Fierce Friends

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She sat across from me trying to be a million miles away. Hiding her face behind a tissue as if she could just disappear like an infant playing peek-a-boo. Be blissful and innocent-where there’s no pain. No words like death. I grabbed her hand against her will and collapsed it into mine. Allowed it to melt and the world wash away for just a moment. I asked for us both to take a deep breath and talk about IT. Talk about death.

Now who in the hell wants to lay in that pile of shit? And like all smelly things, its messy.

Death means body parts stop working, things breaking down like a salvage junk yard. “Welcome to Pull-A-Part! Where you slowly loose yourself against your will!” Parts fall off along the way to the back door. First the front end. Then a carburetor. Then the whole damn transmission. The rest of us are left standing on the side lines having been invited to a show we did not want admission to. With not one DAMN thing we can do; helplessness is like swallowing a box of rusted nails for dinner with no chaser.

I asked her what she needed. She finally sobbed and shook her head unknowingly. How do we ever really know what the reaper will leave at the feet of the living? Perhaps just more rusted nails to swallow. And although I cannot swallow them for her, I can be the chaser that makes the pain sting a little less. I can SHOW UP. You don’t leave your people to stand in the wasteland on their own. You show the fuck up. Not in the let me toss a casserole at you while I whiz by your house, but the kind where you are there. In IT.

As a friend, I am fierce. It may be intense at times- and it’s not uncommon I get that look of, ‘WHY oh why are you saying this hard-ass thing to me right now?’ But I will. I have made the mistake of letting it pass by and it is one of the few regrets I live with today. I think it’s a regret that at the end of of life, we all think about.

I hear story after story of humans attempting to make another human connection. Craving that rich, deep sense of good love shown in bright eyes staring back at them- smiling, laughing and maybe even crying. What is so painful is how often the moment gets lost in the business of life and soon the friendship is lost because one too many moments have crept on by.

I can’t say I won’t be guilty of some moments- but I refuse to not show up when it matters. It is the sugar of life that makes so much of the bitterness melt away. When moments are difficult, we cannot cut and run. If we do not want to be left in the wasteland lonely, eating our rusted nails of grief and loss, then we are called to do the same. I said to my spouse recently that we are entering into the season of our lives where death is knocking. If we are friends- I will be your fierce warrior. I could also be a little intense and annoying (like I am licking your face non-consentually), but I will be there. And I hope you will too.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

Fear of Being Not Needed

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I sat across from my now 11 1/2 year old kiddo the other day and she asked me about a struggle I have obviously been grappling with for many months. As she completed a task that I once did for her, she wondered about my fears in the loss. Of course it’s part wonderful, like magic in that some time has been returned that was once lost in the abyss of bathtime and food preparation. But, I am not needed in the same way I once was.

I have never been the mother of the year type. I sometimes lack in the “appropriateness” department and my honest and very open relationship with my daughter puts worried looks on even the Not-moms. My sweet husband would like to curb my language and gives me this look when she repeats a story I have obviously said in her presence….that she remembers word FOR WORD. Perhaps what I lack in rich emotional love I make up for in unprecedented style.

But so it goes. The world changes and I gotta get on the bandwagon of different or I will be left behind. And although I believe there will always be a way to make relationship with my daughter, I really worry even more that I will not always be able to create and re-create a relationship with my truth. Do you ever fear that all the truth will run out? I fear all the words will be used up and there will be no more to say. Not in the scarcity kind of way- like the Meltons and Brown’s of the world have used up all the spaces to speak the truth- but more like, it has been said and now there is nowhere else to go.

It is so difficult to tell our truth in words. And I have done that most of my adult life. I have journals beginning from the age of ten and I have started, wrote and continued to write stories in conjunction with those journals for the past decade along with writing here for the past four and half years. And so I wonder, when all is forgiven, when you tell the world your truth and you make those honest attempts without pushing it into people’s faces, is it over?

