Stepping Around the Piles

For months, I’ve been clearing out my house. The hubz and I both like empty closets and drawers. It is a big house….built in 1852 by a Carriage maker. We have one storage room that we clear out every couple of years so that we are not storing old energy, old stuff, past plans.

The problem? It gets hauled to the garage and there it sits. For months, I’ve been stepping around the pile. The boxes and totes are filled with some good stuff. Stuff that if I put it on ebay would make me a nice pile of coffee money. But I don’t have an interest in using my time that way. So, I’m happy to offload at the Goodwill for someone to take it into their home or to do the work of selling and then making cash from it. Good for them.

Every time I stepped around the piles of outgoing energy, I was sending a message to myself and the Universe and all powers that make things happen, that I’m fine hanging on to the past. I’m fine moving half way into the future, part way into the next. Like going to London and never leaving the top of the tour bus.

So today, as I started stepping around the piles, I stopped. I looked at it all. And I put it in my Honda. You see, earlier this morning, I new I needed to take new physical action to keep my life flowing forward.

Emma Churchman and others call this energetic supportive action. It isn’t direct action for my goals, but it is physical action and that always supports the direct meeting of goals. The Quakers call it “way open”. The Quakers are speaking of that ineffable moment when what you thought was closed has now become open with opportunity. I think I’m talking about the same thing.

We are powerful creators of our own lives. We make choices every day. The life we are living today is the life we have each set in motion, by the people we have chosen or accepted to be around us, by the job we are in and possibly put up with, by the negative lifestyle choices we engage in over and over and over. I think there is a basic question about being a victim of anything. But I also completely believe that there is more empowerment in choosing the reality that I brought it all on and so I am powerful enough to change it. It is a mindset choice toward action.

A little exercise:

  1. Take 2 full and deep breaths. Keep breathing while you think of a circumstance in your life that you believe is the outcome from someone doing something to you. Something you blame someone else for. Something that allows you to tag yourself as victim. Now, how does your body feel? What is the energy doing? What do you think you’ll accomplish with this energy?

  2. Take 2 full and deep breaths. Keep breathing while you think of a circumstance in your life that you believe is the outcome of an external force. Now, breathe deep again and own it. Say “I chose this. I chose this from a host of previous choices and beliefs. I drew this to me. I own it. It is a powerful reality. That means I am equally powerful to change the outcome now.” How does your body feel? What do you think you’ll accomplish with this energy?

The body always expresses truth.

It is looking at consequences for a series of choices.

  1. Do I date mean men because I watched my Mom in mean relationships and that is all I know?

  2. Do I gain weight because I’ve turned to food for acceptance and love, as a balm for what I don’t have?

  3. Am I stuck in a job for 30 years that still only pays me $9.50 an hour?

  4. My life is the same every day and I hate it.

Move right on past self blame. It isn’t part of the equation here. Simply own your own beliefs and choices and work with your mindset, then say:

  1. There are a wide variety of types of relationships and I am going to choose well so that my partner in love is good to me and has integrity.

  2. Food is not conscious and is not capable of loving me. I am going to go to the library, coffee shop, movies…because I love myself enough to do something enjoyable. I love me.

  3. I’m going to learn a new skill and get a different job.

  4. I’m going to clean out all my closets and get rid of all the “some day” things and make room for what I want right now.

I’ve oversimplified my examples. But life can be that simple. If we get stuck stepping around our piles of blame and victimhood, leaving them anchored in the way of our life, we won’t move on. We won’t.

When we identify our piles, we can begin to get a sense of the container we need to move them. When we believe that we are the ones to bring the container and do the moving, then we can get going. Nobody is going to bring their dump truck to our garage, unless we at least call.

It is a long road. It is a hard road. And then you’ll know freedom.

Imagine what you need:

  • meditation

  • spiritual direction

  • vacation

  • therapy

  • divorce

  • new job or promotion

  • U-haul

  • new skillset

  • new mindset

In the end, what story do you want to tell? That you made your life happen or that the world was always against you?

I now can easily walk through the garage. I am no free of the past that is energetically held in each object. I felt the freedom immediately. I am now expecting a shift in my goals. That is how it works.

Let’s dig through the pile together.

Peace and Action,

Amy

The Power of Being A Practitioner

When we experience something tremendous, we often feel it inside of us as a longing, a wanting, a possibility.

At age 6 we see an astronaut come to school and we want to be one.

At age 14 we see our favorite singer on stage and we want to be on stage too.

At age 21 we read about CEOs who are 30 and we lock on to that dream.

At age 32 we see so many books being published and we want to say “I am a writer.”

