Words I Can’t Take Back …

sometimes the healing is in the aching

Once the words are uttered, you can’t take them back.  And honestly, I hope I never want to take them back.  I am typically quite cautious/deliberate about tasting my words before I spit them out … but nonetheless, sometimes the most caring and loving thing any one of us can do is be authentically straight up with another human being.  Tactfully. Thoughtfully. Compassionately. Not with the intention to harm, but rather … with the intention to help.

There are times when people inadvertently get in their own way.  I see it so often with my clients. I’ve done it myself.  I still do, on occasion.  But honestly, we can’t see it while we are doing it.  So, we tend to blame others for the tattered and tender condition of our heart.  And then … we get frustrated, because things don’t change.  We can’t see, however, in those fragile moments that our finger might be pointed in the wrong direction.

It is during those tenderly tentative times that we need someone to be loving enough, courageous enough and supportive enough to actually inform us about our blurry blunders. It is never kind, however, to completely blind-side people with these uninvited ‘truths.’   We need someone to gently open our eyes … as kindly, caringly and purposefully as possible, because it can really sting to discover that, unbeknownst to us, we are somehow complicit in generating our own unfavorable circumstances/situation/relationships.

And so, we all deserve a chance to muster the courage it takes to welcome the ‘ache’ that this awareness might invoke.  Usually, I will say to my clients: “I have a suggestion for you, if you’d like it?” or “If there was another way to see this, would you be open to looking at it?”  or “I’m having a thought … but it might pinch a bit.  Would you like to hear it or should I just keep it to myself for now?”

Questions like this give folks a chance to say “no, not interested” … or at the very least … time to emotionally brace themselves.  And, it’s important that I both respect their preference and honor their response.  I will rarely share potentially prickly perceptions unless I am invited to do so by the recipient. And even though there are times when the invitation is clearly implied (e.g. with blogs, Facebook posts, editorials etc), I know I can’t take the words back once they are uttered. I also know that it’s not usually helpful, supportive or therapeutic for me to persistently press these perspectives onto others (even with the best of intentions).

Not even with my loved ones.  Maybe especially with my loved ones.  One of my clients once said, “Your kids are so lucky to have a counselor as a mother.” But, that is not the way it plays out. I am not their counselor.  I am their mom. And, it is critical for me to honor that distinction.  I try to be careful not to push my ‘professionally’ oriented perceptions onto my family members without permission to do so. My ‘wisdom’ might not be welcome.

It’s a disquieting paradox though, because as Martin Luther King points out: “There comes a time when silence is a betrayal.”  And, I have learned that our spiritual growth is typically tucked into those unflattering ‘truths’ that often seem too risky for our friends, colleagues and/or loved ones to dare speak aloud.  To our faces. Nonetheless, the most salient shifts I have ever experienced were because people were brave enough to risk my wrath and acknowledge something I couldn’t see for myself.

My education with The Ford Institute For Transformational Training was filled moments like this.  Achingly hard, but critical moments like this. As integrative coaches, we were trained by the incomparable Debbie Ford, to be ‘ruthlessly compassionate’ when invited to support others. Debbie was an absolute master at candidly shining a light upon the self-sabotaging thoughts, words and deeds that were compromising our best efforts to grow, stretch and transform beyond our perceived ‘stuckness’.  And although it really stings to let an unflattering awareness land in our hearts rather than promptly rejecting it, I owe the lion’s share of my personal growth to my coaching family for being such clear mirrors for me.

And I would venture to say that many of us are holding onto ‘undelivered communications’ that we think might benefit someone we know and love … but we are too scared it would hurt our relationship to share them. And it might. Some relationships may not be strong enough to bear the weight of such an honest exchange.  But, it may also be true … or even truer … that some of our relationships won’t survive without that level of transparency.  Unspoken resentments can be terribly toxic … even lethal. The strongest connections hold precious space for us to be caring catalysts for each other … to help us lovingly lead each other out of our own covert culpability.

