Finding my calm in the middle of the storm

This story of the week is actually the story of the Year. It started August 2015, or actually June 2015, or actually… how far back do we ever have to go to find the beginning of our story?

It’s a story of learning to Trust. Be Open to what I can’t explain. And learning what Love is. Especially when it hasn’t always felt good..

Here’s how it begins.

On June 1, I experimented with a True You Treasure Hunt and the treasure I found that day looked like this: Don’t expect to take the weather with you when you move climates.

It was June 1st and I was taking a hot bath to keep warm. I’d rather it be jumping in a pool to keep cool on June 1st, but hey ho. Not my ideal weather, but I was trying to let it go. The weather isn’t really something to get upset about now is it?

On July 5th I left my house that morning to go for a walk in the Brecon Beacons and it was wet and gray. By that evening I found myself sitting on my couch facing my husband saying the words, ‘I need space’.

Fyi telling your husband that you need space is scary.

I didn’t need space from him, but I needed space from the gray, from wanting my coaching efforts to pay off, from the never ending saga of setting up a fish farm, from wearing gloves and having the heat on in July.

But still, you never know what they’re going to say.

I am forever grateful that he understood and could lovingly and graciously look at me and say. ‘OK. Why don’t you go to home to NY for a few weeks?’ I’m not sure I would’ve done the same.

When I heard him say that, something clicked though. ‘Home? That’s not the space I need. I want to go to Italy.’

On August 4th I was on a plane to Rome for a 10 day ‘work-away’ stay in Abruzzo. I had no idea what to expect other than sun, heat, blue sky, and that I’d be doing odds and ends at an eco-tourism village in exchange for room and board.

It turns out it was an experience I still can’t explain.

By Sunday August 9th, I was sleeping in the bed of the daughter of the woman who owned the eco-tourism project that I had rocked up to. (If that sounds kinky, it’s not.) We had started talking while chopping tomatoes and sun bathing on the beach, and it turned into one of those moments when the you look at each other and think, ‘Right, I’m not in Kansas anymore. We’ve clearly walked into each other’s life for a reason other than my trimming your olive trees and you giving me a respite from Welsh summer.’ She invited me to stay overnight in her city apartment so we could talk about potential opportunities of working together in the future.

It became clear that I could help support her and her growing business from back in Wales, which would give me the opportunity to establish some roots in Italy and let my dream of living there start to take shape.

I remember giving my husband a call and filling him in on the developments and feeling:

Impregnated.

Now, I have never been pregnant, and I have no idea what real pregnancy feels like. But that was the second time in my life my where my womb space felt like something was growing in it.

Once, the day I opened myself up to spending the rest of my life with my now- husband. Twice, that day when I opened myself up to creating a life in Italy.

A check-in here about what that impregnated feeling felt like: Like being in the eye of a storm.

Complete calm, completeness, and certainty, in a sea of a million questions, unknowns, no plans, and uncertainty.

I was sure, even though I had nothing to be sure about. I was saying ‘Yes’, without a guarantee.

And I was holding on to that pregnant feeling while the questions of, What does this mean? Are you crazy? Where’s the 10 step plan? What about this? What about that?, were vehemently swirling around me.

It just so happened that the week I was in Italy, I was reading Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love.

She planted a seed of truth in my mind and my heart that I held on to: Only Love is real.

I guess that’s what left me feeling calm in the middle of that shit storm… I was opening myself up to Love.

Now here is where it gets really interesting.

I think Love, and I think, Yay! Hugs and kisses and hearts and roses and everything turns out perfect! No stress, no worries, no angst.

Far from it.

For the next 5 months I was tested in every way possible.

I thought this decision to open myself to Love, to say yes to an opportunity that I knew in my gut, my heart, my soul, was the way forward, would be smooth sailing. It would give me financial security, it would give me my dreams on a platter.

What it gave me instead was growth.

For 5 months I wrestled with the question: do I stay or do I go now?

The growing pains of navigating a new working relationship, of not having all expectations met, of putting your foot in your mouth and having to clean it up when your dark side is seen.

For 5 months I felt like I was on a seesaw.

But I felt so sure back in August! Was that false? Did I somehow trick myself? Can I no longer trust my gut and that feeling that feels so good and is so hard to explain?

Because this doesn’t feel good anymore! My body doesn’t feel good and I’ve practicing listening to my body! If that’s the case, I should run!

Except here’s the thing: Your body is not going to feel good when you have jumped aboard the Fear boat.

Your body will always feel good when it is in the middle of Love.

It doesn’t matter if the final decision is to stay or to go. That part is irrelevant. What matters is how you feel when you make that decision.

Whatever you choose, if it’s surrounded with Love, it is the ‘right’ decision for you.

