losing our grip in a good way

Posted by on 01.06.09 | 3 Comments
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I’ve posted several times about Jena Strong’s site, Bullseye, Baby. She’s a profound teacher for me in that she is able to put words to the almost inexpressible longings of the human soul. Not in a grandiose way, but as a young mother of two amazing girls, as a wife, as a life coach. She struggles, she sighs, she laughs and she not-often-enough cries. She is searching for her cultural and religious roots as a Jewish woman raised in another tradition. She’has an authentic voice.

So, I listen to Jena’s heart. And this weekend when I came across this ‘eary’ award, I sent it to her, not knowing if she’d post it to her site, or be nice and say thank you (one of the tendencies she mentions in the post below) and toss it in the trashbin. A few hours went by, and low and behold, this is what showed up on her site.

Not only did she accept the award, she’s working mightily with what it is bringing up for her–not unexpectedly.

I encourage you to read the whole piece…and take her challenge. I will soon be posting to her challenge of ‘where could you loosen your grip these days?’ And I hope you will comment on her post, or post on your own blog and link to hers or send her an email–both of the links are below.

Here’s her blog and her Van Gogh’s Ear award! I’m reprinting it in it’s entirety, but I hope you make yourself yet another pot of tea and go over and visit Bullseye, Baby and RSS feed her blog.

It’s worth the time–your soul will be fed, and consequently your tea will be even better. Like, with crumpets.

Van Gogh's Ear Award

Beth P. over at The Virtual Teahouse has given me this eery-looking Van Gogh’s ear award. She said it’s “a small token of admiration for your genius.” Thanks, Beth.

I often do not see my own gifts as gifts. Lately a few people have commented – both here and in real life – on my self-awareness.

Socrates wrote that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” My life is anything but unexamined.

But on the other end of the spectrum, I would argue that the over-examined life, mine in any case, ends up feeling un-lived. If I am so busy examining my life, overseeing it, monitoring it, evaluating it, recording it, gauging and measuring, then I am not actually experiencing it. I am a distant watcher, disconnected from the real senses that surround and inform and affect me. I am convinced that this is what has drawn me for so many years to mindfulness practice.

I heard a quote on the radio this morning – something about not having a recipe for success, but that the recipe for failure is surely trying to please everybody.

I have a long history with trying to please everybody. It is a no-win game. The only sure results are a tightness in my throat, a frozen voice, a clenched chest, a combination of overwhelm and paralysis, a stuckness.

My birthday is soon, my thirty-fifth. Last night on the couch, kids finally asleep, laptops finally on standby, I asked Greg to coach me. To help me connect with what I really want for my birthday, to get beyond the paralysis and overwhelm of trying to please other people in making plans.

We talked for a while – mostly I talked – and then that moment came, the one when tears spring, the one when you know you’ve hit on something true. It happens in coaching sessions, it happens in conversations when you are being really heard, really listened to and honored. It often happens for me when I’m on the listening end. To be on the sharing/talking/receiving end is less usual, but so, so good. So what I was needing and hungering for last night.

I knew in that moment how hard it is to ask for something, to ask to be taken care of, celebrated. To receive. To feel truly worthy of letting others do for me.

I was able to say in words that my dream for my birthday weekend involves a handful of all-natural ingredients: sleep, running and/or yoga, touch, food, time alone, and time with a handful of sisters.

I told Greg I wished I could have some little mice fairies, like in Cinderella, take over. Part of my tension was feeling like I had to figure out a plan that would work for everybody. But mice fairies? How silly. How quickly I judge myself.

Sometimes, I carry around this fear that people are upset with me. It always has to do with me not having been sufficiently appreciative or gracious and grateful.

It is easy to become a martyr when you’re a mama. When you’re a partner, a friend, a sister, a daughter. Don’t believe everything you think. You are worthy!

Greg told me to forget now about the birthday. To let go of the planning, the thinking and worrying about it. To trust that I will get what I need. That it is not unreasonable or selfish or indulgent to let others do for me.

Thanks for the genius award, Beth. My genius may well be my self-awareness, the very thing that some days feels like dead weight in open water.

Having asked for what I need, having surrendered the fear of not getting it, I woke up today feeling lighter and happier and more prepared for a day and more present that I have in weeks. We grip so fiercely to things that don’t serve us. Letting go is not easy – but finally comes as a relief.

I have what I need already. There are rainbows dancing on the ceiling here, and a busy world of alarms and emergencies and people torn apart and thrust together. The world is a collision. I sit here, hoping to be a worthy witness, a contributor, a voice. Giving comes easily. Receiving though – now that takes more practice, which is exactly what I am here to do.

Where could you loosen your grip these days? If you have a blog and want to write a little about it, please accept this ear award from me, as an acknowledgment of what we have in common: The desire to live an examined (but not too-examined!) life. (And if you don’t have a blog but want to explore this idea, please feel free to freewrite about it and send me an email.)

You will not be judged. My genius may be that I don’t see in myself what others see in me, but that I always see it in you. Go figure. We teach what we have to learn. You will only be received. After all, you have my ear.

bullseye, baby!: The examined life




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