Dot the i's and cross the t's

Shi* happens.

No matter our best intentions. We have the capacity to self sabotage.

In a blink of an eye.

or,

in a missing “submit”.

I have to confess. I worked my coaching program hard. It was pure joy. I had a hard deadline. If you know me, I don’t work with hard deadlines. But I attended every class session but 1, read all the books, did all the assignments, met with my practice coaches, etc etc etc…..appropriately achieving. You see, I am a B student at heart. I don’t retain details as much as I retain the location to find the details when I need them. If I press myself to the wall, I do A work. I’ve never found that super satisfying, except in my doctoral program and my coaching program.

I was down to one class. One class that I had been pestering the coaching admin to get on the schedule, to set up a time. For months. What a bother I was. But I was determined. The day it opened for registration, I was online doing the thing. FINALLY! Woohoo! So much excitement. There I was, on my comfy couch, little dog at my feet, and nearing the end of the simple registration process I needed to go get my credit card. I must have gotten up. Must have headed to my bag-of-all-things….

Must have gotten distracted.

I didn’t complete the registration. I have no recall. But because of my joy, my deadline, my determination, my half-done action, my brain thought I had completed the registration. Two weeks before the class was to start, I noticed I had not received the admin email for linking in. Hmmm, what was up with that? I went into my emails to find it. My stomach began to feel tight and awful, as a frantic unbelievable realization began to set in. There were NO CONFIRMATION EMAILS ABOUT THE CLASS. Surely that was wrong. When the admin got back to me, with the simple and sad news that I was not registered, but was now on the waiting list, I nearly died.

Seriously.

Self-Sabotage.

I don’t get it. But this is indeed what happens to us. Like having a little troll inside that keeps you from finishing the marathon, or book club, or relationship communications, or getting to work on time, or forgiving, or completing a registration process for the last class needed for double certification. What within me was afraid of that final step? I don’t know.

This has been my spiritual practice of pondering and contemplation for the whole summer. At this point, if all had gone to plan, I would be writing about completing my certification processes. What I do get to write about, is that I have registered for the last class. It has been confirmed. I’m in. I have to wait till March, which means I’ll do the certification process in late April or early May. 9 months later than I thought.

Pay attention to your details. The ones you set, the ones you complete…

and especially the ones you don’t complete. What happened? What old story are you still living? What negative swirl is inside that just can’t quite let you go?

i’s and t’s to you,

Amy

Going, Going....Stuck

It happens.

We’ll be flying along, with affirmations, support, insights. And then I’ll hear it; the repeated pattern of distrust, victimhood, self doubt, all the things that brought a person to spiritual direction and coaching in the first place.

For some, it is too tireseome to consider letting go, than to let go. I undestand this, and I have no judgment around it. At some point, I will have to point it out to you. Trust me, I’ve been in that place of stuck goo.

Why do we hang on to those last threads of old identity, old patterns, old hurts? I don’t know. My gut says it is lodged deep in a mystery place within our psyche and soul. A place we don’t even know how anchored we are.

The answer is to allow the space for sacred time. We may go over the same stories a hundred times. Each time, we’ll need to test to see if we are entrenching to impossible levels, or if we are Grand Canyoning, like the Colorado River which has and continues to wear away the layers.

There is a consciousness to our work. We must be clear about what we are doing. And if possible, that means being clear, or getting clear, about the limits of our ability to grow at this point. When we hit that wall, we have options. Pausing, taking a different tact, praying, journaling….lots of ways to climb out of the trench or clear another layer.

There is unconsciousness to our work. Behind our own velvet curtain of awareness is a constant hum of energetic connections. Knowing this, we can pay attention to how and why we react to certain people or situations, we can approach discomfort with curiosity, we can actively engage the notion of projection to see in others what we cannot yet see in ourselves. Our mind, heart, body, spirit is always working toward our growth. But your collective consciousness is a determining factor as to how far you take your growth.

You are not alone. You need not face any of this alone. That would be silly. Community is real, not just part of a name on a sign. A community can be 2 people or 20 or 200. If I am who you’ve got, then you’ve got a community member who is in it for the long haul of your soul’s flourishing. My superpower is seeing that potential in you.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Let’s get to work.