But the most important caveat here is this: Our intention in sharing must always be to help not harm … and typically most effective when invited by the recipient. Because … these are words we can’t take back.

Trusting that “sometimes, the healing is in the aching” … Karen

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“A Blessing for Your Future” by Debbie Ford

A blessing for your future - 2

My mentor, Debbie Ford, created some of the most beautiful prayers!  I would like to share this exquisite and exceptional blessing with you, as we prepare to embark upon a whole New Year.

In 2016, may we become more consciously present to the gifts that we can offer to those around us …  as well as  … being open and receptive to all the gifts that are available to us!

With a warm welcome to the blessings of 2016, Karen

“Drenched in Holiness” …

With heartfelt reverence for whichever faith base you and your loved ones celebrate during the holy days, may you find yourself “Drenched in Holiness”

Thank you Debbie Ford for this exquisite reminder of how we might be LOVE and bring LIGHT to our lives, our family and friends, our communities, and our entire globe …

With a humble heart, Karen

Drenched in Holiness ... Debbie Ford

With Deepest Gratitude to the incomparable Debbie Ford for this Sacred Prayer

The Appreciative Heart …

Source unknown but deeply appreciated!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am compelled to share an inspiring and uplifting newsletter from The Ford Institute for Transformational Training  beautifully written by Kelley Kosow which includes an audio recording of the most magnificent prayer of thanks I have ever heard.

The prayer is entitled The Appreciative Heart and was generously gifted to us by the late Debbie Ford herself.  Upon hearing the rich, velvety texture of her voice I was reduced to tears … tears of sheer gratitude magnified by the humble, gracious and appreciative energy I experienced as I allowed myself to dwell in the space of pure appreciation … pure appreciation for all that I so absentmindedly tend to take for granted.

I share this gift with you here and hope you will take a moment to let your heart be nourished with the vibrational frequency of pure gratitude  offered and inspired by the spirit in this extraordinary prayer.  May the legacy of pure love that Debbie Ford inspired on this planet continue to touch us all …

The Appreciative Heart

With deepest gratitude, Karen

P.S. You can download it onto your phone should you want to listen to it again as you make your way through your day!

A Tragic Misunderstanding …

With acknowledgement to the Internal Acceptance Movement [I.A.M.]

My ‘effing’ story got me again.  It’s so frustrating because as a counsellor/therapist and life coach I have been impeccably trained to help people bust through the nasty stories that are lurking insidiously in the shadows of their minds.  In fact, I’m actually really good at it.  I’m usually pretty good at managing my own unfavorable narratives too, but …

Every once in a blue moon the most painful ‘shadow belief’ that tagged along from my childhood literally blindsides me.  It reeks sheer havoc with my soul and then leaves me shattered, shaken and grievously grappling for solace.  And I get so frustrated, because although I KNOW that my story isn’t true … when it takes hold … it FEELS so true. And, my logical mind can’t seem to talk my emotional heart out of it’s desperate despair.

My “I don’t matter” story is strong and powerful and perilously persistent.  It emerged in my childhood … an erroneous interpretation of a wee little girl just trying to make sense of the neglect she experienced in a dysfunctional home ravaged by addictions and mental health issues. She couldn’t see, at the time, that her parents were caught up in the wounds of their own painful dramas.  So instead, she attributed their lack of attention to her needs as a reflection of  her own insignificance.  A tragic misunderstanding.  A terribly tragic misunderstanding.

Through the exceptional body of work inspired by the late Debbie Ford, I’ve been effectively ‘rewiring’ the neuro-template that was firmly etched into my psyche by that erroneous interpretation.  Thankfully, it doesn’t take me down all that often anymore, but … if/when it gets away on me, that negative cognition has the capacity to so steal so much joy from my heart … and … it can convincingly morph itself into any number of painful correlates:

“Nobody REALLY cares about me.”

“My needs are meaningless to others.”

“I’m completely expendable.”

“I’m absolutely inconsequential”

“I’m only appreciated for what I can give to/do for others.”

Blah … Blah … Blah … Blah … Blah. 

