Experiments

Poke a hole in it

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I’ve been thinking lately that I ought to call myself a Mindset Coach. I mean what else is there? 

Our thoughts create feelings which form beliefs that drive our behavior that lead to more thoughts and more feelings, solidifying belief systems and ingraining habits that we often call personalities. More thoughts arise, then feelings–round and round and round.

If I think I am ‘behind’, I feel bad.  I start to believe I’ve missed my chance. I lose energy. I don’t try the new thing or take the risk and I get stuck in behavior (avoiding, blaming, excusing, distracting, doubting, collapsing) that doesn’t get me closer to what I really want. What is wrong with me, I think. I get down on myself,  feel disappointed, frustrated, ashamed. (And we all know from Brené Brown, that state of mind is the least likely to lead to taking action in a new, more meaningful and fulfilling way.)

Some people might say, it all comes down to whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, i.e., Do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full?

But Isn’t that a bit too binary for these times? 

It’s not about half-empty or half-full with the accompanying judgments (optimist=good; pessimist=bad).

It’s–There is a glass with some amount of water in it. 

The difference between an open mind and a closed one doesn’t have to be a wide open space. A crack will do. A pinhole in the near-certain dark dome above your head. One tiny point of light–that’s all it takes. Because if that’s there, what else might be there? 

I’m not talking platitudes–we know when something offered doesn’t feel right, like a false floor. We’re reluctant to move forward because on some level we know it won’t hold. 

But we also all know the feeling we get IN OUR BODIES when all seems lost, when every angle explored, tweaked & tested dead-ends, and then we hear a small voice say,  Wait–what if…?

Just that--What if…in a halting, high voice, head tilted, eyes gazing off in the distance,

What if it…?

What if we…?

What if you…?

Something about that feels true, trustworthy. Even if we also feel afraid to believe in it, we still find our feet itching to move forward, to test it out.

Rather than pessimist or optimist, what about possibilitarian, what Norman Vincent Peale used (invented?) in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking.

Peale wrote, “No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities — always see them, for they are always there.” 

And also: “If you put off everything until you’re sure of it, you’ll get nothing done.”

Waiting until you’re sure before you begin, or believing you’re sure it can’t be done so why bother both contain the same misunderstanding: Certain-a-tude. 

Dear Reader, Is there a place where you feel stuck, behind, out of options?

Do you feel pressed between the world of slapping on a smiley face or giving up? 

Poke a hole in it.

Listen for the What if…? 

Discover the possibilitarian in you. 

Courage

That’s a Negatory on the emergency

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This poem stanza really spoke to me:

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
–from Last Night As I Was Sleeping by Antonio Machado ( translation–Robert Bly)

See, I’m taking the solo show class again, working on the next 20 minutes of a piece and I am really struggling with simply getting to the work.

First, I didn’t know what I was doing.

Then, my dog was sick with something mysterious that involved multiple trips to the vet.

Then I was across the country seeing friends, going to an opening, and then back across the country to celebrate a big birthday. I mean, how lovely and bountiful, yes? YES! But the time is ticking and the show isn’t going to write itself (apparently) and while I don’t mind falling flat on my face, I want it to be after I’ve wrestled the alligator to the point of collapse.

Metaphoric collapse.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal the other day:

Wow. I don’t like this. I don’t want to do this. I DO want to do this. No one is making me. Why won’t someone come make me? Why am I such a coward? Or lazy? Maybe I’m not an artist. Maybe I just want comforts. Ease. Pretty clothes. Funky jewelry. A fit bod. Maybe I want the gold but I don’t want to dig. 

I share this with you because transparency = safety even though my mind often thinks the opposite, thinks that I need hide things to feel safe.

My mind wants to judge this struggle as bad–that’s my knee-jerk–but I know better. It’s not bad or good. It just IS. The simple solution is to let it be there, recognize it as evidence that I am a human person who, like every other human person, has this tendency to get lost in either the past or the future.

