Thursday, February 24, 2011

Drafty Window

"Other people's pain is the wind on our house(s)." -- Betsy Pearson

The favorite room in my home is my studio and office. It is painted a brilliant color that brightens my day every time I see it. The walls are adorned with art and artifacts I've intentionally collected and each piece holds significant meaning. My studio is a place I can get messy, play and also work very hard. It's a place of comfort and rest, so it's ironic that it also encompasses one of my least favorite things - a drafty window.

Pondering this window with a friend, it came to represent a powerful metaphor in my life. The window has its special qualities which make it hard to replace. It folds gently in the middle thus allowing fresh air to pour in during the warm months while also buffering the wind which can be too chilly in this Northwest climate. There is a certain amount of protection and control from the climate. In the winter, however, the North wind blows stridently and seeps through the broken seals. Even as I wrap myself in cozy quilts, the air is chilled and impacts my warm heart. It's like the whole world is coming in through the cracks and there isn't enough heat to warm us all. It is the blessing and curse of having a heart broken wide open. There is a crack in everything that's how the pain gets in. Sometimes there is enough warmth and compassion. Other times the draft chills me to the bone.

• Step outside and feel the air on your skin
• Imagine each breath of air contains someone's pain and another's joy
• Breathe deeply and experience the connection with the whole world
• With your out-breath, send a warm blanket of love, joy and compassion into the Universe

Friday, February 18, 2011

More Anne Lamott...

"Asking for something is risky: I might be refused. But if I don't even ask, I'll never hear "yes." - Karen Casey

If you're one of the three people I know who hasn't heard me talk about my meeting with Anne Lamott, then this post is for you. My wild story began with placing Lamott's image on a vision board - here - which was followed up by an experience of actually meeting her in person - here.

This post is about the power of setting an intention and asking for what we really want. Last week I submitted my article to Spiritual Directors International re: the time with Anne Lamott. When I heard back from the editor, she said she loved the piece and would like to use it in their May publication. May seemed like such a long way off and my essential self said, "I want more... now"!! So... I asked. Long story short - they printed the article yesterday on their blogsite and will run it again in their May publication. I am thrilled and so proud of myself for having the courage to ask for what I desired. Remember - if you don't ask, you can't receive YES!!

Where does your heart long for more? Is it possible all you need to do is ask?

I hope you'll click on over to the SDI site and read my post there. Please say, YES.

comfy couch by lucy

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clear Your Windshield

Under ideal circumstances, my morning meditation leads to setting an intention for the day. A few days ago the words "clean and clear" popped into my mind. As I pondered their meaning, I recalled the previous morning when I arrived at my car only to find a hard frost covering the windshield. Being in a hurry to get to yoga, I was frustrated and didn't have time to properly scrape the windows. (Rushing and frustrated to yoga?!?!? I know. I know...) Using my Seattle Art Museum membership card as a not-very-effective tool, I managed to clear just enough space to peek out the windshield. It was still dark outside and the space was narrow, so I was on high alert as my body crouched tightly the entire way to class. Anxiety was my companion, because I didn't know when a bike, car or pedestrian might cross my dimly lit path. It was quite uncomfortable yet I pressed on because I was in a rush. I managed to arrive at my destination without incident, but the way certainly wasn't very "clean and clear."

Isn't this just like life? When we're not clean and clear with ourselves (i.e. when we ignore our feelings or circumstances), we jump or startle when something comes out of the dark and/or live life curled up inside ourselves. How much better would it be to have a clear windshield and less obstructed vision? Doesn't clean and clear sound more satisfying than crouched and constricted? The obstacles don't necessarily go away, but with clean space we have increased opportunity to see clearly.

Where does your windshield need a little more clearing? Want some help getting clean with your personal intentions? I'd love to lend a hand (or an ear). Check this out...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Meeting Anne Lamott - or Do you Believe in Magic Pt. 2

"It's not convenient to be a seeker. You may look a little nutty." -- Anne Lamott

I believe. I believe in God, magic, and a universe that comes together in indescribable ways. I believe in my power to make things happen and I understand I have control over nothing - absolutely nothing. I believe each and every moment in time has the opportunity to be life-changing. They are all worthy of being placed in the mosaic of our life. Some pieces just shine a little brighter, but even within those chards are miniscule elements forming to create the whole.

Saturday was one of those shining moments for me. When did the elements begin to form? As my wise son offered, "Mom, who knows how or why things aligned like they did, but they did." Yep, they sure did. Magic happened. God showed up. The universe did its thing and I met one of the greatest writing inspirations in my life, Anne Lamott. Holy Cow! I seriously met her, as in was introduced, sat down, held hands and prayed together MET! Over 1,000 people in attendance at Seattle University's "Search for Meaning" event and I (only I) had a private conference with her. How the heck did that happen?!?!?

