Two words on my hiatus. Hosting issues. Perfect timing for a forced sabbatical though. I loved it.
I’ll admit it though. I almost gave writing up altogether, except for those few words rattling around my solar plexus, pestering me.
So we’ll see.
How about you? Do you have old dreams you’d like to retire? Do you allow yourself to change direction on your goals, or do you obligate yourself to follow through, even when another path may bear more fruit?
My second grader stood waiting for the pizza sample when the baker crouched down to say hello to her. “Why what a cute little face you have,” said the happy woman.
Unamused, my daughter stood there without response, then took the pizza sample, said thank-you, and walked away.
“You know, Lily,” I said, “when someone smiles and you and gives you a compliment, it’s a nice idea to say thank-you and smile back.”
“But I don’t like being called cute,” she said. “I am not little anymore. I don’t like being the littlest in the family.”
“I know, but it’s still a good idea to smile at people. Let’s make it your new habit to practice. When someone smiles at you, you smile back. What do you think?”
“O-kay,” she said with a snarl in her voice.
And that’s my girl. Interestingly, her teacher tells me that she’s one of the more polite children in class, and I’ve seen that too. But she’s not easily flattered, nor is she interested in flattering anyone else. As a mother, this bothers me at times. On the other hand, she’s unusually truthful, genuine, and very tuned into her own internal compass. She does what she knows to be right, and lets the pizza crumbs fall where they will. Few adults I know could boast such traits, and the more I think about it, the more clear I become on a few things.
When we stop playing to the gallery, the mirror, and the super image we are trying to project of ourselves, something magical happens. That something is the ability to stay more true to our own essence, our own inspiration, our own guidance system, and our own well-being. This is because the more we try to impress people outside of ourselves, the less we can see, hear, and feel that which is inside of us, wanting to come through. I like to call it the still small voice, and though it is small and still, if we have ears to hear, it resounds with a power that is undeniable and true. A power that will always lead us like the North Star towards our own best interest, and the best interest of all others too.
Character and Reputation
I’ve heard it said that our character is up to us, and our reputation is up to the world. And while social exercises like returning smiles may be of wise use, we must be careful. If we are not, our desire to manage our reputation or how we want to be seen, will outweigh the desire to allow who we really are to speak through us and shine. In other words, there is a difference between focusing on our persona, and focusing on our essence. Persona is concerned about how we are being perceived, essence is concerned about how we are being and what we are becoming.
Transforming our Relationships with Others
I remember a time I gave a perfect and even stirring speech. Every word was polished to a shine, and I was entirely “in the zone.” People seemed to really enjoy it and gave me lots of kudos for my artistry in speaking. They even took notes and vowed to put some of my maxims to good use.
Another speech went something like this. A crying colicky infant in a carseat on one arm, and a toddler at my side. In my other hand I carried my notes, a diaperbag, and a wooden box containing a miniature Little Women teaset, a gift from my mother’s travels to the Alcott museum. The moment I got to the door, I dropped the teaset, shattering it into pieces. I was sad, flustered, tired, and clearly not in the zone.
By the time I stood to face the crowd, my ability to speak from my notes was useless. I stood there with a long pause, looked into the faces and hearts of my audience, and began to speak from my core. My words tumbled with imperfection, my voice trembled with vulnerability, I knew I had utterly failed, and then I sat down. Somehow, to my surprise, the heartfelt responses poured in.
“Your heart spoke to mine.”
“I connected with everything you said.”
“The words you spoke were exactly what I needed to hear.”
And so on and so on.
The moment I risked vulnerability, put my own image aside for the sake of others, and spoke from that real place of inner guidance, I transformed my relationship with these others. While my strengths may have impressed the first audience, my imperfect humanity connected me to the second in a way that invited lasting transformation. In other words, while the first audience may have had an intellectual experience, the second had a spiritual one. And while there is great value in both approaches, I hope to mirror back to my youngest daughter the ability to stand true to myself when the allure of flattery calls, just like she did for me.
Heartfelt smiles for all~
I had no business going to the library tonight, but I stood there anyway in the aisle of poetry, and inhaled my first real breath today.
