It’s been quite the summer.
In truth, I’ve re-written that first sentence about ten times.Because, really, what else can you call a summer that’s been rich with ice cream and travel and joyous moments AND rife with pain and suffering and suicides and murders and righteous rebellions evenifitsnothappeningtomeoranyoneinmyimmediatelife?
Quite the summer.
You know how when someone dies, we first grapple with the “right words” to say, feel like we fall flat, and follow up with an impulse to share a casserole? I feel like that here. Like, I’m not entirely sure what the “right words” are, so I’ll serve you a sandwich.
A well-made sandwich is an act of devotion, so here’s my sandwich for you, for me, for us.
The bread of joy (or, where I’ve been)
I am celebrating a wonderful road trip with my family to the East Coast. Three thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three kilometers later, and we’re still talking. Lobsters, tides, old friends, new friends, wild blueberries, seals, porpoises, whales, walking the ocean floor, clam digging, thunderstorms, oysters, campfire chats, beaches, music, reverie and unforgettable colours.
I am also celebrating having had some of the most delightful conversations ever in my years of doing this blessed work:
I’m also celebrating that fact that the clinical psychologist who co-coined the term “Impostor Complex” back in 1978, Pauline Clance, has recommended me (ME!) for an interview about the IC that she isn’t able to do. Dream come true, really. I’m pushing past the lies of the Impostor Complex that have oh so much to say about why I’m not the right person for the job. Because I AM the right person for the job.
The meat of suffering (or, what I’ve been avoiding)
I so deeply want to end the post right there. With my joys and celebrations in the hopes that they lift you up. That they continue to lift me up.
Yes, yes. I want this post to be resplendent with waning summer softness and ease. As the cicadas serenade the setting sun, and the crisp mornings herald the dawn of autumn, this is a gorgeous time of réveil …an awakening from the somnolence of summer.
But with our Twitter streams filled with distress, suicide, murder, pain, suffering and inequity we don’t know where to put our own grief. Contributing to the conversation feels….opportunistic. Not our story. Not our challenge. Not our cross to bear.
When we don’t have the “right words”, we say nothing. Or precious little. We are afraid that if we don’t fully, completely, wholly understand something, then we oughtn’t say a thing, because if we do say something, even from a place of compassion and desire for understanding and peace, we will be called out.
I haven’t had the “right words” to speak of losing Robin Williams. Not here, not on social media, not with my daughter who held my hand as I became unhinged with sadness as we watched Night at the Museum 2, having forgotten that Williams played Teddy Roosevelt. Particularly when he uttered the phrase: The key to happiness is doing what you love.
I haven’t had the “right words” to speak of Ferguson. (But this is starting to guide my way). I haven’t had the “right words” for what I’ve been feeling into so deeply. But it’s time to risk impeccability and elegance and crash the woods with my humanness (as my soul sister Julie says) and declare:
That it is time to reconnect our bodies, hearts and minds with our world and speak out against the suffering around us.
That it is time we choose, on a daily basis, how we want to be together, towards each other, towards ourselves, towards our earth.
That it is time that we stop pressing the snooze button of the ‘way it is’ and wake up. And stay awake.
That it is time to say what needs to be said. That we think and feel and express and share and ask and give and receive from a place of love, kindness and compassion.
Your pain is my pain. Your joy is my joy. I may not hold it with grace the way I want to hold it, but I will hold it. I promise you that. Can you try to do the same?
The bread of joy (or, where I’m going next)
I’ve known for some time that I was about to write a book. I’ve had it on the back burner behind the other pots that have been boiling over. But then, this happened, as I shared on Facebook:
On the long and scenic drive towards home, we listened to music and didn’t say much. All lost in our own thoughts. My mind kept playing out what’s next in my business, chewing over options and vetting my excitement level.
Imagine my surprise when the border guard in Vermont glanced up from my passport, looked me straight in the eye and asked me when my book would be out.
Okay Angels, I’m on it.
I am excited. In fact, I am elated. I cannot contain the joy that I feel in the knowledge that the 40,000 unpolished words that currently sit in a Scrivener file will some day in the not too distant future come together in harmony and form THE book.
How can I feel such profound joy in the midst of the sorrow that is also true?
I believe that our natural setpoint IS wholeness. That we cannot successfully bifurcate our joy from our pains, any more than we can bifurcate our heads from our hearts (though we try, oh, how we try).
So yes. I believe in angels. I believe in border guards. I believe in the capacity of humans to do incredible things. I believe in you. I believe in me. I believe we can turn this thing around.
“Wouldn’t it be incredible if everyone could find the joy that comes with committing to our own goodness? Perhaps we would stop dividing ourselves into malignancies of various forms.”
– Eve Ensler, In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection
Let’s commit to our own goodness. Our own values. Our knowing of what’s right and just and fair and equitable.