I so often feel I have so much more to give, like I literally bleed all over the place with words and feelings and truthyness. But I sometimes ache for a little gratitude and someone to take notice of it. That can already be difficult in my line of work because what is transformed is completely behind closed doors. Sometimes I am left unsure if what I do as a therapist even has the kind of impact on those around me I wish for. I wonder sometimes if all the silent things I do in the name of humility even get noticed. I then begin to wonder if I am just a selfish bratty truth-teller, who cannot get it their way and should really stop acting like a spoiled bitch who has nothing- when in fact, I have so much.

The fear of not being needed is complicated. Showing up and paying attention to my life and yours comes with heaps of joy and consequences. I grow. You grow. Things change. And the words that are so hard to tell get written and I feel free. But are they still needed? Will I ever cross the threshold to a larger path that takes me to a place that wants to hear what I have to say? I grossly deny chasing the platitudes and yet, truth telling gets lonely sometimes. I think its why I hang onto people like Brené and Glennon, as if we are friends-it feels like they speak my complicated and sometimes garbled language.

Today, I am afraid all the truth in me has been used up. I know in part it’s ridiculous, but what happens when we are really not needed any longer? Does anyone pay any attention and does it really matter if anyone is paying attention? Cuz the humility monger in me reminds me that if I am not humble then I am just another yackity girl blabbering away about how I need shiny lights on me…… And that, friend’s, is flattering to No One.

So whether I like it or not- I sit slathered in IT. I have buttered myself into this corner and I am unsure of how to clean the grease away. I always tell a client that my goal is that ‘I am no longer needed.’ Although true, how about a sprinkle of irony coming from a girl who fears at 41 years old becoming obsolete?

Regret is a Bitch of a Teacher

Remember when that teacher just stayed and stayed on you to work through a task feeling like a hot sticky hell only akin to the deep south? And perhaps there was a part of you that just wanted to reject what they were saying for the sake of being a rebellious pain in the ass (and a heaping side of avoidance)? And then you did just that? If this has ever been your experience, this is what regret can feel like. Sometimes I stay stuck in the awkward yoga position until I chew down through all the pieces of the puzzle my brain has not figured out.

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And if I have ever had regrets, its in my friendships that suck the most. I find that trying to be a friend can feel like endless attempts at recognizing that I need to be brave and say stuff I am struggling with….and I just don’t. I have come to realize that when I decide I want someone to like me, I will break rules in order to be liked. I will also do the opposite; when I need to NOT forge a relationship and I know it. I will push down many of the signals that are saying ‘there is no glue here, what ARE you doing?’

I have some REALLY incredible friends, ones that love me with a kind of generousity that surpasses any expectation one can verbalize. Occasionally I say to myself that since I have these friends- why would I need more? And truthfully, I don’t. I guess I am an adventurist and want to not shut out the possibility of someone fabulous, but when it doesn’t work out…GAWD! The gremlins are unreal and I hop right down that rabbit hole of ‘who do you think you are, someone who needs 100 fabulous friends? You should be so lucky to have three?’

Once again, I am learning and regret is a fabulous, albeit a taskmaster of a teacher. We have not lived if we have no regrets, but I won’t lie, rumbling around with them is my least favorite part of being an emotionally awake human being.

So here is what I want to live better: I want to take a deep breath and say out loud the struggle I see in front of me without judgement or unkindness and not allow it to build or stuff it down. Brené Brown talks about different ways we can off load hurt- chandeliering can sometimes be a terrible favorite of mine. There are many kinds of ways we can vomit up all the tiny cowardices we did not speak. Each have the potential for devastating consequences in relationships. We wait to long and well, we may have just waited too long. Chandeliering just leads us to hang from the ceiling screaming (I imagine you get the crazy here.) But what if understanding that reality of hurt is just unavailable to us until many? Many. MANY. Moments have passed by? What then? Will that other person be willing to stay present with you and work through that recognition, still owning their part of the story that may have led to the disaster that is before both of you? Unfortunately, my experience is that this does not often happen and makes me terribly sad. If you realize that you have been stuffing and stuffing and attempt to express anger around that- do you deserve to be shunned or turned off? I genuinely would hope not- but there it is, a cranky, invisible demon living inside of you that you had no idea was eating your lunch- like a bully. And now you just got to talk about the pain that has been building, but its like a fire cracker to the other person who may have been sleeping when you let the vomit out.