Recently, while marinating in the vulnerability of that unfavorable quagmire, I found myself beseeching  a miracle.  I was pleading for a merciful release from the wretched pain of that effing story. And … low and behold … I came upon Daniell Koepke.  Her words landed gently like a warm and loving salve on the jagged and raw edges of my tattered and torn heart.  Who was this person who knew exactly what I needed to be reminded of in the agonizing ache of those moments??

I felt compelled to look her up.  It turns out she has inspired the Internal Acceptance Movement.  She has written some inspiring reflections!  She was my angel in that moment offering a meaningful measure of pure grace and the miracle I was looking for … the ability to shift my perceptions from an energy of fear to a spirit of love and acceptance. So I’d like to say “Thank you Daniell.”  Your thoughtful perspective answered my call.

And … I am sharing this with all of you publicly because I want to pay forward the blessings in her wise words – just in case, you too, find yourself consumed by a painful belief you’ve lugged along from your past … and … just in case, you too, are in need of a wee miracle.  If so, you might let some of her words wash warmly over your soul  when you are in need of some help busting out of your own sad story …

With deepest respect for our collective wounding, Karen

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I Never Talked About It …

I never talked about it.  I tucked it all away, deep down inside where no one could see it. Not even me.

No, I never talked about it until one day when I was attending a young mother’s group.  I was about 30 years old … with three darling daughters.  The guest presenter was speaking about the challenges of parenting and invited us to recall the warm and wonderful times in our childhood when we felt safe and protected and happy and coddled.  Huh?  The naive assumption that we all came from that enviable place surprised me.  I could not resonate with where she was trying to take us … at all. I looked around the room. People were smiling … nodding.  Some were tearing up in fond recollection. I went numb for a moment.

And then it hit me … and … I swallowed hard to hide the tears that nearly escaped … right there …  in front of all those lovely young mothers caught up in that heavenly melancholic moment. My story was not their story.  I felt like I just didn’t fit in.  I remember thinking, “I don’t belong here.” 

I went home and cried. A hard cry.  And … the lid came off.  It all came pouring out of me … in streams that chafed my cheeks and welted up the tender corners of my eyes.  And then I got mad … MAD.  How dare this gracious ‘presenter’ with the Hallmark childhood so cavalierly ignite the pain I had tucked away so effectively for so long! How dare she obliviously obliterate my strong, capable, logical, ‘I can handle anything’ persona.  I felt fragmented and fragile and I couldn’t seem to collect myself with any degree of predictability.  I simply could not get the lid back on it.  And I tried … believe me I tried.

I’m not sure when I conceded … when I decided that it was time to tell my story rather than continue hiding it and hiding from it.  Somehow, between the sadness that surprised me and the struggle to ignore it,  I realized that I would need to ‘feel it’ in order to ‘heal it’.  And THAT was certainly not a straight path. Nor easy.  I was flooded with painful memories and I didn’t have a  clue where to put them or how to carry them out there in the real world. 

I started talking about it.  I guess I shared too much … too often …  because then someone said, “Is that is all she ever talks about?”  Perhaps that was true.  Maybe the pendulum had swung the other direction … when the lid blew off the mess was hard to contain.  What I heard her saying was:  “No one really wants to hear about it”.  Ouch.

And I almost silenced myself again.  Out of shame.  Far be it for me to take up space where my story was not wanted.  I had no idea where it belonged …where I belonged.  Fortunately for me, I found a place to put it. I found a place where my story was honored.  And I felt heard.  And I found some beautiful gifts that had been tucked into my story.  And it felt good.  And I learned that these things need to be spoken of … because  all wounds need a compassionate witness if we are to finally make peace with them.

Ultimately, I found a safe place to lean in and embrace my own story.  It scares me to think of where I would be had I not discovered the divine body of work founded by Debbie Ford.  I got some good counseling too.  Yes. I did.  And … it transformed my life.  So much so that I found my calling.  I trained with Debbie Ford herself and also went back to school and earned my MSW.  Now, I get to coach and/or counsel those who need a safe and compassionate place to own their stories and help them learn to thrive despite the pains of their past.

