The beauty is in the nuances

…which we miss when we rush, multi-task, fall into stress, panic, and anxiety, get defensive, or when we are steeped in the commotion of an emotion.

When these happen, it’s difficult to understand that there is nuance, or that there is any other truth than we know to exist.

When we miss the nuances, we can misread the situation and alter the positive potentialities in the experience. Likely, we see what we thought we would see, confirming our current belief system, because we see what we believe, what we expect, or what we desperately hope against… so we miss the nuance, which could have been game changing.

If we could slow down and take in the subtleties and detach ourselves from being right, or from the familiar, we might see that something else is happening altogether, right in front of us.

Are you on defense mode?

We need not defend ourselves internally, though it seems that we often do. We replay our last conversations, and our minds automatically justify what we said as if that’s going to help us affirm our very being. As we move through life, we value ourselves against others to know how good a human we are.

We don’t need to. We are already complete in ourselves as the continually evolving humans that we are, and living in the present moment is a much more effective and powerful solution to affirming our very being.

That said, when we do come up against conversations and situations that seem to challenge our belief or operating systems, we might do better to shift from a defensive position to taking time to find any bit of truth in the dissonant messaging that that experience has struck within us that has caused us to take defense.

This isn’t to say that we are falling short or that we are wrong. And this isn’t for the other person’s benefit either. It’s for our benefit, so that we may release ourselves from the defense (which doesn’t produce a good feeling and causes more stuck-ness than anything else) and so that we may be reminded to stay open, to see what others may be seeing that we are unable to see ourselves. It’s a way of practicing neutrality and finding opportunities to refine the way we operate so that we become more aligned and clearer in expression, creativity, and action.

It’s finding our blind spots and expanding into better versions of ourselves without the judgment but with the ah-ha’s that come with being open to the infinitely creative ways to evolve and relate to ourselves and others.

And when the defense mode melts away, our nervous systems can restore, we can love ourselves with greater ease, and the present moment becomes accessible.

Time is on your side when you are present

It’s when I’m in a rush that I break a glass and then have to take another 5 minutes to clean it up. Or I forget something I really need.

It’s when I’m multi-tasking that I don’t absorb the fullness of what I am doing, reading, or listening to while trying to save time. What I miss doesn’t allow me the full experience, causing me to have essentially wasted my time (and that of others) in the experience because I’ve missed the real connection to offer back a real reply. Multi-tasking also causes cooking to become a chore and burning food to become a thing.

When I am present, my work is much more efficient because I have the clarity of a small child negotiating for something. The adult with a harried mind doesn’t have a chance at winning. And when I look up at the time once I’m done with my work, it’s always surprising how little time it took to get it done. But only when I am present. And it’s always better work.

One of my beloved teachers once told me, “the short cut’s the long cut. The long cut’s the short cut.” With the short cut, you eventually have to go back to pick up what you’ve missed; that travel time is extra time required, not just to go back there but to put the pieces back together.

Deciding to be present is a practice in self-discipline and boundaries. It requires setting up uninterrupted time, saying no or later, and delving fully into the work. When this happens, whatever the work is, it is enjoyable because you will have brought divinity to even the most mundane. If you are multi-tasking the thought, “I don’t want to be doing this, I’d rather be doing that,” that’s not being present and it becomes a chore. If you surrender to the work, the work itself, and that moment, becomes Divine.

Try it.

Don’t rely on motivation…

…rely on habit. (Humble the Poet)

Motivation may be a catalyst, but the habit will take you the rest of the way.

The rest of the way can feel like a daily grind, and it’s up to you to decide to find the divinity in it rather than rely on something to inspire you every day. Motivation will come again as the habit takes you to new ground and you have found a bit more of yourself and your capacities on the way there. Habit makes your actions more automatic, neutral-minded, and victorious.

It’s not in the glamour. It’s in the work.

You got this.

The danger of the story

  1. You get stuck in that belief.
  2. It’s an old story, and also it could be wrong.

I don’t know how often my mom told me some version of “You can’t do this.” It could have been twice. It could have been 200 times.