And then–get back to the Right Now.

When I recoil from what’s happening, I start to scramble or doubt myself or get graspy, like I’m losing ground; I strain my neck to see what someone else is doing or fret about what I’ve done in the past and, really, OH MY GOD HOW EXHAUSTING.

When I notice what’s happening and let it be there, my nervous system starts to stand down, like someone calling down from inside my head to the rest of my body, OKAY EVERYBODY, THAT’S A NEGATORY ON THE EMERGENCY. REPEAT: NEGATORY.

I can look around and see the horizon or the wide open sky or simply the ground in front of me or, at the VERY least, the ground beneath my feet.

I can feel my body–a tightness here, a tingling there.

I can set the timer for ten minutes and write and keep writing until it goes off.

Is it any good? I don’t know. Is it what I really want to say? I don’t know. Is going to be enough? I don’t know. Will I finish in time? I don’t know.

But those bees. Those golden bees. I think I can hear them buzzing.

Self-care

Everything is a practice

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How much of anything is One and Done?

I’m sure someone can come up with an answer, but I’m talking about the spirit of the question.

You have a body. Then comes the tending.

You have a home. Then comes the tending.

You have a new relationship. Then comes the tending.

You have a child. Then comes the tending.

You plant a garden. Then comes the tending.

You own things. Then comes the tending.

You lose things. Then comes the tending.

You hang on to things. Then comes the tending.

I know there are people who have no regrets. What’s done is done! La la! I leave my past behind!!  

Cool.

But everybody is dragging around their past, to some degree.

Everybody.

It’s not–are you dragging around your past but rather, what do you do when you notice that big (small? medium-size?)  trunk of crap scraping the ground behind you?

I’m certainly dragging around stuff I don’t need. So, how do I let it go?

If it were my last day on earth, I would let it go. I would! That finite period of time would LASAR focus me in a second. Everything meaningful and true would leap forward and everything else would fall away.

It’s harder when we forget how short our time here really is and get mired in the every day and keep forgetting to get to what matters because we don’t believe we’re allowed or good enough or mistakenly think we need to know more before we start and then all this time goes by…

When we talk about our regrets, people say, Let it go! It’s over! And they’re right but it’s usually about as effective as yelling WOULD YOU JUST CALM THE F DOWN FOR GOD’S SAKE to someone in a panic.

Lately I’ve been thinking, maybe letting go, for most of us, isn’t a One and Done. It’s more like committing to a new habit, a new way of eating or kinder self-talk.

Maybe it’s a PRACTICE.

Maybe it’s something you do every moment you notice the tug, the weight of that trunk and instead of judging yourself for having it or for not having gotten rid of it, you stop.

Open it up.

Look inside.

See what’s there & Marie Kondo that shit: Thank it for whatever it taught you and sort it in either the Give Away or Throw Away pile.

And when it happens again, tend to it. Again.

Pull the weeds. Again.

Wash the dishes. Again.

Put yourself in the path of what brings you joy. Again. Again. Again.

What is it for you, Dear Reader, that brings you joy, or even simply, replenishment?

A cup of tea? A nap? Talking to a dear friend? Sitting in a patch of sunshine with your dog or cat on your lap? Listening to a piece of music? Eating a scrumptious meal? Beautifying your bedside table? Moving your body? Getting in nature? The color turquoise?

Make a list. Put it up where you can see it every day.

Joy is a practice. too.

Action

Let Go Of Professionalism

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“Let go of professionalism” is something I heard Kyle Cease say more than once.

It’s true. And wise. And goes against the common understanding of how to ‘get ahead’ or do our careers. It’s also easy to misunderstand. He’s not advising us to be thoughtless, careless, or unreliable. He’s advising us to break free of the constraints of all the SHOULDs.

One of the biggest should has to do with age.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER.

It’s a mind fuck because the older you get the more weight the number takes on IN THE EYES OF THE UNINFORMED.

