Category Archives: Trust

Day of Rest

This is one of those posts where I show up to write having no idea what I’m going to say. And yet, I can feel something there, see it like I would a shape in the fog, moving towards me but as yet unnameable.

Eric is walking Sam this morning, or rather running with him. It’s windy and cold, so Eric offered to take him, in part to be nice to me (Colorado wind is my least favorite weather, even worse than rain) but also because he knew if I went he’d have to walk and that would mean being cold. When they run, he doesn’t notice the weather so much — seems like a metaphor, doesn’t it?

The weather seems a perfect match to the card I pulled this morning, “a card of conflict” with the image of five scattered wands. The card warns that “Your energy moves outward in many directions, yet you are suffering inside.” I realized this morning that once again, I was trying to do too much. I was thinking specifically of all the things I’d signed up for leading up to the holidays, all good stuff, emails of wisdom and prompts for reflection and opportunities to connect, but maybe too much… okay, not maybe — too much.

fiveofwandsI am working on a paradigm shift, and that’s hard. I am attempting to move from thinking I can’t be trusted, that I’m not allowed to want what I want, have what I want, that I have to work to earn acceptance and love, looking outward to external cues and messages, trying to do what others want, make them happy so they will in turn love and care for me, thinking that wisdom resides “out there,” that if I’m not getting it right it’s because I’m either stupid or an asshole, measuring my worth by how successfully I pleased others, some of whom are almost impossible to please, and rebelling or collapsing, self-destructing when it gets to be too much.

I can’t do it anymore. It doesn’t work. It will never work. If it did, I would have figured it out by now, but it’s a broken system. I am officially giving up. I am learning how to trust myself, to be myself. I am allowing myself to want what I want, to have what I want. I am moving from focused on what I have to offer to how I want my life to feel, the experience I want to have, what I’m truly hungry for, and no one else can tell me what that looks like, what that should be. I am the expert, only I can know.

For starters, “pancakes make me want to dance,” and I won’t be apologizing for that anymore.

Self-Compassion Saturday: Kristin Noelle

I am so pleased to be introducing you to Kristin Noelle’s perspective on self-compassion today, kind and gentle reader. She is every bit as kind and gentle as you, is the most generous, warm-hearted person. Time and time again she has offered me inspiration and comfort, freely and without ever having met me. Just yesterday, she made a video Trust Note that was exactly what I needed to hear.

Kristin describes herself this way, “I’m a trust coach. I write, speak, teach, make art, and listen deeply, all to help trust grow,” because “I see trust as our world’s most potent source of transformation.” She describes her Trust Tending work as “nourishing Life beyond fear.”

KristinNoelle1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

When I think of self-compassion, I often hear in my mind a line from Sarah McLachlan’s song “Adia”: We are born innocent. And then further, We are *still* innocent. We make messes of things absolutely, and hurt ourselves and one another in all sorts of ways. But at heart, I believe we’re each, given our genetic make-up and life experiences, doing the best we can.

The more closely I look at the harm we cause and the messes we make, the more I see scared, childlike parts of us just responding like children do. Which elicits something so different than judgment for me. I feel sadness about the fear, and sometimes anger at all that causes fear to take root. But my basic stance toward those scared, childlike parts is kindness.

Self-compassion is me extending this kindness, and this confidence in my core innocence, to my own self – even when I wish my feelings or actions or nature could be different.

whocanfathom

art by Kristin Noelle

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

In my early twenties (I’m nearing 40 now), I suffered the loss of my childhood faith. By that I don’t mean faith *in general*, but a particular worldview I’d known and been devoted to since childhood. That loss so befuddled family, friends, and mentors, that I found myself, quite shockingly to my good-girl self, making a choice between maintaining the approval of so many I cared about, and honoring my own soul. I chose the latter.

Something about that experience cracked me wide open. It was so unexpected and painful, and preceded by such pure-hearted devotion, that I felt like my eyes got totally remade. Instead of the lines I’d previously seen around “good” and “bad”, “holy” and “profane”, I started to see the childlike innocence in everyone around me: in myself, as I pursued truth and integrity the best ways I knew how; in those around me at the time, whose religious identities and experiences caused them to think me gone astray; in those who had no context to understand or appreciate the misery my loss of faith was causing me.

