Posts Tagged #trust30

Welcome to the Club

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you could picture your intuition as a person, what would he or she look like? If you sat down together for dinner, what is the first thing he or she would tell you? – Susan Piver

I have actually met my intuition. Or at the least the midwife to my intuition. Her name is Sharon and she has an uncanny knack of making me say the things that are true, no matter how scary or irrational or confusing they might seem. She’s seen and felt and heard so much, it’s impossible to surprise her. No matter how crazy, everything is held.

Sharon has a mother’s body, strength in soft folds, every inch loved for its purpose and its magic. Her confident gray hair, kept long and straight, grows naturally without the overstyling of products or scissors. Her grounding eyes reflect piercing kindness and tender insight. Even before words, her presence softens my own anxiety, straightens my gaze, and grounds me into what I already know to be true.

Today she would say, “I know that you’ve read that poem by Oriah Mountain Dream, that one that says ‘What if it truly doesn’t matter what you do but how you do whatever you do?….What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature- gentle, compassionate and capable of living fully and passionately present? …. What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?’”

And I would say, “Sometimes I read that and think it means I should stay right where I am, that unfolding is a stationary task, a rooted flower opening to the sun. That it is my job to accept what life has delivered to me, to make do with what is rather than chasing after what could be.”

Sharon smiles, “Unfolding is also sometimes like unfurling a sail and letting it catch the breeze to see where it takes you.”

I sigh resignedly, “And I’m the only one who knows when it’s time to take root and when it’s time to sail.”

Sharon’s deep belly laugh fills the restaurant, other people turn to see what’s so great about our conversation. “Welcome to the club where we start really being who we are! I have no idea where it will take you, but get ready for a seriously fun ride. And I promise you that the company on this ride is fan-fucking-tastic.”

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I’m participating in the #trust30 challenge to reflect on quotes and writing prompts from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance. I hope to develop more trust in my writing, more self reliance that what I write is worthwhile, even if just to me.

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The Post-It Question

Now that I’m settling in to San Francisco living, I am pondering one of life’s too-big questions: What am I here to do? What should I do here?

I have this belief that there’s a life out there where I get to only do those things I love. If I have to do a bit of crappy work, it’s clearly in service to a larger purpose that I’m dearly committed to. That there’s a magic job in which life will magically be filled with ease and rainbows and kittens frolicking in the sunlight.

But even people who do what they love sometimes have to swallow a frog. And even people who are great at asking for what they want – they don’t always get what they want.

It feels like I’m expecting some magic pill to swoop in and deliver a life of ease. It is so hard to break this mindset, as it’s pounded in to me daily by advertising that the way to make my life better is to buy something. Take something. Drink something. Buy something else that will make you sexy and irresistible. Just keep buying and you will eventually feel better.

So if the perfection of a job does not exist somewhere out there*- how do I evaluate what kind of job would fulfill me? Would make me feel of use, like I was contributing to making this world better?

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jenny Blake’s Post-It Question has been my favorite prompt so far. I have been daily looking at my post-it note where it is still pasted on the edge of my monitor: “How can I get paid to help people get past what’s blocking them?”

It’s been challenging for me to see how many people come to me for help to get past their blocks – friends, family, acquaintances – people realize that I’m good at this, so I become their go-to coach. And it’s hard for me to really complain about this being a challenge because I LOVE doing this. I love to hear their story – messy, emotional, confused – and tease out what’s important. To find the most emotional point where this person is being triggered, to make sure that part is heard and respected, and to start to brainstorm possible solutions.

I’d love to do this work all of the time. This is the challenge – right now, none of my work is directly about helping people get past what’s blocking them. And I’m always recommended to be a therapist – yet I’m not that interested in individualized solutions to feel like I could do that all day, every day. I’m curious to find ways to apply this in groups. Like I love group dynamics and thinking about how groups can get past their blocks. And I’m curious if I can better describe my process for getting past the blocks – so that it’s easier to train people to find their own solutions more quickly and easily than picking up the phone to call me.