Don’t be swept up in the mass mind. Think for yourself. Stay in the moment where all things are possible. That is the entry point to the unseen world. The NOW.

Let go of professionalism.

Let go of what you think you’re supposed to do, say, look like, care about, how the path ought to go, what anyone will think if you stumble or if you make an abrupt about-face and set out in an entirely different direction, or even if you plop in a heap on the side of the road mumbling, I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know…

Let go of having to cut a particular figure, say things a particular way, go about a particular endeavor–ANY ENDEAVOR–according to how it’s been done in the past.

Let go of what you didn’t do what you didn’t finish, or what you did do and wish you hadn’t, what you said to that person, what you didn’t say that one time (or decade).

Let go of what you think this situation requires of you in order to put yourself out there. It doesn’t require anything other than what you have.

The most thrilling things to see are real.

We need real, now more than ever.

That is all.

Go to it.

Action

Trust in your impact

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People say, live every day as if it were your last. You’ve heard that. But what would it look like, really? If this day was my last? I can’t imagine it would make me terribly productive or helpful.

Or maybe it would?

Would I be writing this? Would I be seized by a kind of urgency? Would I talk really fast, say every last thing in a desperate panic or would I be ultra-calm, surrendered, like the audio of pilots just before they crash—a simple, quiet, Oh shit. 
 
Would I sob in my house, unable to move? Clutch everyone dear to me, confess my secrets, apologize for the petty things I held on to? Make a sweet forgiveness to myself for not knowing how to have done so many things differently?

Run through the streets screaming NO NO NO NO?

Give everything away?

Spend hours and hours savoring the world of sensation? Make love, eat, drink, paint canvases with my naked body, slow down, look deeply at the natural world?
 
Would I pick dandelions, make a chain necklace, drape them around the neck of every one I meet saying, You matter, You matter, You matter.

I read that many people are surprised to learn that the yellow dandelion blossom and the white puff ball are the same flower, separated only by time. I went down a small rabbit hole when I learned this, clicking links about the dandelion, this common herb most people consider a weed, a blight on their perfectly manicured lawn. It’s actually like us, ordinary but not unspecial, deep roots, tenacious, found everywhere.

Did you know that dandelions open in the morning and close at night?

Did you know the dandelion flower is the only one that represents the sun (the yellow blossom), the moon (the white puff ball), and the stars (the parachute seeds dispersed in the air)?

Did you know it’s actually a highly beneficial wild herb? A composite blossom? That the white tufted parts are fruits, that each seed attaches to about 100 feathery bristles? 
 
Did you know a single parachute seed can travel up to 5 miles?

That kids the world over use it to seal a wish? This last one I made up. It may be true. It seems to me that it ought to be true.
 
Everyone makes wishes, don’t you think? In innocence, curiosity, desperation…

We wish for courage, clarity, a second chance, open-heartedness, someone to come (back) into our lives. Wishing is a kind of magic, but not literally, like some people might think.

Wishing can be a way to block out what feels too painful but it can also be a way to call in the mystery, and our own more wonder-filled, permeable consciousness.

Wishing can help me notice the mystery of this life, participate in the mystery of this life, including the mystery of how our time here impacts and affects other people. Like those parachute seeds. You have no idea where they go, where they land.
 
I think of the people who are no longer here, from the dear friends to fleeting encounters with strangers like the little boy I saw at the zoo shoving a tiny crinkled dead leaf through a hole in the fence saying, in all earnestness, Here Duck Here Duck to an enormous moose.
  
I want to use my potential as much as I’m able and be less concerned about the meaning—let my parachute seeds go where they go, let time disperse them, let me stand spent, a sentinel keeping watch on the wind, ready to let go when it’s time.

Action

Start Here

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You don’t need to get to any other place before you start something new.

 

Do you need a little encouragement today?

Harry Bernstein wrote and wrote and wrote and finally published his memoir to critical acclaim when he was 96. He published his second at 97 and his third at 98.

