On Doing Nothing. Maybe It’s Really Something!?

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It started a few weeks ago.

I got the first inkling while reading this wonderful book, Traveling with Pomegranates.

Some close friends been extolling the book for months now. Written by a mother and daughter team (both writers), it explores the pain and joy of a daughter’s transition to adulthood – and a mother’s confrontation with her own aging and mortality.

Certainly themes that have bedeviled and inspired me of late.

And Pomegranates delivered. Poignant, exquisitely crafted, I savored every page.

The fact that the story delves into the creative process, spiritual connection, and is told through a lens of travel made it all the more relevant to me. Just writing this makes me want to read it all over again.

I could go on for hours about the different themes explored in Pomegranates – but the one that keeps coming back and back (from multiple sources) is this idea of feeding your creativity by doing nothing.

Yep. Nothing.

My bitchy inner critic is pounding on my forehead already.

What are you talking about? She yells. You already don’t get half the stuff done Continue reading

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Remembering My Mom

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Mary Carole Hoyt. 1938-1983.

Today marks 29 years since my beautiful mother left this planet. Taken from us way too soon, we barely had time to process that she was sick and then she was gone.

It amazes me that although I’ve lived more years now without her than with her, I still miss her so very much. Mixed with the sadness is this anger at the cruelty of her life cut short just as she began to experiment with spreading her wings.

But I don’t want to write about all the grief and angst surrounding her untimely death. I want this to be about honoring her life – and the amazing gifts that  Carole gave to all of us, to everyone who touched her life. People flocked to her because Continue reading

Hawaii Adventure: Lessons From The Waves

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K Beach as seen from above

I’m back home gazing out the window at frost glimmering in the morning sun, after two weeks visiting friends in Hawaii – where a combination of crummy internet access, writer’s block, the flu, and the desire to just relax and visit with friends and family kept me from updating either blog.

The trip held many highlights and here’s the story of one (or was it a low light?)

“There’s basically just three rules for swimming in this water,” said David as he picked his way over the lava rocks leading down the trail.

“Number One, don’t panic. Number two, don’t panic. And number three – don’t forget rules numbers one and two.”

He turned to face me shading his eyes from the sun, and I laughed as I watched the beams dance over the shimmering water.

“Sounds like all we need to know,” I replied.

We’d been here on the big island of Hawaii for a week, and I still Continue reading

Am I A Coach?

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I was going to write about Balance today. And connection to Spirit. And my longing for more on both counts. But that will have to wait till tomorrow or another time.

Because I opened up my email today and received a message that got me thinking. It was from Tim Brownson, a life coach and very funny guy who I’ve been following on the blogosphere for a while now. The subject was “Only Open If You Want To Be A Successful Life Coach.”

Now, I probably wouldn’t have opened that a few months ago. It took me years to get past my skepticism about ‘life coaching’ or ‘personal coaching.’ What exactly was it anyway? Do such coaches offer any kind of true value – or are they just scammers who’ve found a way to separate people from their hard-earned cash?

Like herbalists, anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a life coach. There is no official regulation. But I’ve learned Continue reading

Pushing Past The Fears

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A few days ago I wrote a bit of a rant here – because I felt so upset by the news story about a drug addicted mother being prosecuted for murdering her baby with meth-laced breast milk.

I was a little scared to post it here – and especially worried about the automatic sharing on Facebook where all my local friends and acquaintances would see it. I debated whether I should change the setting so that particular post wouldn‘t get shared on social networks.

I’ll probably catch a rash of shit for this, I thought.

But, since my Angel Cards have been talking to me just about every other day about “Risk,” Continue reading

This Just Seems Wrong – And Heartbreaking

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My local paper has been updating me on a story that disturbs me deeply. It’s about a young woman who is being prosecuted for murder. Her infant son died because his mother was an addict – her breast milk was laced with meth.

The latest article, a couple of days ago, informed us that Maggie Wortman accepted a manslaughter charge and faces 11 years in prison. If she had not accepted this, she would face a new murder charge that could mean a lifetime of incarceration.