With Love,

Amy

At the Root

This morning, with pruning shears in hand…hedge clippers really….I hit the rascally foliage that grows along our alley hedge. We love the green screen that makes our urban backyard feel like a private sanctuary.

(to be honest: it is a very wild patch of sanctuary)

We have lovely neighbors who all access their garages via the alley. So, when those branches and pokey vines and thorny sticks threaten paint jobs, I go out and cut it back. 3x a summer. Seems sacred.

I’m learning how to do this. I’m not really a detailed person, who even knows what species of green she is cutting into. Let alone pruning seasons, growth rate, blah blah blah…..but I’m learning what I need to do. I do know that when working with poison ivy one must immediately put clothing and gloves in the washing machine and go take a shower. Poison Ivy in its last throws of life right at the big clip, lets its poison juices splatter. Nature can be devious. We humans don’t always win.

Today, I cut out 6 Oak trees. If you work with me much, you will eventually hear me exclaim about the miracle of the acorn that becomes a mighty oak. While a super tired example, it is still marvelous and amazing in its reality. Things know what they are. And they must be that. We have much to learn from both the acorn and the oak, and the soil they take root in.

But I’d love to look at the more nefarious nature of rooted trees in a fence row. While today I cut them at the root, where the ground has already given way to a mighty life, I know that I have not thwarted it. Likely, yes, I won’t have to prune it again this year. Yay. But over the winter, those roots will do their rooty thing, because they can’t help themselves. And next spring, I will have trees anew.

Swing this from reality over to metaphor land (you knew I’d get here) and I’ve got to say, that the root of our ills, our wounds, our self loathing, our low self esteem must be dug out: the whole root stock. MUST. No satisfying superficial clip from big ass clippers will be enough.

We must dig.

We must shovel.

We must clear what is around it.

We must sweat, grunt, give up, come back, hack, bring in friends.

If we don’t….if we just clip the branch at the soil, it will come back.

It. Will. Come. Back.

It is not enough to know our pain. It is not enough to name our pain. It is not enough to talk about our pain. That is a super brave start.

We must claim the truth of what happened to us or what we’ve done.

We must look it in the face, and risk the spray of unseen poison juices getting on us.

We must get down on the ground and see the size of the root stalk.

We must look around, like Sherlock Holmes on a case, and notice all the environmental realities that went into that moment/those moments that stick in our psyche and spirit like pungent rash producing toxicity. Understand it we then go at clearing it too, enough to dig.

We must get the right tools and dig, dig dig, until we have extracted the whole root stock. Only then, ONLY THEN will it not regrow.

That is our aim. In spiritual direction, we can meander gently, like driving down the alley and wistfully say “Boy, we need to prune the greenery.” Knowing that we are putting it off. And sometimes we take a deep breath, and march out first thing in the morning and say “THIS”. And off we go.

I’ve had a number of conversations lately where I’ve had the nudge that now is the time to ask a question. A question that gives a cutaway view of the soil and root of the repeating stories and patterns. I don’t push if the person isn’t ready. But I know that in exposing what is beneath the soil of their own moment, the work has begun in a new way. It doesn’t take long from there for the next layer and leaping forth to happen.

I’ve also recently been in a personal conversation that began “I don’t think you’ve ever gotten this aspect of me.” Inside, I kept saying to myself, “Listen like an adult. Listen like an adult. Listen like an adult.” With this internal mantra, I was distracted away from the petulant child mantra of “But…But….But….”. And I heard. I had heard before, but this time we rooted and I could breath into the fact that my own self protection has not served me well in this issue. And it was time to let it go. It was time to dig out the whole root stock of self defense that was keeping me from something ready to truly flourish.

I breathed into it like an adult.

I breathed into it like one who cares for the other.

I breathed into it like someone who cares about growth.

I am all those things, but when in self defense, I forget.

And the root stock was not as big as I thought it would be. In actuality, one big yank and it was out of the inner story soil. When I become aware of little seedlings it has left behind (because we know, creation is boisterous and wants to propagate) ….when I become aware of the seedlings of self defense the root stock left behind, I’ll pinch them between my thumb and forefinger, and be done with it.

