Saturday, April 25, 2020

an invitation to a social project

There's this vision that I have of a movement of humans all across the world making a choice that is truly transformational in the way they do and experience life.

People all over the world are tired and worn out in life. 

Drug use is at record levels, both prescriptions and otherwise, by people of all types and classes. It's also evidenced in the profound use of alcohol, especially the go-to wine in the evening after the day and often even in the day that has become a socially acceptable answer to everything from celebration to struggles.

And then there's the depression and emotional taxation of life that has wearied and burdened people to the point of not knowing what other choices they have and how they can possibly even get out of bed.

Parents are avoiding confrontation with their kids because the conversations are always so tough and life always feels so hard. Young people are feeling lonely and as though they've been abandoned by their own family, left by themselves to sort out their confusion and fear of what they see happening all around them by themselves, and coming to the point of feeling like life isn't worth it. Parents often don't even know what their kids are doing, how late they're staying up, what they're eating, or most especially--how they are feeling.

People all over the world are too exhausted to be honest about the truth of how they feel. 

Make-up on and hair coloring is an expected social norm in an attempt to coverup the effects of life that may give signs of weakness. People are doing whatever it takes to present themselves as though they've got it all together.

To face the truth about feelings feels too uncomfortable.

To do the work of unearthing the thoughts that have burdened them feels too exhausting.

The mere idea that it is possible to live at rest makes a person's salivary glands go into overdrive and tingle at the back of their jaw. People are hungry for rest but have sensory overload even thinking about it.

          What if people all over the world decide to accept life as it is, instead of fighting it?

          What if people all over the world decide to accept their own selves as they are--
               instead of fighting their own truth and hiding and pretending?

          What if people all over the world decide to accept the gift of love--
               without trying to prove themselves as worthy?

          What if people all over the world decide to lay down their stories--
               of regret, hurt, disappointment, resentment, anxiousness, and fear?

          What if people all over the world decide to accept that they belong, as they are?

          What if people all over the world decide to accept each experience--
               trusting that all is meant to serve?

          What if people all over the world decide to accept each other's differences--
               seeing one another as a teacher?

          What if people all over the world decide to accept the storm--
               trusting that it is producing something beautiful, as brutal as it may feel? 

          What if people all over the world decide to accept life--as it is? 

          What if people all over the world decide to accept themselves--and live as they are? 

The vision that I have of this movement of people making a life-transforming choice is a social project called The C'est La Vie Project.

This project is a creative coming together of people forming communities that are so close they are like family. People actually dare to open up the tent flaps of their heart, inviting others inside--people who they know, and who they don't know; people like them, and people who are different. In this coming together, people share and then listen to each other's truth without judgment.

I imagine this project of being together in family feeling like being at home in which people kick their shoes off and put their feet up and sigh with relief that they can simply be, as they are.

C'est La Vie as I describe it is a truthful reflection of life as it is. It's an invitation to come and get to know the real one another in which love is shared, experienced, and known. It's a tool for connection--an answer to the hunger of wanting to be seen, known, and accepted.

The C'est La Vie Project is an invitation to share the unique ways we curate our life, as though we are living magazines--a dare to live sprawled out, as we are.

This, I imagine.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

best year

As I look back one year from now, I lived my best self in 2019.

I freely showed up as I am in every moment, and experienced greater joy, ease, and confidence in my natural self.

Throughout all kinds of conversations, I spoke freely from my center. I felt at ease and open to whatever anyone had to say, grateful for our connection and for learning a new perspective.

While listening to others, I held space for them to share without feeling the need to control their feelings. I honored the birthright and freedom of all to choose their own life experiences.

In leading a group of staff to bring their natural selves to our collective efforts, I managed our workflow free from the pull of expectation of all that needs to be just right.

I made decisions with confidence, humility, calm, patience, and respect.

Without feeling the need to know it all, get it all done, or have it all figured out, I was able to learn and grow from more senior-level professionals.

