Daily Verse 11.20.20—Riding Thermals

Posted November 20th, 2020

I read this great passage the other day in The Enchanted Life by Sharon Blackie—so good it stopped me in my tracks. Someone was explaining to her the difference between gliding and riding as it relates to the sport of hang gliding. Anyone can glide, it seems. It’s a simple matter of letting the wings of the apparatus do their job, carrying you down to ground relatively quickly and safely. But, he said, “if you really want to fly for hours at a time, to explore the world of the birds, the mountains, and the clouds, you need nature’s help. You need a thermal.”

He explained the scary and tricky part of “catching a thermal”, finding one and then getting into it so that it could carry you up higher, and you can ride much longer. Apparently that’s the hardest part—navigating that hellish in-between roughness where you’re getting thrown about by this upwardly rising air current that isn’t easy to find and isn’t easy to  get into.

What if that is the invitation COVID is giving us—to be a thermal that will extend our ride on this great earth? What if this loud and scary disruption we’re experiencing in our “normal” blue sky day is a potential moment of great uplift if we can all get inside it and let it carry us upward. What if we’ve all been gliding down with gravity pulling us and calling that living, when we could really be flying higher and longer than we even dared to imagine possible?

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.19.20—No More Cruise Control

Posted November 19th, 2020

I feel unusually strong about not using the cruise control function while driving a car, and it’s a big bone of contention in our family. I don’t get it and no one gets me. I get the logic and the rationale behind it—how it is more fuel efficient and ensures you’re not speeding, but it all feels so….controlling to me. I want to be the driver of my car, not a passenger driven by a sophisticated computer. I don’t want to be consistent. I don’t want to have a governor on my speed. I don’t want to take my foot off the gas when I’m seeking to drive me and my people forward. I want to slow down and speed up at will, sometimes just to keep the ride interesting. I get a lot of eye-rolls and shrugs from my men folk when I state my reasonings (again) for wanting what I want, which makes me wonder if this “cruise control” thing is more than just about driving.

I can’t help but think this whole damn country has been on cruise control for way too long. So long we’ve forgotten we’re operating heavy machinery and that people’s lives are in our hands while we assume responsibility for driving. So long that many of us have fallen asleep at the wheel. So long that we’ve had way too many “how did I get here” episodes—you know the ones, where you arrive at a destination and can’t quite remember making the trip? Those moments in this “car” we’ve been driving have gotten us where we are.

We need to be lucid and stay awake as we drive right now. We need to keep our eyes on the road and our foot on the gas, ready to lay it down or let it up at a moment’s notice, with cat-like reflexes. We need to override the programmed computers that have been dictating our actions. You know what we really need in this country? To go off-roading a bit—to get off the beaten path and out of of dodge, discovery some new terrain and get a change of scenery. You can’t do that with cruise control on, no siree. So mine is staying off. Final answer.

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.18.20—Breaking The Seal

Posted November 18th, 2020

You know what my idea of hell is? Walking into a room where there is so much to be said but no one is saying it—where people are making small talk with saccharine smiles, but you can just sense the river of shit coursing through the room. Entering a room like that feels like trying to get onto a really crowded subway during the evening commute, only instead of people, it’s filled with unspoken words. It’s not good. It’s very, very bad. I am at my worst in those situations, saying things half-cocked, hoping something remotely relevant will collide with an unspoken truth and break the seal of silence on the room.

Another scenario I suck at is going into a gathering, like a funeral, where there is so much palpable grief, but no one is crying. People are clearly in pain and there is much suffering, but there is no visible release of it. I’m like the fucking wailing woman in that situation, and I start uncontrollably sobbing even if I don’t have a relationship with the person who died or the family who survived. It’s mortifying, but I can’t seem to hold it in.

These two examples are part of the reason I related so much to Greta Thunberg when she spoke at the World Economic Forum and said, “I don’t want your hope, I want you to panic. Because our house is on fire.” She was asking—begging, insisting, even—that people respond more appropriately to the crisis unfolding right in front of our eyes.

It feels like seal has been broken and all hell has broken loose as result right now, doesn’t it—good, bad and ugly? As a country, we are reckoning with much that has been left unsaid—or certainly unheard—for far too long. And many are grieving the loss of what we used to call “normal”. Everyone is talking at once, it seems, and there is much noise in the room. There are tears falling in frustration and pain and anger, as people come together in groups to console, to grieve, to rage and to support. It’s a hot mess, but then again, it’s our mess that has been here all along. We’ve just finally broke the seal that was holding it all in.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.17.20—Always Do Your Best Is Bullshit

Posted November 17th, 2020

I caught myself in a whopper of a lie to my kids not too long ago, and it resulted in me taking a good dose of my own medicine.