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I believe this is a space where courage beyond grit rests. If we discern that the pain is real and sit through that, even if it still means the end of the relationship, new growth sprouts. When we shut down or shut out the conversation the moment for growth can get lost. And perhaps every relationship is not worth this, but I can say that WE are worth the work. So if I have to be fully honest with myself, the suck lies in knowing that I don’t get to work that all the way out with another person. I am left doing that on my own and at times, can only be left with questions unless I want to make up a confabulated story with more holes in it than the Eiffel Tower.

One of the wonderous places I have the privelege of witnessing this very experience of everyday courage is in the couples I see. Often, the regret is like a sea of green sludge that is above their eye balls, making it feel almost impossible to even witness their partners actual presence. And yet, it is possible to get yourself dirty and sit in the filth that has been mutually created in that relationship. It is possible to wake up to our lives and dig our way out of the mountain of regret. It is painful and so excruciating at times that most will not.

One of the leading researchers in the country on couples,John Gottman, formalizes the threshold of regret and trust that a relationship cannot return from. It is true that some cannot make their way back and so I do not want to apply some false hope that with just enough courage every relationship can return to glory and beauty. I, however, wonder sometimes if the exercise, even if it ends, is not worth the immense growth? I inform couples that if they are not willing to do the work here, they run the risk of simply finger wagging at their partner as the problem and then run to the next relationship. They often believe their problems are all solved because they left that son/daughter of a bitch and now are free from the conflict. What really happens is that we are clumsy and fall into the lap of some chump who has a different name, smiles at us brightly and we start the pattern all over again. Once we realize that…..That is the real Bitch. Or as my beloved Dad would say, ‘Isn’t that a biscuit eater?’

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So here’s a potential pattern to chew on. For some of us, we spend an inordinant amount of time trying to undo the patterns of intimate relationship failures of the past. As I have fessed up to before, I come from one very long pattern of marriages and divorce- each three times going back three generations. As you might imagine, I had little thought that I could undo a wicked curse, but so far, 19 years and counting with my partner. However, what I did not realize was that the struggle would ooze over into another area of my life. So, I continue to battle the pain of poor choices in relationships, just in another area of my life. Consider the person who grew up in an alcoholic family that vows to never be nor marry someone who has an addiction to alcohol…..Oops, they wake up one day and realize their partner has an equitable addiction, but perhaps to work, pornography or the internet. The depth of the necessary work to break from patterns is daunting. Discovering this makes me half relieved because I know I can change it and the other half wants to say ‘Fuck It!’ and crawl under some big squishy covers and NEVER come out again!

Whether in an intimate relationship or friendship, when the struggle to maintain connection gets lost, the threshold of trust can detrioriate at such a staggering rate, it cannot return. A relationship is just that- an awkward dance of emotions and one must attempt to stay emotionally aware of both ourselves as well as the other. Lots of toe stamping and perhaps dancing alone on the other side of the room can occur. I imagine myself sometimes a little like Elaine from Seinfield. I want to dance, I want to get things started, but LAWD!- there are not many who will dance to beat of that drum! If we are lucky enough to find life long friends/partners who will, keep them. And know that sometimes, there will be regret, the teacher like no other. May the regret not outlast the courage to try, try, and try again.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.  AGAIN & AGAIN ❤

Why I Don’t Do New Year’s Resolutions

It’s February, and aleady many of those New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs) have gone out the window! Have no fear, there is another way………..

Please don’t get me wrong; I totally get the desire to improve and be better. It’s when the ‘Not Enoughness’ drives these resolutions we continue to perpetuate the self deprecating behavior that feeds our inner hatred. Be Thinner. Be Fit. Work Out Every Day. Eat Perfectly. Sleep 8 hours.

