When journaling connects to a daily reading connects to the chapter of a book all within the first hours of wakefulness…now there is a trio of connections important to mull! I journal first thing in the morning and it is generally stream of consciousness journaling; I believe, however, that it is important soul work, confirmed on days like this when not only have I written my own words but discover connection. Today it was to Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening and to a passage in Tama Kieves’ book, Inspired and Unstoppable. And coincidentally, or not, a friend of mine was running the Chicago Marathon this weekend, so she, too, was on my mind.
I journaled the following:
It is finally time to break into a run of the eccentric me…breaking into a run to what calls me…yes, I like that! It doesn’t mean I have to run a marathon to be where I am going in one fell swoop but it does mean that I run at least at intervals and to do interval training and workouts for the life that is today and tomorrow and the future. I have been walking too much rather than putting on my “running shoes” of different colors and styles…I am going to make today a running day in my life as I head toward that call…yes, yes, yes.
Then I opened Mark Nepo’s book and was struck by this sentence:
Everybody embodies both being and doing. The wind we create by running is the energy of becoming, and the wind that comes to us by stilling ourselves is the energy of being.
Following that, I opened Inspired and Unstoppable and read these words by Tama Kieves:
Years ago I jogged regularly. I was committed to running a certain distance weekly and, if truth be known, keeping certain body parts in check. Many times I would focus on just wanting to run to get the run over, and achieve my goal. I’d focus on the distance I had to run, and that would often make the experience empty and brutal. My running practice taught me that I could gain distance by forgetting about miles and focusing on scenery, forgetting about the task at hand, and get this, distracting myself with actually being alive.
Then as I turned my mind to noticing a magpie shuffling it feathers or an aspen tree slithering in the breeze, effort and time evaporated from my consciousness. Sometimes on really great runs, even my awareness of myself blended into a red berry or the varnish of a leaf. I found it exhilarating to “disappear” and become the parade of my experience. I awoke miles later. …Being present squeezed out anxiety, boredom, sluggishness, and every other life-debilitating form of self-judgment. With a mind immersed in tall grasses, magpie feathers, speckled leaves, awe, exhilaration, and outstanding gratitude for being alive, there were not thoughts of measurement, comparison, minutes, or desire for anything else.
Discover the leaves, birds and vibrations of your craft.
I am playing with all of this. I am quite adept at stilling myself for the energy of being. What I know is that I want to run more fully as my eccentric self and run with, into, and for my calling as a coach, workshop creator and leader. The wind I create by running is the energy of becoming…I love that. And if I run not focused on the end results but living the moments along the way I will discover all that I need to know and do…and I will be alive and live my call with the most natural grace and energy.
Ah, to have the legs of when I was 20 or 30 years old! While parts of me seem to be aging in ways I can’t complain about, I have noticed over the last couple of years that I simply will never return to the shape and condition of my legs of my younger years…it’s a fact. I miss those legs! And no more needs to said about that except the following.
Twice over the past few months, as part of the Leadership Program through Coaches Training Institute (a phenomenal experience), I and my Leadership colleagues went to a ropes course and were challenged mainly by high ropes activities. There is no question that those hours drew on every ounce of physical and psychological energy I possess. I would not trade them for anything.
Picture the telephone pole, now known as the Panda Pole since the name given to our Leadership Group is Pandas. Yes, a telephone pole all by itself, with a ladder to get each person started. Then, it was on to the top by placing your feet on u-shaped metal spokes in the pole while holding onto the ones above you or arms wrapped around the pole as you made your ascent. Once at the top, the challenge was to get both feet onto the top of the pole, stand straight up, leap off, and try to reach for a dangling ball while jumping into the air.
With every step I affirmed (and confirmed out loud) great trust in the professionals who were belaying me, in extra measure for that climb because it was raining. At the very top of the pole, scared to death but determined to get up on it, I began to raise my right leg to the flat top. At the same time, my left foot slipped on the wet spoke and I careened into the air in a most unsightly, ungraceful manner. My left leg must have hit every other metal spoke on the way down. Six months later the bruises are still there and I have been told they may always be there…for certain, the legs of decades ago have become a memory.
Similarly, on a ladder made of railroad beams, the end result of all the energy and work to get up to the next railroad tie was more bruises added to my left leg. For some reason that was the leg that took the beating both times.
Unsightly as the bruises appear, they are, to me, beautiful. Every single day they remind me not only of what I conquered on the ropes course (even if not the top of the pole), but also that I can do far more than I think I can – that I can climb higher, stretch more, lean into others for help and support, go for the goals that look intimidating and unreachable, let go, trust, take on the challenge, and access resources I did not know or had forgotten exist deep within me…no more excuses…no begging off…no thoughts of defeat…but instead, claiming the power, the energy, the exhilaration, the nerves, the adrenalin, and most of all, the deep believing and knowing that I can climb one step more than I thought I could and keep going.
The words I would say to the belayer before starting were, “Ready to climb.”
The response from the belayer was, “Climb on.”
I play those words over and over…they, too, are beautiful and need to be answered with a resounding, “Yes!”