I can pinch that little thing because I know who I am and can be no other thing, once I see it. Once I see that I have no need to be self defensive and offended, and every need and reason to be connected, mature, free.

You, too. The digging is best done with friends.

With dirt beneath the fingernails and LOVE in the heart,

Amy

Inner Adult

Summer is most often a time for letting loose, toes in the sand, heat of the sun baking the stress right out of your pores.

I want to invite you into a very different summer cycle: that of the inner adult. Not much fun sounding, eh? Nope. But oh, the rewards.

Now is the time to do some soul exploration. Find your garden seat, your cafe table, your lap with a journal.

  1. make two lists

  2. one list: what is holding you back (that you love, that is part of you, that you know is no longer in your highest interest…..such as behaviors, beliefs about yourself, characteristics that you excuse, etc)

  3. one list: what you will repattern, add in, draft for a new way of being

There is energy right now to support this work. It is always swirling around us, in the stars, with the planets, through conjunctions and sextiles and cosmic squares. No one needs to know much about astrology, or even believe in it, to benefit from what it has to offer.

The whole of the cosmos are in order. Period. Not for the sake of humankind, not with an earth/human orientation. It is all in order. Period. It is perfection. It is abundant and slow and swift and revolutionary and transformative and comforting.

The sun is our most powerful star. We live and die, literally, by it. The moon is guardian of our tides. The cosmos are in a dance that has been going on for eternity and into eternity. Why do we fight this so much? For Christians, there is a fear of offending God, or removing God from “his” rightful throne. But it is that God of Christian understanding which put those planets and stars into orbits. Orbits and locations that are mind blowing. So, ok, I’ll go easy on the folks who can’t yet wrap their minds around the universe.

We are in a phases of retrogrades right now. Some are long, some are fast, some happen several times a year and some come and go only once in a generation. Retrograde simply means that were you to observe a planet’s orbit through a telescope, it would appear to be moving backwards. From an astrological viewpoint, we note where in our charts it is moving over 3 times during its retrograde pass; for that is where the personal work is to be done.

But, even if you don’t want to hear all of that…..don’t worry. It is enough to just engage in the growth assignment that I’ve already listed above. It never hurts us to review where we’ve been so we can let loose and move on. Like shaking yesterday’s sand out of the swimsuit, so we can get it back on the next day.

To your growth and with love,

Amy

2 feet 2 places

I have been heard to describe myself as part church girl and part cosmic girl. It is how I see myself. And now I see myself in this way, but through a stronger, more powerful lens.

Because sometimes the way we used to see ourselves was through a lens of wound or lack. And after the fire, we can see those same attributes through a lens of becoming.

It is true. I was brought up 4th generation in my little denomination. Church of the Brethren. Look it up. There is some really good stuff there. In my adulthood, (after a lifetime of Sunday School, choir, summer camps, youth conferences, college that is affiliated, seminary) I became an ordained minister in the church. I am part of the institutional organization. I’ve benefited from it. I’ve honed my leadership skills in it. I am grateful.

I am also jaded, cynical, and able to see it differently now.

Add to this, a high dose of cosmic spirituality, where the Sacred is ginormous and love abounds. I breath easy in this space. And, I am jaded and cautious.

Both worlds are ridiculously amazing and ridiculously in need of caution.

I love them both.

My own soul’s journey in this life has been hard. Not brutal, like that of south and central American immigrants, but on a human scale of hurt and the smashing down of one’s identity, smothered by the infantile needs of others. Through this my mantra shifted from “If Amy’s going to be taken care of, Amy has to do it.” to “If Amy’s going to be taken care of, Amy has to do it.” See the difference? I sure can. Just saying it while I write this I can feel the energy shift. The first one is said with petulant disappointment. The second one is stated with strength.

I am now, this day, again an employed pastor in the Church of the Brethren. Both times I’ve said yes to a congregation have been to vital, interesting, justice oriented, love fed groups of people. I am grateful. This time around, I am bringing nearly 30 years of experience in my groovy new leather bag, and plan to plop it right into the center of this church. They get it all. Because I know now that it isn’t finite. The riches of experience are an abundant flow from a deep source well. What great luck and opportunity to let it gush for these fine folk.

