Thursday, December 18, 2014

turning FOMO into love

November was an odd month. The elastic tethering my heart to home was stretched taut, life in Kingston had some unusual and unexpected challenges, and I longed both for the freedom to be fully here and for the comfort of being home. 

In the midst of that one thing that kept me going, as they have for the past year, was the ladies of my book club (before anyone corrects my odd grammar, I'm speaking of the collective ladies :)). Skype dates. Facebook chats. Emails. Little lovebombs sprinkled throughout my days. And, of course, reading the book they were reading - it's the literary equivalent of laying under the stars and knowing someone you love is looking at those same stars. 

I also reflect, every time I think about them, that it is because of those amazing women (and three amazing men) that I am here in Jamaica living a life I dreamed of. It is challenging some days, it is imperfect, but it is still the most amazing, life-affirming, growing experience I've had. It is because of the unbridled encouragement and support of those ladies that I've not had a moment of doubt since May when I didn't hear one or another of them whispering - or sometimes yelling - to me "you've got this! Dream! Live! Go!"

I am missing our 2nd Annual Christmas Potluck on Monday, and for me the missing will be very real. I have experienced a lot of joy and a lot of 'fear of missing out' (FOMO) in watching them all go on without me. I can't begrudge them their fun, so this is my way of joining in the Christmas revelry. Last year I gave everyone little gifts - this year they get the e-gifts below. You're welcome to take from it what you need as well:

Our ladies, it's hard for me to articulate what you all mean to me without resorting to cliché. Since this is the season of giving, let me instead try to say what you've given me & what I'd give you if it was in my power: 
  • B - the happiest book club news I've had is that you are joining our happy bunch and bringing your gifts of caring, nourishing, and sass. I am sending you a clean shiny slate on which to create a limitless life - no past, no shoulds, no other voices, just you and your brilliant creative heart expressed in the world
  • - you make your living being clever, witty and hilarious, but for me you are also the gift of quiet observation and deep insight. For you, busy mama, I wish sleeping in, peaceful connections, and a graceful expansion of your life over the next few months and as you welcome your newest love
  • D - there aren't words enough for who you are to me, but beauty and freedom are your gifts that come most to mind. I wish you bold, passionate, lasting love and a life that is worthy of your giant heart and talent.
  • EL - you sparkle in a way that makes people around you sparkle too. The love you have for your family & friends and your commitment to taking care of the community are an honour to witness. I wish you nothing more than quiet sleepy mornings in your lovely home with Mr. L and Baby L, and time and space to reflect on how amazing you really are. (And maybe a table to dance on).
  • ES - I have so enjoyed getting to know you. While you are out in the world creating total wellness for others, that is what I most wish for you. Ever-expanding peace in your body ... and bucketloads of Vitamin D by the ocean!
  • EW - You are the embodiment of courage and commitment to knowing what you want in life and going for it. As you prepare to return to work I wish you a graceful transition, peace with the arrangements, and space to still sit and play and cuddle with your little Flower as she grows to be a powerful, beautiful woman like her mom.
  • H - I can think of no one who has taught me more about metamorphosis than you over the past 6 years. I love watching you recreate your life with skill, humour and grace. I wish you boundless prosperity, trees to walk under, and adventures that make you smile that stunning smile of yours.
  • J - our quiet, smiling Mona Lisa who always has the perfect comment at the perfect moment. As you and your family move into a new house and a new year I am sending you ease, joy, and a whole new world in which to create amazing memories.
  • K - the boundless joy and energy that burst from you into life is what I most wanted to get to know when you joined our club. Your passion for a better world is inspiring and infectious. I wish for you bold freedom to have that positivity expressed in the world in a way that gives back to you ten-times what you give to our community.
  • M - you simply are warmth, quiet strength, and generosity. You have also been a consistent blessing to me in reaching out, encouraging, and following through, and I can't thank you enough for that. With a full heart I am sending you peace, a year of calm, healing and joy, and time to just sit, write and be blessed.
  • N - your friendship is such a gift to me. Every conversation we have I leave more centred, calm, and at peace with myself and the world. I wish that for you - have peace in the grieving that will be unavoidable for you this season; know you are blessed, loved, and surrounded with care even in your quiet. And, when it's time, bring back your brilliant laugh that fills the room with sunshine. 
And a gentle reminder, ladies, that everything I'd give you is actually in your power, as you've so consistently taught me.

BTW - November's book was Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It was fine, but painfully predictable. That is all. 
Amazon link
This post is a 3-fer:
Reverb Prompt 18: In the busyness of the everyday, taking time to nourish the soul doesn't reach the top of the 'to do' list as often as it should. What nourishes your soul? How would you like to incorporate more of this into your life in 2015?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the plank in my eye

Sometimes I want to share about insights I've had or lessons I'm learning but I fear that people will assume they know who has helped me learn that lesson or that I'm thinking/writing about someone in particular. I suppose I always am, but that someone is me. I just wanted to make clear that what I'm about to say is about me alone.

I've had a lot of opportunity of late to reflect on some patterns that have run my life and some traits or tendencies that work for me in some areas and not at all in others. One of those things that sounds good but gets twisted into something unhelpful is being compassionate. In both micro and macro ways, I want to make a difference for those who are hurting. It's why I am in Jamaica. It's why I volunteer when I'm at home. It's why most of my pets have been rescues or had some injury they needed nursing back from (that quirk has become somewhat of a running joke with my parents, particularly when I had a menagerie of needs - a scaredy-dog with a kinked tail, a cat with food allergies [and "developmental delays"] and a bunny that was blind in one eye). 