 I could never have anticipated the miracle and magic of owning my story. I still talk about it  … sometimes.  And other times I blog about it.  Mostly, though, I share it when I think it will be meaningful to others. I am learning that there are times when my prior lived experience really resonates with the people I am working with and fosters their own capacity to heal.  And, in the communion of our stories, we are liberated. And we are understood. And we find a place where we belong.

And yes, there are still those times when I sense that my story is not welcome … places where it is not a good fit.  But that doesn’t mean my story doesn’t matter.  It does.  And so does yours.  I hope that you, too, will be brave enough to find a safe and compassionate place to share it!  It matters … and  you never know … you might just find some magic and/or a miracle or two wrapped into it.

Daring Greatly,  Karen

No one is coming to save you …

plant your own garden You might be surprised by how frequently I meet with clients who wholeheartedly invest themselves in bettering other people’s lives at great expense to themselves.  They have embraced the altruistic adage that ‘what goes around comes around’.  They interpret their self-sacrifice as a noble gesture depicting their love and devotion.  They might even see it as good karma.  They trust that if they just give enough, pray hard enough, wait long enough, and/or suffer quietly enough … someone will finally honor and acknowledge their selflessness by returning the favor.  Seems like a benevolent way to live one’s life, but …

Some of them having been waiting a really, really, really, really L-O-N-G time!  In fact, sometimes they have sacrificed until they are completely spent and downright empty themselves.  Some have tolerated the intolerable for such an unbearably long period of time that they find themselves in such a dark and depleted emotional place that an anti-depressant has been prescribed.  While this doesn’t alleviate the source of the problem, it does bolster their capacity to ‘soldier on’ for a while longer …..

It’s typically the most genuine, loving and kindhearted people who convince themselves that meeting their own needs would be too “selfish.”  Some are just hoping that by living in hell now they will be rewarded with heaven in the long run. Far be it for me to argue that possibility …. but … I do find myself questioning whether the old adage that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ could be just as true or truer?

When clients express feeling really stuck, but have resisted taking action in situations where it seems they still can foster change … or, worse yet … if they have adopted a sense of powerlessness that renders them feeling like helplessness victims;  I will compassionately but candidly invite them to consider an unfavorable prospect – a desperate possibility that ultimately inspired me to step out of my own self-defeating beliefs and behaviors.  I say it not to harm them, but to help them.

No one is coming to save you.

What …? My prickly point is usually punctuated by a long silence, shallowed breathing and a blank stare. Sometimes a tear breaks free …

No one wants to hear such a thing.  It may sound unduly harsh and maybe even blasphemous to some … but flirting with the possibility that waiting may be eternal often propels folks to  step up on their own behalf and resume an active part  in creating their own well-being.  It’s a miraculous moment when people reclaim their own power.  It really truly is … remember Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz?  What if each and every one of us has ‘had the power all along’?  What if we just needed something drastic enough to catch our attention so we could bring that possibility into clear focus … ?

I received my own wake-up call a few years back during one of my darkest moments as one of Debbie Ford’s students/trainees.  Here’s what I learned … about my own pattern of self-denial and self-sacrifice.

I was taking the long way around:

• I give what I need to others…
• I hope that they give it back to me…
• I suffer when they don’t …
• This proves the most painful story I often tell myself: I don’t matter
• I forget that I had what I needed to begin with … but I gave it away! DUH!!  

And then I repeat the cycle … over and over and over again! 

Why not just give myself what I need???

Ahem … it seems so ridiculously clear in retrospect.  However, I needed a ruthlessly compassionate nudge in order to finally see it for myself.  I have made some remarkably wonderful shifts since I gained this insight.  I share this in case you or someone you know has been marinating in unfavorable circumstances or feeling stuck in a particular situation.  If you are tired of waiting for someone to save you, you might intervene on your own behalf by asking these questions:

What would you do differently if you knew it was up to YOU to take the first step in the direction of making a change you want/need to make?

