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I see you

I wrote this on November 20th 2011 as a guest post for (the now-closed) Roots of She by Jenn Gibson.

Every last syllable remains as true now as it was then...so I haven't changed a single one.

Oh, how I love the timeless endurance of truth.

You too?

Yes.

I see you

I see you.

I see your compassion and am in awe of your capacity.

I see your light, even as you seek the solace of shadow.

I see your calloused hands that are soft and yielding as you massage your aging mother’s feet.

I see the scars on your heart from the times it broke and am fiercely proud that you can still love. Fiercely.

I see your struggle and adore your ability to find ease.

I see the choices you are making and how they honour your vision.

I see where you are going. You may want to consider bringing your oxygen mask.

I see your desire to be held for who you are. Just as you are.

I see what wants to be released from your life. It starts with “No, but thanks for asking”.

I see your contradictions. They’re emerging as a rich tapestry.

I see your eyes well up when the bagpipes play.

I see your reluctance. I see you as a reluctant leader. Oh yes.

I see how your presence lights the room. Mega-wattly.

I see you heal. And how you do it.

I see your belief in your intentions.

I see you dance in the space between your vulnerability and your truth.

I see your curves and marvel at your lusciousness.

I see what is busting to get out of your chest and into the world. It’s been caged for far too long.

I see your timid bodaciousness.

I see your tap root of respect.

I see the doubt. I see the fear. I see the fearful doubt and the doubtful fear. And yet…

I see your deep desire to do more. For everyone.

I see the joy in your impeccability. And I see the beauty in your hot mess.

I see your epic struggle with impatience. (You are gaining ground.)

I see you holding doors open for everyone, no matter how closed the doors can feel to you.

I see the undulations IN and the unfolding OF your story. And it quenches my thirst.

I see you.

This isn’t the post I thought I’d be writing, but it’s what I needed to write. On joy and grief. On awakenings. On wholeness.

It’s been quite the summer. In truth, I’ve re-written that first sentence about ten times.Because, really, what else can you call a summer that’s been rich with ice cream and travel and joyous moments AND rife with pain and suffering and suicides and murders and righteous rebellions evenifitsnothappeningtomeoranyoneinmyimmediatelife?

Quite the summer.

You know how when someone dies, we first grapple with the “right words” to say, feel like we fall flat, and follow up with an impulse to share a casserole? I feel like that here. Like, I’m not entirely sure what the “right words” are, so I’ll serve you a sandwich.

A well-made sandwich is an act of devotion, so here’s my sandwich for you, for me, for us.

The bread of joy (or, where I’ve been)

I am celebrating a wonderful road trip with my family to the East Coast. Three thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three kilometers later, and we’re still talking. Lobsters, tides, old friends, new friends, wild blueberries, seals, porpoises, whales, walking the ocean floor, clam digging, thunderstorms, oysters, campfire chats, beaches, music, reverie and unforgettable colours.

I am also celebrating having had some of the most delightful conversations ever in my years of doing this blessed work:

I’m also celebrating that fact that the clinical psychologist who co-coined the term "Impostor Complex" back in 1978, Pauline Clance, has recommended me (ME!) for an interview about the IC that she isn't able to do. Dream come true, really. I’m pushing past the lies of the Impostor Complex that have oh so much to say about why I’m not the right person for the job. Because I AM the right person for the job.

The meat of suffering (or, what I’ve been avoiding)

I so deeply want to end the post right there. With my joys and celebrations in the hopes that they lift you up. That they continue to lift me up.

Yes, yes. I want this post to be resplendent with waning summer softness and ease. As the cicadas serenade the setting sun, and the crisp mornings herald the dawn of autumn, this is a gorgeous time of réveil …an awakening from the somnolence of summer.

But with our Twitter streams filled with distress, suicide, murder, pain, suffering and inequity we don’t know where to put our own grief. Contributing to the conversation feels….opportunistic. Not our story. Not our challenge. Not our cross to bear.

When we don’t have the “right words”, we say nothing. Or precious little. We are afraid that if we don’t fully, completely, wholly understand something, then we oughtn’t say a thing, because if we do say something, even from a place of compassion and desire for understanding and peace, we will be called out.