The series of seemingly uneventful happenings could fill pages. In a nutshell, it went something like this: somewhere between my envisioning, I invited a friend to go with me, we ran into her friend who happened to be getting coffee for Anne, when I offhandedly mentioned my article, and the next thing I knew, the keynote speech was ending and my friend and I were being ushered backstage like rock star groupies. "You'll have just a few moments with her, because she's really not seeing any press today." "I'm not press," my panicked self sputtered. OMG, my inner critic started yammering "Fraud! Fraud! You're a Fraud!" My essential self got me into this mess by following my heart and then my social self took over. Be perfect. Intelligent. You have to make the most of this time. She's more important than you. They're going to know you're a fraud. And with all of those words, my brilliant and calm self vanished into thin air until I sat there sputtering like a bumbling fool. Finally I said, "I think I just need to breathe." In that moment, I remembered why I admire Anne Lamott as she offered me grace by taking my shaking hands and said, "Let's pray. Would that be ok?"

Yes, I believe in God, magic, and moments when I know there is a power greater than I. Period.

Stay tuned for more wisdom from this day and my article for Spiritual Directors International coming soon.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Do you believe in magic?

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a sh*tty first draft." -- Anne Lamott

I’ve carried around a picture of author Anne Lamott for nearly two years. It's been tucked in my image folder - waiting. I’ve also been in love with Lamott's style ever since I heard the concept of writing the “sh*tty first draft.” Her words have motivated me out of many a creative slump and encouraged me to check my perfection at the door and thus put things out into the universe I never would have dreamed possible.

But, what does this have to do with magic? Well… I’m currently enrolled in an enrichment course and in the class we’re visioning what our ideal future looks like. For me, it’s all about feeling versus fact. Things like freedom, creativity, joy, play, spirituality, connection, curiosity & spontaneity – my absolute favorite things! In creating a vision board, I intuitively gathered images to capture my feelings and placed them on the mandala. Lamott’s picture is the perfect reminder for me to Keep Writing! So, on she went. (Check out 3:00-ish on the board).

What's so magic about that you may ask? Well... less than 48 hours after completing the board, I got a phone call from Liz Ellman, the director of Spiritual Directors International, inviting me to attend Seattle U's “Search for Meaning” and subsequently author a piece covering the keynote speakers… Drum roll, please. Anne Lamott and Tarik Ramadan. I nearly fell out of my chair!!!

Of course I’m going and the visioning continues in my mind. I now see myself at the event chatting it up with Ms. Lamott (actually, she’s invited me to call her Anne.) When I introduce myself she intuitively knows I’m special and a part of her tribe. She hands me her card and says, “Call me anytime.” Or better yet, “I’m alone here in town. Could you grab a bite after this? I’d love to hear more about your work and your “Sam”. Oh yea, I’m cool, calm, collected and oh so very excited. She loves the idea of my new book, “Pondering with Presence” and hopes we’ll stay in contact. {pinch pinch}

The magic continued when yesterday on our class group call, the instructor randomly made a reference to none other than dear Ms. Lamott. We weren't even talking about writing! So, this post is my confessional and 2nd vision board. Methinks, I’ll go for broke and print it out. Perhaps when I hand her my copy of bird by bird for autograph, I’ll slip her the letter along with my business card. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? Arrest? Psychiatric commitment? She tosses it in the trash? Public humiliation? She’s not a nice person? (I think that would be the worst!) Perhaps she’ll at least admire my bravado and be just a little curious about whether or not we belong to the same tribe ☺. Do you think she believes in magic?

Ok… Time to wake up from dreamland and get on with the tasks of the day. Who knows what will happen next? I believe in magic. Do you?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Celebrate St. Brigid

Today is the feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare. I can feel her flame burning in my heart and the warmth of my dear friend’s embrace as we stand on the holy ground of Brigid’s well. St. Brigid of fire and water, you are a kindred spirit kindling the flame. My flame of passion and fire burn strong. A passion for life and living it to the fullest - not just watching the days go by, but truly embracing them.

Certainly there are times when my flame simmers rather than blazes. A time of tending in the night as when the Celtic women put their fire to rest – minding the fire so it could and would be rekindled at the break of day. How do I tend my fire? Today with an early rising – allowing time and space. (A fire needs space to breathe, or it suffocates when the wood is packed too closely.) A hot shower and steaming coffee warm me inside and out. The lamp’s glow illuminates my surroundings. And in my heart, I hold warm memories of standing at Kildare with the spirit of dear St. Brigid.

“May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine upon you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come and warm himself/herself at it, and also a friend. And may the light shine out of the eyes of you, like a candle set in the windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.” --Irish Blessing

Peace be with you on this feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare. May the fire in your own heart be illumined and warmed today and always.

© St. Brigid - 2009