Friday, September 7, 2018

Purpose of Instructions

I was facilitating a program this week and handed over an instruction sheet.
A participant waved the sheet in front of me and asked in a panic "Do I have to buy all of this?"
I said "Buy what?"
He again pointed to the sheet and using his six year old panic voice he squealed "All of this!"
By the way he was a forty year old executive in a great suit, but his ego and fear of the task wasn't.

The sheet he was waving between us was a set of guidelines to follow in order to achieve the task.
It was not a list of things to purchase, but in his head, he had decided what it was before reading.
He looked quite angry when I suggested just reading it.
I said it would really help him. He wasn't happy with that answer. He actually failed the task.

How human of us, to make these judgments and notions of what it is before we really do the research. How human of us to want to race in and get everything done, as though the Guinness Book of Records is watching with their hungry stop watch.

Yes it takes courage to embrace any change or new challenge, and oh how we love to be the super hero and dive right in to prove to ourselves and everyone else how bold and brave we are.
I am beginning to truly value the moments before the leap however.
When you can read the instruction card slowly.
When you can check in with yourself - is this what I want? What do I really need to set in place as my foundation so that I can explore and be present? What do I want? What do I need?

Last night I was confused as to why my front door wasn't opening.
It wasn't opening because I was pushing my car key fob at the door!
No matter how hard I pushed that fob, my front door wouldn't open.
No kidding Jayne, but my anxious head was busy in my to do list of what I needed to do once back
Panic zone, panic zone and only myself had put me into that - and miracle, and joy of joys, it's only me to get me out of that. So I stopped, reminding myself that I wasn't in charge of making the next moment in the world turn, it is capable of doing that itself.
All I needed to do was open the door to get inside.

It's OK to stop, break down your actions and don't forget to read the instructions.
It's all here to help us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rain in Ogunquit

This morning in Ogunquit, Maine it poured and poured with rain. It’s a summer day and expectations are high for beach, sunbathing and walking.
The small stores open with hopeful faces that people will visit between running to avoid the puddles - in fact a stream is traveling along Shore and Main Street.

By 4pm the rain has stopped and the clouds quickly roll away to reveal a bright blue sky and the sun beats down to dry everything and kiss the cold away with its warmth.

People again appear in the streets with their shorts and flip flops. Some go to the beach again with the reassurance that it’s summer as planned.

My observation is how quickly we re set. How plans are changed, option B replaces A and we face it all with the knowledge that we are ok and doing our best.

These changes described are only regarding the weather of course, though it shows to me the ability we have to adapt, accept and create a new plan. How our focus can be adjusted as swiftly as the umbrella is raised.

What a gift it was to see this beautiful little town seeped in sunshine and also washed with rain. It endured and flourishes - the flowers and grasses grateful for it all.

Perhaps we are far more capable of change than we realize and if we all notice that days will surprise us as much as the weather will change - then we can accept that and place our power in what to do in that very next moment. Not lingering in the what if and the piece that says - but I wanted to do that.

We are far more braver and creative than we realize. We can adapt and accept with grace and ease, perhaps even becoming aware of new thoughts and opportunities that our original plan may not have produced. We did after all, design the umbrella.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Better Days to Follow

I stood for a moment this morning and literally felt all energy and determined action spinning around me. Life moves so quickly and the most effective way to manage it is to stop and pause. Do nothing for a moment. Dare I say, allow some magic to do it's best within that moment. And by magic I mean your faith, your true power.
I swear there are things in action that we have no control over and that they are there to help us.

This post is for those who are going through grief and great change in some measure. Of a job, a loved one, an animal, a home. Whatever the loss, it has its whirlwind energy that can destruct and then, if allowed, it will redesign and build.

I did not believe someone when they told me three years ago that I would feel differently, and yet here I am, six years into my own grief and I do, feel differently.
For all the hard work and focus I brought to my situation, something empowered me late last year to embrace something new. For all the positive affirmations I say, the candles I light and the version of prayers I whisper, something took me by the hand and heart to lead me to the next part of my life.
One that is creating new possibilities, opportunities and new love.

