Tag Archives: vulnerability

Starting Something New: The Courage to Cultivate Authenticity

Starting Something New: The Courage to Cultivate Authenticity

Lately, I’ve been very aware that I am in a period of recapitulation. I’ve been in this place before, but mostly I just reeled against myself in resistance because I couldn’t stand the uncertainty that comes with the territory.

To recapitulate something is to summarize and restate again the main points. In terms of growth and development, it’s a period of introspective evolution — an expansion of consciousness, if you will.

I admit at times, it’s damn uncomfortable. It’s also very sweet and this time around I’m savoring the sweetness of it and being ok with letting things inside of me germinate at pace slower than to my liking. It’s actually kind of peaceful.

As most everything in life needs a period of “rest” after it’s been worked (soil after it’s been tilled, dough after its been kneaded, our bodies after a good work-out and our souls after a challenging period), all of this comes on the coattails of three very challenging years.

In 2011, I walked off a cliff and started a music festival–a blues music festival to be more precise. I also publish a magazine. In this latest issue, I wrote about my experience starting this Festival, which was a totally harrowing experience, and one I wouldn’t change for the world. The journey of the last three years inoculated me against everyday fears that frequently plague all of us. It shined a light in the dark corners where these fears hide and exposed them for the frauds they really are. Where I was once blinded by darkness I can now see, and I am fortified with some truths that I might never have known any other way.

As I look at my blog, I’m realizing the extent of my neglect has been almost a year. So it’s time…time for me to share with you what’s been keeping my attention. Here I share with you my story of starting something new and how that helped me to cultivate authenticity. Starting Something New: The Birth of Tall City Blues Fest

Little Bee

Little Bee

bee_paperbackTold in the alternating voices of two very different women, Chris Cleave skillfully unveils a story of both tragedy and triumph in a way that only a master storyteller can. The plot is engaging all the way through and realistically reveals the nature of human foibles illustrating the inter-connectedness of of all of our lives, even when it’s not seemingly apparent. The story is both thought-provoking and endearing.

Click here to preview this book.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a book that penetrates the deepest recesses of your soul. On the surface, it is a love story. But it is also a scientific inquiry, a drama, a comedy, a tragedy, a trashy novel, a page-turner, a tear-jerker.

You can’t read this book and not be changed forever in some way. It caused me to think deeply about the significance of my own life and the experience that it will leave in people’s memories long after I’m gone. It reminded me that time is so much of an illusion and that to ponder a 500-year plan is not unreasonable, since our legacies live well beyond our years, good, bad or both.

The whole of this book, as it presents the concept of time travel, is a metaphor for surrender, forgiveness and unconditional love. A good read for the both men and women.

Click here to preview this book!

My Most Ecstatic, Realized Self

My Most Ecstatic, Realized Self

I was recently presented with the idea that Life is here to serve us; we’re not here to serve it. I think I’ve spent most of my Life living this idea backwards. Having this notion is like now having a new pair of glasses to see Life in a totally different shade…now I wonder how I can fully experience my most ecstatic, realized self by allowing (not expecting) Life to serve me!

Striving for Failure

Striving for Failure

I wonder what would happen if we changed our idea about ‘failure’ to simply mean a milestone for having tried something big?

And if we try something big and fall short of the goal, does that really mean we failed? If failure means not having met the goal, then yes it does. But I’d offer that our definition of failure is flawed. Shouldn’t the objective always be to do something bigger than we believe ourselves capable? Isn’t life about stretching ourselves, taking risks, embarking on adventure?

Where did we get this idea that the point in life is to be comfortable? Seeking a comfortable, easy life is analogous to striving for planned complacency–and doing it on purpose!

We’ve been programmed to believe that failure is bad and should be avoided, but what if we strived for failure on purpose? And I don’t mean planning for failure; I mean striving for failure. There’s a difference!

Planning for failure is using this idea as a means of justifying and explaining your failures in some kind of twisted logic where failure becomes the new success. “Well, the point of the exercise was to fail, and there I failed, so I succeeded.” No!