This morning I had the realization that the extension/bastardization of this drive in me is that sometimes my 'type' in relationships has less to do with particular physical attributes and more to do with wanting to rescue someone. When the rescuing is mutual it's worked out okay (though obviously not that okay or we'd be having a different conversation) - then it's not so much rescuing as mutual care and support, and I fully acknowledge the men who have tried to rescue me. However, far too often instead of a partner I go looking for a project. While there have been times that's put me in danger, generally it's less dangerous than it is a sad dishonouring of them and me.

On the receiving end, who wants to be chosen for a relationship because of their perceived weaknesses? And who am I to say someone else need fixing or that I have any power to affect that change? As for me, what was new information this morning is that when my confidence has been shaken and I'm doubting my own worth it occurs to me that 'fixing' someone is what I need to do in order to compensate for the high price of admission for being with me. If I make your life better maybe you won't mind my soft belly or my height; maybe you'll have more grace for me when I'm snarky; maybe you won't mind that you'll always rank behind two other men in my life.

I pondered this while I made my way to work this morning - the walk, the bus, and the route taxi were all filled with my ruminations. When I got to work, I went on YouTube to look up a particular Christmas song and instead this video was the first one in the "recommended videos for you" list. Oh Googlebots, you know me too well. Listen all the way to the end - there's a question there worth thinking about.

And here's a new agreement from me: you do your work and I'll do mine.
. Now excuse me, I need to go deal with this plank in my eye. 


Reverb Prompt 16: (When I received this prompt I read it in relation to my writing projects and didn't see the fit. I see it now)  Like many folks, I picture myself as a modern day Wonder Woman, trying to use my superpowers, to do lists and pure force to get what I want.
- In 2014, I found that my effort wasn’t often tied to my desired outcomes -- except when it was.
- In 2015, is there something you’d like to try harder at because you believe it would make all the difference?
- Conversely, what is something you could stop trying so hard at that might actually help you manifest what you’d like

Sunday, December 14, 2014

as though I had wings

I claim no rights to this aside from the right to hold it as my fervent prayer.

Photo by the incredible Julia Margaret Cameron.
Lines from "Starlings in Winter" by Mary Oliver

Friday, December 12, 2014

love = courage. courage = love.

Reverb Prompt 13: Step one: set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many answers as you can think of to the question: 'When and how was I brave in 2014?' Note: remember the private, intimate and small ways in which you were brave as well as the big public ways.

Step two: Choose one or more of those moments of bravery and write a letter to yourself back at the beginning of 2014, letting you know how brave you are going to be that year.
(instructions are for wussies ;-) )

Step three: Write yourself a short reminder to tuck into your wallet or post above your desk of just how brave you can and will be in 2015. (Tomorrow - I can do that tomorrow) 

As I mentioned earlier in the Reverb process, this has been a year of daring greatly. Of saying what really needed to be said no matter how much I didn't want to say it. Of stepping out in big ways and small - really really big. And really very small. 

It was a year of quiet, courageous questions that needed answers whispered in the dark. Of standing on mountaintops and shaking the world until my voice felt heart and my life realigned. Of letting my baby boys find their adult roads without me. Of letting love go - not die, but go. Of stepping out without a net. Of saying yes when the answer was yes and no when the answer was no. 

There are too many moments to list them all. And as many moments when I let the fear silence me. There is room for more - more honesty, more courage, more loving, more me.

But I can clearly and confidently say that the boldest action I took this year is to continue loving. Yes, I ended a relationship I believed would last for ever - that I wanted to have last forever. But ending the relationship didn't end the love. STG continues to be someone I stand for, someone who stands for me, someone who amazes me, someone whose happiness matters to me more than I can say, someone I turn to for a reminder of who I am and what I'm up to, someone whose existence in my world makes it better and happier. 

It hasn't been easy - for either of us. It has demanded that we be extra-ordinary. It continues to demand so of us. There have been moments we weren't up to it. And then the courage to do so anyway. For both of us. 

And, I love STG. I know he knows it as clearly as I know he loves me. However close or wide the distance between our paths, we have the courage to keep that truth alive, and to choose it whether we want to in the moment or not. Saying good-bye was hard. Continuing to say "I love you" was harder. 

Love doesn't die, though it does sometimes change shape. Courage keeps it alive. 

XO - our first of many 'us-ies'

generous hearts

Reverb Prompt 10: Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?

I wouldn't say the Rolling Stones are particularly skilled philosopher poets, but there are some truths universal that can be found in song. This is one of them:

You can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
But if you try
You just might find.
You get what you need.

In the preview to this prompt, Kira differentiates between "giving" and "generosity" with the observation that generosity "is free of obligations; it opens the heart, and creates warmth and connection between the giver and receiver."

This week I had the rare gift of an escape to a 5-star resort on Jamaica's north coast. I went with no expectations except for some great company and a relaxing luxurious respite after a very hectic and exhausting couple of weeks. I got the respite. I got brilliant conversation. And - perhaps even unbeknownst to the giver - I also left with an expanded heart, increased sense of myself, and the beginnings of an important shift in the nastiness I fling at myself.

As my tears washed into the ocean I began to create a space for someone/something new - a 'me' that lives and loves and gives of herself without the cloying and off-putting need for endless external affirmations I can never truly hear anyway. Or who, at the very least, can see the power that would come from being that woman.

The gift of that awareness is far more than the giver could ever know. Maybe I would have come to it in the hubbub of Kingston, but it was far more accessible in the quiet waters of Runaway Bay. 
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