Let’s crash through the woods together in our humanness. Guided by the pure clarity of loving intent.
What if you could have it be easy?
What if ease was the norm and not the exception?
What if hard is the road you’ve chosen because it’s been the path deemed the most valuable?
What if it STILL had value without the blood, the sweat and the tears?
What if ease could be cultivated?
What would happen if you decided that what comes next will come easily?
What if you could trust that?
In acknowledgment of hard
Oh honey, oh honey. I know…there are some times that it’s just plain hard. Change takes time, effort and patience. And your desire’s hungry NOW.
I also know that wrapped up in the “if it’s not hard, it’s not valuable” thing are some ancestral, lineal stories of hardship and strife that are baked right into your bones.
And truly, believe me when I say that there are some times when the backache of hard work feels gooooooood. It feels good to roll up the sleeves, to dig in the hard-packed dirt. To love the hard into softness. Like you’ve done for generations.
Is your entire life intended to be spent in the dirt? Are your muscles intended to scream from effort all.the.time?
What about those times when the road of ease rose up to meet you. Was that a fluke? Or a culmination of conscious choices you made…possibly divinely guided? Isn’t your life ACTUALLY trying to show you that it can be a whole lot sweeter and easier?
What if your default setting to every exhilarating new opportunity wasn’t “this is gonna be so hard”, but rather “this is gonna be exquisite…now how can this be easy too?”
Notice what opens up, what strands of recollection show up, pointing you to how much you’ve already done and know; faces of friends, colleagues waiting to offer support, help or counsel; or quite simply, an alternate, more gracefully sloping route to there.
So, right here, right now.
Look at the decision, the project, the program, the opportunity and ask yourself: “How can this be easier?”
Then, choose that.
PS – Gold star challenge: now substitute “easy” in the q’s above with “fun”, “pleasurable” and “delicious”. Now you’re getting there.
Why The Ampersand Series? - As a Libran Life Coach, I’m pre-programmed to see both sides…of everything. This can be an annoying trait to my nearest and dearest who just want to vent to me, but it is a massive service to my clients. So much of my writing touches on polarity. This & That.
Enter The Ampersand Series. Blog posts that shine a light on both sides:: Effort & Surrender. Limits & Limitlessness. Easy & Hard. An invocation to find our own places of discernment between the extremes. To love our ampersands. If this speaks to you, sign up to receive my posts. So much more to come.
Let me start here:: I know I’m pretty good-looking. (And if this is your first time visiting my blog, WELCOME! And I want to assure you that I don’t typically start my posts with conceit.)
But it’s an important place to start.
I’m actually in a pretty ideal place of attractiveness, truth be told. I can generally feel good about myself, and am not SO good-looking that it’s a problem.
I have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.
That makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.
I also have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their perceived LACK of overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.
That ALSO makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.
Yesterday, I received an email from someone stating I was not a candidate to be on her show because, well, I don’t meet the criteria of being “strong visually”.
So…like I said in the title of this post, I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.
The first three drafts of this post had much to say about the hypocrisy of this woman. Her show. Her mandate.
But they didn’t make it past the editing stage. Too many swears. Not enough substance.
And ultimately? I get it. TV requires boundaries. Baselines. Limits. And tough, tough, tough skin.
(I also get that “not strong visually” is not ACTUALLY the same as “ugly”. But I’m working on that “tough skin” piece and have miles to go.)
And being called ugly, or uninteresting, or unpopular, or all of the above hurt.
But it wasn’t just my vanity that had me sobbing to my husband last night like tears were going out of style. I was over THAT by the time I’d rounded up my sisters (and sister) who took on my hurt with the love, rage and righteous indignation of a thousand wounded Mama Bears (bless them all) freeing me up to feel underneath it.
Here’s what I found that had me doubled over the chopping block in tears::
There are women with ideas far wiser, wider and more profound than mine that are keeping them to themselves because they don’t feel they are beautiful enough, smart enough, accomplished enough to be seen and heard.
I’ll repeat myself from my TEDx talk:: that to me, is UNACCEPTABLE.
Like, can’t BREATHE, unacceptable. Crying as I type this, unacceptable. Gasping for breath, unacceptable.
Please, please, please::
SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY. WE NEED YOU.
And also, I know this. At my very very very best, I try to shine some love ‘n light towards the woman who may well be in her own world of hurt. Maybe she has felt the sting of being passed over for her looks and finds using words like the ones she used on me soothes it. Or maybe she likes efficiency. But really, it kinda feels like there is a belief operating that we can’t both be happy with who we are. That we need to be on opposite sides.
I come back to this. Can we once again, please try to find a kinder, gentler way forward? Lighter words? More heart? Sisters, can we please put away the scissors?