Into adulthood we experience inspiration to be, to become, to gain that title, that paycheck, that leadership role.

In order to get there, we must first be a practitioner.

Before we can teach others to meditate, we must have meditation so deeply instilled in our bones that we no longer have to make time to sit and mindfully pause because it is like breathing.

Before we can be the professor, we must do the hard work of research that opens doors for new thought on old topics and we earn…EARN….that PhD….and teaching is like unbidden thoughts arising in order.

Before we can stand in a pulpit on a regular basis, we must have more than just a love for Jesus…embracing the role of disciple until doing the gospel is as fluid and everyday as making the coffee.

Before we become the piano teacher, we must love the arpeggios that our fingers tap out on any flat surface until our friends make jokes about us.

In order to get to our “there”, we must first be a practitioner.

Richard Rohr writes about the first half of life being a time of collecting, and the second half of life about applying what we’ve collected. Perhaps the demarcation isn’t so clear. But most certainly, we must collect, reflect, decipher, unpack, face head on, and do our inner work as we then become the one who might inspire.

No agism here….a 9 year old who has meditated everyday on their own volition for years can be my teacher.

But if I have only meditated for 9 months, even everyday straight, I am still a novice practitioner and have no business teaching. But you can come sit with me and I’ll sit with you and we’ll practice together.

We must honor the process of becoming. We do that with conscious effort, and the humble stance that just because we are inspired, we are not yet there.

We get there with practice.

That space of being a practitioner is delicious. It is hard. It is a gift. It is consoling. It is a determining factor in whether or not we have the chops, the call, the vocation to one day be the one up front. It is an incredible space for just being a practitioner with no future aspiration. That future if it is to be, will show up at the right time. For now, practice.

Do your work. Do your practice. Listen when people around you say “One day you will be a fine instructor/astronaut/pianist”….but it is not this day. This day is to be in the practice. Listen when people around you say “You are ready.” And humbly continue your practice, even as you step into the embodiment of your dream.

From one practitioner to another, with love,

Amy

Body Positive

3 weeks ago I took a spill on my walk. There I was, chugging along like a boss and I suddenly experienced, in slo-mo, my body falling. In those split seconds of falling, my mind said “phone, face, glasses”. I landed in an amped up chaturanga (upward facing dog) …a yoga pose I pushed through on several occasions with the brilliant yogi Susan…. landing on the meat of my hands, the bulk of my thighs, and a little bounce from the middle and nothing was hurt. Minor scrapes. Phone, face and glasses intact. My muscles and confidence took a beating, however. I walked a couple of times after this, and then stopped.

PTSD is real. Even for tiny things. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being combat, I was at a .025. Tiny for sure, but every stick on the sidewalk became a potential pitfall. And when I would arrive at the corner that did me in I was full on tense that I would fall again. This belief was pervasive even though I had walked that corner dozens upon dozens of times before the fall with balance and strength.

But I was undone. For 3 weeks I did not walk. In those 3 weeks I felt my body get mushy again instead of the steady and gentle climb toward strength. I had one yoga session after the fall, feeling every muscle that saved me and every muscle being pushed. I began tai chi again. That all felt safe.

So, do you know my body? I was born with a european peasants shape and strength. A viking (ancestry.com) who could oar across to Greenland or a hoosier farm. I bailed hay, loaded stones, danced, and was strong in my growing up years. After babies, and a job that used my brain, heart, and ears…..I began to work out at the local work out place. At first, I thought I would die at 30 seconds on the eliptical but the trainers were measuring a baseline and needed me to go 2 minutes. Oof. I set my own goals of each week adding 30 seconds. Tiny, for sure. But at some point I leapt passed the 30 second add, and was up to adding 5 minutes, 10 minutes. Finally I was at a brisk 45 minute practice for a couple of years. Then a job change, aging, another degree, comfy couches and food as emotional friend took hold. I had become the plump lady who had a nice personality.

I changed jobs to craft a comprehensive and inclusive life, because my body has stayed faithful through the movement droughts and kept calling me everyday. “Amy, let’s go walk!” It cheerfully said It is sooooo happy when I do.

After 3 weeks now, I am back on the walk.

If I measure my body by cultural standards, I should just stay home. But today….

  • I’m thinking about the chaturanga my body knew to do when I was falling.

  • I think about how well I sleep.

  • I think about the zen like breathing in my daily meditation

  • I think about the giddy goofiness my whole fleshy system feels when I am up and at-it again.

  • I think about my standing desk and my practice of often meeting my coaching and spiritual direction clients on Zoom while I stand, fully attentive to them.

  • I think about how a daily 5 minutes of tai chi practice brings me balance, pace and moves the energy.