I remember at my hardest point, thinking how on earth does grieving arrive at healing? How do I get there?
I'm here to state, that on top of all the hard work that you do, it is also important to stop and pause.
We have to learn to trust, and I truly believe, this may be the hardest part of our human experience.
To trust. To have faith. To believe that whatever is for our highest good will occur.

I am not ignoring the realism that life is hard and tragedy does hit. We are slammed with the tough stuff, a lot. Yet I do believe that support and comfort surrounds us. That we cry in order to arrive at hope and to see possible solutions. Sometimes the solution can only be the management of pain, and we have to accept that nothing can be perfect. I have never thought that being fulfilled and happy contains perfect. I would rather giggle through karaoke with great joy than attempt at perfect.
(Apologies to all my dear amazing singer friends!) I would rather read something with a spelling mistake that makes me think and lifts my spirit than wade through a heavy book of words I do not understand. (Apologies to all my dear amazing literary friends!)

For all those out there, aching with loss, because I know it is an overwhelming pain at times, please just stop. Just for a moment. Let it be. No analyzing it. No fighting it and no adding pace to it.
If your heart can feel this much weight, it can also give you the strength to move through.
It needs the space and freedom to do that.
No human being ever made a healthy decision through pain or anger.
And this is annoying because we want to read a map with solid instructions.
Step one: Take three pills a day with cider vinegar and spin round to face East once at midnight.
Nope! There is no step by step manual.

I am ashamed to say there was an important part of my life, where I said regularly, "I hate my life."
I recognize now it was because I was in so much fear about what was going on, and trust me, saying I hated my life, did absolutely nothing to help that situation. Far, far from it.
So if you are there, in that muddy, stuffy place where anger is constantly tap dancing on your shoulder - stop, pause. You have to. You deserve better. You'll never figure out that algebra problem by screaming at it.

There is only one way to approach it all, and it's the hardest, simplest, most powerful way to do anything and everything - love.

This is what I never understood, until I felt it, and I mean truly, authentically, honestly, hands all over myself felt it - that love will give you everything you need. And to get there - just stop, and give that love to you.
Completely, utterly, divinely to you - I promise you, better days to follow.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

August 1st as One Year

Yesterday, August 1st, marked one year since our dear friend Linda Pestana endured a traumatic fall.
Her entire life changed. From a healthy, hard working woman, she is now paralyzed from the neck down. She cannot do anything without assistance - and yet.................
Here is an incredible woman with the strongest spirit you will ever encounter.

Here is a woman who said that yesterday was about celebrating what we have.
I wrote to her and her amazing husband, Lou, about not looking back. That our responsibility is living in the moment, paying attention to what is around us, right now. There is a freedom in that. I use the word freedom with caution as I feed Linda, scratch her nose and brush her hair. I see what she goes through without truly knowing her total experience of it.

I guess, our past is about teaching us. It shows us what we want and what we do not want.
All of it deserves respect, even the difficult, sometimes traumatic events, as it shines a light on how fragile and how incredibly strong we are. That we all have that opportunity every moment to exceed what our minds think we can do. We are so very much more than that.

I taught a workshop myself this week and stressed how not to take short cuts. To dig deeper. Find the root of what is truly going on and solve that. Not the petty issues that complicate and weigh us down. It's all so simple when your mind and body are functioning well. Let's not wait until the real matters occur to be everything we truly can be. There are things to be learnt by looking back, but nothing to gain from playing the comparison game.

Linda is moving forward by seeing what she can share now from her new point of view.
From her heart, there are powerful days of gratitude and love. She calls it "learning the art of pain." She and Lou, shine and sweat from their hard work to thrive. They laugh and they cry. Every day she wakes and thinks, what now? And she does that with a purpose to make a difference. When they face the fear of when the wheelchair gets caught, when an infection spreads fiercely, when a cushion that brought comfort yesterday doesn't help today.
It is a constant adjustment and they do it like a ballet, not an aggressive fighting war march.
They approach it all with dignity and there is so much we can learn from that.

