Category Archives: Change Cycle

Now What? We Die. Then We Rise.

www.livingviriditas.orgNow what?

We got walloped. Many of us are grieving. Many of us are worried and afraid. Many of us are angry. Most of us are all three. Some of us can barely function.

Friends, we’re being invited into the holy cycle of death and rebirth. Dying and rising again is written in our DNA and embedded in the structure of our world. Dying and rising again is the Way of the Cross.

These times are inviting us to grow up and become stronger, luminous, loving beings we can’t presently imagine.

But only if we do the work.

We are resilient. We can do this. We can die and we can rise.

This is what faith looks like. This is what Jesus did.

I think dying and rising again will look like this, for me. If this roadmap is helpful for you, I’m glad.

1. Be terribly sad. Be heartbroken. Be angry. Feel the feelings, but don’t get too attached to them. Take the time you need, but don’t wallow.

Fear is different than sadness or anger. Please don’t give in to the fear. Fear of the future is useless and disempowering. Recognize fear, and then bring your attention back to the reality of this present moment. Avoid spinning in fear and worry. Have compassion for people stuck in fear and worry, going down that rabbit hole. Help them if you can, and then get out. Sit down, focus on your body and your breath, and let your heart tell you what comes next.

2. When it’s time to rise, rise up. When it’s time, as Mary Oliver says, “Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also, like the diligent leaves.” You don’t have to get over yourself, and you’re not overreacting or being a bad loser. Take the time you need to heal. Do what you need to do to feel stronger. When you feel like you can, please get back in the arena. When it’s time to rise up, rise up.

3. Choose positive goals and words. We can only achieve positive things. We can’t accomplish a negative, because there’s nothing there. Stop, close your eyes, and say these phrases: “No hate.” “Be kind.” Which one feels more peaceful and powerful? I’m betting it was “Be kind.” Be clear on what you want. Let go of what you don’t want. Dream big. Dream outrageously.

4. Pick one area of focus. “Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality,” to quote Seth Godin. Let your passion be your guide. If we all do this, we’ll cover the bases. I’m picking the environment, specifically climate issues and public lands. Be clear on both your line in the sand, and what you want to accomplish. I’ll chain myself to a tree if I have to. I’ll go to jail if necessary, to keep Oregon’s public lands protected.

5. Be part of supportive communities. As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Now, more than ever. Your community might be church. It might be wisdom circles, or neighborhood potlucks, or running groups.

6. Practice excellent self-care. Stay connected to your Source. Pray, meditate, take long walks, cherish your body, make music, whatever it is for you that keeps your spirit strong.

My friends, we are love warriors.

We can do this thing.

I’m Leaving the Cult of Perfection

I took a walk alongwabi sabi Buddha the Deschutes River early this morning and thought about perfection. I evidently have a belief that if I’m not perfect something bad will happen. I won’t be loved, or someone will hurt me, or I’ll be laughed at. I know I’m not alone in this belief. Many of us are card-carrying members of the cult of perfection.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about stability as I develop a coaching program for women who are navigating change. Especially for those of us in midlife, the changes we’re experiencing tend to be associated with losses. We yearn for stability and comfort, and feel flawed because they’re elusive.

The cults of perfection and stability are intimately linked. They’re also profoundly misogynistic, rooted in a patriarchal, mechanistic, linear belief system that denigrates women’s bodies and the cyclical nature of life on earth. When we believe that our job as humans is to figure out how to get life right, and then spend all our energy keeping what we’ve built from changing and falling apart, we’re worshiping at the altars of stability and perfection.

While I was walking, I did The Work on this thought. (See Byron Katie’s website for a refresher on the four questions and turnarounds.)

I know that I think this thought is true. I know how much this thought keeps me playing safe and on alert, constantly scoping for what’s wrong. It keeps me small and judgmental of myself and others. Believing that I have to be perfect causes me stress that I feel in my body as anxiety and tension. This thought hurts.

When I drop the belief that I have to be perfect, I feel free and light. I’m generous with my work and my ideas and my creativity. I’m open about how I feel and what I think. I’m generous with other people and accept them as they are. Living is fun.

