my head rather than deeply listening and following the soft path my heart was leading me to.

The messages my head were completely influenced by people, ideas, training, and experiences designed to keep me in “my lane” and better prepared to “fit in”. This is where the conflict with my heart was most present. So, does resistance at this internal level influence the external resistance? I feel that it does in BIG ways. For example, if we are not listening to the soft entreaties of our hearts, how will we ever hear the voices of others who may not see things as we do?

Distinguishing the origin of the messages we hear from within can be tricky when we are new to the idea that there are multiple sources from within.

What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘Who am I, then?’ The one who sees that.
– Eckhart Tolle

Trouble is, we are moving too fast, driven by the messages in our heads that we “must do this”, and then “get that done” and “don’t forget that you have to get to this thing, too.” In some ways, slowing down feels like laziness; non-productive time and we cannot allow ourselves to BE that! Slowing down is opposite what we have been told, shown, taught and what we hear over and over.

And yet, that is the first step. Slowing down. Allowing yourself to be still long enough to notice your mind running, spouting messages, reminding you of what you have yet to DO, reminding you of something in the past, judging you for it and causing you to fear something in the future related to that past experience. Sound familiar? Ugh…tiring and worrisome. Still, allowing some time to be still so that we can notice that voice and know that we are NOT that voice is key to beginning to experience the inner voice (of the heart, your intuition) and trusting that it has your best interest at “heart” – and oh yes…it’s the heart. Trust…learning to trust ourselves. Until we do, we live in resistance.

Here’s another way we resist ourselves.

Have you ever had an experience in which you just didn’t feel like going to the gym or to some class, and part of that reason is that you don’t feel physically well or would prefer to prepare yourself a cup of tea and allow some time to read that book, or sit quietly to enjoy a view, or spend time with a trusted pet? Many of us have…or are still having them from time to time. Rather than honoring to the desire to be gentle with ourselves – the tea, the quiet, the book or time with a pet – we give into the impetus to get going, get to the gym, get a shower and get on with the day. We have one more time missed an opportunity to listen to the softer message of our heart. Perhaps our body needs rest, rather than more intense exercise. Perhaps we need to be quiet in our personal space rather than be in the loud noise and frenetic energy of the gym. There is a time and place for everything. Ours is to discern what is best for us now…in this moment. We have the ability, the power – all that we need – to discern what is best for ourselves.

We will continue to resist many experiences, or potential experiences, externally if we are not beginning to address our internal resistance.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

 – Wayne Dyer

Slow down. Listen to yourself. See what changes for YOU!

Desiderata

This is a favorite. It has been for a very long time. It fell to the back of my memory for a very long time and I was absolutely delighted when it reappeared, triggered by the simple memory of one phrase  – “you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

My framed print of this has been in storage for nearly three years, and again, I remembered it when considering a verse to write in a book, a gift for a baby, yet to be born.

As I reread it this morning, I was reminded of the beauty and the simple, inherent inspiration of its universal truths. I offer it here as a reminder for us all in this new year of possibility. May we all be grateful.

Namaste

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1952

let go or…

We are in the midst of many special days. Hanukkah is behind us; the Winter Solstice is in front of us, as is Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Many of us are reflecting on the past year and thinking about our word or phrase for the new year.

For 2018, the theme for me was informed by a Zen proverb:

Seems easy enough, right?

On December 31, 2017, I wrote about the challenges of letting go  as I embarked on holding this phrase as a reminder of my often unconscious holding on to thoughts, ideas and perspectives that I am often unaware are quite literally blocks to what may be attempting to come into my life and experience. Did you see what I did there? Holding onto the phrase as a reminder. It was easier to hold a phrase that was positively supportive so I could let go and allow.

As a recovering over thinker, over planner; having needed to be in control in the earlier years of my life as a manager, leader, executive and parent, this has been an important year in lessons about getting out of my way. In addition, I feel that I can more easily see, in reflection, the gifts inherent in the challenges that I have faced…this year and in years past.

As I continue to reflect on the many events of this past year, I’m seeing more and more just how each one served to lead me to the next, to the next and the next event, idea or change. As a result, I’m delighted to say that I will be returning to my beloved mountains in the first quarter of 2019. Who knew that the stressful evacuation from a hurricane, would reveal my next home? It was an important step in a year of healing many aspects of my life, past and present.

I offer all of this to remind us all that there is great power in letting go and allowing life to lead. We are better leaders of our lives, when we get out of our own way. Our thoughts are probably the biggest derail-ers of our happiness and joy.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

 – Havelock Ellis

 

I wish you all a quiet period for reflecting as you navigate and enjoy these holidays.

 

 

 

inspiration…and leadership

To my dear Readers:

I read a letter yesterday and again this morning that I felt warranted sharing with all of you. You may well have read it, too. Before you get to the link below, I wish to offer a few words for your consideration.

This website, which contains among other pages this blog, is entitled Lead Our Lives  for an important reason (to me, anyway). I believe we are each fully and completely responsible for our lives; for living them, for leading them in the ways which honor who we truly are. We often look to other formal leaders for their leadership and for inspiration. The contrasts in leadership which inspires and leadership which instills fear and threatens to rob us of our inner peace are stark and very visible, if we care to look. Let’s begin with ourselves…let’s lead our lives as love and with authenticity.