It might as well have been 200 times, because I took it in and held on to it for a very long time, causing a tremendous amount of self-doubt.

When my daughter was around kindergarten age, we were briefly stopping over at my mom’s, and I don’t remember what it was about, but I had shared with her my daughter’s accomplishment.

My mom smiled, and she said, “she can’t do that,” half speaking to my daughter.

I suddenly felt a mixture of knowing that she is totally kidding to “Oh my God!” to “Mom, you can’t say that to children. They don’t get those kinds of jokes.”

I saw that this was a part of how she communicated, and I could see that she was proud of my daughter. And also, I had an immediate gut knowing that this is how she spoke to me as a child, and I didn’t get the challenge back then. It’s as if she expects the child to lift up her chest and say, “Oh, yes I can!” And then show it.

The other part of this incident with my daughter is that I realized that if I weren’t fully present in the moment to pick up on my mom’s subtleties, and if I was busily multi-tasking our brief visit to pick something up, I could have missed the whole opportunity. I would have been triggered by my mom’s words and have taken them the way I received them as a child, and I might have said something out of anger (and she would have had no idea where it came from), or I might have said to myself, she’s not seeing my daughter again.

Instead, I got that she loved my daughter, was doing what she thought was playful, and it was an opportunity for me to correct a few things lovingly “Of course she can! Madie, tell us…” Then: “Look, Mom, children take things literally. She won’t get your joke or challenge. Please don’t say things like that to her.”

It was a good lesson for me, which I think about to this day as I look at my 21 year old daughter and think to myself, “I don’t know what my story was, but it wasn’t what I thought, and thank God.”

Breathe first. Then continue to breathe as you feel your emotion.

Otherwise you’re in danger of turning your emotion into commotion.

Rather than taking a deep breath in reaction to your commotion, take deep breaths for the sake of taking deep breaths, using the emotion as a reminder to breath. It helps to close your eyes if that’s possible.

Slow down and find the gentle, soothing breath. There will be a dramatic difference in the quality of how it serves you. This isn’t to replace your emotions but to serve them in the best way possible. Take in the vital life force you need to be fully present to your experiences (versus being fully “present” to creating the story around your feelings), giving you the ability to create from a more tolerant and equitable place rather than to get sucked into the vortex and into the commotion. The resistance is in the addiction to feeling the righteousness and preserving the identity as your ego knows itself. You are more than that. You are stronger than that. Ask yourself how giving in serves you, and then own where you go with it.

Connection to your breath is connection to your vital life force and the bridge to your soul, which is connection to your most honest self. We are blessed to have such a powerful tool to navigate our inner world (which presents itself to the outer world) and so many reminders in our day to connect with it. May we use it to know what to do next.

Can one person be everything?

I was talking to a friend who shared that it seems unfair to expect in one person that they be the significant other/ lover, best friend, financial partner, emotional support, secret keeper of all things, housework partner, inspiration… the person to share bad news with, good news with, all your challenges, who listens when you need to be heard and talks when you need solutions or words of inspiration, holds space when you want them to, and distracts you with pleasures when you need that instead. To want to eat what you want to eat and believe in what you believe in.

That’s what we seem to fantasize.

We might consider if it’s a fair expectation that one’s lover should also be one’s best friend. My friend pointed out that there was a time in history that one would have a significant other and a different best friend.

What do you think?

I think that if someone expected all of that in me, it would be an unfair burden. I would feel set up for failure.

As I listened, I realized that my default is to turn to myself first. To sit in the celebration or the failure first, listen, feel, breathe, clear my mind of all the noise around them. I feel quite content to celebrate internally first– it’s a sacred moment really– before I pick up the phone to externalize. I feel more grounded when I first allow myself to settle in to the perceived hardship myself, to know what my internal compass is saying first, before I let the words come out and have to sort through another person’s opinions. Where I often feel the need to adjust is in knowing how long to stay there before I consciously choose who to share with or ask for support.

What do you do?