Striving for failure, on the other hand, is deliberately choosing projects or goals that are bigger than you, that feel scary, that are beyond our capability to handle and that have an element of unknown. Of course, when we do this, we are likely to fall short of our goal; but more importantly we will have tried something big. We will have stretched ourselves. We will have expanded our consciousness. And maybe, just maybe in the process of trying something bigger than ourselves, we can make a difference in the lives of people around us–in our families, our communities, villages, towns, cities, etc! ‘Bigger than ourselves’ by definition will have a ripple effect even into the lives of people we don’t know.

It’s like this: If it isn’t scary, it’s not worth doing. If at first you don’t succeed, then you were not challenging yourself enough. No one ever achieves something big by being grandiose. We accomplish big things by being willing to risk failure, by not being afraid to put our heart and soul into something that just might not work, by being willing to try. Trying is not dying; trying is the opposite of hiding (1).

(1) Thanks to Seth Godin for the perspective on trying.

Meaningful Relationships at the Heart of a Fruitful Life

Meaningful Relationships at the Heart of a Fruitful Life

I just reviewed: ‘Without Notice: Life Can Change in a Moment’ by Bonnie Karpay on Amazon! The author, creator of the Relationship Quotient, very skillfully harnesses the power of story to illustrate what she calls the “5 C’s”, making them digestable, memorable and thus easier to actually apply in our lives and businesses.

A quick, easy, and compelling read, this is a realistic tale of divine transformation where we watch the main character slowly come to realize that his impossible situation is really a brilliant opportunity. For a debut novel, the author very skillfully lays a contrasting context by rendering the essence and energy signature of a character leading a house-of-cards life, so that when it falls apart in one cataclysmic event; it paves the wave for his healing, self-discovery, and ability to face his own truth.

Ultimately, in the end, it illustrates to the reader that meaningful relationships really are at the heart of a fruitful life.

Click here to take a look inside the book!

Funky Feelings, Faulty Sockets & Voila!

Funky Feelings, Faulty Sockets & Voila!

So I spent 21 days in a funk and if there is anything good I can say about a funk, it is the coming out of it. The brightness of feeling alive and connected again stands out sharply against the dark backdrop of feeling like a blob of existence. I didn’t plan for 21 days (do we ever plan for a funk?); to be truthful I didn’t even realize it was only 21 days. I would have bet money on 45 days and felt sure that I was being conservative.

Getting out of the funk wasn’t easy. Somehow, I was under the grand illusion that I had moved thru other funks, traumas, tragedies and catastrophes much easier than I was working thru this one. This only served to whip me further into the gridlock. I also relentlessly dug the trench deeper by obsessively wondering when it was going to be over. What I finally learned is that I had to take action–in particular, self-care action. Oh how this was elusive! The whole time I was in the funk, I thought I was taking care of my self by resting (read, sleeping) alot, mindlessly escaping into TV and solitaire. It is clear to me now that was a cleverly disguised form of admission into the funk and it was easy to get away with it because it “looked” so normal. Normal just means alot of people are doing it; it doesn’t mean it’s sane!

A vital component of recovery from the funk was relating to other real people. We all have people in our lives who could fit in the “not-real” category, as in you’re supposed to be close, but you never really feel like you know them. So I purposely got with the REAL people in my life and shared the REALity of what had been going on in my world. Sharing with others has a way of diffusing the potency of the funky feelings. It also pastes next steps vividly on billboards!

I had to inventory my funk! Repeatedly playing the circumstances over and over in my head wasn’t working. And neither was trying to answer my own questions with the same mind that created them. So I had to sit down and take stock. This exercise helped me to get clear on WHY I was feeling so bad. It was laughable when I finally saw it for what it was. My character liabilities were in full swing with my full participation, but not my permission! I was bathing in woe (self-pity), obsessing over not meeting others expectations and what they were thinking of me (pride), feeling entitled to better than what I got (entitlement), stubbornly unhappy with what I had (ungrateful), fervently wishing the circumstances could be different (resistance) and waiting to be struck wonderful again (unwillingness).

After having a good laugh at myself, I once again felt worthy of good and this started the re-connection. It was a little like plugging into a faulty socket; the juice is intermittent at first, but with a little concerted effort and attention, it eventually starts working the way it was designed–to be of maximum service when plugged in-to. Funny, how that is reciprocal!

