Category Archives: Window Into My Life

‘Tis the Season to Guard Your Peace

‘Tis the Season to Guard Your Peace

(excerpted with edits from original article published in Midland Reporter-Telegram-Dec 2006)

Whatever your feelings about this time of year, the memories you have that cause you discomfort, the presents you can’t afford to buy, the meringues that fall, the strands of lights that won’t work, the hours you spend in an airport instead of with family, the family members you dread having to tolerate, or the things don’t go according to plan – we and everything around us is EXACTLY as it is supposed to be.

So often, we lose sight of the bigger picture because we get caught in the web of expectations – usually our own expectations and, particularly this time of year, what we perceive others’ expectations to be for us. We expect that things will go according to plan and when they don’t, we become irritable. We obsess about appearances and become restless. We impose our expectations on others and when they don’t comply, we become discontent. All of these things take away our peace – that inner peace of knowing that all is well, even though nothing is the way we would like it. We make the assumption that what goes on around us has the power to alter our peace.

I often like to think of my life as a tapestry that is not yet complete. As I am busy toiling away at the stitches of my tapestry, I can only see the back-side where the threads are messy and knotted and certainly don’t appear to make for the fine tapestry I would like for my life. Yet, when I get a break in life and get a glimpse of the front side of my life’s tapestry, I am always amazed at what I see. Suddenly, I get perspective on why things were the way they were at a time when I thought my life was in complete chaos. Even if just for a fleeting moment, I am often comforted in the peace of realizing that once again everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.

There was a time not too long ago that I was really wrestling with some things in my life that were not as I wanted them to be. Simply put, I was not in acceptance, although I didn’t know that at the time. I was sharing some of my woes with a dear friend of mine and she said to me, “Lisa, if you knew that in the next 30 days, everything would be exactly as you would like, what would you be doing different today?” Without missing a beat, I said “The same thing I am doing right now,” which was worrying about the outcome. And in that very next moment, the insanity of my answer struck me. Why would I continue to worry if I knew everything was going to be all right? And furthermore, why was I giving my peace away for absolutely no reason? It was one of those life-stopping moments where I had once been blind, but now I could see. I got a front side glimpse of my life’s tapestry.

The back-side view of our tapestry represents our feelings about things – messy and not always pretty. But the front-side view represents the reality of our life – the way things really are despite how we feel about them. I once heard that feelings are not facts. Yet how often do we assume they are and react to them with sometimes disastrous results?

So, this season, Guard your Peace! And when you feel it slipping away, remember that everything is exactly as it should be and when you get one of those priceless glimpses of the front side of your life’s tapestry, you will know this is so. Don’t sacrifice the precious moments of the Present because you can’t believe it until you see it. Don’t let the things going on around you interrupt your Peace.

Have Peace because you have Faith.

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!

Meltdown’s Make Butterflies

Meltdown’s Make Butterflies

So I had a meltdown on Tuesday. I’ll spare you details except for 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 akin to Charlie Brown teacher-speak.

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 butterflies?

Knowing vs. Learning

Knowing vs. Learning

I recently had the realization that I’m not very good at learning. Not because I’m not capable of learning or because I have a learning disability (at least not in the clinical meaning of that term). No, my disability is that I don’t want to learn anything, but I want to know everything.

That creates a real conundrum that gets exacerbated when in the midst of learning something new. And learning something new is exactly where I’ve been for the last 5 months—actually learning several new “somethings”, which adds to the complexity of the issue. Now I know that we are all always learning something new—that’s the nature of living. What I mean is that for the last 5 months, I’ve been learning multiple and specific new skills and that being on top of the staple life learnings like how to be an authentic woman, a good mate, a good daughter, a good leader, ad infinitum.

I realize now though that the complexity of this learning multiple “somethings” within the same window is precisely what tipped me over to the point surrender. It got to be overwhelming and I waved the white flag and said “Uncle”! And then it came to me: “I am making these processes (learning curves) way more difficult than necessary. I am piling additional difficulty on top of something that has its own inherent difficulty”!

The entire time I am learning something new, my mind is holding court making judgments about my progress and it says things like: “When are you going to get this deal already?”; “How long does it take to get this figured out? You’re smart, what’s the hold up?”; “When are you going to be done with this? We’ve got other things we need you to do. So hurry up!”; “Time is of the essence and you sure are taking a long time. Maybe you’re not cut out for this.”; “You better hurry because time is running out. Your window of opportunity is closing.”

