A Recipe for Change

Change comes whether we’re ready or not. Sometimes she’s a sly gypsy cat who slips in through the backdoor; we may not notice her until she’s dug up the flower bed or rearranged the laundry into her sleeping quarters. Other times, she’s a mountain lion, leaping from the rock and pinning us to the ground with one swift bat of a paw, just as we’ve rounded the bend and made peace with the distance we have yet to go.

I have a complicated relationship with change. I’m both enamored with her ability to catalyze growth and fearful of her tests of faith. Nonetheless, I’ve always counted on her to arrive just on time when I need her the most, despite my resistance.

Ah, the resistance. That dance we do to try and keep everything at a “perfect” status quo; a delicate balance of comfort and facts – holding fast onto the things we think we know are for certain. Many a time in the past few months, I’ve had to give up the known and barter it for the unknown (which has actually turned out to be much more nutritive to my soul).

And so I’ve been thinking, as multiple areas of my life are currently rearranging themselves, about a recipe for change. You know, like instructions and ingredients with the promise of something edible at the end.

Here’s what I’ve got…

Change: A Recipe

1 part denial

3 parts truth

at least 3 reliable, wise friends

phone calls, lots of phone calls for processing

2 week’s worth of imagining outcomes

4 days of setting goals and intentions

45 days of taking action

a minimum of 12 days of rest and rejuvenation

a bounty of self-care practices (this can include ice cream and/or wine consumption, bolting out of town for a brief escape, yoga class, walks in the park and if available, hugging someone you love)

two handfuls of perseverance and grit

an alarm clock

1 part trust

2 parts surrender

at least a few hours of sleep a night, preferably 5-6 (although now is not the time to worry if your cortisol levels are conveniently interfering with your average Z-schedule…just let it go, and carry on. You will survive.)

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and stir gradually. Add a sizable pinch of humor, followed by an adult beverage of your choice. As change begins to work its magic on your life, accept the unavoidable emotions as they show up: fear, excitement, anxiety, elation, sadness and doubt. Keep reaching out to friends and loved ones. Notice the plot, the villains, the heroes and the scene, but avoid building narratives in your head about what might, will or could happen. It hasn’t happened yet, and there’s no sure way to predict the future. (This is okay, despite your nervous system’s opinion otherwise.) Keep putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on the actions you can take today. Never give up. Trust that this change will ultimately nourish you, and that the new skills and strengths you are learning in the process will serve a purpose.

Repeat this phrase “There’s got to be a way through this.” Then start believing it.

faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Growing Pains of Growing Up

I wonder about a lot of things many minutes, most days. But most often I wonder, how do people grow?

So far it has taken me…

time
patience
humility
rejection
heartbreak
laughter
love
spirit
surrender
loss
wisdom
friends
losing myself
hugs
poetry
nature
leaving home
solitude
travel
finding myself
dancing
tears
reading
insecurity
facing fear
taking risks
falling down
failing
letting go
forgiving

And I still feel – no, I know – I have so far to go. Sometimes it’s overwhelming.

“Turning on yourself is betraying what made you.” -Sabrina Ward Harrison

Yet it feels so easy to do
especially when
life doesn’t show up the way we imagined it would be or feel or taste

sometimes it’s bitter sweet.
sometimes it requires us to step it up.
most times, it asks us to relax
loosen up
lighten the load.
love a little deeper.
laugh a bit more.

well, maybe not all life events appear to say that on the surface, but the heart of something bigger and wiser does! If you listen, you can hear it as a whisper in the trees when the wind blows, and see it as a kiss of peach in the clouds when the sun sets, and feel it as a soft hand patting yours, years of experience decorated by wrinkles, saying “you’re doing just fine.”

and i know it’s a shame to worry all the way through the days. it feels like a crime to wrestle with thoughts when you really want to just be here.
breathing
awake
present
living

a moment of surrender

a moment of surrender

but i’m beginning to think this worrying is just part of being human.

and maybe the ache of questions unanswered
and the sting of inadequacy
are too.

lately, I’ve been realizing that if nothing else, a life well-lived is a life that asks us to be more loving…to learn to love ourselves and others more wholly.

why does that feel like such a tremendously difficult task?
because it isn’t meant to happen overnight.
this is what a life can be spent discovering and practicing again and again.

it isn’t easy work, but it’s the only work, and it calls to us through many forms, in every language on the planet.

“It is alright. This. Right here. This mess…these anxious questions. Doubts. Answers and waiting. This is just as it is. Right now; taking me on my way. Don’t run. We all suffer. There will be understanding sooner than you think and later than you expected.” -Sabrina Ward Harrison

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Close Your Eyes And Dance

Although I’m dancing in a room full of people on a hardwood floor, I’m really alone, my toes gripping carpet as I twirl around and around, arms outstretched. I’m a little girl, wearing pink spandex shorts and a tank top, my pixie haircut grazing the arc of my ears. Sunlight cascades in golden beams from the skylight, dappled by tree boughs. It warms my face as I dance free, swinging arms and lengthy legs in awkward unison. I’m all elbows and knees. But I don’t care. I’m humming along and my eyes are closed. If I can’t see anyone, then no one can see me.

My parents’ 45 spins on the record player in the living room. I crank up the volume.

Ee-e-e-um-um-a-weh

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle, the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh

I wiggle my hips and bob my head. I stamp my toes. I reach my hands to the sky and sing aloud with the chorus.

Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

I move like the spirit’s in me. And it is. And it always was. And that’s what I realized tonight in my 27-year-old body still wiggling and dipping to the beat, pretending like no one else is in the room.

When the song ends and another begins, I open my eyes. I see a room full of bodies moving joyfully. Every dancer is unique. Each movement is flavored with emotion and a personal story. The music liberates us all a little deeper and the air vibrates with aliveness.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see that living room again, the place that was my dance stage during all those early years, but what moves me to dance doesn’t rely on a place, or age, or any other condition.

The same goes for you. You can bring the playful, carefree dancer in you wherever you go, and through whatever circumstances life has you face. Whenever music draws up in you some fiery passion that commands your soul to express itself, that’s the dancer. It can always be accessed, and it doesn’t grow old. Even though the way you move might change over time, the essence of dance is an act of surrender. It only requires that you let go (elbows, knees, warts and all) and let yourself express what’s inside.

Just remember, if you start to feel shy, close your eyes! Works every time.