I always wanted to be able to sing like Adele or Aretha Franklin. Since I couldn’t, I decided to bring that passion to whatever tasks life handed me. However small, boring, or seemingly insignificant those tasks were, I would “sing my life” like I meant it.
Living like this has changed my life, made difficult times go by faster, brought me lots of friends, work, and loyalty, and helped me deliver energy and hope where they were sadly lacking (like at boring jobs, committee meetings, or the DMV).
“The antidote to exhaustion is not rest but, rather, wholeheartedness.” – David Whyte
Thinking, thinking, thinking of all the ways I have screwed up, relationships I had marred, the many flavors of stupidity I let fly out of my mouth, and my inaccurate estimations of myself at the root of all these embarrassing displays of weird. In the middle of the night I can quickly label myself as unredeemable or I can remember that it is the middle of the night when I am most prone to be out of whack.
I can wait until morning for judgement, when rested, when I will see that I am more than this: still a work in progress, a mixture of bright and dull, awesome and not so awesome, light and dark, sunshine and shadow.
My romantic relationships and my work relationships improved when I quit worrying about how I was being perceived, or how I was being treated, what had just happened, or what was going to happen next. So did my tennis game. And my relationship with my kids and in-laws. And my health. And my joy. And my ability to have a good night’s sleep.
It took me over thirty years to figure that out with relationships. Over ten with something as inconsequential as tennis. Still working on it with new clients, new challenges, and strangers.
Most of us spend our waking hours splintered out in so many directions that we don’t even know what true focus is. People who bring their complete attention and focus with them wherever they go are so rare that when we are lucky enough to meet one, we cannot forget them. They are distilled and refreshing power: the power we have always longed for.
No hustling for worthiness.
No valuing myself by someone else’s measurement.
Shouldering responsibility for my own happiness.
Allowing others to belong to themselves.
Drawing nourishment from the one and only, unique relationship with my Creator, from which all sustaining relationships are born.
Honoring the fleeting, fertile moments in this body, here and now.
Even if I am acknowledged
Or have crossed the goal line while the crowd roars
It will not be enough to sustain this hungry spirit of mine
It will only crave more on another day
No, that deep cavern of need
Must be spring-fed
From a deep reservoir within
Can ever be worth as much
My own affirming voice
“I am enough.”
This insightful Emerson quote feels especially true when there is nothing on the agenda, when the phone is not ringing (and the mail is not dinging), when we are ill, not sure of our next step, or broke.
How do we use the “gift” of the day when the days feel like empty ghosts passing by? The key seems to be asking versus saying, “My life sucks” or “I’m completely useless.”
“Is there anything I can do today to make a difference for someone?” prompts ideas, seemingly from out of nowhere, like sending kind texts or emails to those with whom I haven’t spoken in a while.
Then, there will be more energy to catch the ghosts and unwrap the gifts.
- R Realizing I didn’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be…
- E Exactly who I am
- L Letting go of restricting beliefs
- I Initiating small changes
- E Exercising faith in myself (as created with and for love)
- F Focusing on a future of dream fulfillment (instead of complaining and despairing)
Suddenly pain became a remote memory… after years of confusing agony.
How do you spell RELIEF?
(first posted in 2012)
Beware of the illusion on those days when…
- you feel too high or too low
- it seems like you’ve finally got it all together
- everything falls apart
- you feel just a tad superior or inferior
- it seems you never get a break
- you’ve decided life is too much or not challenging enough
You have just bought into the illusion that life is conquerable and understandable, instead of a confounding mystery that defies your explanations. You have been taken to the cleaners by a life that will bring you what you need and not necessarily what you want. You have been duped by the illusion that life is about what you do and have, instead of about what you will learn and become inside.
If I asked you, “What has been the most challenging book you have read lately?” or, “Who have you learned from this week?” or, “What area of your personal life have you improved recently?” would you have a ready answer? Would you have to scramble for a response, or would you have so much to talk about that it would be difficult to know where to start?
Incremental improvement of our lives doesn’t happen automatically. Without intentional focus, we settle into whatever version of ourselves is easiest. The people we admire have refused to do that.
“If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer.” – Dag Hammarskjold
(Swedish Diplomat and Noble Peace Prize Recipient)
“We talk to ourselves incessantly and choose our paths as we talk to ourselves. Thus we repeat the same choices over and over until the day we die, because we keep on repeating the same internal talk. A warrior is aware of this and strives to stop his internal talk.”
Castaneda was quoting ancient Mexican Shamans, yet this teaching can be found throughout the world, along with the first step out of talking ourselves silly: becoming aware of it.
When I noticed how adolescent or ridiculous my thoughts were and began to laugh at them, it became much easier to grow past them.