In our house, we talk a lot about not “mailing it in” when it comes to showing up to our responsibilities in life, be it commitments to school, work, or community. We believe in that, we do—show up fully, give what you’ve got, and contribute something. I talk a lot about Mrs. Rumphius to our boys, the character in that children’s book known as the “Lupine Lady” who was taught to travel, see the world, and leave it better than she found it.

Recently when I sensed one of my kids had just done the bare minimum on something to get it done and over, I said this in a sarcastic tone, eyebrow raised: “Well…did you do your best?” No, he hadn’t. He knew it. I knew it. Busted. Later that night, when I was walking the dog I thought about what complete bullshit that question was…did you do your best? One thing I know for sure—and talk to my clients about on a regular basis—is the benefit of lowering the bar on your own expectations, letting something be “good enough” and yes, even mailing it in from time to time. The reality is that we can’t—we just can’t—always do our best. We’d break ourselves trying, and many of us have. There is a time and a place for good enough, and if you ask me that strategy is not deployed with enough frequency (although COVID has certainly increased that capacity in us, am I right?)

So fuck it. I’ve put that question (Did you do your best?) in cold storage until further notice. I’m all about enough right now—maybe forever.

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.16.20—Tired Technology

Posted November 16th, 2020

I’ve decided I’m going to stop trying to understand what’s going on with technology, and let it just sort itself out. Hacking, malware, upgrades, bugs, fixes, hardware, software, modems, chargers, cables, battery power, memory problems, glitches, dropped signals….it’s just all so exhausting. And yet there is the pervasive sense we need it to function, like our breath or a liver. What does that say about us—that complete abdication of our power or agency when we come into contact with our machines designed to make us more “smart”?

For the past fifteen years of running my own business, I have often joked that the one thing that could get me back inside the corporate world is access to an IT department that would take care of all this shit for me. My strategy has been to just keep learning more, but that’s proving futile as it obviously keeps changing. So my new strategy is to not try and understand. My new strategy is to admit that I’m tired. My new strategy is to stop considering “what if…” worst case situations and to start imagining “even if…” scenarios. I am not defined by my ability to master technology. I’m putting down the expectation that I will ever understand or feel in control of something simply because it fits in the palm of my hand.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.15.20—Things I Didn’t Know

Posted November 15th, 2020

It’s true what they say, I think, about the longer you live, the more you realize you don’t know. I wouldn’t have believed that in my 20s. But then again, I thought I knew everything back then. There is a certain humility that comes with age that I have found to be quite liberating.

I’ve taken to keeping a list, actually, of everything I discover I don’t know, and it’s a sizable one, given that it’s only been six months. It was born out of the anti-racism work I’ve been doing with other white women in my community in my time at The Beach—throwing myself into racial literacy, understanding whiteness, and learning how systemic racism works and has been baked into the country we’ve become.

Having had twenty years of formal education (not including Kindergarten), I don’t consider myself a stupid person, even as I struggled mightily with standardized testing and how we measure smarts in our educational system. Most people know me to be a creative person, calling me an artist. Some know that I also love to geek out on behavioral science and theories of change. But few know that for many years, history (or should I say “history”) was my favorite subject, and even my major in college for a couple of years. But in the last six months, I have been gobsmacked by the list of things I didn’t know about our past in this country—which is decidedly different than the history we are taught. Things like Tulsa, Juneteenth, Roseland, Respectability Politics, Shirley Chisholm, The Red Summer, Angela Davis, The Great Nadir, Eugenics, Corbin, “Race Science”, ALEC, The Colonial Project, CCA, Code Switching, Food Deserts, Assata Shakur, Sandra Bland, and weaponized discomfort.

The more I acknowledge how little I actually know about this country—how it was built and how it currently operates—the more I am inspired to learn. But this time I’m learning from people of color, primarily the stories and experiences of Black women—to get the truth I didn’t get in school. When I liberate my mind from the confines of what it has been taught, I feel like I’m a part of making history, not repeating it.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.14.20—Nature’s Clock

Posted November 14th, 2020

I recently spent some time on a coastal island in Maine. It was off-season, mid-week, and nothing fancy. I got the impression I was the only one who didn’t live full-time on the island, and I felt more like a quiet observer than a tourist as a result. This was the sort of island whose economy naturally centered on the tides and ocean around it. I watched the fishing boats head out into the early morning fog, with traps being set, checked, and hauled. It seemed like hard and solitary work, but when I thought about it a bit more, I realized the reverence these people had for the sea—her fickle moods, her every-changing channels, and her power to both create and weather constant storms—was their constant companion.