I more readily saw with eyes of compassion than ever before.

Through that time and all these many years since, many authors and teachers put words to this deep innocence I started to see, deepening my sense of it. These included poets David Whyte and Mary Oliver; novelists Shusaku Endo, Chaim Potok, Paulo Coelho, Sue Monk Kidd; memoirists Etty Hillesum, Will Campbell, Karen Armstrong, Anne Lammott, Rachel Naomi Remen; philosophers Rene Girard, Jacque Ellul; psychologists/psychotherapists Carl Jung, Richard Schwartz, Carol Dweck; Buddhist/spiritual teachers Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, Meher Baba.

I’m sure I’m forgetting more folks who have shaped me deeply.

art by Kristin Noelle

art by Kristin Noelle

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

Self-compassion takes many forms for me, but I think they all begin with consciousness – getting conscious of judgmental, critical, or shame-based thoughts about myself. The more I practice awareness, even when I don’t follow up on that awareness with self-kindness, the more I feel myself changing. I feel much more resilient now than I was five or ten or even one year ago, for example – much more able to shift out of non-compassion and into compassion once I notice myself lacking it.

I consider thoughts like, “Huh. I’m being critical of myself right now,” totally worth celebrating.

art by Kristin Noelle

art by Kristin Noelle

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

I struggle to accept my pace a lot – related to goals around work, goals around my yard and home, changes I’d like to make in habits and relationships. My pace feels slower than I’d wish it to be. I imagine myself looking back on the me of today with so much compassion for the shame I feel around that, and the suffering that my impatience with myself causes me.

kristinselfieI don’t know about you, but I feel calmer, more peaceful simply reading Kristin’s answers, looking at her art, seeing her kind smile — this is the impact her work, her presence, her offerings always have on me, and why I am filled with so much gratitude and love for her, today and always. To find out more about Kristin, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Anna Guest-Jelley.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Day of Rest

I am realizing that path is everything, a direct route to dharma, the truth. For the past few years, I have been so caught up in doing, in planning what I have to offer, striving and struggling, that I forgot I don’t need to work so hard, that if I simply show up, practice, move the way love makes me move, the way joy makes me move, I am already there.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
~Mary Oliver, excerpt from her poem Wild Geese

The truth is I am already free, what I seek is already present, I can be content now. I am already there, there is here, the exact place I long for is where I live. I can open my eyes, I am awake already. Awareness of how I want to feel, my open heart, the way I sink into my practice, soothing my spirit and letting my body relax, honoring my desires, is the path that will lead to the other, the offering. Instead of striving and pushing, I can relax into my life, my body, my self, my breath, this moment.

I am on the path, this is where I find the offering, and it’s not work, it’s like hiking, how the stillness and clarity and joy and connection come simply by walking the path. It’s easy, it feels good. Show up, do the practice, don’t abandon yourself. Trust what you want, what you love, the sacredness of an ordinary moment, the precious nature of your own heart, your messy and brilliant humanness, just as it is.

The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you. ~Hafiz

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: My body carries a deep wisdom, if only I would listen. And, if I refuse to listen, it will get louder and louder until I can’t ignore it anymore. This became very clear to me this weekend. I spent Sunday morning first in Urgent Care and then the ER. I’d been having chest pains and my jaw hurt for a few days (my body’s gentle nudging that got louder) and I knew that something about it wasn’t right, that I hadn’t just pulled a muscle or something.

It turns out that the sack of fluid around my heart was inflamed — Pericarditis triggered by an infection I’ve been struggling with, (which I was also trying to ignore instead of attend to). It’s completely treatable (steroids and rest), workable, okay, and yet it’s taught me that I really have to trust myself (specifically my body), that I need to listen, to show up, be present, to honor the wisdom available to me. I knew something wasn’t right, my body was telling me in the gentlest but most insistent way, and even though it seemed at first like I might be overreacting, I needed to get help.

My body knows. It knows how much to sleep, how to move, what to eat. If something I eat or do doesn’t work, isn’t agreeable, my body gives me the exact information I need to consider a different choice next time. It is directly connected to reality, this moment, through five powerful senses. It is constantly collecting information and making adjustments — heart pumping and lungs breathing with no need of my intervention, my control, my opinion.