Climb on and climb on and climb on…and whatever the bruises, whether physically visible or invisible but felt in the soul, they are beautiful and help give me the courage to go after what I may very well have crossed off as not possible.
What a different perspective life takes on with those bruises and those two words.
What a wonderful afternoon in the presence of and playing with voice with Barbara McAfee and 18 others. Barbara is a gifted musician, coach and consultant and in her presence you cannot help but become excited about finding your own voice, whether musical or otherwise. I encourage you to visit her website: http://www.barbaramcafee.com and become acquainted with Barbara, her music, and her wide ranging work. I often play her CDs and sing along at the top of my lungs on my way to work in the morning, window rolled down…the words and music strike a deep chord with me and I want to share her and the messages of her music with others. I wrote this poem after the workshop today.
Rip Van Winkle Voices
More than 20 years of sleep
Twenty times three
Leaving out the first three
When I was just learning to talk -
I have relied on the same old, same old -
Once in a while
A new voice
Has revealed itself
Surprising me -
Too unlike “me”
(Wait, that actually IS me a tiny voice would say)
Too much chaos created
Too much discomfort -
It doesn’t sound like
Others depend on
Often enabling voice
A good voice
I like it
But not the only voice -
I have felt them -
Battened down the hatches
Of my heart and soul
To keep them silent –
In this moment
No more battening –
The bungee cords have been undone
Canvas ripped off
Come out, come out
I am claiming you awake
Never to sleep again.
Working with young children every day, “on purpose” generally is heard in the context of, “YOU did that on purpose!!!” or, “_____ did that on purpose to me!” Those two words have a negative, blame-filled connotation. They are said as if “on purpose” is all about something wrong being “done to” that frustrates, angers, insults or disrupts. How easy it is to live with that echo in our minds and to still have those words cross our minds in their negativity well into adult years, whether we are as vocal as children or not.
Just as I am thinking about “on purpose” in quite the opposite way, the evening sky has turned the most incredible grayish pink, illuminating everything outdoors, causing me to look up from this page…the unusual light shining through the windows…wow…yes! It is as if this moment happened right on cue for “on purpose” being seen, heard and thought about in the most glorious way. Living BEAUTIFULLY… SPECTACULARLY. Our entire life lights up when we learn how to live it on purpose. Now the two small words take on energy, vitality, vision, resonance, anticipation, and excitement. We can hardly keep from “dancing”in them and bringing them to their fullest existence.
When we are on purpose and living into our purpose, even with the bumps along the way, we know that we have found our place. It is a place unlike anyone else’s…unique, a calling forth that we cannot ignore, a fit tailor made…at home in our heart. On purpose, we bring something the world will miss out on if our purpose is kept silent.
Believe…your purpose is needed…and if you are looking for your “on purpose,” not quite sure about what it is yet, don’t be shy about asking others to help you find it and define it. Often, people see in us gifts that we have not yet discovered in ourselves or that we are afraid to play with and try on. At times, there is the rumbling of purpose deep inside of us that we are fearful of accessing, wondering what it will mean in terms of potential change; at the same time, we know the rumbling is beckoning us to pay attention.
Be open…stop, look and listen…be willing…be daring and courageous…take a step you don’t think you can possibly take…tell others so sharing it makes it real…and get ready for the ride of your life.
This view of “on purpose” radically shifts life in a magnificent way…play with it and gift it to the world!
I go by hundreds of side streets in my travels, glancing at the street signs to see what the names are (and whether the name appeals to me or not..a quirky thing…could I live on a street with a name I don’t like?) and wondering where I would go if I took the turn. Usually, it stops there. I simply keep driving by…taking my usual route…wondering for a minute but keeping on with what I know. What’s that about? Time? Fear? Worry about getting lost since I don’t have a GPS? There’s always tomorrow? Or, “Well, this really isn’t where I am going to stay for the rest of my life so what does it matter?”
The other night on my way to a coaching client I went by one of those streets.
It was a coaching moment…mostly for myself. Why do I live in the routine when there are so many side street to explore in life? Why do I worry about whether I’ll recognize where I come out or not? Why do I think it always has to feel comfortable? Why am I concerned about getting lost? Why do I put time limits on myself? Why, why, why…when there are hundreds of turns open to me to see where they take me?
A few days later on another street I know well I realized the unknown street is one of the intersections…a connection I had not guessed. Why was I so afraid that if I turned I would lose my way?
I can always go back to the known, the easy, the usual, the comfortable, so repetitive that I miss what has become new in the familiar; I live on auto-pilot.
I am choosing to venture up, down and around side streets in life…sometime straight connections I didn’t believe would be there. Often I meet up with wonder, beauty, curves, dips, hills, or a straight-away to exactly where I need to be taken. I discover scenery of new perspectives, choices, designs, landscapes. What I would have otherwise missed creates fresh energy and connection…all of a sudden I can’t find enough new streets to explore.
The known, the comfortable and the certain have their place…but I am learning to let go of them bit by bit.
When a side street beckons, risk taking it and very possibly discover a whole new adventure that will expand the horizons of who you are and where you want to go.
Possibilities are limitless!