Vera Wang started her career as a designer at 40. 

Grandma Moses started painting at 76.  

Ernestine Shepherd is an 80-something-year old body builder who began lifting weights in her 50s.

Louise Hay started her own publishing company at 58. 

Read about how Kathryn Joosten went after her dream of becoming an actress at 40.  

Or how Diana Nyad attempted to swim from Cuba to Miami four times before she successfully pulling herself to the Florida shore after over 50 hours in the open waters without a cage at 64. 

Age is just a number. Truly.

It’s hard to remember while surrounded by a culture obsessed with youth and ACHIEVEMENT and fame and money. It bombards us with messages of needing to do something splashy, lucrative, impressive.

Perhaps I’ve just contributed to it? 

Okay. Hmm…Good point. How about this?

My client submitted her first proposal to curate a show last year;  I’m flying out to her opening next month. She’s in her 50s.

My son’s ex-sitter is about to launch a Kickstarter for a game his young company designed. He’s in his early 30s.

My mom signed up for a yoga teacher training when she was 80.

My neighbor started a non-profit dedicated to sustainable local organic food production when she was in her 40s.

My nephew returned to college when he was 28.

My husband took his first improv class when he was 55 (shaking the whole way and last week, I saw him jump on stage to perform!).

My sister is entering politics in her early 60s, on the cups of launching her campaign for the state senate. 

My friend did her first open mike last week. She’s almost 60.

So, when should you start that thing that keeps bubbling up in the back of your mind?

Now.

I mean it, literally. Start now. 

Every one of the people I’ve mentioned started with one small thing. They jotted down an idea. They poked around online. They browsed the bookstore. They scanned the library bulletin board. They cleared off a counter. They made a phone call.

What is one teeny tiny step that you can do that takes 10 minutes OR LESS?

Take it. 

Then tomorrow, take another.

If you do this for 4 days in a row, your nervous system recognizes it as a pattern.  It says, Oh yeah. We do that now. That’s part of our routine. 

Remember:

1. You don’t need get to any other place.

2. You don’t need to know any other things.

3. You don’t need to feel any other ways.

What’s happening right here and now may be tough, tight, scary, chaotic, hazy, dull, flat, daunting, dry.

Cool.

I get it.

Now go.

Education

Wait–what??!!

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(This post is from Labor Day weekend when I moved my son into his freshman college dorm.)

YOU GUYS!!!!???????  My one and only child, my first and only born, my tiny baby boy, moved in to his college dorm.  CAN YOU EVEN? 

I cannot. 

Last thing I knew, he was that chunk of scrumptious baby flab and a crazy toothless smile. He fit perfectly into the crook of my elbow and the indention in my shoulder and that chink in my hip and anywhere on my lap and he just adored–no, flat out INSISTED, that I pick him up and carry him around everywhere, endlessly. (That’s not even a slight exaggeration.)

And now he is a man. Sort of. A starter man who can barely tolerate my hand on his shoulder most of the time. OH-CAAAAAAA-ssionally, he’ll come in for a hug but mostly it’s hands off. 

I get it. He needs space to figure out who he is without me MOMMYING all over him. 

I have heard that the story of parenting is the story of loss. The moment we bring the baby home, we begin the process of letting go. ISN’T THAT HORRIBLE? But also important and true?

And Isn’t that the story of our own lives? 

Inside every story of loss is a seed, maybe many seeds, of something new trying to be born. My son stepping into his new life. Me stepping into mine. 

It seems that part of this new life includes walking by my son’s empty room with a giant hole in my heart.

Part of it also includes me moving my painting things to a new studio. a big, beautiful space with wood floors and tons of natural light. This is a total dream of mine. 

As is my son leaving home, finding his way, his strengths, his path, his people.

When I think of him, I feel proud. thrilled, interested, nervous, left out, relieved, scared, heartbroken, confident. 

When I think of my new workspace, I feel excited and eager, like a badass and also an imposter, like IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME and also, WHO DO I THINK I AM?