Stop Whatever. Start Whatever. It is this kind of dangerous mind game we tend to play that makes a resolution just another way to emotionally degrade ourselves and the inner voice (I call her ‘The Bitch in the Back’) gathers fuel to corrupt our future ability to try much of anything new- potentially even healthy changes that can be beneficial to our overall well-being.

Instead of listening to the dark voices, there is a little wisdom I continue to come back to time and again. If we spent more on Self-Acceptance and less of badgering ourselves with endless self improvement- all that Start Whatever, Stop Whatever stuff would just organically show up in our lives and not arbitrarily because the date flipped a number or two.

I am not in the habit of pretending one just flips on a switch and Wha-La!- SELF ACCEPTANCE BABY! (You must say this to yourself in a burlesque dancer voice). The process can actually be long and at times painful. But there are meaningful aspects of our makeup that can transform the fabric of what it means to be You. Let’s try on an example.

I will never hang back so far in a work environment that I won’t be asked to take on some project. It’s in my DNA to get in and get messy (in my own way). Even when I fall back and be quiet, I just don’t. I am still learning and leaning into accepting this as part of me.

An even better example is how I will never be a physically small person. Even my head is Amazonish in selfies next to the little people! As part of my self acceptance, I train 3 days a week at the gym, teach yoga two days and try to take one or two classes a week. Has it shrunk my pa-dunk-a-dunk ass? NOPE. Not even a little. Secretly, my trainer has been working on making it hold a glass like it’s a side table I think?! Despite these things, I have learned what keeps me motivated is not some strange ideal that I just will not be- but instead, loving myself as I am.

So this year, I will remain focused on what matters. I don’t want to be a better mother, spouse, teacher, therapist (pick a hat, any hat). I want to enjoy the fact that I love and am loved. I wish to remember to appreciate all the joy and gifts I have in my life. I want to remember more often to stand back and relish in all the growth I have done. And for me, most importantly, it’s growing in love with the person I am. I want to recognize myself in the mirror as being the person I choose to actively reflect in the world.

And this is my wish for you. We will not be redeemable with a better body, nicer children, more friends or stopping whatever crappy habit we picked up. You already are the most magnificent beautiful human created from the dust of stars.

Let Me Repeat Myself………

YOU. YES-You are ALREADY the most MAGNIFICENT BEAUTIFUL Human created.

The trouble is we often don’t believe it in our bones. We may say in our head, ‘I am a good person’ but it does not translate into the core. I believe that if we inched towards the acceptance of ourselves there would be many things that would naturally fall out and change within us in just a season of our lives.

Here are a few:

  1. Bitterness would die. The plants- or perhaps trees of hardness that force you to drink vinegar while you are not looking would disappear like a red solo cup at a party. That bitterly scowled expression expecting to be rejected and hurt could begin to wash away and perhaps for once you could choose which well to drink from.

  1. Anger would slide off your body like an oil slick. Of course, it would continue to show up, but you would see the fear and pain that anger piles on and not allow it to be covered or cower from the struggle that honest emotion brings.

  1. Judgement would no longer belong to you. If you were naturally not judging yourself- it would seem all the more inconsiderate to judge others. We could recognize more and more that acting like others are “doing it wrong!” is just another form of self hatred and an honest reflection of our own lack of self acceptance.

  2. We will become more accepting of others. It becomes so much clearer how we are ALL just doing the very best we can. Perhaps someone else cannot escape the patterns of the past and all of the so called help and judgement will not change this. But more love for ourselves will.

As we continue to barrel down 2016, I wish you health and happiness. I am confident it will show up in all our lives as we grow in the connections we make towards the acceptance of US. May you love deeply, especially the sweet gift of You.

                                                          LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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Mindfulness to Meditative Practice: The Basics

A friend asked me about transitioning to a meditative practice, wanting to calm the anxious monkey mind. I am sharing here the  basic process that may allow you to begin to transition towards a quiet meditative practice. I personally find it difficult and often consider my yoga practice as a way to calm the mind. If you are interested in growing this part of your life, I share the process here to support your mindfulness movement. 