I cast deliberate invitations to involve others in my and my family’s life, openly sharing our interests without needing to be understood or shared.

The genius best work I created in 2019 had a positive effect on making a better world especially for my husband and our two children, for my staff and colleagues, and for my extended family.

I was stretched by the challenge of confidently trusting my innate self, and taking control of the ways I affect the world around me.

Throughout the year, I learned to be my own unique self in life, and intentionally generated thoughts around my relationships and life circumstances to create the experiences that to me reflect a good life.

The one important habit that I dropped was regularly seeking validation from others and fighting against who I really am, thereby replacing it with cultivating a quiet confidence that I am capable for whatever life is presenting to me.  

2019 was truly a year in which I lived my best self.


#WeQuest #BestYear

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

on freedom of choice and richness of life

I've often said that I run "because I can". At this moment, the same goes for my choice to pursue a new job and making plans to relocate my family to another state. My husband and I are doing this for one simple reason: because we can.

Life doesn't present itself as a neat package tied in a bow. It isn't always something we unwrap with the excitement of it being what we've always wanted or thought that we need. It isn't always predictable or convenient. 

Sometimes we decide to accept an offer for a new job and resign from another and travel hundreds of miles away while leaving behind a house and an extended family and friends and a town, all of which are lovely in practically every way, while the house remains mortgaged and unoccupied and relationships with the extended family sometimes remain wounded and dangling.

Sometimes after ten years of feeling certain that there would be two children and the second finally being conceived, the excitement to do it all over again wanes. Age and tolerance and openness and patience change.

Life isn't always easy to accept. 

People make choices that affect us -- sometimes infinitely so. We wrestle and shrug and cower and shout and numb because it's what feels easiest. Fear and anxiety and frustration and sadness feel too heavy sometimes so we think that relationships or life itself, just isn't worth the fight.

In spite of our efforts to control our experiences in life (and even our children's lives), the unexpected happens and so, too, grief. And while we may think that we've succeeded for a while at controling our feelings, our discomfort in life returns, thereby bringing us into a frenzy of reaching for anything that might make the merry-go-round to simply stop. The grief from all that isn't as we want it to be or think it ought to be can feel too much and we grow weary that our feet just cannot seem to find the ground.

Young people are looking at the older generations for affirmation that life is worth it. Their world is anxiety-ridden and while we feel it, the pressure they face isn't in our purview anymore. An older person can say that she can relate and that she understands but the truth is that she cannot. It doesn't matter how old a person is, no one can understand another person and their choices or motivations or feelings.

Judging people because of their choices and their feelings cuts us off from any kind of relationship with them. When we make assumptions about someone based on a story we craft about them we are acting as though we've already got them figured out. The need to listen for understanding is decided to be irrelevant.

Casting judgment on others and maintaining surface-level assumptions keeps us from connecting, plain and simple. Perhaps the possibility of identifying with a person and connecting with them feels too scary. Or perhaps the impulse to judge has just become so ingrained in a person's way of being that it's become an addiction.

Why people make the choices that they do is usually not about anyone else. 

Questioning the loyalty of someone when they make a life decision, whether it be an employee, a friend, or a family member, simply isn't fair to anyone.

People make choices. Some people have more freedom than others to make certain choices.

Sometimes a choice produces the desired outcome it was intended and sometimes the intention gets derailed by some other power. Still, people make choices. Every day, in every possible permutation, people make choices. It's the birthright of a human to make choices and that's why people all over the world get riled up when that right to choose is taken away from a person.

I've listened and watched as people have said that they wanted to make choices of all different sizes whether it be related to their health, their family, their jobs, their geography, their relationships, or even their life. It's seemed wrong to accept certain choices people have made. I've found myself wanting to put boundaries on certain choices people make claiming my assumption to be of necessity.

The one thing we can all relate to as we live human experiences is the innate inner drive to choose. 