Quiet holiness. That’s how I feel about poetry. A stroke of awe. That’s how I feel about poets.
It’s strange too, since I could stand without a flinch before kings and queens, nobles and dignitaries. I hold great respect, but rare do I awe.
And now, in the shadows of this second evening of spring, I shall slip into my bed with bended knee and sip a phrase or two from this slim gold volume.
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath,
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
There is something I’ve wanted my entire life,
and the moment has come, and I have to ask for it.
If I don’t get what I ask for
I will have a momentary pinch and I will thrive.
If I don’t muster the courage to ask,
that pinch will become a pang of indefinite length
of which I will survive.
I’d rather thrive.
If I ask, no matter what the answer,
I will be more alive.
Oh yes, alive.
Today I drew a gigantic circle on the my whiteboard, and I wrote one person’s name at a time that I needed to forgive. My old ballet teacher with her black stick and cruel comments about how my wearing glasses ruined the look of the entire company. My friend’s rich mother who traveled with us to Mexico one year, then took a gorgeous bouquet of handmade tissue paper flowers a street woman had made, and refused to pay her the one dollar per flower she asked. A self-tanning, Harley rider boss who verbally disparaged and ridiculed me in public over my religious belief when I refused to drink with the team in the big city.
Those were of course the small things, and most of them were small, I found. The big stuff I’d seem to have already forgiven, some of them stories so sensational they’d made local and national headline news. And private pains too, the likes of which put me through what St. John of the Cross so aptly called The Dark Night of the Soul. Too big to carry around, I’d done all the horizontal and vertical work of forgiveness, and they were gone.
Yes, the stories which showed up mostly seemed small and insignificant, stories I thought I’d forgiven until the slight pang of their memory let me know I hadn’t. At least not completely.
After I scanned my life and couldn’t think of another name to include, I began my list of people of whom I needed to ask their forgiveness. Clearly every person on the first list would be included, as I realized I had held these people in contempt for even small infractions with no release for this many years. And there were others too, many of whom I’d not given the benefit of the doubt in the moment, and people I’d misunderstood.
I spoke each person’s name aloud, and through the redeeming power of a loving God, asked them to please forgive me, and offered my sincere mercy in return. I wrote notes too, a few specifically apologizing, and others simply expressing my love and gratitude.
What happened next surprised me. My circle of names began to shine, one-by-one, revealing the stunning gift and lesson they had given me, and that’s when I began to cry. My ballet teacher, for example, taught me poise, grace, and exactitude, and instilled in me a love of dance and the arts that I have passed to my daughters to their great benefit. My friend’s affluent mother taught me that the generosity of compassion is needed not only for the poor woman in the street, but for all of us in this grand sweeping adventure of life. And while I may never own a Harley, I won’t ever forget that smack talking slick selling big city dude who taught me how to close a sale with panache, illuminated my courage, and showed me something about the thrill of the ride.
How about giving it a whirl? It’s actually fun.
Make a quick list of a few people you need to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
What gifts and lessons have they given you?
Can you include yourself on that list of forgiveness?
Can you see the gifts you’ve given others too?
I had a breakthrough this week that looked something like this:
My audience is too small for my vision.
And, it’s time to expand.
Yes and Yes and Yes.
Pressing this ridiculous passion, this hopeless adoration,
this swell of loving expression, and this enormity of vision
into a glass flask and flinging it out to sea doesn’t work.
It floats back to my shore just like it has
a thousand times before ready to burst.
I pick it up again because I have no choice.
It’s mine and I must finally learn to honor it.
Shatter its confines and set it free.
One tip on how to fearlessly express yourself.
Even if you’re an introvert. Even if you suffer with anxiety,
or depression, or are just afraid to let your light shine.
Trust me, I’ve been to all of these places and I know.
But one day on the way somewhere, I had this a-ha.
The safest way of being in this world is BIG, not small.
Extending love, and joy, and light outward with the brightest of rays
is a far safer way to be on this earth, that pulling the vitality
and expression of our soul inward
in hopes that nobody will hurt us. I know it seems more logical
to bring our knees to our chest and fold our arms around us
when we are scared, but it’s precisely the opposite.