Having married a potato farmer’s son from Northern Maine whose parents scraped a living from the soil year after year, I had heard stories about working with the rhythms of nature to appreciate how hard it can be. And having lived in Maine for over twenty-five years and visited island communities like this before, this wasn’t an entirely new revelation about working in concert with the natural world.

But something about 2020 has radically altered my relationship to time, it seems—it feels disorienting, uncertain and not reliable, like one of those cartoon clocks where the dials spin around and around senselessly. Unlike the soil and the seasons of the earth that my husband’s family relied upon, my time on the island reminded me of the water that surrounds and shapes our land, and how her clock cannot be contained or managed by us, no matter how hard we try. The water will always find her way forward and down, in her own way, in her own time. It’s her nature. Maybe someday soon our oceans will help us to remember just how fluid the nature of time is. And we will be the wiser for it, taking her lead.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.13.20—The Golden Buddha

Posted November 13th, 2020

There is this story I always reach for when I feel like I’m not enough. Apparently years ago, a team of art historians were brought in to restore this massive Buddha statue. While they were trying to transport it to an indoor location, it cracked. Unable to determine the extent of the damage in the rain, they put a tarp over it to protect it and returned the next day to look at it more closely in the sun. What they discovered was that there was something bright reflecting from inside the crack. Upon a closer examination, they soon learned the Buddha was, in fact, solid gold. It was believed the golden Buddha had been encased in a mixture of mud, dung and straw in order to disguise its value during wartime or to discourage theft. The team that had been hired to restore this ancient relic, soon learned its real work was to pick away the shit that had been covering the gold.

I think about that story a lot—how much effort we exert “keep up the shit” that masks our real beauty and our true value. And how sometimes what’s needed is not to preserve something, but to crack it open to see what lives inside it that we might have long-since forgotten about.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.12.20—Quiet Magic

Posted November 12th, 2020

It’s a fair statement, I think, that I’m a relatively loud person. No one I know would dispute that fact. But when I heard the phrase “quiet magic” used today, something in my soul piqued, like finding the first of a series of breadcrumbs that led down a wooded trail. I was watching a video of Lee Harris do an energy update for the month of November and when he mentioned those two words together—quiet and magic—it was like a pebble go thrown into the center of a lake that lived in my body, and all I could do was watch the concentric circles it created grow wider and wider.

Magic is a word that I have used a lot in my life—especially in the last five years—so it’s no stranger to me. But I’m realizing that I’ve attached a lot of electricity to that word, suggesting that it carries a powerful charge with it, capable of igniting (telling that this is the title of my second book…), illumination or even a jolt of a shock. Said in this way, it feels like magic is something to be used wisely, responsibly, and with a great deal of intention.

But quiet magic? Lee said quiet magic is everywhere—especially in nature—and believes it to be anything that focuses you and your energy. I heard this as “grounding”. I’m curious how my experience of practicing magic will expand when I allow it to quietly (and privately) ground me instead of asking it to loudly (and publicly) ignite me with electricity. I imagine I will feel like copper, always conducting, but also earthed.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.11.20 — Time to Pray

Posted November 11th, 2020

For years I have wanted to find a way to pray on a daily basis. I wanted it to be simple. I wanted it to be me. I wanted it to be something I would reach for like my toothbrush, to scrub off the plaque on my soul and let my spirit shine through me more freely. I wanted to be that person that was that devoted to a spiritual practice, and yet something in me feared I just wasn’t. I tried just about every tool I knew—writing, a daily reflection reading, lighting a candle, playing the same song, sitting on a meditation cushion, dancing everyday, prayer beads, breath beads, mantras, rituals, you name it. I loved them all. Maybe that was my problem—I couldn’t choose just one.

I think something in me eventually gave up trying to be someone I’m not. And that’s when I noticed something magical happening. My eyes kept catching repetitions of 1s throughout my day—without even trying or looking for them. I would climb into bed and notice it was 11:11. I would wake up in the middle of the night and see it was 1:11. A new client lead would send me an email to connect and I’d notice the time stamp was 11:11. I would get a particularly magical text from a client or a friend and notice it came in exactly at 1:11. I uploaded the final manuscript for my second book exactly at 11:11 at night. And did I mention I was born on November 1st? 11.1. Prayer, it seemed, had found how to do me—in fact, given the date I came into this world, a case could be made for me being a living prayer. So I started to say yes to it, trusting I didn’t need to overthink it, complicate it or make it happen. I just needed to notice it and let it happen.

So if you are ever in my presence and you see me notice those ones, you will see me pause quite suddenly—maybe even mid-sentence— and pray that moment, closing my eyes, planting my feet wide, and reaching my hands, palms open, face lifted to the sky. That is my living prayer.

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.