But. And.

I honor the mystery–of my son. Of me. Of the seed. Of this life. 

So, on this day, I send you hearts & high fives & muscle-y arms for whatever new life is being born. Maybe you’re an empty or partial empty-nester, or you’re widowed, newly divorced or separated, or you find yourself on the cusp of a new career, your first, second, or third act. Maybe you’re mustering the ovaries to set up a creative workspace or throw out those ugly pants or wear that outrageous dress or shave your head or stop shaving your pits or break out that novel or memoir for the 9th time.

You got this.

More than that: You’re a fucking warrior. And not because of HOW you’re doing it. You don’t have to feel a certain way. Love it. Dread it. Hold it like a newborn or a slippery liver. Get it on you. Wear an apron. Fuck up. Forget. Remember. Drop it all. Pick it all back up.

Seeds start in the dark. Who knows how they feel about it? Maybe they’re screaming and crying the whole time, through the soft earth or the gravel or around roots, debris, boulders. They go where they go. They take the time they take. But sure enough, in time, they break through into the light, tender and mighty and amazing.

Like you.

Courage

There is no freedom without risk

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“As soon as anyone starts telling you to be “realistic,” cross that person off your invitation list.” –John Eliot

What are you not supposed to do?

What’s off limits?

What’s against the rules?

Now, I’m not talking about running a red light or dining and dashing, I’m talking about the internal rules, the rules of your family system, the rules that make you feel small and stuck, disappointed and sometimes, enraged.

If it feels too risky to dive right in and answer, try making a list. I’m a HUGE fan of lists. Writing them in an automatic way is the best. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write WITHOUT STOPPING. I mean that. If you get stuck, write the same sentence over or write, I’m stuck, or I don’t know what to write, or This is stupid, or Kyra is an idiot–why is she making me do this.

Write down anything that feels out of bounds, outrageous, dangerous, silly, out of your league, and especially, anything that seems UNREALISTIC.

Try starting with some phrases to get you going:

I would look like a fool if I …

I would embarrass myself if I …

It’s too late for me to …

I wish I had found the courage to …

I’ve always wanted to …

I wish I had been encouraged to …

It feels against the rules for me to …

I’m wildly jealous of (so and so) because she/he/they …

My (family/friends/partner/children) would mock me/be mad at me if I tried …

Once you have your list, read it over. Notice what you notice. Are there themes? Are there surprises?

As you read them, notice what happens in your body.

Notice what you feel. (Ignore what you say in your head.)

Notice where there is the biggest charge.

That is your soul telling you something important.

That is your soul longing for a greater freedom.

Listen: I’ve been wanting to paint for a long time. Decades. My best friend from childhood is a brilliant artist and painter. She’s been clear about who she is since forever. She’s been an artist her whole life. I remember when she stayed up all night in my NYC apartment drawing her first paid assignment for the New York Times when we were both 22. She is the most loving, supportive human on the planet, always my cheerleader about everything. But a few years ago, when I started to paint and post my art on the Facebook or the Instagram, here’s what my mind said:

She’s going to judge me.

She’s going to think I’m honing in on her territory.

She’s going to think I’m full of myself.

She’s going to think I’m copying her.

She’s going to think I’m trying to be someone I’m not.

She doesn’t think these things. My mind does.

Why? I’ll tell you: My mind is trying to protect me. Isn’t that CRAY? It’s trying to keep me safe. It’s trying to keep me in the confines of the familiar, the tested, the known, even while my soul has been straining against those bounds for years. It’s trying to keep me out of the perceived RESTRICTED AREA.

But here’s the thing about that area: (1) All the goodies are in there. (2) It’s marked off with caution tape.

That’s it.

Tape. 

We citizens abide that tape when we come across it out in the world and that is good. It keeps things from breaking down into chaos.

But in our soulful lives, that chaos is teaming with creativity. The I Don’t Know What I’m Doing free fall is the birthplace of discovery and innovation.