What is one baby step that you could take on your own behalf?

What just popped into your mind?

What might open up in your life if you dared to act upon whatever came into your mind?

What might it cost you to take that step?

What will it cost you if you don’t?

Where will you be in five years if you continue doing what you are doing?

Give yourself some time to sit with your answers … even if they scare you spit-less. Allow yourself to notice how those answers feel in your body.  Some of the best decisions I have made in my life made me SWEAT profusely the very first time I dared to consider them!

Ultimately, the point is this … even if no one is coming to save you,  you might still be in very good handsyour own!  In fact, what if is is true or truer, that you never needed anyone else to save you after all?   Maybe YOU are the answer you have been waiting for?   What if … ?

Here’s to planting our own gardens and decorating our own souls, Karen

 

Breakdown or breakthrough … ?

courage

One of the most sacred but entirely daunting and deeply humbling parts of becoming a ‘Certified Integrative Coach’ is that you MUST do all the work yourself … long before you ever get to lead a client through any kind of process.  I learned really early on that Debbie Ford’s incomparable internal processes were not for the faint of heart.  They are designed to unconceal inner truths that most of us have consciously and/or subconsciously tried to avoid, justify, resist and/or deny. Sometimes in the midst of it all, it feels more like you are on the cusp of a breakdown rather than a breakthrough … BUT …

Over the past dozen years, I have learned to ‘trust the process.’  I have never yet failed to find the most bright, brilliant and beautiful gifts when I was courageous enough to face the most painful parts of my own past experience.  Which doesn’t mean it’s pretty.  No, definitely not pretty.  And …  you learn that the wisdom in your wounds, the blessings in your challenges and the light in the dark  are usually tucked somewhere within the ‘ugly cry’ (you know – that shoulder heaving, snot dribbling, swollen-eyed, red-faced kind of sobbing that makes it hard to breathe) … BUT …

It is hard to describe the sublime freedom, joy, and/or bliss of redefining the parts of your life you had previously been resenting, rejecting and blaming for your heartaches. Crazy but true … ask anyone who has attended a Shadow Process or been coached through this impeccable body of work. They have incredible stories to share.  Sorry, I’ve digressed … this was not meant to be a sales pitch for integrative coaching.  My intention was to offer you some honest, authentic  ‘truth-telling’ … BUT …

Some of the most profound shifting of my life emerged when I became part of Debbie Ford’s study group as she was writing her book Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence . Debbie has redefined courage as a quality of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ … not something that we ‘do’… but something that we ‘are’.  Huh?

I had been equating courage to a kind of brave and intimidating force … and relating it to qualities like strong and invincible  You know, the ‘roar’ of the lion … the bold retort … the willingness to stand up and defend yourself or your cause (at all cost). I thought it was what you mustered up when you couldn’t take it anymore (whatever ‘it’ is in a given moment).  Yep … I could see where I could ‘do’ courage like that … BUT …

As I journalled about how to ‘be’ courage, I could feel a large lump forming in my throat.  The unflattering truth that leaked out of my soul through the ink on the page was this:

“I don’t know how to ‘be’ anything … I only ‘do’ life. (Ouch).

Well … that’s not entirely true … I AM STRONG. I do know how to BE strong. (In truth, it’s become my comfort zone.)

But if being strong is doing courage … then what is being courage? (Totally baffled.)

No other thoughts or words came to me, but in my mind’s eye I got the most poignant, remarkable image of a huge tree (trunk at least 5 feet in diameter) … solid, unshakeable, and impenetrable. I could feel it was the visual representation of my strength.  And then … I could see some wee little arms struggling to reach out of two (almost imperceptible) holes in the massive trunk of that tree.  And … I knew it was me. More tears … big tears. It was heartbreaking to notice that she couldn’t reach anyone … and … very few passers-by noticed her.  She was hard to see  because she was pretty much concealed by the enormity of the tree trunk that protected her but also eclipsed her from view.

