Tag Archives: stillness

The Difference Between

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In the history of all days, today is one of the most beautiful.  The sky is clear & blue, it’s literally 72 degrees, and there’s a slight breeze.

Perfect.

I have a friend who is sad today.  I mean, life changing, devastatingly sad.  He is “between seasons”, as our friend Pastor Rob Bell would say.  Or, more specifically, he is exhausted from white knuckle hanging on to something that’s already gone.

I’ve been there, haven’t you?

As I pulled out of Mom’s driveway this morning headed back toward my house, I thought about the beauty of this day.  And I thought about all the days just like this that I was so entwined in wanting things to be different that I could not see what already is.

I get caught there sometimes, in the gap between what I have and what I want.

I legitimately thought for years that I would feel content and happy if I could just have the right job, the right house, the right friends, the right relationship, the right family.

There was a picture in my head and heart of this beautiful home, filled with happy people, and peace.

I changed cars, I changed jobs, I changed houses, I changed furniture, I changed my yard, I changed my kitchen, I changed my weight, I changed my education level.  I changed everything.  Still, not happy.  Not content.

In fact, things just kept getting worse.

What I didn’t know.  What I couldn’t have known, is that contentment can only grow in the pot of ME.  It can’t grow in a house, or a car, or a marriage, or a child, or a job, or an MBA.  It just can’t.

There are some completely confusing statements about contentment out there, too.  #1 on my list is:

“Learn to be content with what you have”

This statement, dear reader, is complete bullshit.

The idea is good – contentment doesn’t come from exterior things.  But the advice is no good.  What if the things in our life are awful?  Or (even more confusing) mediocre and barely, occasionally, meeting our basic needs? And, most certainly they are because if we haven’t yet done the work to heal what hurts, we have hired people and situations to hurt us in a way we know best.

Someone important left us?  We hire people and situations guaranteed to abandon us.

Someone important hit us?  We hire people and situations guaranteed to devalue us.

Someone important verbally/emotionally abused us? We hire people and situations guaranteed to continue the tradition.

The “why” of this is another post (note to self).

Anyway, we do these things.  And we are just not going to beat ourselves up about it.  What we ARE going to do is try to understand how to feel better.

One of the first things we must do for ourselves – our very first gift – is to begin to name our feelings.

I started this process 20 years ago and it was surprising to me that I really could not tell what it was I was feeling.  I just knew I felt bad.  My heart hurt.  My head hurt.  My body ached.  I felt tired all the time.

“Our emotions are our body telling us the truth” – Pastor Rob Bell, Seasons

I began to try to say how I felt out loud and found I had no words.  Like, literally no words.  I had never before said “I don’t like that”.  It was surprising to me to learn I didn’t know what I did and didn’t like!  How do I like my eggs?  What do I like on my pizza?  What is going ON with me?! I had no idea.  I just felt numb and icky.

So, whenever I felt icky, I would stand in front of the mirror and practice saying my feelings.  I was trying to name them.  It was like being color blind all my life and slowly gaining sight.  I would pause and get still, sometimes close my eyes, put my hand on my belly, and this is what would come:

I feel angry.

hmmm… my heart aches.  I must feel hurt.

Why do I feel hurt?  Because I feel disappointed.

Why do I feel disappointed?  Because things didn’t turn out the way I hoped they would.

OK! Listen, the first time I landed on “disappointed” it was like I could jump over the Empire State Building.  I had no idea that those finer emotions even existed in me!  I had rarely (if ever) acknowledged them or felt safe to express them.

Fast forward 20 years, and this helped me work on boundaries after my divorce. (Read:  Never, Ever Get Hurt Again. Ever.)

Study after study has confirmed that when we can NAME something, it loses it’s power over us.  We stop running.  We learn to sit with uncertainty and keep breathing in & out.  We get up and take a few steps, or maybe we just get up and stand.

Whatever it is, wherever we are, it’s just ok.

We learn to give ourselves grace and hold space for whatever it is we may be feeling. Sometimes it won’t be pretty.  It will often be something that brings a feeling of deep shame.  It’s ok.  Many, many, travelers have stood where you stand.  Keep going.