You don’t do it all at once.

You can’t.

You do it one tiny step at a time.

And the first step is simply lifting that tape and stepping into the Restricted Area.

!!!!!

What might that look like for you, Dear Reader?

Maybe it’s making your list.

Maybe it’s gathering some supplies.

Maybe it’s clearing a space on a shelf or counter.

Maybe it’s poking around your neighborhood or the internet for information about workshops and classes or other jobs and career paths.

Whatever is it, know this: That it feels off limits is GOOD because it’s information. About what’s possible. About something alive in you that is yearning for air. 

Step inside. Look around. Breathe.

There is no freedom without risk.

Fear

What they did is not on you

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“If there’s going to be a story, don’t you think I have as good a right as anyone to choose it?”–Richard Adams from Watership Down

 

We give our mind too much power.

We forget that we can change it.

Not listen.

Watch it do its shinanigans like watching a fly buzz around.

Insert a tiny bit of space between us and what it’s saying.

We are remarkably good at this when it comes to kids.

Think of it–whether or not you have children of your own, I’m quite certain you’ve been with or heard of a time when a small child was panicking about something you KNEW was really not an issue, not a concern, a threat, or even possible.

You knew they were seized by some delusion, fantasy, or nightmare.

You knew that as much as it was clearly an illusion to YOU, it was very real and terrifying to THEM.

You also knew that the last thing you’d want to do is mock them. WHAT ARE YOU, AN IDIOT? OF COURSE THERE AREN’T MONSTERS UNDER YOUR BED.

You also wouldn’t join them–OH MY GOD WE’RE DOOMED!!!!!

No. You most likely adopted a gentle, reassuring tone and did what you could to soothe them. Maybe you turned on the light and looked under the bed together or went to the kitchen for a glass of water like Cindy Lou Who Who Was No More Than Two. Or maybe you went directly to distract and redirect.

What story are you telling yourself?

About anything?

Not the happy stories. Those are fine. 🙂  We’re looking for the painful stories.

Like, somehow taking responsibility for someone else’s shit behavior.

Ask yourself, KINDLY, what do I get out of taking this on? What is the payoff?

Is it that you get to settle into the old familiar groove of being fundamentally fucked up? Having missed your chance? Made irreparable errors? Not quite having had the stuff you needed to go after what you want or even having known what you wanted long ago?

Most of the time, the payoff is in staying stuck in some old story that, as much as it feels awful, feels familiar.

This is one of the MANY things we do as human beings. We are a lovely, wacky, brilliant imperfect lot. We are. So sweet and tender and yearning and full of unimaginable GENIUS! And also, this tendency to fall into grooves or ruts that trudge through painful and FAMILIAR sludge.

So, listen–ask yourself: What basic premise do you want to work with? Is it, there is something fundamentally wrong with you? OR, is it, humans are flawed and other people’s bad behavior is not on you?

What they did or didn’t do, or said or didn’t say, is not on you.

It’s on them.

Are there things to learn? A thousand percent, yes. But when we take on what’s not ours, we bungee ourselves to the scene of an accident. We think we’re leaving it behind, but sooner or later that cord yanks us back and we revisit the pain as if freshly hit.

In every painful story, we cast ourselves as the fuck up. Even if we are clear that the other person did the heinous or cruel or fucked up thing, somewhere in our minds, we believe that if we were different, if we were more or less (smarter, younger, thinner, hipper, calmer, cooler, stronger, etc.) it would not have happened. We would have had the power to make it/them be different, or to have KNOWN what they couldn’t do and so we wouldn’t have put ourselves in that position to begin with.

No.

Life. She plows through our lovely gardens and leaves a wake of destruction. It’s not our fault for planting there or planting that or for not being able to forsee the storm.

So what do we do? We grieve, we sort, we salvage, we lean on those who’ve earned our trust, we reach down and find things we didn’t know we had and bring those things to the light where they transform us.