Then the tree opened (kind of like “open sesame”in fairy tales) and out came this little waif … a little strawberry blonde – so innocent, so tender, so trusting. She was about 2.5 feet high … such a fragile, timid, vulnerable little thing that she could have been knocked down by a feather . Her skin is so thin … so translucent … you could see clear through her and right into her heart. She was the essence of pure love …

It was in this poignant moment that the ugly cry started.  The tears were blurring my vision and flowing like rivers as they poured off my chin … BUT …

I got it.  THIS IS COURAGE!  To allow yourself toBE’ completely exposed, unguarded, unprotected and undefended takes a very brave spirit.  I could feel in my heart, as Debbie contends, that ‘courage’ truly is  ” to be and own all of who you are … without apology, without excuses and without masks to cover the truth of who you are.”

‘Being’ courage, therefore, is reflected in my willingness to really be seen … to come out from behind the tree!  To boldly face the fear being of mocked,  ridiculed, dismissed or ‘less-than’ and to stand in the energy of heart … to show my pain, my heartache, my sadness rather than concealing it behind my impenetrable veneer of ‘strength’. It seemed so incredibly clear in that moment. .  I have clearly used my strength to aptly avert anything that might invite me to be really, truly vulnerable.  I could also see that I had been motivated to do so because  life hurts. And, hurt people, hurt people!  Vulnerability did not feel safe.  At all. No. Not one bit … BUT …

You have to decide who is worth suffering for and/or with … and then …  let your heart show.  Because … here is the ‘truth’ that I uncovered.  It is ‘safe’ being tucked into the trunk of the tree, but it is incredibly lonely … and … painfully isolating.  In any given moment, I can  protect or I can connect … but not both.  With that awareness, Brene Brown’s insights about vulnerability being the quality that connects us were  speaking to me at a much deeper level … at least 10 layers deeper.    The dots were coming closer together around why I have often felt very alone in the world.  I have been unwittingly co-creating my own sense of isolation by choosing to be strong instead of vulnerable.  Argh.

I could see that the true challenge would be to actually show up differently … to actually let my waif-like warrior be ‘seen’ beyond my strength.  So, here I am …  blogging about it … attempting to drop my guard with this transparency.  It feels more like I’m destined for a breakdown than a breakthrough … BUT …

This is me ‘being’ courage.

It’s going to take some practice … Karen

 

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“I just want to be happy …”

chaos in your soul Most of us are perpetually ‘on the hunt’ for those moments when all is right with the world and we feel blissfully content.  We’d probably have to look far and wide to find someone who, at one time or another, hasn’t plaintively uttered: “I  just want to be happy.”  In our pursuit of happiness we tend to seek out pleasure and avoid pain.  It seems like the logical thing to do, but what if Nietzsche is right?  Maybe, just maybe, our  brightest points of light are inconspicuously tucked into the turmoil – disguised as discontent – twinkling tirelessly in hopes of catching our diverted gaze.

I have come to recognize discontent as a  divinely guided wake-up call of the soul trying to alert us when we are ‘off course’.  I see it is a benevolent niggling that something needs to change.  If we are open enough to be with it,  embrace it and learn from it … I trust that our discontent can steer us to our deepest longings and highest callings.

That said, and in my line of work, I can’t help but get just a wee bit excited when a client dares to say “I know I should be happy but …” It’s not that I am happy they are unhappy … but … heeding the discord between head and heart (before  it morphs into misery) can open up untold possibilities.  When we are brave enough to honor our discontent rather than resisting it, we are poised in position to begin savoring our lives rather than merely enduring them!

You might be astonished by how often people step over their discontent – they ignore it, avoid it, numb it, repress it, call it something else and/or blame someone else for it. Some people will even try make it more tolerable by focusing on the silver-lining in it rather than seeking to transform it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for finding the wisdom in our wounds but there is a very subtle but significant distinction between identifying the blessings in our challenges and “putting ice cream on poop” (as the incomparable Debbie Ford describes it).  Looking on the bright side of something that actually dulls the spirit, depletes vital energy and keeps folks from claiming their dreams, desires and delights can be a sneaky form of denial … a betrayal of Self that can keep people stuck in a chronic state of “meh“.