Reading the letter at the link below, I am reminded once again of the importance of leadership – our leadership – of ourselves. I’ve said many times that seeking someone outside of ourselves to save us, is an exercise in disappointment and giving up of personal power. This is not to say that we abandon the tenets of service, democracy, and peaceful co-existence in any place in the world. However, it is clear that seeking for anything outside of ourselves, perhaps because we feel powerless or lost, is to essentially perpetuate those very conditions. As many authors have encouraged, “Go within or go without,” and “Know thyself.”

With all of this in mind, may we continue to lift and inspire each other – through service and kind words  – so that we make the positive contributions which are essential to lives well lived. This is true leadership.

May I introduce to you, the poet, author, and speaker – David Whyte. If you are familiar with his work, you will enjoy this letter even more. If you are not familiar with him or his work, I hope you will find something resonant in this letter:

Letter From the House – Winter 2018 – 2019

Lion sounds that have not grown from the mouse may exude naked power… but cannot convey any wisdom or understanding… The initial steps on the path to courageous speech then are the first tentative steps into the parts of us that cannot speak.
– David Whyte

 

This photo was taken by Lori Coleman, whose images I share here with her permission. I encourage you to check out the Images page on this site to learn more about the gifted photographer who captured this image and others from the eclipse and nature. Many of her images are available for purchase.

There is a Contact page on this site which you can use to send a private message to me. 

 

 

be your wild self

“The self that appeals to me is the self that has not been conditioned solely by culture, whether family, religion, education, or economics, but rather the one found under these systems of domestication –the wild self, the self at once sovereign and entwined with the living world. It is this self that can extend its reach into the surrounding rings of connection–with vacant lots, watersheds, returning salmon, with children and struggling communities–and sense its intimate bond with all of them. This self is co-mingled with all the others that share this shining planet. When we can step into this wider and wilder state of identity, our isolation falls away and we return to a state of participation and belonging.”

 – Francis Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals for Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief*

There are so many things in our world today that are sad, disturbing, scary; beautiful, happy, and hopeful. Our challenge is to find our center so we do not lose perspective on what is real. No, I’m not referring to news.

I am referring to what is real within each of us – that only we can know and feel for ourselves.

It is apparent as we look around that many among us rely upon messages from many sources to shape what we believe about ourselves and therefore about others. We have all been affected by the constancy and consistency of these messages over many years. It is up to us, individually, to challenge our assumptions, our beliefs and therefore our words and actions.

If we read closely, slowly, and perhaps more than once, the quote above from Francis Weller, we may feel a little something unfamiliar, or even a bit odd. His words remind us of just how disconnected we are…from the real essence of ourselves – our wild self.

Could it be that questioning and shedding beliefs that we cannot substantiate as real or resonant within as being true for our wild selves, will bring us home to ourselves and to each other?

Is it possible that the simple act of inquiring within can begin to bring us back from the pervasive tribalism to the connection of community that is life-sustaining?

I am also reminded of just how deep our unacknowledged and unhealed grief goes and how it impacts our feelings, thoughts and actions. In a previous post on grief I shared the five gates of grief that Francis Weller explains in-depth in his book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals for Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief.

If we allow ourselves to “go there” into that dark well of sorrow and sadness, much light and freedom await. With freedom and light dawns an acceptance of life with all of its beauty and darkness. With light we see beyond the fear that often causes us to behave in ways that are not honoring of who we really are (our wild self) or those upon whom we project that unacknowledged fear, the resulting anger and the unhealed grief.

Reclaiming ourselves is the work of our lives. Growing in that reclamation process, we make powerful contributions to the collective of humanity, and our individual evolution.

Is it easy to do? No.

Is it easier to keep doing what we are doing and living and believing as we do? Yes.

Is it in our best interest (individually or collectively) to keep doing what we do and expect a different result to somehow occur, show up, or otherwise fix what needs to be fixed? Actually, I think this concept is named insanity and is widely attributed to Albert Einstein.

Will we experience surprises in our lives even if we do nothing? Yes…and the surprises may not be the ones we would prefer if we otherwise step into and take responsibility for the wholeness (holiness) of our lives.

Get to know who is …”under these systems of domestication…” 

Be your wild self.

Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.

Oscar Wilde

 

 

 

 

 

* From “The Alchemy of Identity or Who Are We When Everything Falls Away 03/08/13” on the “Writings” page of francisweller.net; retrieved 10/08/18.

our truth

“Satisfying untruth is more pleasing to us than unsatisfying truth, and Big Truth is invariably unsatisfying—at least to the small self.”

 – Fr Richard Rohr

 

I could spend time writing about the ongoing discourse in the country I live in regarding a number of topics. However, I choose to skip the mundane in favor of the higher.

I leave the meaning of the above quote to your discernment.

We are living in extraordinary times, as a friend of mine has said for some time. Our truth is ours. How we feel, speak or act upon it matters.

 

 

 

 

on being…ourselves

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

 – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Who are we?

Who are you?

What do you believe?

How do you live (or act on) your beliefs?

Are you living your beliefs or someone else’s?

 

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

– Brene Brown

 

It seems that nearly every day, we are provided even more opportunities to meet ourselves, to better know ourselves and to make choices that either support our growth while facilitating our evolution (and that of the planet) or we look away, afraid. We fear that allowing ourselves to feel what we feel, or to see through the eyes of our hearts what we are seeing unfold before us, that somehow we are weak or are not living up to what others expect of us.

Whose life are you living anyway?

 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

 – Steve Jobs

 

I honor the courage of the many who have spoken up about their abuse – men and women – and in so doing have paved the way forward for others to find within themselves the courage to step up, to speak up. These are the leaders of their lives who, by their actions, advocate for those who have not yet found their own voice.