My mind is a dangerous neighborhood sometimes. Obviously it serves a valuable purpose and is necessary and essential to my entire being, so throwing out the baby with the bath water serves no purpose, but how the hell do I get it to stop holding court? Like any tyrannical leader, it gets me convinced that IT is not the problem, IT is the solution, IT is what keeps me moving closer toward the goal and without IT, I am nothing. I think there’s a name for that dysfunction when a captive idolizes their captor, but looking up that term is not the point. The point is my mind has me captive and I keep listening to it!

It has me buying into this belief that everything I learn and eventually know (from experience) will assist me in arriving somewhere new. That isn’t true! First of all, there isn’t anywhere to arrive and to the extent that there is, I’m already here—in the present moment. So this idea of movement is an illusion. It’s really growth I seek. Growth inherently requires change. Change is hard because it doesn’t always feel right. The “not feeling right” part is what makes learning something new difficult.

The process of learning is already difficult enough because it requires us to expand ourselves and change. It’s not about satisfying an insatiable appetite for knowledge just for the sake of knowledge. It’s about being open to the experiences necessary to bring new knowledge into my conscious awareness, so that I can apply it to circumstances and situations in my life. The “knowing” is not the objective—that’s just a clever mechanism for trying to arrive again. The objective is to be in acceptance during the process of learning, whether that be in the microcosm of learning a specific skill or in the macrocosm of learning one of life’s staples.

When I can ignore the bullying of my mind’s court sessions and allow myself the freedom to accept the process of learning; well then, learning is a much more tolerable process. It feels like expansion of me rather than an obstacle for me. Limitations while learning are part of the process. It’s not wise to compete while learning or imagine competitors when there are none.

Time is of the essence, but time is always of the essence because the only time is the “now time”. That doesn’t mean time is running out; it just means I am where I am and I am right on time, whether I think that to be true or not. And that, I believe, is the key to peaceful learning. The trusting that I’m always right where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing; even if I don’t like it, understand why or think I’m late!

Divine Design

Divine Design

I have recently been aware that God is working something out inside of me and I am at peace with it-Sometimes.

For 10 days now–or maybe more; I don’t seem to have had much concept of the passage of time–I can tell that I’ve been in a state of internal chaos.  All sorts of random, and sometimes conflicting, thoughts and ideas and languages and dreams and words and conversations and pictures have taken up residence in my head and I am powerless to change it.  And I’m not sure if I want to change it!  That’s the craziness of it all!

It’s like observing the observer.  Like waiting on an oak tree to mature or beer to ferment.  It seems all pointless and yet I know it’s not.  Something is happening even if I can’t see it.  I know this feeling of chaos is all by divine design and I know that the chaos theory still produces results even in spite of the chaos.  So I am in acceptance at the realization that God is working something out in me and I am willing to let Him.  I’ve learned that willingness is the key that can unlock many doors that otherwise would remain closed and even though none of these thoughts in my head make a lick of sense, nor can I piece them together into anything remotely palatable; I am willing.

What else can I do?  When I contemplate my choices rationally, I can either choose to accept the circumstances and believe something that makes me feel peaceful about it like “God is working something out inside of me” or I can fight to the bitter end, whenever that may be, and neglect living life in the meantime for being so distracted by the fight; and then end up with all sorts of regrets and, quite probably, amends to make–all for lack of presence at the time of mind.  Yuk!  I’d rather take the easier softer way, even if I’m wrong.  Besides, ‘right’ is only the willingness to risk being ‘wrong’.  Whoever made such a big whoop about being right all the time, anyway?  Would I rather be right or be happy?

As puzzling as this window in my life feels at the moment and as much as my mind wants to get ahold it and figure it all out RIGHT NOW, I am content to let it, whatever ‘it’ is, work itself out.  I recognize that I may just be the vessel for ‘it’ coming to life in my conscious awareness, most likely in the form of some kind of grand realization, new self-awareness or creative masterpiece that will alter the course of my life, hopefully in amazingly unimaginable good ways!  No one ever said that periods of deep introspection and chaos don’t create our everyday life’s work.  I suspect they are precisely the anvil upon which our lives are molded into shape!

Drought of Inspiration

Drought of Inspiration

Do you ever wonder why we must have times without purposeful vision?  Or times without inspiration? In the midst of times like these, I am prey to wonder what is the purpose of this?  Why must I go through times like these?

Over the last several weeks, I have found myself vacillating in and out of times just like this.  And it seems to me, although my perception is not always reality, that it’s happening at a time when I desperately need vision and the inspiration to carry it out.  I have the fortunate responsibility of being at the helm of a rapidly growing company and times without vision or inspiration just seem to be an unnecessary stall in the grand scheme of things.