We say, see mind? I am not that old story. I am this ever-evolving miracle of matter and mystery, tethered not to the traumas of my past but to the center of my soul that is resilient and here with me now and always.

Body Compass

What Might Happen?

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Ekhart Tolle says, Cooperate with the present moment as if you asked for it.

That Ekhart. He’s so cray.

I imagine tickling him over and over, my face pressed very close to his, saying, Did you ask for this, Ekhart? Did you? Did you? Hmm?

Maybe I’m just a little hostile.

I mean, he’s right, of course. He’s very wise, that Ekhart.

Martha Beck said a similar thing in our coach training: be in perpetual creative response to whatever is happening. That doesn’t mean doing it perfectly. If we overreact or panic and slip into any one of the drama streams in our minds, that’s okay because the moment we notice it, we can shift out of reactive mode and in to RESPONSIVE mode.

Responsive mode is inherently creative.

Now, I don’t think Ekhart means, Asked for it, as in, Please pass the cancer, the betrayal, the house fire… I think he means, open to the fact that it’s there, whatever ‘it’ is, without giving in to the drama in our head that tells us, in one form or another, It Shouldn’t Be There.

It is, right?

Until it’s not.

I’m not going to say it’s GOOD, or that it was meant to be or ‘happening for a reason.’ I’m just saying, it is happening, so now what?

How do we stay present so we can access our most resilient, flexible, creative mind?

How can we, in fact, expand our lives and our minds so that we are vibrating at a higher frequency?

In certain situations, we’re okay with the hard or messy thing because we expect it, or even choose it.

When I changed diapers, I didn’t freak out every time I opened a diaper–WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?

When I dig in the yard, I don’t look at my hands or pants and exclaim, WHY AM I DIRTY?

When I lift weights, I don’t scream, WAIT—WTF ARE THESE ARE HEAVY!??

But when the hard unexpected (or unrequested) thing comes, some voice says, This is a MISTAKE.

My son shouldn’t stay up so late.

My husband shouldn’t be so worried about money.

I should not be still figuring out my ‘career.’

(All things I have thought as recently as, oh, this morning!)

But, what if our job is not to resist what we don’t like but simply notice it, even welcome it (okay, that’s black-belt level) and then cooperate with it, not to KEEP it or slap a smiley face om it, but simply to allow it to move rather than get stuck in us.

There are actually stages for this sort of process, according to Kristin Neff and her research on Self-Compassion:

1st stage = We RESIST the uncomfortable feelings. ACH! Not this! DANGER!

2nd stage = We are WILLING to be with the uncomfortable feelings. Okay, I may try to make space for this, like, next time it happens.

3rd stage = We TOLERATE the uncomfortable feelings. I don’t love the way this feels but I get that this (heaviness in my belly, shakiness in my legs, pounding in my chest) is there.

4th stage = We ALLOW the uncomfortable feelings without going into our STORY about what it means, about us, about them, about our past or our future. Huh, this is weird, but actually kind of interesting.

5th stage = We EMBRACE the uncomfortable feelings, actually make friends with them, knowing they are transitory and that (this is KEY) they are not US. I’m going to track this, observe this, name this because doing this keeps me grounded in this moment, in the present rather than racing around in my mind to the past and the future in some mean or scary scenario.

When things go haywire, as they inevitably do, we can either be with the sensations in our body or with the abuse in our head. That’s about it. I notice when I focus on the the sensations, they change; when I focus on the abuse? It goes round and round and round.

Life keeps coming at us with these moments of discomfort, and I just don’t see it stopping until the day it entirely stops which is hopefully a LONG WAY OFF. So why not give this a try?

Next time you catch yourself tensing to the moment, try tuning in to the physical sensations in your body (not the story in your mind) and ask yourself, what if I cooperated with this? I mean, what if? What if I stepped out of what my mind is SO SURE IS TRUE OR BAD OR DANGEROUS and stepped into my sensations, got curious?

What might happen?