Hmm, I wonder how much this damaged woman will learn about overcoming addictions while locked up Continue reading

Extrovert or Introvert?

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For most of my life I’ve hated those personality tests that claim they will classify, categorize and explain who you are. Well, I actually didn’t hate them, they just disappointed me. I would grab onto each one I found, avidly filling in the little bubbles in a vain attempt to figure out why I act the way I do.

A few multiple-choice questions in I would invariably feel frustrated. Is my answer A or B? Sometimes I feel like A, but then again, other times it’s B. And yeah, every so often it’s even C.

I’d scribble in A (or maybe B) and move on. But I never felt satisfied with the explanatory results. This feeling of frustration extended beyond personality tests to other types of  “tests,” from the silly ones in women’s magazines, to the ones that assert they can assess Continue reading

Commitment Fulfilled! 25 Days Of Writing & Meditating

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Today I pulled the Angel Card, Celebration. I don’t think I’d ever gotten that card before (it’s part of the new expanded Angel Card deck) and I love it. A spiffy-looking angel all dressed up and dancing. Celebrate!

And I thought,  of course! I do have good reason to celebrate.

I’ve made it to the end of the month and actually stuck to the two commitments I set for myself. I took 10 minutes each and every day to sit in a silent meditation. And I’ve posted on this blog a minimum of six days a week.  (I started out hoping to post every single day this month – but I revised that when I realized I needed to factor in a day off on the weekends.)

This didn’t begin on the first day of the year – as I was still traveling and crashing on friends’ living room floors. But I’ve stuck to the plan for 25 days now. There’s that adage that it takes 28 days to change a habit, so does that mean Continue reading

Just Three Words For 2012

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Inspired by many of the online movers and shakers I’ve been reading (this one in particular), I decided to choose what three words define my aspirations and experiences for the coming year. Of course most people came up with their three words right around the first of the year, sort of a resolution antidote. Distill it down to just three words and live by them.

Well, in my typical fashion, I’m almost to the last day of the January and I’m still playing with words. Only three? How can I narrow it down?

I’m facing the same dilemma as I wrestle with defining just what are my core values. Someone asked me this recently, and I was flummoxed to realize that I really had never thought that through. Sure, I have a vague idea of what my values are all about. But, coming up with specific words to define them? Never took the time.

Of course, discovering and naming these values can act as sort of a life compass when I look at the myriad of directions to step toward. The idea is here to come up with about three and no more than six ‘core’ values. Well, I started with more than 20 and I’m still working on distilling those values down.

You’d think choosing a few words for just this year would be easier, but oddly I’m finding it much harder. What if I decide on three words and then have an epiphany the next day and realize one of them should be changed? What are my true priorities for the year, and how can I express them in just three single words?

With the idea of these words being a lighthouse or compass to guide me (and my secret idea that I can revisit these words at the beginning of each new season and perhaps adjust or refine them), here are my words for this year:

Risk

I take some chances in life, but more often I avoid risk like the proverbial plague. I don’t like getting hurt, I don’t like failure and I don’t like feeling foolish. But a truth has been pounding on my heart of late. Without risk there can be no growth. I must be willing to fail, to take it in the chin once or twice. So – rephrase that:  I am willing to risk failure.

Now I’m not talking about bungee jumping here (I doubt I will ever take that particular risk), but about pushing past my self-doubt and just going for it. When I look back on the areas of my life that I feel the most proud of – they all involved taking risks. So bring it on!

If I use “Risk” as one of my compass words for the year it addresses these goals:  courage, self-confidence, challenge, push, dare, stretch myself.

Connect 

This is the time. Inner and outer connection. Connect with my unique passion and superpowers. Share these and use them for a greater good. Connect with others from a heart-centered place. Allow myself to be open, to be authentic and to share vulnerability. These are components of true connection.

I’m already connecting with a diverse group of people from different corners of the planet – many of whom have opened my eyes to ideas and possibilities that I never would have imagined a year ago. As a person who has the odd personality trait of being a shy extrovert, these connections both excite me and scare me. I often have to push myself to reach out and make a new connection. I’m always glad when I do.