We can be educated about the positive and negatives and the potential consequences of making certain choices and still the spirit living the human experience will make her choice "because she can".

Freedom. There's always a responsibility on the other side of every choice. And while we can be mindful of how our choices affect others, the quality of the relationship we have with peace in our life, and the ease with which we surf the unpredictable waves, starts and ends with our own self. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't want that for herself.

May we set aside our assumptions and judgments of others and with a spirit of generosity open our hearts and minds to the choices of others . . . and may our lives be ones of richness and depth, and our gift to others be for the same.

Friday, March 30, 2018

getting to live

Morning solitude is a way of life for me. Like breathing, it's a must. While the house sleeps and my beloveds are still, I get to tend to my own self without the distractions or requests of others. I spend time meditating in stillness and I feel energy coursing through my veins. I listen closely to what is happening just below the surface. This is nourishment for me and an everyday non-negotiable by which I operate. In addition to the soul-nourishing, the early morning often finds me physically-nourishing my self with regular exercise and again, this is a non-negotiable most days of the week. I've learned the ways and importance of self-care.

For me, these days are about less forcing and pushing and shoving, and more about gentleness and kindness and caring. What I don't do, though, is take these fingers to the keyboard often enough. While I hear my own heart and try to notice the ways she leaves her prints on the world, there's a certain something that stirs as I allow myself to sing through words that aren't interrupted by the thoughts and perspectives of another. I've kept quiet and still in this space for far too long.

So much has been captivating my attention these days; so much goodness that I am often so overwhelmed with gratitude that I can barely even utter a sound. I'm also nearly bursting with excitement at the possibilities that I don't even know exist. There's a readiness for something different and while I am anxious to get there already, I'm not sure exactly what or where it is that I'm anxious to actually get to already.

After living for so many years with a constant need to know what way I should go and what I should do and what I should say and what I should feel . . . it's time that I ask myself what it is that I actually want.

It's remarkable how the very question makes me feel frozen-solid and mud-stuck at the same time. It's as though I can see clear through the ice to the glob of mud that encases my boots. When I get through the thawing, there will still be a muckiness to slog through, which feels so heavy and unending in its energy demand.

What do I want
     What do I want? 
          What do I want? 

Not knowing the answers to these questions is itself exciting. I get to ask myself these questions and it almost seems wrong to answer them. I look over my shoulder to see if there's someone running after me with a warrant for my arrest. It's really true that I get to ask myself the questions, and the best thing of all is that I get to answer them however I want.

Where I would go if I could go anywhere?

What would I do if I could do anything?

What do I want to say if I could say anything?

What do I want to feel if I could feel anything? 

These are unbelievably delicious questions to consider. Their answers aren't the point as much as the actual getting to ask them of my Self. I'm nearly speechless.

It used to scare me to ask myself questions because I was so afraid that I'd answer wrong or that my answer would make me "bad". It was as though I lived pent-up in a little box that was suffocating and slowly killing me. I'm so done with with this way of thinking. It's as though I woke up one morning and decided that it's time to get out of this flipping hell-hole of a boxed-life that resembles death more than living.

Nowadays, I am devoted to honoring process and to listening long enough for gratitude to surface, trust to warm, and wonder to overwhelm me. When there's some sort of ache or dull pain, or I feel anxiousness or fear, I serve myself well by deliberately staying with it and opening my heart ever more to the existence of these types of feelings. Closing off, running away, or avoiding giving my attention to these feelings doesn't actually make me feel better.

I've found that when I sit and notice the ways I am holding my shoulders up high, tightening my tongue, and holding tight my legs and toes, there's a freedom to be found in simply letting go even a little bit. By giving attention to the areas that irritate me in some way I am giving them permission to exist, to be seen and to be heard.