Basic Mindfulness to Meditative Practice

The following are long term guidelines to incorporate a mindfulness meditation practice to support the reduction of anxiety, worry and stress and allow the mind to repair itself over time to support a greater sense of well-being and happiness.

There is significant evidence that a consistent practice can support reduction in generalized and obsessive anxiety and encourage greater happiness. MRI Results from Buddhist Monks show their ability to successfully calm the monkey mind, as well as, consistent evidence for the “happiness” parts of the brain (in the mid brain where our pleasure center resides) to be significantly better than the average person.

Step 1:

Consider reading Calming Your Anxious Mind by Brantley. This will take you deeper through the practices of slowly moving towards the possibility of sitting quietly in meditation. It is NOT necessary to get to a significant quiet meditation practice, staying in guided meditation will still provide the results needed. Also, the book suggests 30 minutes. This appears to be a much more long term practice, perhaps something to work towards after a years worth of consistent work.

A daily guided meditation also is available and a greater starter book, especially for those who do not enjoy reading as much.

Step 2:

I would like to have you take up a consistent gratitude practice. Get yourself a composition book and suggest that each day you write the date and three things you are grateful for in that day. It does not matter if you write many of the same things, the practice matters. Studies show that we get caught in foreboding joy, creating more anxiety and fear and once again, a consistent practice of staying out of judgement and focusing on what you are grateful for will improve the minds struggle to jump to the negative and get emotionally hung up in there.

Step 3:

Begin a daily mindfulness practice. Take just a few minutes to stay in the present using a typical daily practice. For example, consider spending your energy staying present in the moment by focusing on a chore that you often do mindlessly. Consider folding the laundry and talk with yourself as you fold the next piece of laundry, “I am folding this shirt, I fold the left over the right and then in half.” This can be done with any mundane task that suits you. The idea is to stay focused as much as you can on just being present with what you are doing. Talking to yourself can enhance focus. Don’t worry, you WILL get monkey mind and wander off into remembering, perhaps, ‘where did I buy that shirt?’ Without judgement, just notice you have wandered and come back to the task. Work towards doing this for about five minutes and when you feel like it has become less difficult, then move on.

Step 4:

Utilize a guided meditative practice. Many are as long as thirty minutes and again, I believe that length of time is for an advanced practice. Break the guided meditation into 10 minutes increments to begin with. Consider practicing at least once a day, perhaps grow towards once at the beginning and once at the end of the day when you, again, feel it has become less difficult to do one time a day. Over time, the idea is that once you have reached the end of ten minutes, you will begin to feel like you have taken in a much needed, long cool drink and taken in the deepest breath of the day (at least some of the time).

When sitting in meditation find a comfortable seated position. Consider sitting somewhere different than you normally do in your home. Elongate the spine, do not cross the legs (unless on the floor in a cross legged position) and place the hands comfortably on your lap/legs. Either find a fixed gaze forward or close or your eyes if it is comfortable. Again, over time it is suggested to have a special meditation spot. I like the use of a Zafu and Zabuton to sit in practice. You can find these for a reasonable price on www.dharmacrafts.com

*Try to practice when it is quiet and no distractions. This will mean silencing your phone.

Here are Some guided meditation practices (listen initially to decide if the person’s voice is soothing):

Jon Kabat-Zinn: He has many to choose from, each have about 8 different 30 minutes practices.

Ronald Siegel: www.themindfulnesssolution.com    This is a free site that utilizes the traditional Theravada Buddhist practices. They are quite beautiful and I believe appropriate to any religious belief system. Again, they are about 30 minutes long and can be broken up.

There are many, these two are the big players in the mindfulness meditation American arena.

Consider using the Mindfulness Bell App (or something like it). It is a gentle timer to bring you into and out of practice. This will keep you from worrying how long you have been sitting.