A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. ~Pema Chödrön

2. Truth: I can trust myself, my physical body, my intuition, my hunger, my longing, my desire, my suffering, my dreams, my fundamental sanity, my innate wisdom and compassion and power, even my emotions and thoughts are allowable and of value. I don’t have to reject, run away, deny, or hide.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

3. Truth: I am so grateful there are people to help, to keep me company as I stumble my way through, poets and artists and healers and friends and family and soft animal bodies, all of us messy but brilliant, clinging to each other on a boat that is guaranteed to sink, making each other laugh and offering comfort even as we crash and burn. Every single person I encountered in my time in various medical units this weekend was so kind and wise, wanting to help me, to help, and in the aftermath, I’ve been offered so much love from the people I am lucky enough to know. I mean it, dear people, this life is fucking brilliant, we are, (I’ve had to stop typing this paragraph twice to cry — is this what “Roid Rage” feels like?).

One wish: That we can continue to ask ourselves, in each moment, the question shared by my dear friend, poet and teacher, the amazing Julia Fehrenbacher, in her ecourse Getting Naked: “what would love do?” (this question has the power to change everything — you, your life, the world), and the additional wish that we have the courage to live the answer.

Message from the Universe

I confess, I haven’t been feeling that great. I think it’s the crash that always happens at the very beginning of any break from school, from work. I’ve typically been pushing so hard, going so fast, that when the moment finally comes when I can do what I want, go my own speed, my initial response is to collapse altogether.

But that’s okay. I am trusting the wisdom of my body right now, and if that means I spend the whole afternoon on the couch, that’s perfectly fine. Good things can happen there too. Plans can be made, rest is had, time is spent noticing and contemplating. Today I watched another episode of Call the Midwife, and it made the whole day worth it, all of it leading up to this one nugget of pure truth.

There is a greater gift than the trust of others, and that is trust in oneself. Some might call it confidence, others name it faith, but if it makes us brave, the label doesn’t matter for it’s the thing that frees us to embrace life itself. ~Season 2, Episode 2

This has been the message for me recently: Trust yourself. Trust my own, innate wisdom. Have faith that my body knows, that my heart knows, that my instincts and my gut and my intuition can be trusted — that each part of me has its own intelligence if I would only listen, give it mindful attention, trust that I know what to do, and know that I won’t abandon myself.

The only meaningful relationship is the one you have with yourself. Are you in love yet? ~Byron Katie

I’m not all the way there yet, kind and gentle reader, but I’m sure working on it. What about you?

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Ease isn’t just for special occasions. It isn’t just for when I am resting or celebrating, when all the work is done or I am on vacation. There doesn’t have to be a desperate need or national holiday. I don’t need special permission or free time. I don’t need to earn it. Ease can be how I move through the day, through my entire life if I choose–content, satisfied, free, calm, spacious, sane and awake.

2. Truth: Keeping an open heart is difficult, which is why I train to steady my mind. Having an open and porous heart, I am extra sensitive to noises, light, movement, smells, energy and emotions, and the general chaos of an environment which includes other beings and all their stuff and nonsense. I am vulnerable. I can easily get overwhelmed, which can lead to panic, depression, and other states of dis-ease.

Keeping my heart open is brave and dangerous work. As Ram Deev said in a recent blog post, “Your heart wants you to grow, to be challenged, to face difficulties that seem insurmountable. It wants to nudge you closer and closer to the edge of oblivion.” And yet, instead of hiding, running away, resisting, or denying reality, I have made the conscious choice to keep my heart open, to let it all in, to allow it to touch me, to break me even.

I hold myself steady with the help of various practices, primarily yoga, meditation, writing, self-care, walking my dogs, and loving-kindness. I do all this because an open heart allows for a life of kindness, curiosity, freedom, and joy, along with what it knows best: love, deep and enduring, unshakable.

3. Truth: I am like the sky. I am not the clouds or the weather. I am not the birds or a plane or balloons. I am not the moon or the sun. I am the clear blue spacious openness, underneath and above all other phenomenon. My basic goodness, my innate sanity is unchanged by thoughts or emotions, unaltered by the weather.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

One Wish: That as each of us walk our path, face our own obstacles and struggles, we can so so with ease and maintain an open heart, and trust that we are basically good and sane, as spacious and clear as the vast blue sky.