*The Buddhist in me wants to remind myself that perfection is much more about what’s happening on the inside than the outside.

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I’m participating in the #trust30 challenge to reflect on quotes and writing prompts from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance. I hope to develop more trust in my writing, more self reliance that what I write is worthwhile, even if just to me.

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Minimum Living

I’m participating in the #trust30 challenge to reflect on quotes and writing prompts from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance. I hope to develop more trust in my writing, more self reliance that what I write is worthwhile, even if just to me.

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“Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.” – Jonathan Mead

I spent most of the day Saturday at TEDxSF at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Not a bad day’s work to be sitting in a room full of smart people listening to some brilliant TED-style talks. The day’s theme “ALIVE! Maximum Living as a Human” made me ask a lot of questions – what makes me feel alive? What squelches my aliveness, which I feel as this heavy, tired, foggy sensation in my body? What outright makes me grumpy, frustrated, and unhappy in my day to day life?

Since moving to San Francisco, it has been my ongoing question – what should I do here? There are so many opportunities, so many potentially interesting, engaging, and amazing things to be doing every night of the week. Which should I do? And more importantly, which longer term commitments should I make – to work, to community organizing, to community building, to personal development and education? The choices seem endless, and every attempt to choose one thing leads to a profound loss at all I will be missing out on.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

I love to be of use, but I also know that I get burnt out quickly if I’m not doing what makes me come alive. If I’m not doing work that gets me out of bed every morning, that makes me cry when I think of the difference I am making in this world. Social change work is too hard to also have the heaviness and lethargy of work that makes you feel a little more dead inside every time you show up.

“Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down.” – Matt Cheuvront

How do I know what makes me come alive? I know for me, time spent without purpose is critical to feeling in to what makes me come alive. I usually need quite a bit of it to get through all the jitters after coming down from the adrenaline high of being on all the time, but I know that when I finally have enough I start to feel in to what feels good in my body, what gets me excited, what makes me smile and get giddy and start plotting and call friends to get them involved too in the coolest thing ever.

So my bold, irrational pursuit? Do nothing. Take some serious time off, make space in my schedule for long uninterrupted stretches of nothingness. Pursue boredom, that empty yawning Grand Canyon that opens up before I can find that small speck of aliveness. As the brilliant Nina Wise said, in her  talk that hilariously summed up TEDxSF, “Perhaps instead of maximum living, what we need is minimum living.”

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One Strong Belief

I’m participating in the #trust30 challenge to reflect on quotes and writing prompts from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance. I hope to develop more trust in my writing, more self reliance that what I write is worthwhile, even if just to me.

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It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Buster Benson asks, “What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family?”

I believe that Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and lovingkindness hold the keys to transforming our world to be peaceful and just.

I have been fortunate to have amazing friends who share many of my political views and understandings of life. Right now, I have a set of friends working actively on creating a more just world, and a set of friends engaged in Buddhist meditation – but those circles have little overlap. Whatever circle I’m in, I have work to do to make my beliefs understood and I often feel like I’m on the edge of lecturing people about things they don’t really want to hear. Like when I had lunch with some Buddhist friends, and started breaking down the dynamics of sexual violence when our conversations meandered from living in France, to the sexual mores of France versus the US and how that relates to each country’s perception of DSK’s rapes of multiple women. Or when I’m with activist friends who cringe at training activities that get a little “woo” – especially if they slow things down and ask us to be mindful of the body. I’m overjoyed when I meet people who find interesting the overlap between social justice and meditation.

I chafe at Emerson’s love of the independence of solitude. As a community organizer, it goes against every cell of my being to just hang out with my solitary beliefs. If I find an idea compelling, I want to share it. Preferably not in a dogmatic way, but in a way where others can interact with it and tell me where it’s not quite right. And when it speaks to them clearly, I invite them in to my life as co-organizers, as friends, as family so we can work together to spread this idea, and change the world.

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