And the cosmic girl still gets to explore time, space, and outer/inner landscapes. Mystery is the threshold I walk confidently through.

All of the grit, the fire, the tears, the temper tantrums and meltdowns, the panic attacks, the disbelief, the insecurity, the face-offs are worth it.

Today, I’m claiming that church girl/cosmic girl sphere of reality. It is within and around and beyond and I intend to explore every last bit of it. It is there here and now, the now and not yet. It is indeed “so above so below”….it is the earth and heavenly experience all wrapped up in one.

And I really really really want you to know that this is not just my story. This is the story. It is redemption and salvation. It is the wound and the healing. It is the Sacred that is always present, whatever your current NOW looks like. Let’s get going. You’re ready.

With Love,

Amy

The path to health

There is no path to health.

None that can be marked on a map.

But make a map, you will.

The cartographers of old, had to sail the seven seas through storm and gale, through calm and sun, through drought and scurvy to reach land, and land again. They didn’t always get it right. Columbus thought he landed in India. He was wrong. You are going to be wrong. But you are also going to be right.

For that is the way of it. We journey through deserts and amazonian jungle rivers without a guide, sherpa, or camel. Just ourselves putting a foot here and then there.

Along the way of our journey toward wholeness, we will meet people. We will engage modalities of energy. We will be listened to. We will listen to ourselves. We will learn what our own lived symbolism means.

But you are the only one who can map your journey.

However. The good news.

You are not alone. You are never lost. You can create homebase to come back to, to reflect in, to regather bearings, to get a second opinion. And then go out there again.

When we take our journey on the road, we will eventually learn that the truest journey is within. When you reach a critical mass of wholeness, you’ll know that you can engage your own journey from anywhere. But still, go and be challenged. Go and flourish. Come back to home base ready for the next level.

Do it.

Peace and Courage,

Amy

Children in Cages

There are children in cages.

Don’t look away.

Let your heart be broken.

Weep at the thought of your own kids, unwashed, poorly fed, sick, separated from mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.

Be angry, not at parents who “illegally” bring their children across a southern border. Be angry at political machinations over decades which have left central and south America reeling with poverty, gangs, and no safety. Be angry that the choice is to stay and die, stay and watch your children die/be raped/forced into gangs…..or seek asylum in a country with vast wealth. (seeking asylum is legal).

I have known friends who have traveled for fun and broken an arm or gotten sick in Cuba, England, Sweden, Iceland, Canada….and they go to the hospital are seen, treated and released for under $100. People traveling for fun or education. Optional. No threat of death or loss of children.

But here, where we have the potential for greatness, choose to cage children.

Karma is real. It is also known as cause and effect. You’ve heard of that? We cannot cage thousands of children, mistreat them, demean them, treat them worse than we treat animals, and then be surprised when they grow up and wage war on the US. We are the world we are creating. And it isn’t pretty. Or nice. Or kind. And most certainly not Christian.

So, what are you going to do?

I’m giving money. TogetherRising is where I’m sending my money. It is Glennon Doyle’s organization. She receives no money from this nonprofit. She has kept it administratively nimble so your $10 $20 $100 is used in direct care to reunite families.

What are you going to do?

It is not yet too late. But it soon will be. Let us turn the tide of the story. Let us match the deplorable governmental decisions with high vibration of matchless love. It is not too late.

May your peace be disrupted,

Amy

labyrinths of weeds

I’ve walked labyrinths made from stone and seashell, from canvas, on intricate tile. Today’s labyrinth was made of dirt, weeds, and wood chips.

My hubz has his second garden plot in a community garden endeavor. It get full sun, so he has particular plantings there. He invited me along today, so that I could walk the labyrinth there. “Goodness”, I exclaimed. A labyrinth! So I went.

One must go prepared to a labyrinth. Usually it is simply with the willingness to enter in. This farm labyrinth required hearty shoes and jeans. At first glance the eye follows the pathway made of dirt clods. Beloved hubz let me know that the grass is the actually path, and helped me find the entrance. It was a little obscure. I had on sandles at first. Soon, the thistles began to sting. Happily, I had those heartier shoes in the Jeep, and on a swing of the circuit close to the entrance, I slipped off path and re-shod my feet. Much better.

