Tag Archives: Daring Greatly

Book Writing Saturday: Retreat

Instead of my regular Book Writing Saturday this week, I am on retreat. I am practicing with my fellow Open Heart Practitioners, and we are being led by our shared meditation instructor and friend, the brilliant Susan Piver. This is a virtual retreat, in part because we are scattered all across the globe, even as we are connected and practicing together.

So instead of literal book writing today, limited to four hours focused on the book, I’m doing a retreat. And yet, it has everything to do with writing this book, is structured similarly to the in person writing and meditation retreat I did with Susan in April, (and the one I’ll most likely be missing in October). There will be multiple sessions of meditation, dharma talks, and time alone to read, write, contemplate, and rest.

My word for this year was retreat. And as a practice, it’s become one of my favorite things, powerful and restorative. There’s a plan for a full week retreat at the end of Susan’s book, How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life: Opening Your Heart to Confidence, Intimacy, and Joy. It begins with a weekend intensive spent alone and away, along with a focused plan for the remaining five days back in your normal weekly routine. I’ve been wanting to do that one, but need to wait for a time when I feel like I can be away from my little family for an entire weekend. With the huge question mark about Dexter’s health and future, I don’t way to be away from him for that long, don’t want to leave Eric alone with that possibility.

Susan has asked those of us participating this weekend to have a book to read,  “one that supports you on your inner journey. Use your judgment and select something that will challenge you to delve within.” I am reading Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly. Last night, we answered a writing prompt Susan provided, and as I said earlier, there will be other blocks of time for reflecting, contemplating, and writing–becoming still and quiet, sinking down, delving deep. I suspect there will be some tears, as well as epiphanies. There usually are, when you make space for them, when you show up with an open heart.

One thing I found interesting as I prepared for retreat is that suddenly all the things I thought were so important, that had to be done before this could begin, seemed to dissolve, to no longer matter so much, even though Susan had warned us about the opposite happening, about obstacles arising the closer the retreat got. I felt like I was moving differently, slowed down, stripped down to what was important and essential, relaxing. The only “obstacle” ended up being my struggle with any type of math: I got the time zone conversion wrong, added two hours to my time instead of subtracting, so showed up late, didn’t start the retreat in “real time” with every one else. D’oh!

In my post a few days ago, I shared lyrics from an Alexi Murdoch song:

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Besides writing, contemplating, opening my heart, and meditating, opening up to this awareness is my intention for this retreat–for the grace of god to be with me always in my heart, to know the truth inside me, and to find the strength to know that I am a part of something beautiful.

Day of Rest

It’s not about letting go of worry or getting over fear.

It’s about letting go of the idea that you can control everything, or anything.

It’s about making space for uncertainty and doubt.

It’s about surrendering to impermanence and getting past resistance to change.

It’s about “having the life you want by being present to the life you have,” (the subtitle to Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening).

It’s about confidence, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment,” (the brilliant Susan Piver said that).

It’s about paying attention, being mindful and present.

It’s about letting go of both hope and fear.

It’s about having faith in basic goodness, our innate and fundamental and natural wisdom and compassion, our essential and shared humanity.

It’s about risking heartbreak and failure, knowing that it’s so much better than being numb.

It’s about living a wholehearted life–“engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging,” (from Brene’ Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly).

It’s about refusing to smash yourself to bits, and not being afraid of yourself.

It’s about choosing vulnerability over safety and predictability, letting go of the longing for solid ground, for a life of nothing but happiness and security.

It’s about love.

It’s about having the courage to face your own life, show up, keep your heart open, and allow yourself to be seen.

It’s about being brave.

a winnebago parked in my neighborhood, the brave model

Who’s with me?

Cultivating Courage and Daring Greatly

Brave BellyRecently, I have been feeling a real need to be brave. My life has been presenting all kinds of opportunities to show up with an open heart, even though I am terrified. There are two things coming up I am certain will be of great help to me in this practice: Andrea Scher’s Cultivating Courage ecourse and Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly book and read-along.

Brene’ Brown’s book Gifts of Imperfection was a critical resource when I started the Life Rehab this blog chronicles. It made me see I had been in a long term abusive relationship–with myself–and helped me to understand the way out of it. I’ve had the opportunity to hear her talk multiple times about her work and research, her life and experience, and her new book is going to be brilliant, (my copy is in transit, on its way to me as I write this, and I can’t wait).

P.S. Look at what showed up just a few hours later!

By showing up, opening her heart, sharing the truth (part research, part personal experience) about shame and vulnerability, daring greatly, and living a wholehearted life, Brene’ Brown is helping so many to discover the value of being brave, in being exactly who we are, in living a wholehearted life. This is the trailer for the book:

And what better to match the Daring Greatly read-along than a Cultivating Courage class with Andrea Scher?! Everything Andrea does is magic. I have taken three classes with her, and every one expands my sense of possibility and purpose. She is electric, pure love energy, vibrant and wise and playful. Just thinking about this latest offering, I feel braver already.

Andrea asked for courage stories from her readers to use in this class. I sent her one, and want to share it with you, kind and gentle reader. Maybe you need a little dose of courage too? Maybe I’ll see you in class?

Our first dog Obi, a Rottweiler/German Shepherd/Husky mix my husband and I rescued at eleven weeks old, was diagnosed with lymphoma, a treatable but incurable canine cancer, right after he turned seven years old. Just after his birthday but before the horrible phone call confirming his cancer, I told my friend, “I don’t know what it is about seven, but I feel like if something happens to him now, I don’t have the right to say it’s not fair. He’s had a really good life.” A few days later, when I told her about his cancer, she whispered, “Do you remember what you said? Do you think you knew?”

I didn’t, couldn’t have guessed it. Other than a tiny lump in his chest the size of a pea, he was completely healthy, vibrant and fully alive. We didn’t know the lump was a swollen lymph node, weren’t even worried enough to make a special appointment to have it checked, simply waited and asked during his next visit. Our vet insisted on doing a needle biopsy right away. The resulting diagnosis was a complete shock, the worst kind of surprise.

Courage can mean either doing something that frightens you, or having strength in the face of pain or grief. Caring for a terminally ill loved one requires the full measure of courage, the entire weight of its meaning. There is no place to hide when the quality of a being’s life is your responsibility, when they are sick and cannot help themselves, when you love them with your whole heart. Because Obi couldn’t tell me what he wanted, it was up to me to intuit what he needed, and to judge when his suffering got to be too much. I had to be present with his pain, and love him enough to let him go. When the time came to make that decision, I made the phone call, provided a loving and safe space, and stayed with Obi as he took his last breath, with my heart open, broken and raw, loving him and letting him go—courageous.

Loving any dog takes courage. In all likelihood, you will outlive them. It might even be your responsibility to make an end of life decision for them. No matter how it happens or when, you won’t be ready, it won’t be okay–and knowing that, you open your heart, invite them into your life anyway. To love a dog, to love anything mortal, knowing you will eventually be separated, that you will ultimately lose them, is the purest form of courage I know. The magic, the medicine is that every time my heart breaks, it expands, gets stronger, and my capacity to love grows with it. Because of my grief, my loss, I have the heart of a warrior, open to both the tenderness and the terror of life.

sweet obi