I haven’t had the “right words” to speak of losing Robin Williams. Not here, not on social media, not with my daughter who held my hand as I became unhinged with sadness as we watched Night at the Museum 2, having forgotten that Williams played Teddy Roosevelt. Particularly when he uttered the phrase: The key to happiness is doing what you love.

I haven’t had the “right words” to speak of Ferguson. (But this is starting to guide my way). I haven’t had the “right words” for what I’ve been feeling into so deeply. But it’s time to risk impeccability and elegance and crash the woods with my humanness (as my soul sister Julie says) and declare:

That it is time to reconnect our bodies, hearts and minds with our world and speak out against the suffering around us.

That it is time we choose, on a daily basis, how we want to be together, towards each other, towards ourselves, towards our earth.

That it is time that we stop pressing the snooze button of the ‘way it is’ and wake up. And stay awake.

That it is time to say what needs to be said. That we think and feel and express and share and ask and give and receive from a place of love, kindness and compassion.

Your pain is my pain. Your joy is my joy. I may not hold it with grace the way I want to hold it, but I will hold it. I promise you that. Can you try to do the same?

The bread of joy (or, where I’m going next)

I’ve known for some time that I was about to write a book. I’ve had it on the back burner behind the other pots that have been boiling over. But then, this happened, as I shared on Facebook:

On the long and scenic drive towards home, we listened to music and didn't say much. All lost in our own thoughts. My mind kept playing out what's next in my business, chewing over options and vetting my excitement level. 

Imagine my surprise when the border guard in Vermont glanced up from my passport, looked me straight in the eye and asked me when my book would be out. 

Okay Angels, I'm on it.

I am excited. In fact, I am elated. I cannot contain the joy that I feel in the knowledge that the 40,000 unpolished words that currently sit in a Scrivener file will some day in the not too distant future come together in harmony and form THE book.

How can I feel such profound joy in the midst of the sorrow that is also true?

I believe that our natural setpoint IS wholeness. That we cannot successfully bifurcate our joy from our pains, any more than we can bifurcate our heads from our hearts (though we try, oh, how we try).

So yes. I believe in angels. I believe in border guards. I believe in the capacity of humans to do incredible things. I believe in you. I believe in me. I believe we can turn this thing around.

"Wouldn't it be incredible if everyone could find the joy that comes with committing to our own goodness? Perhaps we would stop dividing ourselves into malignancies of various forms."

– Eve Ensler, In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection

Let’s commit to our own goodness. Our own values. Our knowing of what’s right and just and fair and equitable.

Let’s crash through the woods together in our humanness. Guided by the pure clarity of loving intent.

Some hard questions about ease (& one easy one): The Ampersand Series

What if you could have it be easy?What if ease was the norm and not the exception? What if hard is the road you’ve chosen because it’s been the path deemed the most valuable? What if it STILL had value without the blood, the sweat and the tears? What if ease could be cultivated? What would happen if you decided that what comes next will come easily? What if you could trust that?

In acknowledgment of hard

Oh honey, oh honey. I know…there are some times that it’s just plain hard. Change takes time, effort and patience. And your desire’s hungry NOW.

I also know that wrapped up in the “if it’s not hard, it’s not valuable” thing are some ancestral, lineal stories of hardship and strife that are baked right into your bones.

And truly, believe me when I say that there are some times when the backache of hard work feels gooooooood. It feels good to roll up the sleeves, to dig in the hard-packed dirt. To love the hard into softness. Like you’ve done for generations.

&

Is your entire life intended to be spent in the dirt? Are your muscles intended to scream from effort all.the.time?

What about those times when the road of ease rose up to meet you. Was that a fluke? Or a culmination of conscious choices you made…possibly divinely guided? Isn’t your life ACTUALLY trying to show you that it can be a whole lot sweeter and easier?

Oh. That.

What if your default setting to every exhilarating new opportunity wasn’t “this is gonna be so hard”, but rather “this is gonna be exquisite…now how can this be easy too?”