Two more requests::
1) I’m not interested in a debate about whether or not I am attractive…frankly, my ego couldn’t take it. And it’s boring. And reductive. (Plus, as above, I am at home with my brand of attractiveness, so honestly, I don’t need to know what others think of my looks…and I also hope you hear the love in this request.)
2) If this HAS helped you in any way, will you please let me know? It will make the impending vulnerability hangover that much more bearable. Moreover, will you tell me if this inspired you to be kinder, gentler and more loving to someone in your life? Thank you. Thank you.
PS – It’s the wildly gorgeous, talented and brilliant Susannah Conway’s birthday today and she has invited me and some other sisters to write about the empowerment of aging. And though that’s not what this post was about, I think it’s my 41 years that gave me the courage to press publish.
I’ve felt this forecast in my bones for some time now.
And may it also be filled with::
and the unwavering knowledge that you can make this year precisely what you desire. And then some.
Yes. Oh yes.
It’s been a bit of a doozy of a couple of months. Many, many highs, and many lows. Not a whole lot in the middle. But, y’know. I can take it. And all those highs are so, so gooooooooood. The lows are inconsequential, right? And besides, I’m tough and I’m softly malleable. I’m loved. I’m well-supported. I know what to ask for. I receive well. So, y’know, I’m good.
Except, I haven’t really felt good.
So when an “energy guy” came highly recommended by two friends I trust with all I have, I listened.
And so did he. Though before he could listen, he needed to clear some profound exhaustion that I didn’t know existed. Before he spoke to a profound sadness that I didn’t know existed.
I’ll be honest that there’s is a part of me that wasn’t 100% convinced. I mean, we’re all carrying a little tired and a little sad, non? Part of the light and dark of life that makes it so, erm, rich, right? And then, I took a look at some pictures that were taken of me earlier in the day. There was a void in my eyes that I haven’t ever, EVER seen. And it scared the HELL out of me.
How long have I been sad? And then this:: What right do I have to be sad? I am so bloody fortunate and grateful and lucky and blessed and, and, and…
Sidebar:: Sometimes we get ourselves in a fair bit of hot water for not asking for what we need. But sometimes we don’t KNOW what we need.
Perhaps the reason for the long dispute over the source of the adage: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is due to the fact that it’s incomplete.
Perhaps it needs to be updated.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle they might not even know they’re fighting.
Once I saw that I was IN a battle, I did what I do best, surrendered to the wisdom of some of my nearest and dearest and asked::
I could use your honest loving.
Have you been receiving me as sad lately?
Julie Daley spoke up first, within minutes.
yes. I will tell you. but I’d rather do it on skype, with you, not here.
As ever, she gave me a soft place to land. She gave me this question::
“what do you trust in when everything is pulled out from under you?”
That my light is abundant, was my answer.
Julie Daley does deep, powerful and transformative work. She can hold your tears. She has no fear of snot (trust me on that one). She can hold your power. And her Becoming a Force of Nature program registration starts now. This is not an affiliate link. This is a you-need-to-know-her-power link. You can take it. You are a force of nature.
And so am I. Whether I’m sad or otherwise. Up or down. I am a force of nature.
Related:: let’s be patient with one another, shall we? Some are fighting battles they didn’t even know they were fighting.
Our daughter has a lot of questions lately. Things are shifting, ever-shifting around her and she is trying to get her bearings.
Images of caskets. Unattended teddy bears. Flags at half-mast. We have risen to her questions about Newtown in the most age-appropriate way that we know how, as most parents and caregivers have. We make our way in through compassion as we touch on issues that feel too complex for us to grasp. It’s excruciating to witness a little more of her innocence slip away with every tiny bit of information shared. A new layer of bark on the tender sapling that she is.
And of course, it must be said that every chance I get to hold her, I do, overwhelmed with gratitude that I still have this very moment.
It’s our seemingly contradictory role as her parents to meet her needs with love and presence and then stand back to allow her independence and interdependence to flourish. To be her safe place to land as well as her spring board from which to soar.
We are trying to allow our own grief and vulnerability to hold some space and not attach too much to it when the gears shift suddenly to another topic, like Santa.
Tonight will likely mark her last visit to see him with the true belief of his existence in her heart. Her questions have become far more sophisticated, that yawning space between middle childhood and adolescence starting to close. Though, for one last year, her healthy skepticism has yielded to her hopeful belief in magic.
In school, the debate about Santa rages on: the Cynics who admonish those who still believe for being naïve vs the Skeptics who want to understand the truth (even as they have fear, doubts and apprehensions).
Fertile ground for debates of the future.
As the tragedy in Newtown is bound to become further politicized in the dark days ahead, it’s my hope that we can move from cynicism toward skepticism and from there, towards contribution. As ever, the way in is through compassion.
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