To me, to connect also means to collaborate, and I envision the possibility of some life-changing collaboration. Dare I say world-changing? Maybe this year will just be the time to nurture some seeds of collaboration. Maybe more. Who knows?

Create

It’s time to set down that old, tired story that “I’m just not that creative.” It’s worn a pretty deep groove into my brain, but it ain’t doing a thing for me! On an intellectual level I understand that creativity comes in as many forms as creations. I don’t have to paint breathtaking paintings, sew a dress to rival a designer, or even draw an eye-pleasing mandala to be creative.

It’s not really about art and it’s not about craftiness (although I welcome each into my life and invite my inner critic to zip it on that particular topic.) It’s not even about writing a book (but of course it could be!) Create means so much more than any of these things. I’m read to embrace the creativity that resides inside of me, unleash it, and see where it takes me.

As a compass I use this word to create some tangible ‘things’ – pieces of writing, products, a business perhaps. But part of the creative process is to allow what is bubbling inside to unfurl, let loose, and be shared. To allow it to be a mystery for a time. The word create embraces these aspirations and intentions: transformation, focus, align, confidence and unfurl.

Three words. Yes, I like this way better than resolutions. Even if it did take me 30 days to come up with my three.

Don’t Wanna Be Well-Behaved No More!

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“Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”  – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

I’m loving the introspection that the  A Year With Myself Adventure Kit is inspiring.

Well, maybe ‘loving’ isn’t exactly the right word – these essays and exercises are stirring up some deep stuff. Sometimes, I read them and kind of shove it all into the back of my mind – after all there are so many other things to attend to.

But they hang out there percolating, brewing, a bubbling cauldron ready to bring forth new self knowledge and creativity in its own time.

Chapter 3 was about Rewriting Your Beautiful Story. I finally listened to the short meditation from Sara Blackthorne. I wandered deep into a forest of trees representing the stories of women. And I planted my own tree and story. As I sat, listening to her beautiful words, a ‘story’ I wrote long ago popped into my mind. It’s about my grandmother. Well, not really about her, it’s only partly her story.

Really, it’s about the stories passed down through the women in my family. This compelling mandate to always be polite, suck in what we really think and smile at all costs. Now I know this is by no means an uncommon story for women. Girls from all walks of life had this directive hammered into their brains for centuries. Serve. And Smile.

I happen to come from a family who believed in this because of the social costs. These were hoity toity country club people (how things can change in just a generation!). I chafe at this and I don’t want it to be my history, my background, but there it is.

As a young woman, my discomfort at the injustice of all this unearned privilege obscured the pain it also carried. Women’s dreams sacrificed for safety and survival. Young and arrogant, I still had no clue how lucky I was to be enjoying the freedom and choice that generations of feminists had fought for.

I just knew I didn’t feel like I was with my real tribe.  I removed myself from that sphere of influence as soon as I could. Fending my way on my own on the opposite coast, I thought I’d shucked away all those lies about how women should behave. No cocktail parties and false handshakes for this hippie!

It took many years for it to dawn on me that creating physical distance doesn’t take away those deeply embedded stories. It’s a bit more complicated than that. I might have been living in a counter culture world, but I was still a well-behaved woman. The mere idea of speaking truth when it could cause discomfort – to me or someone else – struck fear in my heart.

And sadly, it still does.

I wrote this essay back in 2005 about the legacy of the women in my family. It was an assignment for a course on Women in Literature, and an exercise in excavating the stories of my own family. I’d recently picked up a bumper sticker with the words from the quote above, “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” and resolved to make it my mantra.

Let’s see, that’s almost seven years ago. I’m more than a little disappointed to realize the minimal progress I’ve made toward becoming… less well-behaved. What holds me back?

Time to start misbehaving! What the hell am I waiting for?

If you want to read more about my personal legacy of being well-behaved, you can read that essay here. It’s a little rough, and I like to think I’ve at least refined my writing skills a bit since then – if not by behavior.It tells a story of some very unhappy (and quite well-behaved) women, and how that looked to me as a little girl.