Happy Awakening! ~Namaste

On Becoming a Yogi

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The truth is, show up to yoga and you can set yourself on the path of the Yogi. My own path began some eight years ago when I showed up to my first yoga class with fear written all over my face. I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing and well, frankly that remains true at times, but now I feel prepared for the next leg of this journey. I believe that becoming a Yogi is much like becoming a Mother or a Therapist. There is no end, but instead simply a journey that gets woven into the path of your life. Some days I feel lighter because of the awareness of how my feet make impressions in the earth. And some days I am acutely aware of how I am stumbling around in the dark……

Six months ago, I began the path of the yoga teacher. It was such a joy to be in the position of student once again. I recall Swami telling us she would rather be in our position and reflected on missing that with her guru. I am still unsure as to how it has changed me, but I am quite sure the process continues to unfold like the thousand lotus petals of the crown chakra. It has been a whirlwind of asana (physical) practice, anatomy, coloring, writing essays, answering questions and practicum. Yoga pop quizzes like get in front of the a class of 3, 5, 8, and then 50 yogis and do this pose sequence, practice this meditation and breath work and remember to breathe yourself! I sometimes just couldn’t help it, but had to make things a little silly to amuse myself and not turn into a wreck of nervousness. Other times, I just made mistakes and was grateful for my teachers to help support me in my growth. We were ‘chick peas in a pot’ of boiling water and we just had to hang tight (although we all readily ran out a few times) until we were ready to sprout wings and fly.

There were many times when I wondered what in hell had I done! I felt so fearful of considering teaching that I resigned myself to just remaining the student. However, the process of learning with Kashi ATL is so balanced and well thought out; I believe they knew when we hit that dark moment and then fed us a little more (with an extra side of confidence) to keep us going. Leaning into the process was at times exhilerating while others utterly petrifying. I would wax between my heart exploding with excitement to share all that I was learning while other moments feeling sure I would get hung up somewhere and forget something, maybe everything and everyone would be hanging out in downward facing dog while I fumbled with my new language.

And just when I was sure I looked like I was just rolling around in yoga hell, in walked words from my people. I remember practicing in front of my first group of eight (that was soooo many at the time) and I was teaching dancer’s pose incorrectly. My teacher was attempting to show me another way saying, “Try it with your hand on the inside of the back foot instead.” I had to clarify that she was trying to tell me I was doing it wrong because I could easily interpret it as a suggestion. In a very small class room, I then mistakenly jutted my arm into someone else’s space/face and we laughed about it while I gently pushed her over and said, “Okay, don’t do that when you’re the teacher!” More amusement and giggles. After class, my fellow yogi (the one whom I had pushed) said how much she loved the ease and confidence I held in the space of teacher and how much she appreciated from me. I GLOWED. I thought it was my worst moment but instead there were the little lights of yogis shining with me.

And I could just go on and on about the people! My fellow yogis in the cooker were the thing that kept me going, sometimes more than myself. This phenomonal group would astound any human. From a neuroscientist, executives, coaches, entrepeneurs, college and grad students, recruiters, attorneys, a pediatric opthomologist, professional carpenter, company buyers, artists, psychologists and professors. This is just naming a few! What my fellow yogis do in there every day lives is just incredible and I felt so honored to be in the pot with people who are daily rocking the world upside down and then shaking it out a little more. And talk about on the move! When we began, I was the person coming from the farthest away, but before it was over- Virginia, Kentucky, another in New Hampshire and another in Connecticut! I just imagine little love dots of my fellow yogis spreading out over all of the U.S.

Then came graduation day and it was a holy day. I did not well up at the thought of my graduating, but as I watched my people scooch there way ever closer to their moment to receive their gifts with Swami, I was in awe of what we had become. Do you sit an revel in those moments that will not show up again? We sang and sang and sang Kirtan until my voice was sore and I would have sang some more if I could have held the space just a few moments longer. It was so Big and Full, I just wanted to melt into the moment and ride the bliss.

And I did….and We did. And my people who love me no matter what showed up from different places and hugged and loved and ate and shared in the joy of my fellow yogis, getting to meet each other for the first time. My beloved- the Shiva to my Shakti- gave me a beautiful gift to commemorate the moment and the bliss just kept growing.