I decided to not get a full view intake of the pathways, allowing the unfolding instead with each step. In this way, the walking forced a pace that could be unhurried, because I might get to the center soon, or late, but I would get there in time.

Along the way were yellow headed dandelions, white fluffy seed headed dandelions, naked without costume dandelions…flourish to spent. There was red clover, white clover, broad leaf plantain, nettles a’plenty. What I really enjoyed was the crunch crunch crunch on the wood chips.

Soon enough, the weathered slats of the compost bin was dead on ahead, but this was not the center. I skirted around it, on the carefully laid path, and kept walking. Again, soon enough, the path ended. It was a place to stand, to turn, to give thanks, to feel the sun. I opened my eyes to see Kurt over yonder in the garden, handmade hoe and floppy hat his companions, bent to his task. My heart always leaps to spy him unaware; no matter the grit, the grime, the machinery oil.

I think it is always tempting, when one knows they are half way through their journey, to take the shortcut to the end. I was tempted now. But to what end? To sit in the hot Jeep and wait? No, I kept crunching along, happy to be moving. My hips ached a bit, but it was a warm, sweet ache of gratitude for getting to stretch a bit after a 2 month hiatus. My goober knees were flexible and strong. Enough anyway. And I was enjoying myself.

A journey is a good thing. One of a thousand steps, or 2278 on a labyrinth. We see life down to its buggy details and blossoming vitality. We get dirty, but are unhurried. We can take a short cut if we wanna, or keep going.

You, too, can walk this labyrinth. It is located at Miller Farm, of Earlham College. Wear hearty shoes and jeans.

With crunch love,

Amy

But HOW do I love myself?

But how do I love myself? What is this self love you speak of?

I don’t know.

I asked a friend this just this morning over brunch. I’ve witnessed her self rising over the past 7 years. Our conclusions are that it is simply a journey.

Like going to Europe back in the 60s, 70s, 80s…..no internet, just a series of word of mouth suggestions for the next train, next hostel, next seaside pad to stay at. But there is no step-by-step process. No one size fits all method toward your true self and the love that is just waiting for you there.

There are components. I think that the most basic component is that of determination and intention. Some people will stumble into self love. But why stumble when you can take the first step out that particular door onto that particular journey.

Be prepared: it will take years. Like the Hebrews leaving Egypt and taking 40 years to reach the promised land. Did you know that this journey is no more than a month, two for meandering, to actually walk? Sure, it is desert and there were animals etc. Not the camino de santiago. But 40 years? The journey to selfhood is long.

Here are some possible components to put in your groovy backpack on your journey to you

  • intention

  • reflection on what you are leaving

  • observing the voices in your head, and making friends with them

  • bringing in new voices that are helpful to where you are going

  • an emotional rearview mirror while you walk forward…..looking back informs us but should no longer form us…take all the peeks backward you need but keep your feet moving forward

  • some shoes that make you feel like a dancer, hiker, badass, queen

  • openness to reinvention

  • soft touches to your actual body and being

  • companions who will reinforce where you are going

  • permission to revert back

  • permission to pick it back up

See? There is nothing cut in stone. My own journey was about mystery, spirit, story telling till I was sick of hearing it myself, a creative moment that allowed me to see new possibilities. I’m clearly still on the journey but more like Bear Grylls rather than a college student during their study abroad year. I’m at a growth level and can take and leave things. I can chuckle when I go into full on Amy-from-Before mode. There were points when I changed jobs and even houses, allowing for blank slates….but mostly it was a process using the environments I was already in. My reactions and responses to people informed me of myself. Did I like how I responded? Why did this person set me off? What are they showing me?

Rather than narcissism, which is self orientation due to woundedness, Self Love is about respect and honor of who we truly are, ultimately spilling out to others.