The more I try to avoid or ignore or control, the more irritated I feel. When I stop flitting about, kneel down, put my hand on my back and rub gently, there's a stilling that happens way down deep. Giving permission for the feelings and the expressing is the kindest thing I could do for myself. Instead of shaming myself or trying to squelch what is naturally being communicated, I get to allow it to exist and I even even get to give it space to be as it is without trying to change anything.

What's blown my mind recently is the concept that I don't always owe someone an explanation for what I do or why I do it. It is my birthright to choose how I want to live. I'm downright floored by this and giddy with excitement at how drastically different my experience with life is now and will be going forward. 

I get to live. I really get to live.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

a best self kind of year

The time is one year from now and I am reflecting back on how I have shown up for 2018.

I think about how I've trusted my inner voice more this year. Decisions that I make are fueled by the warmth of my inner knowing of what is best for me at the moment. I reflect on the restful state of being that I have felt and in the unfolding of life.

Life. People. My Self. 

This is what I have shown up for in 2018.

     By letting it be . . .

          the moment . . .
          the experience . . .
          the feeling . . .
          the thought . . .

I have surrendered my effort in imagining how life will go and trust the unfolding of life. 
     By letting them be . . .

          their tone . . .
          their concerns . . .
          their perspective . . .
          their choices . . .

I have surrendered my opinions on how they live and trust their birthright to choice.

     By letting me be . . .

          my struggles . . .
          my thoughts . . .
          my wants . . .
          my being . . .

I have surrendered my judgment of how I live and trust freedom in living.

There's a relaxed sense that accompanies me when I am around people. Conversations have been discoveries to see from their vantage point. I have seen my being present with others as a gift to learn while giving people space to react as their most natural self.

Conversations with others are opportunities for me to experience as I celebrate our connection. I relax into them and listen to learn about people's perspective while giving them permission to react and think, as they view life from their vantage point.

When disagreement, misunderstanding, or questioning happens during conversations, I assume there is something for me to know. I give myself permission to have my view while extending respect to others for theirs.

In reflecting on 2018, I notice how I have left life alone

I have made space in my heart for whatever unfurls and trusted that there is space for all of life. The muscle tensing and twitching to meddle with life has been replaced by a calmness that has warmed my heart and inspired others to calm, too.

Lecturing, worrying, and intervening in other people's way of living, choosing, and doing has been replaced with celebrating, encouraging, and allowing the raw, real nature of others as they are Now.

Worrying about what people might think about my ideas, perspective, behavior, and any of the other ways that I leave my fingerprints, have been replaced with allowing myself to feel joy, happiness, serenity, and contentment for where I am at Now.

This past year has felt a lot like riding a bicycle with no hands and my arms opened wide. Even as the wind blew, potholes appeared, the road twisted, and the terrain changed, I was uninhibited by the uncertainty and sat firmly trusting life and my living it.

Life is Good. 

I have reflected this belief throughout the year as I honored where people are at and met them where they are, trusting that we are all perfect for Now -- for this moment, as it is.

My biggest goal was to no longer need to feel as though I belong anywhere, instead to know that I belong wherever I am. What this required of me was to diligently and deliberately focus on Trust. An immense amount of energy is necessary to build muscles and this was worth it, 100%.

By honoring life as it is, and sharing openly with the people who come into my life, I am happier and I can be more helpful to others in sharing the joy and peace that overwhelms me.

By asking "What if . . . ? " and surrendering to life -- whether it be to what I experience or who I experience -- I am living properly.

This has been a year of showing up on purpose. 

It has been a year in which I trust that I inspire others to live their raw, real life as they are by my own openness of my heart that appreciatively, bravely, and confidently shares, declines, and raises my hand when necessary . . . all the while being open with wonder at whatever transpires and bravely trusting that I always belong.


#WeQuest #BestYear #Purpose #DreamDone

Monday, January 11, 2016

Making Peace with Me

I have grown a lot. Mostly, God's changed my heart.

I've changed my mind on a lot of things. One might say that I've evolved.

