WEEKLY STRETCH – 7-28-17 ~ Attitude Shift

(I just love this photo and thought it a good one to post to welcome my birthday month, August.)

We are going to be moving again. I have mentioned that the woman who owns the house we live in will be selling it in the Spring, which means we are about to start sifting through our stuff again. We moved into this house two years ago January. It’s been a great transitional place for us to land and recharge. We took this time to heal and reflect on where we’ve been and envision where to go next. We’ve found a wonderful place not far from here and are excited about the prospect of living there.

What has been hovering in my consciousness is a double-edged sword of dread around the hard physical and emotional work of cleaning out, letting go, packing and unpacking juxtaposed with the wonderful feeling of lightness that comes with shedding excess, the prospect of living space that suits our lifestyle, and starting over with a sense of the fresh and new.

Chatting with my cousin Lana the other day I shared my conflicting feelings with her. She told me that she absolutely loves moving. I looked at her like she had two heads and asked her why. I loved her enthusiastic response. She shared how much she loves the idea of handling all of her “stuff” again. She loves touching things that are around her home that she ordinarily would take for granted. She enjoys taking time to remember where she was when this thing or that thing was purchased or received. She enjoys having time to hold these memories and feelings in her consciousness. For her it’s a gift, an opportunity, a great pleasure – to reflect on her life and the events and circumstances that brought these things into her life and the people and places associated with them. As she described her perspective on moving I noticed a peaceful faraway look in her eyes and could feel how sincere she was. I sort of shook my head and wondered what I might be missing.

So, I’ve taken Lana’s point of view to heart. I’ve decided to make the effort to shift my attitude about the upcoming move. I admit that this requires a good deal of consciousness since I am aware that my thoughts and responses thus far have been reinforced – by me. Up to now I’ve allowed myself to perpetuate the idea that moving is going to be a drudge, a bummer, a pain in the ass, (I could go on but that’s not really helpful). Instead I’m adopting Lana’s take on the whole thing, looking at my belongings with new eyes, and approaching the move with an embrace rather than “talk to the hand” resistance. I’m looking around my home assessing my stuff; thinking about what stays and what goes, what we should sell or give away, what is a treasure and what is no longer of service to us but could be of value to someone else. I’m realistic enough to know that some of these decisions may be difficult, especially when handling things that belonged to my parents or that I’ve been saving as memorabilia but only look at when I’m moving it from one place to another. Some of the boxes we have stored can be likened to Pandora’s, filled with things I haven’t seen for ages that, uncovered once again, suddenly becoming seductive valuables that I can’t imagine parting with but have no real meaning or value in my life now, or that bring up times and places I may want to leave behind. I’m preparing for those – steeling my resolve to make choices to finally let these things go.

The best part, and the most fun, is envisioning the space that will be made for the “new”. Clearing away the debris and residue of our life will give us the latitude and spaciousness to allow new things to come in that will enliven and beautify our new digs. I’m already “acting as if” when I browse magazines or stores that have furniture and décor that I’d like to purchase for us. I’m putting things on Pinterest, clipping pictures, taking snapshots, and choosing wall colors to help envision our new surroundings.

I’m so grateful to Lana for sharing her take on moving and giving me another way to approach it. Like so many things in our lives, it’s a day by day shift that I now welcome since I know the other side will be provide lightness and newness that will refresh our life and lead us to what is next.

More to come.

STRETCH: Look at your material things, things you treasure. Think about how they came into your life and remember – remember the time, the place, the people – remember the feelings and emotions – the season and the reason. Take a little time to appreciate it all.

Another Tango 12-8-16

Photo by Lysandro Trotta

In the process of creating something altogether new I find myself in unfamiliar territory and it is scaring the crap out of me. It’s amazing that at this stage of my life I am once again at a starting point which is rife with all the questions of worthiness and enoughness that seem to arise at a time like this. In artist-speak I’m looking at a blank canvas wondering if I have the right stuff to make a piece of art appear and I can feel myself shaking and quaking at the thought of failing. I keep asking myself, “When have I felt this way before?”. The answer, “Many times.” And I see each one of them percolate up from my memory banks into my consciousness so that I can review them and remember the terror.

Most vividly I recall my first day of seminary. By the end of that day I felt completely defeated and unworthy. I was quite certain that I’d made a mistake in judgement and who was I to think that I could be a minister. I feel that way right now – and who am I to be what I’m trying to be this time?