We have no idea of what this next year will bring - we do know though, that we embrace rather than push back and hide. Now that is a powerful way of living.

Excerpt from the new book from Linda Pestana:

Look at me as I look at you and together let’s shout I’m here and I’m important.
If I could ask you to do one thing, right now, could you point to yourself? Where did you point? So many of us, point to our heads, our noses, our stomachs, how many of us point to our hearts? Our hearts are where our story begins. That’s what keeps us knowing – we only know our story – no one else does. You have a mission and a purpose, please don’t wait until something happens to fulfill what you need to do as a human being on this earth.
Only love heals our hearts. Connect to that, the most genuine resource there is, and you will receive everything you need.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Making Room for Narnia

Tidying up my wardrobe this week, which included my Joan Crawford impression with the determined declaration of "No wire hangers!" I wondered when I ever thought bold stripes looked good on me and why so much orange? Be honest, dear friends, when have you seen me wearing orange?
Two large bags for the donation center later, I find myself within a pile of black tights and socks.
Take yourself back to the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Remember Richard Dreyfuss with his mountain of mashed potato? Well I have that, but with a tangle of socks and tights. So many and yes it is the cliche that none of them match. And yes I think - what does it matter, black is black and no one will notice. Until I remember the number of times I have been behind people at the security airport line and noticed how their socks do not match. No judgment, just observation and the secret, quiet joy that I'm perfect as my socks match, or do not have holes. Perhaps I will get a free upgrade because security will tell the pilot: "good pair of socks coming your way."

Then I play the clothing tennis game of donate versus keep versus burn before admitting I ever wore that. Should I really donate that blouse? I liked it once. Or the beloved attachment to the jeans that looked good for the first twenty years. I own clothing older than my passport and still expect it to look great.

HOWEVER - it is wonderfully liberating to tidy some things. Organize a drawer or two in order to make room for something new. That for once, I realize that I feel a brand new beginning without dread or the pull of guilt in letting go. That I recognize, suddenly, that me diving into the Narnia wardrobe mission is actually me making new room.

This is an important anniversary week for me. One that is full of love. My sadness is easing and being replaced with a deep respect and understanding of what we must experience if we are bold enough to truly live.

A happiness I once had and lost is also one that has allowed me to grow and smile again. How could I ever deny myself that experience when it flows through me so vibrantly to connect me to so very much?

I want to tell everyone that it is OK to continue to love. In fact, it is healthier. That the only thing I truly feel proud of is how hard I loved even when I knew it was all fading away. Perhaps that is my purpose, my gift, and now I live and smile to share that.
The important stuff is not hanging in our wardrobes. It is not what we wear or own. It is also not in our photographs, stories or memories.
It is not in what we leave behind - it is how we are standing right here, right now. What we dare to reach out toward and embrace. What we see as we look into another pair of eyes, and more importantly, what we see as we look into our own reflection.

It is within the moment in front of us. The now, the here, where everything lives. Where you find your courage, your answers, your needs. Pay attention. It's right there. It expands, wow, does it expand. Some things are not about struggle or endurance. Our brain tricks us to believe differently, but the truth is far beyond limitations or endings.
It is all eternal and it's magnificent, joyous and simply waiting for us to notice. Here is where you will find your authentic voice, the one that says no and the one that says yes.

It is a simple choice to understand that this is the time for the wonder and pure privilege of breathing and making room for more.

With love to David and all he taught me xxxxxxxxx 
January 9th 1954 to July 20th 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Lecture on Moving Forward

I am fifty one years old. Ever since I could talk I have complained, joked about and quite honestly, been viciously cruel to myself about what I looked like. My first word was diet. My second was cake.
I was mocked as a child, ridiculed at school through every development of myself. I've been hurt, used, ignored and taken for granted and I've then blamed myself for most of it. (What a waste of time!)