Sarah Bessey thinks that "it’s important to continually give each other permission to change and to grow and to know that we’re not alone as we journey in our lives." I'm glad to know that she feels that way. Her words warm my soul with encouragement.

I used to struggle simply being me.
     Now I think that I honor my Creator best when I am my real self. 

For so long, the Me who I was created to be was tucked deep inside the me who I projected outward for the world to see. Surveying my life story, I see the ways that God chased me to know that I am loved, as I am; to rest in trust of Him that I am, indeed, good enough as I am. I believe God knew just how far He would need to go to get my attention. I imagine that He was waiting with patient expectation for the real me to unfurl.

Sometimes it feels scary in our head to live in this world as we are.

After years of living a certain way, I have a lightness in living. I used to pile expectations and demands upon myself, thinking that the weight was actually making me feel more comfortable like a heavy blanket. I thought maybe I'd be more uncomfortable without them; that I would fritter here and there aimlessly with no sense of direction.

I was intensely focused on thinking that I needed to pray a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way, and feel a certain way. I was misguided, likely by my own self. I had looked around at the world and tried to sort out who I should be and how I should live, basing the answers on what I saw others doing or saying.

When I started to be the real me, I felt weeble-wobbly, like my nearly six-month babe whose muscles only recently have gotten strong enough to hold him up as he sits. I still feel a lot like that, weeble-wobbly. There are moments when I tip right over, sometimes side ways and sometimes backward. I sometimes cry when that happens.

I wish developing didn't hurt so much. And I wish I could handle the changes and demands in my life with a bit more grace and acceptance.

There are days when I am flat out and just don't want to accept other people's struggle, or even my own. I want every day to feel like a Happy Meal with a toy inside. I don't want to hear the sound of whining, mostly from myself. But I can't get away from myself. And unless I live in a cave, I can't get away from the unpredictability of everyone else in this world who may or may not say or do something that irritates me.

For so long I wanted to control me and her and him and all of them; I still do sometimes. I was angry that I wasn't made with this superhuman strength. I was angry that I was made to live in this world as a human being, prone to making mistakes and living among others just like me.

I used to think that I needed to tap myself on the shoulder and say, "Ahem, excuse me crazy lady, you're an adult, remember? So, shape up, sit up and Be an adult. No crying."

I used to think that I was supposed to ignore my real thoughts and feelings and just steer my attention and mind on the things that matter like having a vegetable at every meal that I serve my family, making sure we sit down and eat together mostly every single night, being home to tuck my children into bed each night, making sure my Boy-Man is polite and kind and organized and attentive and mindful and recalls every.single.thing he was taught.

I used to think that if I stayed married and didn't get a divorce and didn't do drugs and stayed away from alcohol and worked out mostly every day and ate healthy and stayed away from certain foods and didn't get a ticket and didn't scream and shout and didn't walk away in anger and didn't lose my cool and forgave every person who ever offended me and accepted them as they are and didn't make demands or judge them or talk behind their back . . . then I would be "good". And everyone knows that good girls are admired by all the others who are missing out on all the joy just waiting for them to receive when they finally get everything right.

If . . . then.
     I used to live my life rules based, like a mathematical equation. 

I used to think that if I wear certain undergarments and do certain moves with a certain kind of regularity, then my marriage would be happy ever after.

I used to think that if my son gets on the honor roll, then everyone will know how smart he is and that by knowing how smart he is there won't be any opportunity that will be out of his grasp.

I used to think that if I arrive at work early and leave late and work in between and hustle my butt to perform, then I'll be promoted and seen and appreciated.

I used to think that if I run at least every other day and make sure that I keep to a strict calorie count each day, then I will be healthy and well.

I used to think so much that sent me running wildly every single day. Out of breath. Exhausted. And definitely not content or happy.

Now I think that kind of living is no kind of life.