The obvious turnaround for “I have to be perfect” is “I have to be imperfect.” But “imperfect” is not a loving, positive word. Its English synonyms, according to Roget’s Thesaurus, are “deficient, defective, faulty, unsound, cracked, warped, frail, gimcrack, tottering, decrepit, rickety, battered, worn out, threadbare, seedy, worm-eaten, used up, decayed, mutilated.” See what I mean about the cult of perfection?? There is no English word that expresses “imperfection” positively.

So I looked beyond English to the Japanese, who thankfully do have such a word: “wabi-sabi.” Wabi-sabi is the Japanese conception of beauty as “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” A rickety tea house, a roughly-glazed vase, a gnarly tree in the garden – all wabi-sabi and all beautiful because they are flawed, transient, and unfinished.

“I have to be wabi-sabi.” Yes. That’s most decidedly true. I have to be wabi-sabi because I am flawed, transient, and unfinished. What choice do I have but to be wabi-sabi?  Sure, I could keep trying to be perfect, but I’d rather be a card-carrying member of the wabi-sabi cult. Here’s to us, people of wabi-sabi!

I’m looking for women to test-drive my new program focused on change and loss. If you’re interested, please contact me.

as always, I offer free hour-long conversations to help you achieve peace and clarity, whatever’s going on. Contact me using the form below.

Life is change. Change is life.

Fechange_sign1eling buffeted by change? This post is for you! Read on for some insights and concrete practices that will help you be in change more peacefully.

When my mom was dying over the summer of 1995, my supervisor, an older woman, told me that in the first few decades of our lives, change is usually experienced as positive: birthdays, graduations, beginning a career, establishing families and independent households… These are all exciting, longed-for changes. As we move into midlife, change starts to more often feel like loss: a job loss, a scary diagnosis, deaths of parents and spouses, moving, kids leaving home, aging… These changes, even though sometimes eagerly anticipated, feel painful. And they accumulate. We get tired of feeling like there’s no stability and life’s out of control.

Some “comforting” truths about change:

To be alive is to change. The cycle of death and rebirth is embedded in creation. Look around you! Spring is springing after a long winter.

All change is a loss of some sort, even changes we choose and anticipate. Therefore they hurt, and grief must be felt.

Change follows a predictable pattern. Death of the old must happen before new life can be born.

Acceptance and leaning in is the only way through death to the other side, where new life awaits. Resistance is futile. Addictions, distractions, and denial delay the new life that wants to come, and we can easily get stuck in them.

Our bodies and our souls are our peaceful center. While you and I are alive, we have our bodies. Our connection to the Ground of Being, which is our soul, evidently endures beyond death. Practices that nurture and strengthen our mind’s awareness of our bodies and our soul’s connection to Source help us walk our change journey peacefully.

Some practices to strengthen our body awareness:

  • Work hard. Get sweaty and tired and dirty.
  • Go outside. Feel the sun and wind and rain.
  • Practice yoga or tai chi. Walk or run. Any form of body-aware exercise will do.
  • Find a piece of ground that feels good and go there consistently and frequently.
  • Pay conscious attention to your body, toe to scalp.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Forego alcohol and other distracting habits, for now.

Some practices to strengthen our soul’s connection to the Ground of Being:

  • Pray honestly. Tell God how you feel and what you want.
  • Engage in ritual, first thing in the morning and throughout the day.
  • Say “thank you” frequently — to yourself, to others, and to the Universe.
  • Meditate. Pay attention to your breath moving in and out.
  • Eliminate distractions. Keep a Sabbath day.

Change is life. Life is change. How do you stay peaceful in the midst of change?

If you’re feeling pushed around by change and loss, I can help. Contact me to schedule a complimentary one-hour clarity conversation. I’d love to talk with you!

Photo credit: www.jamesaltucher.com

 

Life: Kon-Tiki vs Waterworld

Thor Heyerdahl's Kon_Tiki, 1947

Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon_Tiki, 1947

Professionals in the moving biz don’t call it “moving” anymore. They call it “relocation,” like you can just get picked up from point A and put down at point B with none of the associated dizzying messiness and having to work to stay over your feet.