When you feel like the waters of your heart and mind are muddy, find a quiet space, put your hand on your belly, close your eyes, take some steadying breaths, and say “what am I feeling?”.

You’ll know when you hit truth.  You’ll feel it in your bones.

xo

Michele

We Already Know

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Dear sister, we see you struggling to keep your chin above water.

We see you posting happy things on Facebook.

We see the frantic look in your eyes.  The jerkiness of your movements.  The extra alertness needed to keep all the plates spinning.

To keep all the illusions intact.

Especially the illusion of “happy”.

We can see you’re not happy.

We can see he’s not happy.

The question for you, dearest sister, is:

Why is it important to pretend?

What would happen if you stopped?

How would your life change, really?

If there is love to lose, it has already been lost.

If there is change to be faced, it has already happened.

We love you.

We see you.

We see this.

There is grace here.

The only one

and really, truly, the only one

who has not accepted

what has already happened

is you.

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Cheerfulness Does Not Equal Growth

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“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.” ~ Pema Chodron

The last few days, my mind has circled around a question: Is there darkness in light?

Most searches produced everything from scriptures to some in-depth physics analysis regarding whether or not there is light in darkness.

I went back to the basics.  What is light?” I Googled it.

Light is made up of waves and particle packets.  Ok.

Wait.

Waves.  Packets. Part of what makes up a wave form is the space between the peaks.  There is space between the inner workings of a photon. It’s not just one solid mass.

Part of what makes up anything is the space between the parts.  The space around and in is what gives something definition; shape.

So, then, is darkness not only a part of light….is it a key element of light’s ability to exist?

I wonder if it’s the same with people.  I wonder if our unique kind of darkness shapes our own unique kind of light.  I wonder if it’s the darkness in a star that makes it twinkle.

I wonder if our own darkness – our fears, our vulnerability, our humanity – is the very birthplace of all that is good (creativity, love, light). When love can grow there in us there, maybe it can grow everywhere.

When our soul longs for something …..more….

it seems like it always dips it’s paintbrush in these colors first to show us the way.

 

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Stillness

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solitudeI know what a healthy (maybe) relationship looks like from the outside, but what does it feel like to be in one?  I had absolutely no idea. So, I grabbed my phone off the nightstand and Googled it.

Article after article talked about boundaries. What are boundaries? I had heard the word, many times, but what does it really mean in a person’s life? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Boundaries, to me, always seemed like artificial walls people would erect when 1. They had been hurt and said “Never again!” and then promptly shut their heart down for all eternity. Or 2. A buzzword that women use to criticize themselves or other women. “She clearly doesn’t have any boundaries (she’s easy)” or “If I was stronger and had better boundaries, this wouldn’t have happened to me (I must be stupid)”.

Where to start? It didn’t seem right to just arbitrarily make up rules. Because then what if I wanted to change them? What if I didn’t like them?! So, I panicked and decided to just try to be aware of how things made me feel and try to do my best to honor those feelings with the same respect I would give to someone else.

Here’s what I learned: We know when a boundary has been crossed. We might not even be able to put into words what the boundary is or what we don’t like about what just happened, but we feel it. In our gut. Something hurts. Something snags. Something about what’s happening just doesn’t feel right.

Want to grow a little?  Try to stay open to your feelings as you go through your day.  When something snags, stop for a moment.  Pick that little feeling up with two gentle hands and tell it “I don’t know what just happened, but I’m going to take care of this feeling.”  As you collect and take care of those little snags, you will start to see a pattern.  For me, the first pattern I began to see was “I don’t like it when I get up the nerve to call the guy I’m seeing and he doesn’t pick up the phone.”  Even saying that I didn’t like something was empowering!  Hey, I didn’t like it.

Then we get to ask ourselves great questions.  Like:

“What does it mean that he didn’t pick up the phone?”  I’m not important

“Ok.  What does it mean if I’m not important to him?”  That he doesn’t love me.

“Ok.  What does it mean if he doesn’t love me.”  Maybe nobody can love me.

Aha.

When we can start to be aware of snags, and then take care of those little feelings, we begin on what is maybe the most talked about journey in all of mankind.  Who am I and what’s important to me?

You are so, so loved.

Onward…