In speaking with a group of people recently I was sharing some of what’s been happening in my life – the delights, and the challenges. Part of their response was  appreciating my acknowledging the challenges, those areas where I was feeling stretched. Their appreciation was tinged with a sense of relief; in my acknowledgement, they had the sense I was closer to their experience.

I’m thankful for that. I want to be known and loved for the whole of who I am, not someone who is distant and apart, but a flesh and blood human. Ivory towers don’t do it for me! There’s something about the intensity – the messiness and grittyness of being human – that to me feels enlivening.

John Savage, one of my first teachers, always said “We cannot not tell our story.” What’s true for me is that almost every time I write these eNews articles I’m not just writing about theoretical ideas, I’m sharing something that’s touched or challenged me recently. The last eNews was a particularly potent example of that, so I today I thought I’d share with you the story behind that story.

What do you hear when you pause and listen? …

I share this to let you in on what was happening in me that triggered the writing of that eNews. I also share as a way of inviting you to listen differently – in a way more deeply – to both yourself and others.

At the end of a coaching call this week someone said to me “I’d never in a million years have thought we’d have gotten here from where we started. What made the difference was your saying let’s pause for a moment and listen to who wants to speak here. And then I didn’t discount what those voices inside me had to say, even when at first it felt irrelevant.”

That kind of listening is critical, and I’ve been doing a lot of it for myself over this last while after returning from a wonderful, but for me physically gruelling, 10 day trip to Canada. Three cities, four different beds, four days of long drives, and a packed agenda on every day – juggling available time to connect with precious people I don’t often get to see, supporting my daugher in yet another inter-city move, and at the same time trying to fit in some work. Even though I really wanted to do everything on my to-do list, I chose to say “no” to some of them, and that felt uncomfortable – the feeling of disappointing people (including myself) isn’t an easy one for me.

Growing up, something I used to both distance me from the pain I was feeling, and source my sense of value, was doing everything I could to make sure those around me were happy. I became very skilled at that, and if I’m not paying attention, especially when it’s things I really want to do, it’s still easy for me to get caught up in checking things off the list without paying attention to the impact this is having on me. And the feeling of being stretched or stressed making choices I know are disappointing for others is an easy way for my old fear of scarcity (you fill in the blank – of value, friends, money, opportunities) to be triggered.

I’m with Glennon Melton who says in this short video that’s a promo for her new book Love Warrior, “Maybe we can change our idea of progress. Maybe progress isn’t linear. Maybe we don’t travel in straight lines from bad to good, grief to joy, failure to success. Human progress is circular, like climbing a spiral staircase.”

Every Day is a Beginning Again ...
Every Day is a Beginning Again …

As the days after returning home passed, I tried to catch up on the backlog of stuff there was – and I don’t just mean piles of laundry! I realized I wasn’t recovering from feeling exhausted as quickly as I expected. And so I paused to sit and listen to what was going on inside.

I discovered I needed to create a longer pause period. For a week I took extra time to attend to me – and once I listened, I was prepared to let you know I’d not be writing that second eNews of August, I also said “no” to a number of things and people, including clients, which gave me yet another chance to look at the fears that were driving me here. I was definitely on another round of that spiral staircase.

Glennon knows, I know, and I suspect if you’re reading this, even if you don’t know how, you can feel in your bones the deep truth of these words from a powerful post on her blog just weeks before her book was released, “You can be shattered and then you can put yourself back together piece by piece.” And over time you realize “you are now a different shape, a different size. This sort of change – the change that occurs when you sit inside your own pain – it’s revolutionary.”

In those days as I sat quietly listening to my inner emotional turmoil (what parts of me were calling for attention, what were they feeling, what were they needing?) I came across the story of Sister Madonna Buder.

The gifts of really listening – deeply …

Her clear and powerful capacity to engage in the unexpected, to choose what’s true for her, saying “yes” or  “no” whatever ideas others might have about what she should or shouldn’t be doing, was inspiring. This reminded me of William Ury’s book The Power of a Positive No. I’ve never met either of them, but they became part of my community, reminding and helping me anchor even more deeply things I knew to be true, but was having a hard time living from (I first typed ‘loving’ from – that’s probably even more deeply true!)

As I’ve listened deeply over the last few weeks, not only did I get to travel another circle of that spiral staircase, becoming more grounded in my deeper “yes” and commitment to honour my knowing, but to my surprise, the topic of that last eNews became clear. The writing about what I was living, and sharing things that were life-giving flowed easily. In this eNews you’re hearing more of the story behind that story, as well as some of the resources I’m engaging with now.

During this time of quiet inner listening, I’ve replenished my physical reserves using the Standard Process 21-day purification program, something I’ve been doing annually for the last several years. But I’ve also recognized the need to block off time to care for me more consistently. I’m practicing some new habits, and honouring my humanity when (still in the process of making them part of me) I’m not as successful as my high expectations of myself often try to demand. I’m choosing to not check email (on my computer or phone!) after 10:00 pm, and I’ve started a new exercise program that feels good for my body. Importantly, though I’m still figuring out how to fit these into my daily life, they also feel sustainable.

A month after our trip I’m feeling renewed energy, and am back at work weaving together threads of a new intro program that I’ll be sharing more about in the coming weeks. But in this moment what I’m most aware of is a deep appreciation for the practices I engage that made all the difference in the way I was able to meet and live with this exhaustion. They opened the way for me to be present to something that while definitely uncomfortable, and at first seemed like a ‘failure’ or a ‘bad’ thing, has made me a woman who is more clear, stronger, and with a greater capacity to meet the moments before me with powerful, authentic presence.

I’ve used this experience (and I intend to hold every experience life brings me) as  invitation, as gift – even when I don’t yet know how to unwrap or use it. As Glennon says:

“I was called to be faithful to truth and vulnerability and to YOU. I never promised anybody I’d get it all right; I promised I’d keep showing up forever. Today. Whether I’m in the valley or on the mountaintop.”

This is the way we work and walk, cry and crawl, have fun and fly together here in the Realizing RICH Relationships community, and if you feel drawn here our doors are open. In whatever way feels true for you, do join us.

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!