Like smelling coffee beans after having evaluated one too many colognes, I need a reset in my day after tackling several related things. For me that reset often comes in the form of picking up a book of poetry or verse. Why verse? I think it's because it requires me to slow down and focus in an entirely different way.
Making that switch from thinking one way to thinking another is like a mini-massage for my mind. My brain literally loves it. I come away from those pages renewed and ready to tackle the rest of my day.
Sometimes the poetry book I pick up is one that was given to me by my brother, Douglass Guy, a poet in his own right, several years ago.
The inscription from him read:
For the courage it takes to walk in your shoes, I offer the steps of another.
Since receiving the book it has always been sentimentally close at hand. Even thru a major round of downsizing precipitated by a relocation and the giving away of 3/4th of our home library, this book, remains with me.
The book is a collection of prose poetry by Mary Oliver who passed away today.
My first thought when I heard of Mary Oliver's passing, wasn't of her Pulitzer Prize or her volume of works or even of loss, a topic she had always dealt with with such honesty. It was of gratitude. For my brother and for her. Her themes were so often about gratitude. And I felt gratitude for the many times over the years, that her turn of phrase delighted me.
I have often been comforted by the way she marveled at the capacity we have to be humans and to be both humble and resilient in our humanity.
There are two excepts from her work that I have nearly memorized over the years. The first is from her poem “Messenger”. I included only a brief excerpt above but I’ll include a link to the entire poem at the end and invite you to take a few moments to breathe it in.
The second is from her poem, “Heavy”, which I always think of in three parts, though it is not really written that way. The second 'part' always resonates with me.
In my feeble attempt to help you to see it the way I see it, I’ve played with the font of the text a bit, but otherwise it is presented as she intended. I invite you, if a bit of a brain shift is needed in your day, to take a moment to breathe this in, perhaps twice, and see if it provides the mini-vacation for you, that it does for me.
Rest in Peace, Mary and thank you.
Heavy, By Mary Oliver
I thought I could not
Go any closer to grief
I went closer,
And I did not die.
Surely God had His hand in this,
As well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
And my laughter,
As the poet said,
Was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry
But how you carry it-
Books, bricks, grief-
It’s all in the way
You embrace it, balance it, carry it
When you cannot, and would not,
Put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?
Have you heard
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?
How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
to which there is no reply?
- Mary Oliver, 1935-2019
Let us all be brave and bring our talent to the world. When we do so we are all lifted.
By Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird-
Equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
Keep my mind on what matters,
Which is my work,
Which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoincing, since all the ingredients are there,
Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a hear
And these body-clothes,
A mouth with which to give shouts of joy
To the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
Telling them all, over and over, how it is
That we live forever.
Rooting for your home team in a foreign land can be.. well..deflating. This was cemented for me after moving into the DC area from NYC recently. We were attending a WWT tennis match between the NY Empires and the Washington DC Kastles, when it became immediately clear that in a packed stadium in DC, only myself, my daughter, and the coach were rooting for the New York team.
The home court advantage has never been more clearly observed. I and the coach yelled and clapped til the end, even as the hope of victory slipped further and further from the teams grasp. My teenage daughter is strong, but surrounded by DC cheerleaders, mascots and roaring fans, she fell silent and even asked me to calm down a time or two.
Fast Forward to this week. Our daughter, yes the same one, surprised us with tickets to a Mets Game against the Orioles at Camden Yard. I was looking forward to seeing our Mets play and yet the memory of being a one woman cheering section was still so fresh in my mind.
And yet, as we began walking toward the stadium amongst the wave of Orange shirts we saw wonderful flecks of royal blue jerseys. We acknowledged each other with smiles and nods and I was encouraged but not yet comforted. It was a big stadium after all. Would we be scattered and ineffectual?
We made it to our seats and I looked around. I thought my heart would explode with joy. Though my homesick eyes may have played a trick on me, It looked to me as if everyone left of home plate was wearing blue. As if every Met Fan that day had bought tickets behind the Mets dugout and were united in purpose: To cheer for their home team, who were away from home and needed their support.
The first time the Mets got on base and we all roared together, I got goosebumps and for a moment I felt they were cheering for us as well. We too were also far from home and that day those devoted Mets fans brought a slice of NYC to us and for the first time since we moved I felt not only happy and comfortable, because I am both these things, but I also felt... home. Home amongst my fellow Met Fans once again and 'root root root'ing for our home team.