Perhaps, if we really want to be happy, we would be wiser to make friends with our discontent … hold its hand … let it speak to us … and then … LISTEN to the message.  Just notice if what we hear stirs something inside us …  maybe a little fear, maybe a little enthusiasm, maybe  a little of both.  Sadly, it’s often in the presence of these ‘feelings’ that we shut down the wisdom in our discontent and distract ourselves with something more pleasant.  We just don’t want to feel it. I know … I did it for years myself.

Sometimes staying stuck feels safer than shaking things up .. but it can also rob us.  I can remember a few years back when I had a phenomenal job working as a parenting coach.  I thoroughly loved my job and had been there for about 8 years when I began to get restless. I tried to silence what I was feeling.  I berated myself for not being grateful enough. I argued with myself about where I would ever find a  better job in our small rural town. Despite my cognitive protest … my discontent persisted.

Then … with a loving nudge during one of my trainings I allowed myself to listen to my discontent. When I dared to hear the message it had for me … I felt a some very juicy but highly prickly energy.  Eeeeek. Instead of shutting it down (as I typically did), I allowed myself to dwell in the discomfort of it.  I stayed with it until I was brave enough to risk the security of who I knew myself to be for the uncertainty of who I could become.  Despite the expressed chagrin of many,  I dared to go back to school at the age of 46.  When people skeptically questioned my decision, I defended it by declaring “the years are going to go by anyway.”  I just couldn’t bring myself to share that I caught sight of a dancing star and was honoring the chaos in my soul.  Some things seem better left unsaid. 🙂

It turns out that my professional  ‘discontent’ was actually a  blessing in disguise inviting me to reclaim my childhood dream of becoming a therapist.  And here we are … 10 years later … I left my phenomenal job and have been blissfully employed as a counsellor for the last 7 years instead.  I can honestly say … I could not be happier.

I decided to share my experience here because I truly believe it is not just an isolated incident. I’ve seen it so often that I have come to believe that we can all find that dancing star if we are willing to begin by sitting within the discomfort of the chaos until we hear what it has to teach us.  So … if you haven’t already made plans for this evening, why not make a date with your discontent!  Who knows what spending some time in that enchanted space might reveal …

With enthusiastic curiosity for where your own nigglings might lead you, Karen

And then … I remembered.

Source Unknown

Source Unknown

The other day I was reflecting upon the day as I drove home from work. As I rounded the corner into my cul-de-sac, I recalled that during ‘check-in’ at our staff meeting, I had reported that for all intents and purposes I was doing “really good”.  I remembered acknowledging that I felt like I was in a period of grace given all the challenges that had been landing in my life over the past few years.  As I parked in my drive-way, some of the unfavorable realities I had neglected to acknowledge in my check-in  spontaneously popped into my awareness and I thought:  “Hey … wait a minute.  I need a re-do on my check-in.”  Upon deeper reflection, I had to concede that things were not really as rosy as the picture I had painted for my colleagues.  I mean …

  • How could I say  I was “really good” when  my dryer had just broken down and left me with two heavy wet loads threatening to mildew in my basement?
  • Wasn’t it a bit of stretch to say that I was “really good” when my husband’s computer was still crashed after two attempts to replace the mother board by really techno-savvy geeks had failed … ?
  • How on earth could I  say I was “really good” when my house was covered in a ¼ inch of rock dust that was perpetually drifting down from the seemingly snails-pace renovations?
  • Was it really honest to say I was “really good” when  I have been somewhat indignant and grumbling about having to park outside ever since my garage was converted into a workshop for the renovations?
  • Was it “really good” that I had just spent the lunch hour in the washroom trying to dislodge some chicken that had caught in my esophagus and was causing painful spasms?
  • I wasn’t feeling “really good” about choosing to be courageous in the face of an ethical dilemma … I was feeling downright vulnerable.