I know, weird, right? But it’s true.
I know it’s true because I’ve lived it. For years.
I’ve pushed past my hesitations and fear of rejection
and I’ve learned how to love with an openness that astounds me now.
I’m still sensitive now and then, and sometimes I question myself,
and then I remember this truth.
He that loseth himself for my sake shall find it.
This verse from the Holy Bible used to puzzle me, but it doesn’t anymore.
Whenever our actions are focused on our own self-interest, we fear.
When our actions are instead rooted in the pure love of others,
we fearlessly shine.
When life is no longer about us, about the image
we want to project or protect, we are free.
When we stand up and open our hearts and voices
and arms and talents to others because their joy
is more important to us than our own insecurity,
the full expression of our true glory,
of who we really are, becomes actualized.
I know this is true.
For, as it is taught by Christ,
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.
Next time you want to stuff your soul into a flask
because it feels too grand for the world to bear,
or keep your petals tight in the bud,
because you love so much it hurts,
consider the possibility of opening, expressing, and loving
even bigger, and more expansively than you ever have instead.
Do it for the benefit and blessing of others, and notice what happens.
I promise to practice the same.
All my love,
I wrote this piece some time ago and didn’t include it because of its minor chord tones. I include it today for all those who have ever been told that they need to be quiet, tone down, dim their light, or fold up into a little speck of dust because they are too much for the world to bear.
I won the “poetic waxing” award at my paper, and fellow writers thought I should win the “heart on the sleeve” award as well.
I wasn’t sure what to make of that. I haven’t always been open like this you know. Open, expressive, and vulnerable. Willing to risk looking foolish by declaring my love and longings. My adoration of people.
No, this blossoming of these petals were once tight in the bud, and I liked it that way. Careful, guarded, unyieldingly private was I, keeping my would-be-bloom under the glass like Beauty’s rose in the Beast’s castle, afraid it would die with a single exposure to air.
And now? Now that I’ve lifted the bell jar and welcomed a throng of visitors off the streets to my chambers? Opened my soul with words and loving embrace as if it were my last day on earth?
Would I be so again?
I’m not sure.
I’m not sure. At times the the pain of being peered at and plucked is sometimes too much for me, and so today I shall be silent. I shall close my chamber doors and place the glass over my bloom.
I shall only smile this love of mine and say nothing more. I shall let others be the ones to speak kindness through the cracks and I shall breathe it in.
It’s not because I don’t love, it’s because I love, perhaps too much. Too much for this world of cynics, of which I pray to never become a part.
Stay tuned for my fresh epiphany on keeping a full personal expression in bloom.
Circles. Orbs. Bubbles. Hoops.
Bouncy Balls. Globes. Rhythm. Spheres.
Cherries. The Moon. Records. Drums.
Buttons. Bottle Caps. Ferris Wheels. Wedding Rings.
Frisbees. Seasons. Lemon Pie. Balloons.
Dew Drops. Cartwheels. Umbrellas. Ginger Snaps.
Tree Trunks. Clouds. Hat Box. Pearls.
Hopscotch Toss. Oranges. Bowls. Coins.
The Constant Sun, and
Smiles so giant
they seem to curve
into a perfect galaxy.
I love round. It is the happiest shape-
and it is my world today.
I hope it is yours too.
With Encircling Love,
…I keep telling myself. Or to get to the point, stop thinking so much, okay? Put down the tangled twine of the world and stop unraveling. Sheesh.
Just one of my goals, and yes. I’m going to have some, just because I feel like it. Just because they are entertaining diversions. Just because I’ve defied them for so long due to an allergic reaction from my youth when I wrote pages of them and demanded that I accomplish every one. Which I pretty much did.
The first time this goal came to me, it was stated more politely.
Less Pondering, More Presence.
Aww. How nice is that? How poetic and zen. But really now, please, I get it.
I think far too much. I have too many discussions, often with invisible people about ideologies and philosophies on every topic under the sun. They state their case, and then I agree with the parts I agree with, and state my case too, and then we get into it. Usually while I’m cleaning the kitchen, rearranging piles of books strewn about the house, or attempting to make dinner. And then, between mental connections, I’ll run to my desk, write down epiphanies on the page, and try to remember what it was I was doing in real-time. Until the fire alarm reminds me.