This reminded me of the importance of not letting a less than perfect situation today prevent me from continuing to follow through on my goals and work to create a better situation tomorrow.
It reminded me that sometimes the world can be very loud and there is danger of letting it drown out our own seemingly lone voice and the struggle can feel very confidence-shatteringly real.
It reminded me that, while sometimes it is necessary to go it alone, that going it alone is not the goal. Support is wonderful and success means more when it’s shared with others
It reminds me that even those things that may not look like a ‘win’ to the rest of the world, the experience alone can mean a world of progress and growth for you.
It reminds me that my life is not about confetti cannoned celebrations, though those are fun too, it is about my personal growth and progress. It’s about what I learn along the way and how I use what I learn to raise myself and lift the others around me.
We didn’t win that night. In fact, we lost 6-3, but it was a wonderful night. It filled a need I didn’t even realize I had: It was as if our family had been teleported back to Shea and back to our home town. (okay okay Citi-field, but you know what I mean!) Thank you fellow Met Fans. It was good to be among you and I can’t wait to share a stadium with you again, wherever you may roam to support an amazing team and it’s transplanted fans! Thanks for the reminders and for the memories.
I’d love to hear from you.
What part of this resonated the most with you and why? What can you do to turn that insight into action right now?
#homesick, #NYMets, #Baseball, #Fans, #NYC, #WashingtonKastles #NewYorkEmpires #Tennis #home #Goals #stress #Baltimore #Orioles #CitiField #
When your days are spent wrangling three active children into their respective car seats by day and writing about feelings by night some interesting analogies emerge.
"UNCERTAINTY MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR LUMINARIES AND LEADERS, CREATIVE GIANTS AND BUSINESS PEOPLE TO STAND OUT AND RESHAPE THEIR PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPES.”
Paper tiger is a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu (紙老虎). The term refers to something that seems threatening but is ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge. (Source: Wikipedia)
I love the insight that Viola Davis gives here.
Note: The Specific comment begins at 19: 11 seconds into this panel discussion and goes til 23:10 I've cued it up for you but if your media player doesn't support cues then go to the 19 minute mark and listen from there. -D.
At some point in our timeline, we gradually begin to take over the molding and shaping of our own lives.
Sometimes, however, we believe that by making excuses or blaming others, we can deny that we are in control of certain areas of our life until ‘all issues’ are resolved in that area.
Some of us crossed that line of responsibility for our own lives long ago and are just afraid to fully put our hands to the work. Maybe because it just feels so messy.
I tried recently to think of one creative process that we as human beings engage in that wasn’t messy at some level and I couldn’t think of any.
I invite you to lay claim to that part of your life that is messy and become a fearless creator and shaper. See the possibilities and opportunities that exist because you exist and shape yourself into the type of person, mother, friend, companion you want to be.
What happens to clay if it’s not worked? It becomes brittle and cracks under heaviness instead of being pliable and adaptable when there is change – and there is always change.
If you feel like you’re ready to get your hands dirty but don’t know how or where to start, and don’t want to go it alone consider working with a life coach. Creation is messy but the results of pushing your life and growth forward are profound. Live the life your soul intended.
When I first met my husband-to-be, we connected. We laughed and talked, we ‘clicked’ had a lot in common and seemed to enjoy each other’s differences. Then we got engaged, and everything changed.
I changed everything.
I began to focus on what I thought I should bring to a marriage and what a fiance/husband’s responsibilities should be and then I began the mental list of all the ways both of us were deficient in these things and I began to imagine my entire future as if it was all happening in a moment. In short, I got scared and when we are in a state of fear, our instincts kick in and we either ‘fight or take flight’ and I did plenty of both throughout the course of our engagement. We were still connecting but not in a way that either of us was really thrilled about.
At the time, I couldn’t see that my fear was simply an affirmation that I was stepping out of my comfort zone and entering new territory, that I was expanding my experience of humanity and all that mumbo-jumbo. All I could feel was fear. I knew how to ‘do’ dating and I really liked that part. But marriage?!? I had no frame of reference I didn’t see it as a glorious adventure. My parents were divorced, my best friend, recently married, was struggling and was not the mentor I had anticipated. I was terrified.
I’ll spare you the temper tantrums and the stewing, they are such faded memories now, but I will say it took a while for us to reconnect in a way that we were both thrilled about again and getting to that point took work in the form of some very specific steps on my part.