…all of this brings me back to the walk.

Heart Soul Mind Body, baby.

Love yourself as you can.

Amy

Imperfection

I awoke last night in a dream where I had “blood on my hands." It was a goofy dream about a spaceship that had been grounded by some outside force and it was up to me to set it and everyone on board free. And what did I have to do?

I had to speak out loud all of the instances that I could remember where I hurt someone. I was not to give excuses or explain circumstances. I was just to name all the times I could remember hurting someone. It was a long list.

By this time I was awake-ish, but I was still doing the required task. I was remembering and saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Dozing again, the next task was to recall all the times someone hurt me and to forgive them. This was also a long list. I did as instructed. I forgive you, I forgive you, I forgive you.

Half awake, half asleep.

The last task was to forgive myself.

Fully awake now.

I could forgive myself, but not all the way. I was 100% in on the sorry part. I was 100% in on the forgiving others part. But I only reached about 72.5% on forgiving myself. It wasn’t so much an issue of worth or undeserving. It was more that I truly felt sorry and I truly felt forgiveness, and what does it mean to forgive yourself anyway?

Kurt woke up and wanted to hear about what I was dreaming and thinking. I told him I was sorry for all the times I hurt him. I told him I could only forgive myself 72.5%. He curled into my legs and went back to sweet sleep.

We are all imperfect.

And we all hurt others, and are hurt by others.

In the mix of it, we must find a way to be ok with ourselves. Because we’re human. Because being human is messy. Because life is imperfect.

Then I fell back to sleep with no dreams.

I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

I’m forgiving myself.

Peace,

Amy

Dressing for Halloween

What are your favorite costumes from Halloween past? The kitty, the witch, the bumblebee? When our boys were small, I always told them I was dressing up as a Mom. They thought that was lame. I simply don’t like disguises.

When I was in middle school and at the local fair, I found myself purchasing 3 sodas for myself and a couple of pals. Unbeknownst to me, a drunken clown was standing inches away from me, hovering in wait for the moment I would turn. A crowd formed. No one alerted me. I turned and his disguised face loomed into mine and the crowd laughed. I dropped all three cups of soda. The clown backed off, miming hilarity at me. No one offered to buy me three new drinks. I stalked off mad as hell. And shaken.

Since then, I do not allow disguised persons in costumes to come near me. I do not go to places where I might have to interact. And if there appears suddenly a clown or some other character, I breathe deeply and tell myself they have no power over me.

Disguise. Costumes. Hiding. Being someone else.

Halloween costumes, I suppose, originated in tandem with a spirit filled notion of the thin veil of heaven and the underworld opening. We disguise ourselves as ghosts and witches and monsters so that the real ghosts and witches and monsters won’t recognize us as human. Once capitalism and an entertainment economy took hold, we began to dress up as anything. I’ve seen some great costumes, for sure. And people have fun. We now must give care that we are not perpetuating stereotypes when we dress up. I agree with that, in this entertainment culture.

Yet I want to ponder and wonder in the realm of the human psyche for a moment. For we all wish to disguise ourselves to a degree. We all wish to put on a costume that allows us to be in the reality of another person, if but for a night. Our own skin and being can be too much for us to handle, or the chasm between our outward characterization and our inward true self may be painfully and monstrously wide.

So, we cloak ourselves. Mark Zuckerberg cloaks himself with the illusion of simplicity in his matching Tshirts and hoodies. Simple. Yes. But a cloak, a veneer that he’s just a computer programmer with good intentions. When I worked my (beloved) office job, I bought scores of clothes that would cover and disguise a body that did not do well with office clothes. Once I left to enter my own realm of self employment I put a bag at the ready for when I put a piece of clothing on and do not feel like myself. I chuck it, and keep looking.

What if Halloween was an opportunity for us to freely explore other sides of ourselves? The sexy side, the frightening side, the side that honors another culture (rather than exploits), the rich side, the hillbilly side, the male or female side? What if we allowed ourselves the illusion of being Ruth Bader Ginsberg? What if we allowed the terror we fight within, to be on display as a monster?

What if our chants of trick or treat are dares to see ourselves differently? Or to free ourselves to be different because the disguise warrants it? Introverts become the life of the party, extroverts can relax in a corner, we believe we scare people and so we can dress like it to see if that self perception is real.

Our costuming is for ourselves. There are times I want to hover behind a notion of myself, in order to shock it into feeling/change/alarm. I want to guffaw at a part of me that is asleep or not paying attention, not looking up to see the crowd of life all around me.