I have a lot of uncertainty these days. I don’t know what the hell is happening on so many fronts.

I felt a little more peaceful when I envisioned my life as a raft, like the Kon-Tiki upon which Thor Heyerdahl floated from South America to Polynesia in 1947. If I just stay on the raft, keep hoisting the metaphorical sails and don’t fall off into the ocean, I will eventually reach dry, stable, predictable land again. It’s just a matter of time and patience. And waiting.

But what if my raft is a flawed metaphor? The raft encourages passivity and resistance to the current state of affairs. The raft encourages just waiting it out rather than engagement.

What if there’s no such thing as stable predictable land anymore, if there ever was? What if the only thing that lasts really is impermanence?

What if what I need to do is learn to live on the damn boat?

What if it’s Waterworld, not the Kon-tiki??

Friends, I’m going with Waterworld, because that metaphor opens up my heart and frees me up. But not the bleak post-apocalyptic version. If you’re in Waterworld with me, let’s make it full of Joy, and Beauty, and Communion, and Love in so much abundance! Our Waterworld is an ocean-based love-fest, where we work and sing and dance and make art and take care of each other and keep each other warm and dry and thriving. It’s Waterworld, with grace and healing everywhere, for all.

Unraveling

Baby held in big hands, Anne GeddesWe’re moving to Bend, Oregon. It’s been nine years since Jed and I moved from a suburb of Chicago to the mountain-nestled cultural and recreational mecca of Ashland, Oregon. I love Ashland. And we’re only moving to Bend. Bend is just four hours away and similar to Ashland in many respects. But, we’re still moving.

Because I know about linguistic epistemology, I understand that the words and metaphors I choose will largely determine my experience. So I suspected that labeling moving as a “long tunnel of chaos” was a bad idea. Other options were “tearing down a house” and the commonly used “uprooting.” Both of those felt too violent. I’ve settled on “unraveling” as a metaphor for this move. I’ve knitted a life here that I like in many ways. I feel more connected to the Rogue Valley than any place I’ve lived since marrying a minister who moves. Unraveling feels peaceful, so I’m going with that.

Unraveling also meshes well with the concept of the “Change Cycle,” a foundational life-coaching concept articulated by life coach Martha Beck. Martha uses the metaphor of a butterfly undergoing metamorphosis to teach the four-phase Change Cycle. Square One requires death and dissolving and letting go of life as we currently know it. Squares Two, Three, and Four are phases of reconstituting and rebirth. We get thrown into Square One, usually kicking and screaming, by life events such as marriages, births, illnesses, deaths, divorces, graduations, promotions or demotions, and moves. Even if we chose them.

Obviously, I am squarely in Square One.

I have historically been lousy at Square One. I much prefer the dreaming and scheming of Square Two and the planning and follow-through of Square Three. I have little experience of Square Four, “The Promised Land,” where Square Two dreams and Square Three plans have evolved into smoothly functioning systems. (Until another inevitable Square One event comes along aaaaannnddd Here We Go AGAIN!) The only way to achieve healthy, vibrant, “all systems go” rebirth is to completely die. (See this blog post for more on this topic.) Like most of us, I tend to frantically grasp at anything that promises to avoid the dismantling that Square One requires. I short circuit the dying part. This time, I won’t let that happen.

Here’s why this time will be different: I’ve learned some really helpful stuff I didn’t know nine years ago. Life coach training, grad school, and the Camino have taught me a few things. I know that my thoughts create my perceptions, feelings, and experiences. I know how to catch thoughts, then question and change them. I know how to let feelings move through me without attaching to them. I know about the importance of commitment. I know how to keep moving through the messy middle muddles, between the exciting clarity of beginning and the satisfaction of completion.

The most important thing that I know now that I didn’t know last time through Square One: I am deeply held and loved by Being/Source/God. That knowledge makes letting go possible. When I envision unraveling, underneath the fear and anxiety I feel peaceful and trusting. At the heart of the pile of yarn that is my life, I am cradled in Love’s hands. And all is well.

photo credit: anne geddes