Impulse buying…a new mug…drawn in by its shape and colors…a “yes” in my unstated list of mug requirements. It is gracefully curved with muted aqua, rose, rust, cream, orange…filled with swirls, dots, and lines…variety that creates beauty…that catches my eye. One recent evening I took the time to truly study the mug, not knowing exactly why, but drawn to exploring it.
The design is not random. I almost felt the eyes of the designer as he or she created the pattern with intention, centered and thoughtful. I see dipping and reaching…open spaces and less open spaces…what look like Moroccan style hanging lights and a candle between each one…at first not at all what I would have seen; now, the light theme draws me in even more and there is flow in the artistry.
Dipping, reaching, centeredness…those are not so hard for me. And flow…I am in and out of it…it is lovely feeling in it right now as I write. Yes, there are some fits and starts and distractions (always for me) but I’m there and I recognize it and relax into it.
Design…ahhh…that is the tricky part. I don’t feel like I was born with a design bone in my body. It’s a huge stretch to vision, visualize, plan, articulate it, sketch it, map it, and even begin to be able to see it…especially lasting design. I am more of a sampler and a dabbler.
So…two things about this meant-for-me mug strike me:
I want to be and am trying to be more intentional about designing my life with the understanding that in the best of designs there is some randomness, surprise, quirkiness, and shift. I have no idea how many designs the artist played with before the one I enjoy on my table. Design does not mean static or black and white and there are many designs within a design…but I do know where I want to go and now is the time…I need to not be shy about putting my design, albeit not perfect, out there and seeing if it will fly. I want to fly. I want to create. I want to say yes to what is calling me, call being integral design. I want to be light…of heart and for others. My design is becoming intentional…it is spacious…it is colorful…and like the mug, it is a design from which to drink and be nourished and whole…to savor.
Also, this mug has what was once my least favorite color, though not so much now…orange. Whereas I once dismissed it, I have discovered that it is a good color on me…it was a “wow…I had no idea!” until I and others noticed it. There are least favorite “colors” of who I am and how I feel about me but I am shifting to see that perhaps I have not used those colors to my benefit; I have not taken time to explore them and perhaps highlight them in new ways…maybe as an outline or interior line of a quality with which I am more at peace.
One small mug…I had no idea it would give me so much to think about. As I look up to the shelf nearby where other mugs are stored, my eye is lighting on the one that says BELIEVE…and guess what color the script is…yes…orange!
What has caught your eye today and what is it saying to you?
What fun to recently share with some colleagues the joy I find spending time in deeply reflective writing. Having been asked to share my thoughts, I gave myself to mulling the topic with more intention than usual. I write for me. I write for fun. I write to learn about myself. I write to explore varied topics, feelings, work, coaching, writing, art, what I’ve read, and myriad more reasons. I write to share. I don’t tend to analyze and pull apart. I don’t even think consciously about “deeply reflective” writing; however, I realized that I am working on it. I have to crack open all kinds of feelings and places within myself to be able to go deeper…history, fear, inadequacy, voices about “proper” writing in grammar and content, my little saboteurs who love to surround me and put the question out there of, “so who would want to read what you have to say anyway?!” Even if writing only for myself, I still have so much to crack open, including imagination. I want to allow myself to become freer with each stroke of the pen or tap of the keys and be willing to write without compromise, to be fully me. Perhaps I am afraid of what I will discover; at the same time, if I give myself full permission I will discover exhilaration and determination to keep delving. Surprises that jump off the page a bit like jack-in-the-boxes never cease to amaze me when I write fully and with abandon, writing in flow.
A writer’s quote I shared with colleagues later struck me as a quote about life, doubling the impact.
Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze; let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands. Just put it down; then another.” (Jacques Barzun, historian and essayist)
Too often I have not allowed myself to change, even to be open to change, because I must have some sense that I am made of marble and bronze and that what was decided years, months, days, hours, minutes even seconds ago has to be forever…rather than viewing myself as clay that does not dry and harden but is kept moist, constantly ready to be molded, and full of redesign…and paper that can be kept or crumpled up and thrown away…that can be re-written, re-framed, revised, edited. I think because I was one way one year or for 60 that if I allow myself to change in flow with what is pulling me along people won’t understand, or I might have to change what I do, or I will take risks I am scared to take, or I will uncover more of who I am and who I am being called to and there will discoveries I am not sure I am ready to find.
I am playing with all of this right now and blogging about it is deepening the play and the reflection for me. What I know is that I want to keep expanding. I want to learn all that is out there for me to learn about my potential and to uncover parts of myself I might not even know exist because I have limited myself so much. Life has been good in spite of it but I am not content with the status quo. What more is there? As I coach others to fulfillment and discovery, I need to listen to my own coaching.
Clay…paper…not marble or bronze. Let me be willing to listen to the beckoning, calling, drawing…however they come to me…and not be afraid to put one foot down first and then the other…and walk into accessing more of my own limitless resources, saying yes to my evolution.
I want to stop there. At the same time I can hear the little voice saying, “You mean you will never commit to anything? Aren’t there some things that should be as marble or bronze?”
The deep reflection, both in writing and life, continues.