Choose with care how you cloak yourselves this Halloween. Do not take on the real life visage of someone who is oppressed knowing you are free from their stigma and danger. Do pay attention to what you are wanting to tell the world or just your own self, about you.

For really, there are no disguises. We see one another pretty plainly, when we look up.

Amy

Holiday Cheer

What do the holiday’s bring up for you?

Blue Christmas?

Family politics?

Childhood baggage that Mom loves the youngest better than the oldest and I always have to do the dishes while others play board games?

Gift pressure?

Religious meh?

It is real, and it is stressful. We want to love our families, but honestly, some are best loved from a distance. FriendsGiving gatherings are on the rise, which is worth celebrating. And some families actually get along.

The most important question is: how do YOU want to engage the holiday season? Do you see a Norman Rockwell traditional image of feasting around your table, or glasses raised with friends at a local pub? What do you want to pass on to your kids? How will you make each gift dollar count and still have money to pay the bills.

Whatever your stress, let’s talk. You can engage with Spiritual Direction which will give you the space to hear yourself and discover your own desires, hurts, wounds, challenges….or you can engage with a holiday coaching session because you already know what you need to do but the how and the courage to do it needs some invigoration.

Let’s talk soon, before it all starts. We can talk again in the midst of the fray.

Craft a different season this year.

Cheers,

Amy

White Duck

The other day in my meditations, I asked myself to bring forth an image of what I need to know about my way and work and being in the world for right now.

What came was this image of a goofy white duck with a flirty tale, standing on the shore. It quacked. This duck looked around awkwardly.

And then it took to flight.

In the air the wings were wide and multilayered, soaring in the blue…..

As the soaring turned to landing, the lake prepared to meet the white duck.

She created a wet arrival and glided among her concentric circles with ease and comfort and happiness. Those little duck feet were paddling away deep in that lakescape.

Jennifer Gremillion writes, “Duck is associated with water (emotions) and emotional strength. Her energy emits keen awareness and strong intuition. She is symbolic of knowing. A duck is graceful on water, navigating life experiences gracefully. She expresses clearly. A duck is a spirit helper and offers a timely message… Be in the moment. She comes on your path to provide emotional protection and comfort.”

I’ll take that.

There is a maternal aspect to a duck. A maternal energy that will lead her ducklings right out of the nest right off the bridge, and will never leave them if they are stuck in a drainage hole along the road (you’ve seen the youtube videos of all of this, I’m sure). The duck’s maternal work is to empower her ducklings so they could leave her, so they could live in the wild with strength and animal purpose.

I will own this whole sacred maternal emotional comfort energy. This animal-image, this metaphoric companion of the imaginal spaces…that is awkward in some places, quacking to get some attention, then taking off to soar and land and glide is with me now for a time. Welcome, little duck.

Thanks, self, for this rich and wonderful image of a way to be in the world.

Yours with ease,

Amy

Photo by bazilfoto/iStock / Getty Images,

Unworthy

I have been astounded at how much unworthiness I have encountered in the recent weeks. This is coming from people that I experience as able, strong, talented, enjoyable.

Most often, this comes out in the form of comments. The person will be able to give a clear and wise viewpoint onto a situation, and then I’ll watch them accept something less than worthy of their full hope. They’ll say….

  • “Oh, that’s ok, it’s fine.” and accept a mediocre meal

  • “I don’t need that.”

  • “It isn’t important to me.”

  • “I know I’m giving up my time, but this other person needs something more than I do.”

It isn’t just the words. Its the body language that accompanies the words. Often there is a slump to the shoulders, a rocking back and forth of the head that dismisses what they need, eyes that look at the floor or look away, hands that clench into fists. Sometimes tears show up in the corner of the eyes and are laughed off.

You are worthy.

You

are

worthy

What on earth makes you or me or anyone else think that they should be second best? What messages are running your brain, that tell you that you can’t do this thing you’re dreaming about or that you can’t buy that house you love, that tell you that you do not deserve to be happy because someone else has had it harder?

These messages need to be crumpled and thrown in the bin.

First, we need to know who wrote those messages. Whose handwriting are they in?

Whose voice do you hear when you are paying attention to them?

And what does that have to do with you?

Here is a silly thing about me. I believed that I had a terrible smile. My whole life and I’m just turning 55. In my youth, it was true that I had teeth that were uneven, spaced, or even missing (who knows what was going on with all of that?). My senior year in college I had the dentist do a couple of bondings that solved most of the issues. But my mind had 22 years of bad teeth stories that I could not shake.

So recently, I was making a mature and self aware statement about my smile to a couple of male friends. They looked confused as I spoke of my teeth issues. They looked at each other, confirming my odd and untrue perspective. And then one said, “I have never, not once, noticed anything amiss with your smile or with your teeth. Your smile is a light.” Something in me thought “that is impossible” “he is lying” “what does he know”.