In light of these realities, whose ‘really good’ life was I telling my colleagues about?  I found myself curiously wondering how all that stuff had completely fallen off my radar during the meeting.

And then … I remembered.

I remembered that it started out like a usual day.  The sun was shining and the day was planned …BUT … things don’t always go as planned.  On this particular day,  a very cherished friend/colleague of my daughters had been hit head-on in a horrific accident that promptly claimed the life of her best friend.  Her own precious life was miraculously hanging in the tentative balance between staying ‘here’ and going ‘there’ to join her friend.  No one knew what the next moment would bring.  Tears flowed … spirits gasped … and … fears all but eclipsed the tenuous hopes timidly trying to prevail amidst the uncertainties that no one dared to sputter aloud …

They said her prognosis was grim. They said most people could not survive the extent of her injuries. Pelvis broken in 3 places, back fractured in 3 places, all ribs crushed, a punctured lung, a perforated aorta and every bone in her face  pulverized.  It seemed though, that the feisty spirit of this most beautiful soul was determined to defy the odds as the minutes turned into hours turned into days.  I carried her in my heart as I went about my usual routine.  I know I was not alone. She remained foremost in all our thoughts and prayers.

As I reflect on it now, I am guessing that  during ‘check-in’, I was subconsciously taking my own inventory from this humble, tender and fragile space.  I’m speculating that I neglected to mention the realities that were irritating me, because they were simply that … irritating.  I can live with irritating.  My choice is whether I decide to do it begrudgingly or not.  I’m guessing that somewhere deep within my psyche, my testament to being “really good” reflected my perception that, in the grand scheme of things,  irritations are preferable to crises … but only 100% of the time.

I am recognizing, more and more, that in each and every moment, it is not what we are looking at that matters, it is what we choose to see.  Our perspective frames our interpretations.  Perception creates reality and as Debbie Ford points out in her book “The Right Questions” we can spend our moments looking for what is right or we can spend them focused upon what is going wrong.   It all depends upon the perspectacles ( a term coined by Glennon Doyle Melton) with which we choose to look … we can see things as desirable or undesirable in any situation, event or circumstance.  I don’t consciously remember putting on my rose-colored glasses before the meeting, but clearly something inside me was wisely adjusting the lens through which I made my assessment. I wasn’t lying to my colleagues or to myself.  I wasn’t in any kind of Pollyanna-ish denial.  Despite the irritations that could have shifted my perception to an unfavorable place, I can see that I probably was feeling “really good” … all things considered.

When I am looking for what is right, I can see miracles are unfolding around us with each and every breath.  In fact, my daughter’s friend continues to affirm my belief in miracles.   So far, she is still ‘here’ … and … so many hearts are holding her with much tender love and eager hope for brighter moments ahead. She is teaching me to believe that a prognosis does not have to be your reality. She is teaching me to not let the moment define you, but rather, to define the moment. She is teaching me about never giving up.  She is teaching me that there are blessings worth living for … but only 100% of the time.

As for me, when I am looking for what is right in this very moment , I can see that my the dryer is fixed, my husband’s computer was replaced free of charge by DELL (Yeah DELL!), my esophagus is not currently in spasm so I can eat again  and the dust is mostly cleared.

When I am looking for what is wrong in this moment, I can see that the door of my medicine cabinet broke off in my hands, there are a few imperfections in the renovations and I am still parked in the driveway … I guess I’ll be scraping ice and snow off my car for a while yet.

Although it’s tempting to let the ‘wrong’ steal the ‘right’ from my view, in the final analysis, I am ‘seeing’ that I don’t need a re-do on my check-in after all.  Despite what I am looking at in my life (at any given moment),  the truth of the matter is this:  I really am “really good” … until I decide that I am not. But only 100% of the time.

Looking for what is right and seeing so many blessings that tears have filled my eyes,  Karen

P.S. Since writing this yesterday, we had a big dump of snow and my husband very unexpectedly cleared the garage.  We just never know what the next moment will bring.  May we be looking in such a way that we miss not a single blessing as we all see our way through the days to come …

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