The Truth

blankpages

The imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering. ~Brenda Ueland

My creative process isn’t tidy, and parts of it are quite painful. I have a longing, followed by an intention, but then there’s resistance to work with, obstacles to work through, a lot of moodling and outright avoidance happens before I even start, as I must eventually.

In the same way I feel stiff some mornings at the beginning of a walk or a yoga class, but eventually warm up, I start to write. At first I move to be moving even though there’s no grace in it and it might be messy and awful and not feel good. I show up and move because I must, there simply is no other option. It is just this way with writing, with making anything with my heart and my hands.

scribble

But eventually there is a shift, a spark, a warming, and I move into a flow, I’m connected and creating. It makes sense, feels good, and there are moments of beauty and grace and truth.

This happened the other day, when I sat down to work on a submission for The Sun Magazine’s Reader’s Write feature. Each month, there is a single word, and reader’s submit a short piece of nonfiction in response, “subjects on which they’re the only authorities.” It’s on my Mondo Beyondo list to be selected for publication in this section someday, so I’m going to start submitting something every month. The word I was working with was “honesty.”

tribefeather

Nothing came at first. Then I started scribbling, just to be writing something, anything, but it was all total crap, like a freshman composition essay that starts with “Webster’s Dictionary defines honesty as…” or “Since the beginning of mankind, the dawn of time, the birth of civilization, humans have struggled with the concept of honesty.” I let myself go like that, then got a little closer to something real, an acceptable collection of words but nothing special.

Another run, a fresh start using one moment from that collection, extended and connected to something else, something bigger, and it all starts to work, there is a subtle magic there which I hadn’t expected, couldn’t have planned. I had to show up when I didn’t really want to, start without a plan, keep going even though it wasn’t working, stay with it until I had moved towards the light.

There is a lot of trust involved in that. You have to remember every time starts slow and seems hopeless, trust that if you maintain your effort, stay open and in your seat, something will arise, will arrive to meet you there. You have to be willing to practice, to show up for the process with an open heart and allow it to happen, invite and accept whatever wants to come.

dreamwithfeathers

Here’s what I’ll be submitting, Honesty, which ended up being a mix of something old and something new:

The way we were taught to write academic essays in grade school was so painful—consult an encyclopedia or textbook for the facts, make an outline, retell the story using your own words but don’t use “I.” I resisted writing one particular history essay in the 6th grade so completely that I didn’t even start it, which forced me into a lie.

The 6th grade is a particularly awkward and confusing time for girls everywhere. I’d started my period before any of my friends and was hiding it from them through elaborate measures, including an especially desperate shower routine after gym class. I was fairly popular, which isn’t so hard in a small town, a small school where there were less than 10 girls in your class. But I wore long sleeves to hide the tiny warts that had developed on my elbows, and a pair of Sticky Fingers painter style jeans that I put on every day because they were the most fashionable thing I had ever owned. Other kids teased me, called it my “uniform,” said my pants must be so dirty from wearing them so much that they could probably stand up on their own.

The day the history essay was due, I panicked, couldn’t admit I hadn’t done my homework—upset my parents, disappoint my teacher, shame and embarass myself. One of the things I was popular for, praised for was being smart, a good student. So I lied, said I’d finished it but lost it, tried but couldn’t find it. I claimed to have lost it in the classroom somewhere, and my teacher had the whole class help look for it. When we couldn’t find it, he gave me an extension, extra time to finish another essay.

This is the same teacher that told me later in the year, after a few creative writing assignments, “You could be a writer if you wanted to. You could be anything you want to be.” He was sitting in a bright red, child-sized chair, knees pushed up into his chest, leaning towards me with his eyes wide, gesturing his hands wildly at the future he wanted me to be able to see. He believed in my potential and encouraged me to believe also. I was desperate to believe him, to believe such a thing about myself—the girl who sweat too much, cried herself to sleep sometimes, and loved books more than anything. I had trouble internalizing his faith as my own, but I held tight to the memory, turning it over and around in my mind, watching the way the light would catch it. It seemed like the truth.