You know what I did? I went home and began smiling in the mirror. You know what I saw? straight teeth with a lovely little gap in the front. I then did an even more astonishing thing. I smiled my normal smile….the one I do to hide my teeth. I hate that smile. And then I smiled as if my teeth were fine. OMG, I love that smile. My freakin’ teeth are just fine. I didn’t even know it.

False Messages do not equal truth.

False Messages totally mess with our self perception.

You are worthy. Even if your teeth are uneven.

Even if you’ve had 13 boyfriends and they all leave you, you are worthy of a strong, healthy relationship.

Even if you’ve been unkind on a regular basis, you are worthy of kindness.

Even if your parent has told you that their plans and identity for you come first, you are worthy of a good life of your own design.

Even if you were told to be this thing but you chose to be another, you are worthy of validation.

Even if Even if Even if

You are worthy.

Period.

Let’s bash the messages, and lean in to a real truth. See how far you’ll go.

A

Political Landscape

Let’s be honest. When a group of “conservative” or “liberal” folks get together, they make disparaging remarks about the other group that isn’t them. Oddly, if you are eavesdropping, you’ll note that we are all saying the same thing.

We are being played.

YOU are creative, resourceful and whole and you have a MIND HEART SOUL and BODY that inform you without the need to be handed your talking points from any social or news media source.

Truly.

We have been trained to use only our heads. Because the body is powerful. Our instincts are powerful. The heart is powerful. Powers That Be….whatever side or issue…know that if they inundated our public space with data, information, opinion ALL THE TIME …that is all meant to sway us their way, that the mind has no time to say “WAIT! Let me breath and check out my partners in knowing.”

Mind Heart Soul Body

A little goofy but I and you…WE are all a system that is cohesive. If our minds take all the knowing space, we miss out on determining our own truths. Powers That Be do not want us thinking for ourselves.

When a hot topic that is divisive comes up, check in with yourself:

  • are you scrunching your eyes up as you look around

  • are you leaning in, in a conspiratorial posture

  • are you aware of where you received the information you’re about to speak

Then do this:

  • pause

  • breathe for 3 big, full breathes

  • check in with your body on how you really feel, ask yourself “How do I really feel about this?” Your body will feel alive, bright, achy, disturbed, off kilter, right on….or any number of ways that give you information

  • ask yourself, “if the outcome of this belief/decision affected me or those I love the most directly, what would I think about this?”

  • ask yourself, “What if the other side is right?” What do you gain and what do you lose

This is enough of a start to be in a grown up space for knowledge rather than in a place of being used as a pawn, in hopes that we are not thinking but just repeating.

Thinking like a mature person

Not repeating like a parrot

No one wants to be the parrot, however cute they are. They are not thinking their answers. They are parroting their training.

But even parrots have the animal instinct to care for another organic being: human or animal.

Do we?

Take good care, provide good care,,

Out of Date

In a recent coaching class I’m in, the instructor invited us to consider negative cognitions (EMDR speak for stories, tapes, narratives). She suggested we bring up our most persistent stories and sit in them. Let them sink in to see if they are out of date.

I loved this concept.

What do we tell ourselves so often, usually to a nod to what we were told way back when, that is now so out of date that even the origin of that story is stale, like Wonder bread left in the fridge all summer (hint: it does not mold, even squirrels won’t eat it).

Our tightly held negative phrases and painful wounds can dissapate like fog or heal like a paper cut without our even knowing it. We go along using the same words and conjuring up the same hurts, even though they are out of date.

Generally, a ton of work or distance has been experienced for this to be true, but we can move forward unaware of the fundamental changes to our very beings.

I use to see this in seminary students, when I worked in higher ed. These were graduate students studying the very substance of faith and being. Their noses so close to the learning that some never looked up and around and within to see that they were no longer who they once were. But I would see it. Not only is student development part of admissions but is part of the exit interview process. So many times I would sit across the low table and tell the one about to graduate just how far they’ve come. For some, in that moment, the back straightens, the eyes go inward then grow big, and almost always a smile of recognition creeps across the face.

It is a quantum leap in the forward movement department.

What stories are you telling yourself? Do you need a place that is safe and believing to tell your negative phrases and to share your deepest wounds? Be prepared, for one day you may throw them all out in the compost heap. Be prepared, one day they will no longer serve as they once did. Be prepared, your sense of self will explode out of those tight fitting clothes of shame, guilt, trauma, because you’ve grown. Be prepared.

With Love,

Amy