Notice what opens up, what strands of recollection show up, pointing you to how much you’ve already done and know; faces of friends, colleagues waiting to offer support, help or counsel; or quite simply, an alternate, more gracefully sloping route to there.

So, right here, right now.

Look at the decision, the project, the program, the opportunity and ask yourself: “How can this be easier?”

Then, choose that.

Easy. xo TG

PS - Gold star challenge: now substitute “easy” in the q’s above with “fun”, “pleasurable” and “delicious”. Now you're getting there.

++++

the-ampersand-series-option-1Why The Ampersand Series?As a Libran Life Coach, I’m pre-programmed to see both sides…of everything. This can be an annoying trait to my nearest and dearest who just want to vent to me, but it is a massive service to my clients. So much of my writing touches on polarity. This & That.

Enter The Ampersand Series. Blog posts that shine a light on both sides:: Effort & Surrender. Limits & Limitlessness. Easy & Hard. An invocation to find our own places of discernment between the extremes. To love our ampersands. If this speaks to you, sign up to receive my posts. So much more to come.

I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.

Let me start here:: I know I’m pretty good-looking. (And if this is your first time visiting my blog, WELCOME! And I want to assure you that I don’t typically start my posts with conceit.) But it’s an important place to start.

I’m actually in a pretty ideal place of attractiveness, truth be told. I can generally feel good about myself, and am not SO good-looking that it’s a problem.

I have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.

That makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.

I also have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their perceived LACK of overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.

That ALSO makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.

Yesterday, I received an email from someone stating I was not a candidate to be on her show because, well, I don't meet the criteria of being "strong visually".

So…like I said in the title of this post, I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.

The first three drafts of this post had much to say about the hypocrisy of this woman. Her show. Her mandate.

But they didn’t make it past the editing stage. Too many swears. Not enough substance.

And ultimately? I get it. TV requires boundaries. Baselines. Limits. And tough, tough, tough skin.

(I also get that “not strong visually” is not ACTUALLY the same as “ugly”. But I’m working on that “tough skin” piece and have miles to go.)

I’m human.

And being called ugly, or uninteresting, or unpopular, or all of the above hurt.

But it wasn’t just my vanity that had me sobbing to my husband last night like tears were going out of style. I was over THAT by the time I’d rounded up my sisters (and sister) who took on my hurt with the love, rage and righteous indignation of a thousand wounded Mama Bears (bless them all) freeing me up to feel underneath it.

Here’s what I found that had me doubled over the chopping block in tears::

There are women with ideas far wiser, wider and more profound than mine that are keeping them to themselves because they don’t feel they are beautiful enough, smart enough, accomplished enough to be seen and heard.

I’ll repeat myself from my TEDx talk:: that to me, is UNACCEPTABLE.

Like, can’t BREATHE, unacceptable. Crying as I type this, unacceptable. Gasping for breath, unacceptable.

Please, please, please::

SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY. WE NEED YOU.

PLEASE.

And also, I know this. At my very very very best, I try to shine some love ‘n light towards the woman who may well be in her own world of hurt. Maybe she has felt the sting of being passed over for her looks and finds using words like the ones she used on me soothes it. Or maybe she likes efficiency. But really, it kinda feels like there is a belief operating that we can’t both be happy with who we are. That we need to be on opposite sides.

Either way.

I come back to this. Can we once again, please try to find a kinder, gentler way forward? Lighter words? More heart? Sisters, can we please put away the scissors?

PLEASE?

Two more requests::

1) I’m not interested in a debate about whether or not I am attractive…frankly, my ego couldn’t take it. And it’s boring. And reductive. (Plus, as above, I am at home with my brand of attractiveness, so honestly, I don't need to know what others think of my looks...and I also hope you hear the love in this request.)

And.

2) If this HAS helped you in any way, will you please let me know? It will make the impending vulnerability hangover that much more bearable. Moreover, will you tell me if this inspired you to be kinder, gentler and more loving to someone in your life? Thank you. Thank you.

With love,

TG

PS - It's the wildly gorgeous, talented and brilliant Susannah Conway's birthday today and she has invited me and some other sisters to write about the empowerment of aging. And though that's not what this post was about, I think it's my 41 years that gave me the courage to press publish.