It’s not that bad, usually, but I’ll be honest. I get bored with domesticity. Even Pinterest doesn’t hold my interest long because so much of it is about things. Stuff. I love stuff too, especially beautiful stuff that is useful, but I love philosophy, poetry, and people more. Real people. Live people. Important (to me) ideas about happiness, and inner peace, and love, and letting go, and whether goal-setting really fits into my inside-out understanding of life.
And you know what? I don’t care right now. I’m sure that sounds silly to most people to even argue the point, because after all, what could possibly be wrong with the Holy Grail of westernized goal-setting? I mean really? Of course if you were to ask me that question while I’m rearranging the pantry, I’d tell you. But since I’m considering the call to ponder less and be more present, I’ll leave you to ponder the debate yourself, while I attend to the soup on the stove, the music bouncing from the piano, and this little girl with her jumprope, asking me to play.
We discussed last time how many of our highlighted moments of 2012 were “happy accidents,” rather than the result of goal setting and hard work.
And so I ask myself, if this is the case, what is there to do?
- Toss my goal/dream/resolution notebook to the wind
- Take daily inspired action instead
- Be in awe of spontaneous miracle moments that arise and celebrate them
- Just be awesome today and then be awesome again tomorrow
I don’t know. What do you think? Does this sound like a wish-wash way to live?
My One Goal: Showing Up & Being Present
I will say that I’ve played with this one goal approach of showing up to life and being present. Indeed, it has been a breakthrough, illuminated way to live life, and I’ve found it immensely valid. Instead of cloaking myself in a flurry of goals, this approach requires me to be exposed and vulnerable to the request of the moment. Instead of being lost in the cacophony of my own needs, it requires me to to be quiet, so I can hear and respond to the needs of others. Instead of heroically and at times fatally marching towards achievement no matter what, it requires me to change course midstream for a better outcome.
In short, this inside-out approach requires a great deal of trust, humility, flexibility, openness, and presence. It requires the ability to listen for call to inspired action, and the courage to act upon it, even when such a call sounds illogical, uncomfortable, and preposterous. It requires, as Joseph Campbell stated, for us to “let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Take A Surprise Get Away
For a current happy example, it makes no sense for me to book a trip with my teenaged daughter this winter, to visit friends in the Ozarks during the most uneventful time of the year. But the idea came in a chariot, the door swung open for us to step in, and the path was bright and clear. So we’re going. Not to France, or New York, or Egypt, all places I’ve dreamed of taking her, but to the Midwest in winter. And yes, I’m looking forward to the ride.
Speaking of dreams, last time, I promised an idea from Michael Neill’s Creating a Happy New Year Tip, and the first one he shares is…
Letting Yourself Pipe Dream
“Pipe dreams” are those things we think we would like to have but we’re not ready, willing, or able to make our lives about their achievement. … a sort of “preview of attractions” which may or may not be coming soon into my life.
Surprisingly often, yesterday’s pipe dreams become today’s projects, almost as though they needed extra time to take shape in the forge of my imagination before I was ready to act on them.
What I have found important in really letting myself pipe dream is putting no pressure on myself to actually make anything happen – this lets my thoughts run free, and at times I find myself laughing out loud at the delightful possibilities that come to mind.
Have Fun with a Life Vision
Being awesome today can certainly include the the fun and importance of a life vision, but I’ve found that even as I work and play towards that vision, I must be willing at any moment to surrender. Surrender to the divine vision of a God who sees in me a majestic potential that I cannot yet see. Who dreams for me a reality so brilliant, I would be presently blinded by its light.
Because as alluring as it’s sometimes seemed to be in charge of every aspect of my life, I feel much more peace knowing that I don’t have to be. Knowing that all that is required of me by He who cradles the cosmos, is to be awesome. Just for today.
To a day of showing up, pipe dreams, and surprise getaways~
Dedicated to the pure awesomeness of Gina Aldridge, who teaches me what it looks like to “Just Be Awesome Today.”
© 2016 Hello Quiet.