The most important shift for me was to see how innocent he was in this whole thing. He was just being a guy in love who wanted to get married and I was turning it into a redemption song for every failed relationship I had ever experienced, read about or watched in a movie. He was bringing flowers and I wanted guarantees that if I married him my life wouldn’t play out like “The War of the Roses” or the worst-case sequence from “My Fair Lady”.. (I can see her now, “Mrs. Freddy Einsford-Hill,” in a wretched little flat above a store).
I had to learn to share my point of view about what I was looking for in a marriage and be open to his having a different point of view, and then from those two points of views we put together a plan that worked for both of us and didn’t worry about what it looked like to the rest of the world. . I knew this logically but my fear had me believing that If I asked about his point of view I might get an answer I didn’t want to hear and then I’d have to call off the wedding or be married to someone who didn’t want what I wanted, completely forgetting that the reason that we liked each other so much in the first place was that on the important stuff, we clicked. Fear can make you lose all sense of reason. It was a revelation to me to find that not only was his list of expectations for himself as a husband very different from my list of expectations of him as a husband but that I also kind of liked his list better. We don’t think the same but we have learned to put aside our fears so we can think together.
We’ll be married 25 years in May and even with all that goes on in our life, we stay connected, and the more connected we stay the more it feels like we’re still dating and I really like that part.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Today I challenge you, to see innocence. How do you do that? Fortunately, we start by seeing our own innocence. When I became willing to admit that on any given day I was just doing the best I could with the skills I had, I then realized that if that was true for me, then wasn’t it probably true for everyone else as well -including my husband. He was simply doing the best he knew to do with the skills he had. Realizing that was huge for me. It allowed me,, as Rhonda Britten says, to ‘give myself a break, without letting myself off the hook’. It enables me to be okay with where I was at the moment and open to learning the skills I needed to move my life and my love forward. As I gave myself a break and saw my own innocence. I began to have more compassion for others and see their innocence as well. As I became more compassionate, I became a ‘safer’ person for others to share with me (read: my husband began to see that he could talk to me and I wouldn’t take his head off.). As more people were able to share with me, I felt more connected to my world, to my family, to my husband. I felt more peaceful. I felt joy.
I challenge you to see your own innocence.
Situation & Question
Out of fear, I hid that my divorce wasn’t final from my boyfriend. When he found out he said he could never trust me again. We've been together for three years. When we have an argument, and I want to share my feelings, he says he doesn’t want a lecture or can't believe me anyway, and just wants to smooth the whole thing over and forget about it.
But I feel as if, he’s using my initial omission early in our relationship as a way out of ever hearing about my feelings on any topic. Even though, I’ve apologized, for and been honest with him about everything since that time, and he says he forgives me, he continues to bring it up.
So after our last argument, when he, again, wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say I left him. He wants to reconcile and he's been nice and wants to smooth things over again. Maybe give us another chance even though he's still not willing to hear what I have to say regarding our last argument. What do you think?
Deborah Says: When people use your past to control you, they are manipulating you.
He could have chosen to truly forgive you, see that you’ve changed your ways, and appreciated that quality in you and never brought it up again, or he could have said “lying to me is a deal breaker, I’m out.” But he did neither and now continues to use your initial deception as leverage whenever he doesn't want to listen.
If he is still unwilling to experience you as an equal partner in the relationship by listening to you, regardless of what excuse he wants to use to get out of it, if you don't feel you have a voice in the relationship, especially when things get heated, then Its not a healthy relationship.
Beyond that, you’ve learned that lying about anything is never the answer. If it took this situation for you to learn that lesson, then so be it.
When it comes to being honest, you also need to be honest with yourself. As you go forward, ask yourself if you feel, on some level, you need or depend on drama in a relationship to feel connected to the man you are with. If this is true, this can spell trouble for you and another potential companion.
If you are truly ready to go forward, and avoid this unhealthy cycle of arguing, not being listened to, forgiving and reconciling only to have it happen over and over again, then I invite you to use the next six months to prove it to yourself:
If you can do these things for at least six months, you will prove you are ready to walk away from drama and prepare yourself to be part of an emotionally healthy, long-term relationship.
Keep in touch!
Fearless and Warm Regards,
Raise Ourselves Insider Group (ROI Goup), and Raise Ourselves Coaching Group (ROCk Group) and Raise Ourselves Coaching Kit (ROCKit) are all intellectual Property of Crossing Bridges Life Coaching and Deborah Guy.
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