That Which I Can Recognize But Never Name

(I recently came across this letter in a file and have decided to re-publish it here. I wrote it to friends in February 2008, about my experiences not long after the death of John O’Donohue – for whom I had  begun working just eight months earlier.  )

 

As a child, I always had a room inside myself . . . → Read More: That Which I Can Recognize But Never Name

Farm Life

I’m feeling something shifting in my understanding of my way of life. This morning as I woke, I had the familiar thoughts (and accompanying dread) about a clambering to-do- list, “OVERDUE” flashing relentlessly in my skull. Then, for unknown reasons, I suddenly shifted away from that story.

It was a story about, “Get there. You’re not there yet.”  This morning I thought of my day more like a farmer looks at farm chores, “Up and at ‘em. These are just the daily efforts that support my life.”

This is a story about “I’m here. This is my life.” And, somehow, even though I have lots of plans and dreams for the future, the feeling of ‘not yet’ is diminished and my ability to notice and savour what I already love in my life is awakened. . . . read more

Dancing in Every Direction

When I dance, I take steps forward, sideways, backward.  I follow a rhythm.  I coordinate my movements and rhythm to those of other dancers and the music surrounding me, and I love the creative experience.

When I work, I make a plan for moving forward.  I set a pace and resent interruptions or obstacles that require me to slow down or take sideways or backwards steps.  I want everyone else to match my rhythm and I expect the surrounding circumstances to offer only support for my intention and achievement.  I hate when things don’t go my way; I resent and resist.

The question occurs: Is this why I love to dance and hate to work? Is it just a matter of my expectations?  Is it just that I have a misguided understanding of how work should go? . . . read more

Rejeuvenating Creative Energy and Willingness

Where Did My Willingness Go?

Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck.  I can’t seem to find my willingness to do the things I’ve agreed to do.  My pending to-do tasks are piling up and deadlines are boiling into urgency.

Something needs to shake loose soon, or I’ll be the one boiling in hot water.  So, . . . → Read More: Rejeuvenating Creative Energy and Willingness

Discovering Agreement vs Negotiating Terms

I’ve just read the article by J. Kim Wright (of CuttingEdgeLaw) about the value and importance of putting business agreements in writing.  I agree with Kim that one of the most valuable things you can do is put the agreements and understandings you have into writing – in words you understand and are fully comfortable with.

The ‘boilerplate’ language that many attorneys and pre-drafted document kits provide is often unintelligible – even to the experts and courts.  This inscrutability makes the documents practically worthless – or worse, harmful – because the people who agree to be bound by them may have no real idea of the potential consequences of those contracts.

. . . read more

Traveling Thoughts

I’m heading out for Colorado this week.  I’ll be driving. Road trip! I love to drive across the country and am busy planning and packing. I want to be well-prepared.

The hours of solitude are like a personal retreat for me. I take the roads less traveled whenever possible (in this case, Route 50 “The Loneliest Road in America”) and I carefully choose audio books and music to accompany me.

This trip, I’m taking David Whyte’s new 6 CD set “What To Remember When Waking” (available from David’s web site, from Sounds True, and from Audible.com, among others).  The title of the course is taken from David’s poem of the same name, from which I offer this excerpt:

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
wholeheartedly
will make plans
enough . . .

. . . read more

Happiness & Possibility

Pursuit of Happiness

During the embattled years of law school, a friend and I clung together in our metaphorical fox-hole, confiding to one another all that was scary, going wrong, or likely to go wrong.  We’d spend hours (over nachos and margueritas) pep-talking one another into persevering.  Then, one day, she and I were together and I realized that I had nothing to talk about.  Just at that moment, nothing was scaring me, there was nothing to complain about – and I was at a loss.  What would I talk about?  I had nothing interesting going on.

“Nothing interesting going on.”  That thought got my ATTENTION.  Did I really believe that if there was nothing going wrong then there was nothing interesting happening? Then I began noticing that most of the conversations I heard revolved around some point of unhappiness; and if I began to talk about being happy (about things going right), the shift seemed to cause discomfort. . . . read more

What Is Important?

Workflow planners have lots of advice on time management but generally assume that you already have firm grip on your basis for setting priorities.

One of my favorite time planning systems, Steven Covey’s “First Things First,” charts tasks according to quadrants:

  1. urgent-and-important;
  2. not-urgent-but-important;
  3. urgent-but-not-important;
  4. not-urgent-and-not-important.

Very helpful; but, beyond the crying baby and the kitchen fire, I still need to figure out what is truly important.

There seems to be an assumption that we either already know or can sit down and – using logic – decide what is most important in the plethora of demands and desires that make up our lives.

Right.   Since I don’t just automatically know which tasks ought to go first, I’m supposed to DECIDE?  Everything I’m doing is important!  I can list lots of reasons each thing is important to me (including the fact that it is important to others that I do what I’ve agreed to do).

So, being a sincere and responsible adult, I sit down to figure out which things get put off decide on priorities.  I begin and here come the lists of pro’s and con’s, the calculator, the calendar, the waffling, the talks with trusted confidants, the worry about making a wrong decision or making someone unhappy with me.  And subtly, under it all, a secret struggle is engaged between what I am telling myself should be most important and my underground sense that the SHOULD trail leads away from the FUN.

To top it all off, once an order of importance is decided, my nag goes into full operation, running a critical eye down the list, second-guessing the ramifications and reminding me that things are languishing, deadlines are looming, expectations are teetering on the brink of disappointment .  .  .  blechk!

I need a way to know what is important.  I need way to set an order of priorities that my nag will sign-up for and support rather than use as a way to drain all hope of fun from my days.  . . . read more

Willpower and Willingness

My inner nag is pointing out all the things I’ve left undone . . . and my inner resister-of-authority wonders if the ‘not doing’ is about needing a break.  This is always a tricky question.  I am so ready to believe that I’m a slacker who is just looking for an excuse to play hooky. 

 Productivity / Creativity – getting enough of both

Does productivity rely on effort or nurture?  I know that creativity needs nurturing (plenty of inspirational experiences and freedom).  I’ve always assumed that productivity needed a firmer hand, a driving force.  Now I’m wondering if that is necessarily true?

My creativity can dream things up – but bringing a dream from hope to fruition requires discipline, which is, in my experience, a triumph of will over unwillingness (nose to the grindstone; buckle down; straighten up and fly right . . . you get the drift).   

Might it be possible to have robust productivity without tyrannical will-power and the abrasion of facial features?  . . . read more

Change of Habitude

I’d been waking up several times in the night feeling intense anger and fear. Weird.  No reason for that.  When I took a mental step back, I realized that I was actually experiencing a strong surge of physical energy and interpreting it as anger and fear.   Granted, I’m a 50-something female, which might be a clue . . . → Read More: Change of Habitude