As it turns out, there aren't rules. It doesn't take a mathematician to live abundantly.

Now I think that struggle is simply part of life and that it isn't something we can escape simply by behaving a certain way.

Now I think that we have permission to feel and that we have permission to struggle.

Now I think that facing our struggles and admitting them and being present with them honors The One who created us as human beings with vast, colorful feelings.

Now I think that there are cloudy days and windy days and huge stormy days and that it isn't anyone's fault, but that it's just part of life.

Now I think that there is beauty in the middle of the muck and there is redemption and that we don't have to do anything to make us worthy enough to experience it.

Now I think that our imperfect selves as we are is enough for today, for this moment right now.

Now I think that venting our feelings is like the gutteral roar and scream of giving birth, a sometimes necessary part of the process.

Now I think that receiving ourselves as we are is the pathway to peace
     -- to freedom and life. 

Like Sarah, I've had some sorting out in my life.

Joining others in #OutOfSortsBook syncroblog

Friday, July 24, 2015

a growing of us

ou're only four days old now and I still can hardly believe you're here.

Sometimes it feels like I'm floating and it's not because I am just a tad bit back logged on sleep. Is this truly not a dream?

The joy I feel is just so unbelievable.
The peace I feel is just so remarkable.

I carried a hope to be a Momma to another and you've been a long wait for me.

Watching you nuzzle and guzzle what God made my body provide for you, I am reminded of all those times I thought I was broken.

The doctor says you're just a few ounces away from your birth weight, gaining and growing quickly. I smile and then I tear up, knowing you won't be this tiny with squished up legs for much longer.

I watched your daddy take over and undress you at the doctor's office today, and then change your diaper one and then two times. He is so patient, concerned more about being gentle with you than rushing in response to a waiting nurse. I think, if only I could be half as good at changing diapers! Then I remember . . . 

Comparing isn't the way to live our own unique lives.

It's the changes that I notice most in these days since laboring and birthing you that astound me -- in me and in all of us.

With each contraction I experienced during my labor with you, I felt such a calm and profound peace as I focused on letting go and surrendering to the process. As I pushed you out and into the world, my loud, gutteral, uninhibited screams were more than just a response to the physical pain.

I screamed for the wrestle of surrender, for the receiving of grace, for the journey of hope, for the love being birthed in me.

Since that day I looked at you astounded that you really are here, I continue to feel immense joy and peace. I look at you and know that it's not about being worthy or deserved, it's simply about the plan God wants to accomplish.

I can truly rest from trying to be someone, I can just live, as I am. 

I don't have to do every thing right, I really am good enough. 

Your brother has been opened up to love. His heart is private and how he's been touched by your life already is in deeper ways than we could ever fully know. From the moment he learned of your budding life, to the moments now when he looks at you, something profound has been happening in him.

Your daddy and I are true partners now, not competitors or trying to prove anything to each other. We appreciate each other and love each other no matter our irritations or annoyances. Letting us be partners and friends on this journey is no small thing for me, let me tell you.

It could be the nearly 15-years of marriage and 11-years of parenting together that has taught your daddy and me to work together in coordination and cooperation, like sinews, yet I know it's more than that because we could be 30-years in and not have what we have today. 

God has given us courage to face the days with perseverance and to choose commitment over comfort.

This is a special time and I will not rush it away. I have already been out of work for over a month as we awaited your birth. Under the surface, there was a deep birthing of me during that time. I will be home for several more months and I am determined to not pressure myself or obligate myself to anything beyond our growing together.

I will nap when I need to, surrendering the compulsion to singlehandedly tend to you.

I will let your daddy in, and all the others who want to know and love you.

I will resume running because it is nourishment to my wellness, not to hurry away the remnants of my pregnancy with you.

This time is different. 

I am becoming the me I was designed to be; I am content and grateful for my life, as it is. I am at peace with all the parts of my story I had once wished were different. 

I'd say we're both quite blessed.