The massage therapist in me is aware of the gathering of tension right at the top of my shoulder blades then slithering its way up my cervical spine to make a nest just under my skull at the occipital area. I can feel the beginning of of a headache, you know the one that makes your head feel like it’s been blown up like a balloon and the pressure of all that air inside wanting to find a way out. In general I’m wound up like a tight spring and frankly it doesn’t feel great. All of this drama because my old friend, Miss Unworthy and her pal Lack of Confidence, have decided to stop by to remind me that they only went on vacation – they didn’t move out of town.

After a fitful night of sleep, still feeling uneasy about my new project, I asked for help. I allowed myself the luxury of being totally vulnerable and admitted that I need to find my center with this work if I’m to be be able to do it well and enjoy it. I feel that there IS a way, I just haven’t discovered it yet. The fallout from my night of anxiety and tension is the way my body feels. My neck is extremely tight and sore, my back and shoulders ache, and I have the obligatory headache that accompanies tight neck and shoulder muscles. I feel like I was in a bar brawl. And I guess to some degree I was. I was brawling with myself. I was fighting with my inner critic, the one who says “You’re not good enough to do this. You don’t have the skills. You should know how to do this. You are not going to succeed. You will let people down. You’re small.” This sort of unrelenting negative self-talk has been a nemesis of mine for many years. I have clocked many hours in the therapist’s chair working on it. I thought I had conquered most of it by now but here it is again. Me and my shadow doin’ that famous tango.

What the light of day has brought with it is the realization that I am indeed dancing with my shadow again, and I have had enough of this particular dance. I’ve reached an age where I feel like I’ve earned enough gold stars to be free from this sort of angst. And it’s because I CAN look back at times in my life when I’ve felt this way and can see how it all turned out. I am a great mother, I have taught myself a great many things and am proficient at them-without a college degree, I am a talented massage therapist and have helped many people heal themselves, I have been a successful minister and mentor not just formally but all of my life, I am an intuitive and a psychic and I trust my inner knowing, I CAN speak in front of people-coherently- and not die. This is a small fraction of my list of triumphs. And in every case I was sure I would be a flop, a big ole’ failure. Like the little engine that could, I think I can. In fact I know I can. I also know that I can find my center by asking the questions that need asking and by insisting on having the appropriate information and tools to do what I need to do so that the project will be successful and I can leave an imprint I will be proud of, all without feeling pressure and tension that make me ill.

Last night my fear of failing was getting the better of me. The self-imposed pressure was making me feel sick. I will not allow myself to feel that way again. I deserve better. My body deserves better. There are many stresses in life that are out of our control. I get that. This, however, isn’t one of them. I will find the information I need to move forward with my new project and I will once again see that I can do whatever I set my mind and heart to do – without long visits from old friends. In fact, I think they need to go on a much longer vacation, preferably very far away.



This is such a wonderful time of year for students all over the country! Graduation. Endings and beginnings. COMMENCEMENT. I’ve attended numerous commencement ceremonies as a dean at a seminary in New York City. And our director often talks about the word commencement The definition of this word is “a beginning or start”. Many of us think of commencement as an ending. Actually it is when we take what we’ve learned and step into life with new information, new wisdom and new discernment.

I have many people in my life approaching Commencement, one of them my own daughter Melissa whose commencement ceremony is tomorrow, honoring her receiving her Master’s Degree. Needless to say we are proud beyond belief. And one of my precious young friends Gemma is graduating high school this year. Both of these women make me proud and give me hope for our future. I see great things for and from both of them.

The energy of commencement makes me think about how I can view my own life from a place of new beginning or change. Of course change is always present, some of it unwelcome. Reflecting on the massive change in my own life in the last few years I realize that while some if it was, at the time, unwelcome, in retrospect it was all in my best interests and contributed to immense growth for which I am very grateful. So today, as so many people are about to step forward into the mystery of the future I take that same step, knowing that the gift of not knowing is at once exciting and a little scary…and making the decision to embrace the mystery with curiosity and hope.

For our grads I offer this beautiful blessing from one of my favorite writers:

May the light of your soul guide you
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

~ John O’Donohue

Congratulations 2016!!!!

STRETCH: Step out of the old and begin something new. Commence…begin…be brave…be curious. Celebrate your ability to make the choice to move forward with joy and anticipation.