Voila! Now we were getting somewhere!

Willingness Helps Steer Clear of Black Hole

Willingness Helps Steer Clear of Black Hole

Again, I’ve had a lapse in writing and I can tell it in my mind and body. I have that messy feeling that comes with the territory. In part, this is because it’s been so long since I’ve spent much time writing and this, in turn, is because I’ve been completely consumed (and am still recovering) from a HU-MON-GOUS first annual event that I produced recently—that’s my day job.

I vacillate between being energized and deeply exhausted, creatively inspired and being blocked. In reading about Resistance in Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, I am learning just how elusively cunning Resistance really is. I’ve heard invisible thoughts saying things like,

‘Nobody cares about what you have to say.’

‘Everything that’s worth saying, somebody’s already said it.’

‘Writing is a waste of time. You’ve got way bigger priorities right now.’

‘It’s been so long now since you’ve posted anything, you’ve lost all your momentum.’

Even as I write this, what I’m writing feels stupid.

And here’s a real whopper, ‘If you were really going to write, you’d have already started; so apparently it’s not THAT important to you really.’

So F YOU, Resistance! I’m writing, even if it’s crappy. And I do have other priorities right now, but that doesn’t mean writing ISN’T a priority! Writing is always nourishingly therapeutic for me and if I’m not willing to take action on things that replenish me, how can I expect to have any surplus for anyone else? If I don’t do the things necessary and essential for me to feel full and vibrant (as opposed to depleted), I am destined for the black hole of self-serving, self-absorbed, self-righteous, self-pity and self-loathing. Yuk! No thanks, I’ll pass! And ‘passing’ requires effort against the grain of Resistance.

Meltdown’s Make Butterflies

Meltdown’s Make Butterflies

So I had a meltdown on Tuesday. I’ll spare you details except this one tiny, ugly part that might be worth sharing. And not because I want to tell you this, but because I have the nudge that sharing at this level of vulnerability honors the authenticity in me; and I know that when I am authentic, that is what opens the way for you to relate; and because, really, to not share this one tiny, ugly detail, well it would most likely just make the rest of this blog post something similar to Charlie Brown “teacher-speak”—“WaaRah, WaaRah, Waa….”.

Soooo, the ugly little detail…….I threw up months and months of suppressed anxiety, worry and stress….literally. My body convulsed and heaved all thru the night on Wednesday puking up the poison of my stabled headless horsemen; you know those ones: terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair.

Once I reached the end of my rope and gave into the long overdue and necessary “becoming a glob”, my metamorphosis began in that same instant, even though that’s only clear to me in hindsight. I had the warning signs of its commencing, but I didn’t know how to interpret them. So as my body was wringing itself clean of emotional poisons it could no longer stand, I was completely powerless to stop it. It had my full participation, but certainly not my permission! And yet, the cleansing could not have taken place any other way. Apparently, I’m hard-headed!

One thing I can say that was vitally important to my meltdown, cleansing and metamorphosis was being surrounded by safe people around whom it was ok to behave badly….to use foul language, to be unreasonable, to beat myself up, to play the victim, make ridiculous requests, be rude and otherwise just act plain insane; and they would still love me anyway.

Somewhere along the route of this lifetime, I learned that people chose to love and support me based on what I brought to the table and how I acted. Bring alot to the table; let’s get it on! Behave badly; see ya! Is it really a wonder(ment) that our ‘problems’ are of our own making? And aren’t our ‘problems’ really our greatest opportunities? A dear friend of mine says “God gives us brilliant opportunities disguised as impossible situations.” Of course they feel impossible when we’re right in the middle of them, only to be clear as crystal later.

Aren’t we all living to “tell the tale”, so to speak….to move thru the experience, infuse it into our soul, harness the lesson as another treasure in our chests and be poised and ready to share the essence of our authentic lives to relate to another, or another to us? Relating and Relationships….isn’t this the space of life where the fruit is the sweetest? And aren’t meltdown’s how we learn to become butterfly’s?