It is so difficult to say if that kind of moment will show up again in our lives. Yet I can say it just won’t happen for any of us if we don’t take risks, if we don’t fail-even just a little, and it certainly won’t show up with out the vulnerability of connection. I carry with me so many new things, new people and young friendships. I most importantly carry with me the reocgnition that what I will share as a teacher does not come from me, but from the many who sprouted and grew along with me. When I teach my future classes, I will take with me my picture of Swami and my graduating class picture of my fellow yogis. Without you, there would be no yoga teacher in me. I look forward to (and am scared as hell) sharing in the tremendous gifts that have been shared with me. May you always see my grateful heart and the many yoga teachers that share the path with me.

~Namaste

                                                                                      LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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In Thanksgiving: Meet The Jesuit Volunteer Corps of the North West

How many times have you heard from earlier generations, ‘Today’s young people’…..followed by some diatribe about the loss of everything that was once good in the world? Well, spend a little time with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps of the North West (JVC’s) and your spirit will be renewed.

Recently, I had the distinct privilege of sharing the Daring Way™ along side my friend in Washington with these courageous young people. We traveled to remote cabin camp grounds at the base of a mountain. Picturesque- to say the least.

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Of course, if you are traveling with Me- You WILL get lost. At some point we ended up in a national forest faced with the decision to cross into private property or an area that was so wooded the truck would not fit. My friend wanted to stick to a moose siting story, but getting lost appears to be a part of my everyday plan. I think it also reduced my anxiety about glamping (glamour-camping) because being closer to civilization than originally thought was not as scary.

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Facilitating the Daring Way™, utilizing the work of Brené Brown, is a gift unto itself and with JVC’s was no less special. Each time I am suppose to come to the table with my gifts as a facilitator, I always feel sure I gobble up WAY MORE than I give.

The JVC’s have made the decision to give a year of service in communities through out the North West and work tirelessly with underserved populations. The JVC’s are a subsidiary of Ameri-Corps, which works through out the entire United States in needed communities everywhere. My days as a member of Ameri-Corps were challenging, but the development of character and wisdom do not compare.

The commitment and drive to be present and show up for those that so many have forgotten or want to pretend do not exist is at the epitome of love and grace.

If you have lost your way- have forgotten what is good and beautiful in this world, perhaps am unsure of what to be grateful for today, spend just one day with these glorious spirits and you shall be renewed. I watched as they broke bread in their simple abundance of presence. Pure- crystal clear presence….smiling and dancing in this joyful grace together.

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At times, I was envious. There may never be a time again where such a connection exists. I did everything I could to simply remain present in their joy…..but it was impossible, at times, to not want to bottle it up and keep it in a sparkly sniffing jar for later.

Now, it would be a major loss to not honor the strife and heartache that comes with giving up so much. Imagine giving up your home, the majority of your things and trade in your life for one where you live with a group of strangers, have no car and literally (dependent upon where you are placed) trudge in the snow during the winter. It can be extremely difficult to live away from family and friends, much less trying to decide who amongst six other people is going to keep the bathroom clean. Add in long hours and often intense work creates a kind of sacrifice that many would be unwilling to consider. But, a JVC makes a conscious choice to be a vehicle for change. To lay the compost, making the ground fertile for those who often live a life in barrenness.

There is no doubt the work is transformational. To witness it is a blessing and a reminder of Thanksgiving. So, if you have forgotten to face the sun- if you have forgotten about the youthful goodness that thrives in our world, just take a peak at the JVC’s of the NorthWest. Take a long deep drink of the spirit knowing there are people in the world doing the work of the people.

THIS ~This is what holds up the world when you think your house is burning down. Give of Yourself and YOU will be forever changed. May a moment of gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day be in gratitude to the JVC’s of the NorthWest and to all of those who choose to give of themselves in their lives. For myself, the JVC’s are transformation in motion ~what a stunning site. Today, I give thanks to the JVC’s for giving me a little peak into your lives and renewing my spirit in all of humanity.

NAMASTE

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http://jvcnorthwest.org

http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps20

                                                                        LIVE.OUT.LOUD.