Story: when I was a newly minted high school graduate, I weighed just 115 pounds. I was at the home of a boy I was dating and we were planning on helping his brother and sister-in-law open their pool the next day. I showed up the next day fully covered. I could not imagine being in shorts and a T or a swimsuit because I knew I was fat. I weighed 115 pounds. I was not fat. But I believed my own stories of always being 20 pounds heavier and a size bigger than all my friends. Later…meaning now….I did become the large person I thought I was then. I would love to think I can recapture that youthful figure, but I won’t. So I must love myself now. A month ago I injured my left knee. My knees are big and fleshy and round and nobody sees my knees. But my Acu-Hubby wanted to do acupuncture on the knee to mitigate the inflammation. I exposed the knee and while he put 5 needles into my flesh, I actually and instinctively spoke and touched my knees the way I would a child who had been hurt, or my dog, or a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest. There was not a moment of judgment or embarrassment or even shame at these large joints that hurt. It was just love. I noted it because it was a rare sighting of Self Love that matched my physical reality. It made me happy.

How did I get there? I shrug my shoulders at that question, while a montage in my mind plays out rituals, conversations, books read, self help, shamanic journeys, soul work and love. The more I love, in general, the more my self love just happens.

The more I love, in general, the more my self love just happens.

And the more self love, the more the wide broadcasting of love to anyone, anything in my view.

To your self love. It is everything.

Amy

Patterns

I pay attention to patterns when they show up from various places, people, and inner ponderings.

This week, geez, it has been about the heart. I listen for a living. This week I’ve listened to the stories of childhoods gone amuck from adult indecision, immaturity, negligence, and badness. I will say and then move on, that all parents who are doing it badly were 100% parented into a wounded place which they never matured out of. But that is another bit of writing.

As I listened this week to the stories of grief and longing about what had been and what never will be, the universe sang in my ears a refrain; we are our own redemption.

I see it like this.

The very skills we developed as kids to survive whatever it was that we were living through (and lets face it, no comparisons here….childhood wounds are childhood wounds. period.)….are our very strengths. A common refrain I hear is “No one would took care of me unless I took care of me.” It is spoken, sometimes with spit of truth and hurt propelling from the telling. It is spoken, sometimes with resignation. Once, I heard it spoken….then a pause……then an inward gaze that lasted a lifetime…and finally “I know exactly how to take care of myself!” Eyes big and bright as if seeing for the first time life on earth from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Her own life as she lived it from the center of her knowing heart. I knew that in that moment the one who uttered those words would never tell her story the same way again. She had tasted her own power….that had been there the whole time…..and it tasted like grit and lemon and 60 year old scotch downed in one gulp (swiping her mouth with the back of her hand.)

She knew best how to take care of herself, so she did.

This completely flips the woe to Whoa. It flips the victim into the super hero.

And that is the point. We are all our own super heroes. What would it look like if we as adults, parented and friended with the following:

  • nourishment

  • comfort

  • safety

  • respect

  • curiosity

  • empowerment

  • play

  • failure and getting back up

While also:

  • teaching our kids/engaging friends that they have everything they need to be mighty already within them.

  • guiding their gaze back to self discovery

And I think we can do this now if we are the adults who still carry our childhood wounds. The wound points less to actions taken against our well being, and more to being bereft of any knowledge that we are amazingly gifted to live this complex life.

I watched it yet again this morning with a beloved client who is past retirement and still freighted with bags of burden that were thrust onto him when he was a kid. We’ve taken everything out of those cases, have touched them, have had some fall apart from dusty age. Leave ‘em be. Set them down and walk away. Live the life ahead. ( I find the image of a person walking down a dirt road with that suitcase in hand, but the top is open and there is a line of strewn clothing and objects from the past falling out, until the case is empty and finally tossed aside.)

And this is the core of what I know now to be a healthy, fully alive healing human:

  1. we must acknowledge what happened

  2. walk away from whatever we need to walk away from

  3. craft our living from this day forward according to what we know is best for us

There are about two-thousand other points that go with these three….we have to love ourselves and stop waiting for anything outside of us to love us as we need.

Because we know how to love ourselves and are the best at doing just that.

The magic is that once we begin that healthy self-discovery and self-love….it expands. I love that. Love always expands.

And that is my hopeful thought for this day. Love yourself. Tell your story. Note your power to survive. Craft your life from here on out.

I already love you,

Amy