But let me tell you the flip side of this same coin.  Work has always been a place where I could isolate myself from living life, all the while thinking I was living life.  Funny how we can delude ourselves!  It was so easy to conjure up delusions of grandeur about how I was making a difference with my work, all the while relationships with people I cared about the most were going unattended.   Long story short, I had wrapped up my identity in my work so much that the two became inseparable.  Somewhere along the way, work was no longer just work, it became who I was.  The unfortunate nature of finding yourself in this place is that when you realize that your “works” have become your life source, you must also admit that you are without faith.  Faith without works is dead and works can’t substitute for faith no matter how many times you attend church.

So in the midst of coming to truths with this realization, I began praying earnestly for relief from the bondage of work.  This has, no doubt, been a process and not an event.  And for as long as I was work-identified, it will most likely be a life-long process. But more is always revealed.

And more has been revealed.  During these times without vision or inspiration, I have discovered it is a really awesome experience to become aware of how God is answering your prayers, but still, be experiencing the change.  Most of my experience before now has been the realization of a prayer being answered after the fact, not so much during the process of change.  And I am always in awe of how my prayers get answered.  It is never simple, it’s always complex and much richer and deeper than I expected.  Answered prayers always catch me by surprise.

So I now unequivocally understand my truth about this drought of vision and inspiration.  As someone who, for the better part of my working life, has always been blessed with vision and inspiration, I learned to over-rely on that gift in the vein of seeking my identity thru work.  In the process of earnestly seeking redemption from the bondage of work and being willing to do things differently, these times of drought have been a blessing.  While I have felt disconnected without vision and inspiration, it has also left me with nothing to which I could attach myself.  It is almost like God’s gift of time off, so that I could start to learn what it feels like to have balance between work and rest.  To learn work’s proper place in my life.  To have work, but not be identified with it.  To know that being grateful for work is not the same as being identified with work.   To learn that being responsible for my contribution to the finances is not a license to work to the detriment of important personal relationships.  To learn that a life’s work does not mean I must spend all of my life at work.  To learn that time-off from work is just as critical work as the work itself.  To learn that work is a part of life, but being a part does not make it the whole.

The Truth of Stillness

The Truth of Stillness

This morning I woke up with an overcast of depression. Really, I suppose, it sat in last night, but I wasn’t willing to admit it. I just thought I was really tired. It seems to me that waves of depression just hit me out of nowhere, although I am sure this is not the case. One minute things are great and the next I feel uninspired, unmotivated,unsatisfied and ungrateful. Really, I think a depressive overcast is a temporary malfunction of perception–an inability to recenter oneself.

So what do you do when the overcast strikes? Somehow wallowing on the couch or in bed doesn’t make it any better, although my mind guesses it just might. Reading a book, cleaning the house or working on a project doesn’t hold any more appeal. I’m stuck. Everything seems askew. Nothing seems right. My mind grasps at straws probably because it is the very thing that is causing the problem. I suppose the dilemma of depression is that you can’t solve it with the very thing that caused it. Maybe that’s why depression feels so directionless. My mind frantically searches for a solution continuing to perpetuate the disruption of its own domain.

Stillness. Quiteness of heart. The heart can quite the mind, but the mind cannot quite the heart. I need to find a different doorway thru which to escape the gloom and this doorway of the heart holds promise. Even if it doesn’t work, anything has got to be better than being locked in the gerbil-wheel of my mind. Caution: we can manage the image of stillness, yet still not be still. A mockery of stillness can very cleverly mimic genuine stillness and from the outside, they both look the same. On the inside, though, one offers no relief, while the other soothes the mania like balm on a wound. Stillness has nothing to do with what is external to me and everything to do with my inside neighborhood. Stillness is the place we go to reclaim our power–that personal power that ables us get recentered to life once again. Stillness is not quiteness, although quiteness can be found in stillness. Stillness is not rest and it’s pursuit is certainly not an excuse for laziness under the guise of rest. Stillness is not a project. Stillness just is. Stillness is all around us, always. We just have to tune the beacon of our heart in its direction. We must be willing to accept the grace of its healing gift.

“Be still and know that I am God”, we are told. Yet in seeking stillness with deliberate purpose, we feed the very problem itself. Reaching stillness, as I discovered this morning, is as simple as acceptance. Accept the stillness. Choose the stillness–over any other thing. The only conscious act is the act of choosing. Choose stillness and the healing begins. It begins from the inside out. Stillness can be had anywhere, anytime with a simple election. The election of choice. At a time when it feels like we have no choices and we are bound in a our own prison, election of choice doesn’t seem within grasp. Yet we already know that depression is the manufacturer of illusion. We already know that our feelings are not always facts. Now we know that the feeling of no choices does not constitute the truth of no choices.