It stops now for two good reasons.

A dear friend has complimented me more than I have ever heard in my life.
This person who has looked at me, noticed that I have blue eyes, noticed the mark on my arm, noticed that the beauty of my soul shines through and how special that just may be. Noticed how close my heart is to always tumbling into every single area of my life - and that perhaps, just perhaps, that is worth being paid attention to.
Wow what a remarkable difference this makes. That I was told, I was proud to walk into that room with you. Bing, bing, bing, there's a first!

I am typing this while my dear friend Linda rests. We have worked a little on her book, then exhaustion arrives and rest needs to take over. From my seat next to her, I can see the blue of the sky, the calm of the water outside, she cannot move her head to take any of that in. It takes me a moment to gather my thoughts. It takes me a moment not to believe that the warmth & love I feel rushing through me could heal my dearest friend, she after all saved my life, it would be the natural thing to do.

So if I can't do that, the least I can do is to learn and grow and inspire.
I refuse to waste any more time on putting myself down or not on asking & finding what I want next.
I am healthy and have the privilege of being able to move, wipe my own tears away, hear words from another heart - damn - even hear another heart beat. I cannot waste any more time in not declaring what I want to do with my life.
I want to get words out there to help heal and inspire. We have important stories to share people, stand up and share your truth.

I talk a lot about privilege and I hope this post highlights what I actually mean by that.
The lesson here is not to listen to the clatter of peoples voices who themselves do not understand.
To not be the people who do that to others. To develop your self awareness to the skill of where it says I will not accept anything but everything that will be for the better of my life and that of others I choose to love and welcome into my life.

Where did hiding ever get any of us? Where did holding onto the past, good or bad, get any of us?
Keep moving forward.
Be the difference. Be extraordinary, not settling for ordinary.
Get yourself ready - for that opportunity, where you dance in joyous circles toward it, knowing that someone saw you and Saw All Of You.
For those of us who are capable of doing that - it is our duty to do that. How fortunate are we.

This is for our Linda Pestana. An incredible light in a very dark room.
(She just woke up and said what are you doing? I said changing lives.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Journey to New York

An interesting thing had happened last Sunday on my way to New York.
I was on a morning bus from Providence and in short, the man two rows behind me was not well.
When he boarded with his older friend, it was clear that the two were perhaps, eccentric, not on the same wave length as most of us or just still on the effects of alcohol and or drugs.

Long story short by two hours into the journey, the man, who claimed he was an ex marine, was slamming his head against the bathroom door, crying, trying to open the emergency exit door and screaming racial abuse at passengers. His threats to beat a man up, turned into "I will put bullets into his brain" and finally ending in "I will blow this bus up."

I have never felt so sad and scared at the same time as I literally cowered in my seat.
The police were excellent. The driver was excellent. The other passengers were excellent.
All I could imagine was how this set of circumstances may have escalated. How any one of the other people could have reacted and how that may have impacted this already tense and very troubled situation. What if he did have a gun? What if someone else did?

As someone who writes in her plays about mental illness because it interests me, I must admit I felt shame. What gives me the right to think I can share details in my work about such fragile human brains? What on earth do I know? Yes, I've seen some things, but do I really know and understand?

Like many, I was troubled about the news of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. The image he presented does not match the image he left us with, and like many, I again am reminded that you never know.

We are so deeply tender and are effected by so many things that spin around us. I watch the television news and feel bewildered not knowing whether something is good for us or not. I see people around me and I find I second guess whether I can trust them or not. And now we hear threats and actually wonder - could that be for real?

I guess this post is just another reminder that we all need to stop and breathe. Trauma is all around us, shown in a troubled face and shown in a confident, handsome one. Success is clearly not in the outer skin and our souls, brains, hearts, and our very beings are constantly needing care and attention.

Nobody is kidding when they suggest wearing a safety belt.