I didn’t quite get that at the time, but thankfully 5 months ago I knew enough not to jump ship because that didn’t feel good either. And what I found by staying, was learning how to Love more. How to surrender my own expectations of how story would all unfold, and actually walk with what is.

What I got to experience was a miracle on so many different levels.

To be given the gift of watching another person’s journey to Love unfold in front of me as I was on my own. To see a Jew and Christian ‘by birth’ be able to share experiences of the same God. To discuss business challenges in two very different industries and realize that the only difference is the number of zeroes stuck on the end of the number.

To experience that although we looked different on the outside, we are actually the same on the inside.

Which brought me full circle to a place of being open, being able to listen to what’s in front of me.

And so this summer, when I kept putting off my dream of having a True You Retreat in Italy until 2017 (because of fear of not having enough time or people in my life), but then had these words of encouragement said to me 4 weeks ago:  ‘Why don’t you just have it this September. You’re going to be here anyway.’

I could listen to the nudge.

And once again find the calm within the storm of How? And Who? And What do I do now?

And so begins the next cycle of Listening, Trusting, Growing, and Loving. And dare I say Healing and dare I say Living?

I am currently walking through the Growing part… the process of actually walking forward into the uncertainty and the unknown after you choose to Trust. I’ve never held a retreat before. And fyi… there are lots of inner and outer world obstacles to navigate. And even now as I am writing this on August 21st 2016, even with the certainty that 5 of us will be there in September, I still have no idea how it will turn out!

But as I look back over the past 14 months, here’s what I’ve learned and keeps me moving forward.

#1: Don’t poo poo your dissatisfactions and disgruntledness. If you’re not happy, you’re not happy. There’s probably a good reason why. And instead of trying to force the smile and pretend it’s all OK (because the weather, or my problem du jour, is such a silly thing to be upset about, I have it so good), call a spade a spade. If the weather is pissing you off, let it piss you off. You never know where it will lead you.

#2: Always be open, be present to what is right in front of you. I arrived in Italy last year with an inkling of a dream to live there and have retreats there, and imagined it was years down the road. It would require us owning a villa tucked away somewhere. When events began to open up different doors that had the potential to lead me to the same place, part of me wanted to say No, this doesn’t fit my picture. What about, oh yeah, I don’t have the whole picture.

Lesson #3: It’s ok to trust the feeling of complete calm, peace, and serene knowing from deep within. It may only last a moment, (because the minute you take the first step of action all the fear and uncertainty and doubt now has a new spot on the path to try to take over), but trust the moment.

Lesson #4: Choices when you are open, and present, and inviting in Love, will feel good. It doesn’t matter whether the choice is to end something or start something, you will still have the peace and the calm to ground you even if only for a moment. That doesn’t mean that Fear, Doubt, and Distrust goes away forever. And so when you find yourself in that boat, find your way back to Love. Chances are you’ll grow as you find your way there.

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What you can learn from your 10 year old

Written by Liberty Bain for The True You Project:

My 10 year old started a new school this week. Last week was spent getting everything in order; buying uniforms, supplies and going to orientation. He loves his school bag from last year but wanted it to be monogrammed.  

Before we headed out on our shopping expedition, he showed me a creative design he’d dreamed up for how he wanted his name sewn onto the bag. His name begins with a W and his design included a lightning bolt.

When we arrived at the monogram lady’s shop, she laid the bag out and asked how big he wanted his name and what color thread he desired. At this point he started questioning her to see if she ever did special designs, etc. That’s when Miss Pat, as we got to know her, invited him to pull up a chair in front of her design computer and look through hundreds of possible lightning bolts. From there they perused different stitches and other options for his bag.

Five minutes turned into ten and ten turned into twenty. I got super itchy on the inside, thinking this was taking too long, and I thought about trying to hurry him up.  

I asked myself a question instead: What is it about this process that is triggering me?

I realized I have a tendency to rush through things that are important because I fear ‘taking too long’ will annoy people and I’ll end up feeling rejected.

Letting that old story go began right there in the shop. I chose to watch him live like he belongs and matters, to simply let him be who he was in the moment. I also got to practice getting comfortable with my discomfort.

After settling on the size and shape of the lighting bolt, he spent a full 5 minutes choosing just the right blue thread.  I almost rushed him here too, but watching his process I bit my tongue (again). His presence and trust astounded me. He never flinched about asking for more blue thread options or a bigger lighting bolt, and he didn’t settle for anything that he didn’t really love. Never once did he consider he wouldn’t be able to get what he really wanted. It clearly had not crossed his radar that he needed to hurry or that this was ‘taking too long.’

Observing my son, vulnerably and wholeheartedly, enjoying his next loving step totally inspired me.  He used a basic process that  included asking lots of questions, taking time, and making his best choice.

So I wondered: where can I apply a ten year old’s trusting principle of continuing to ask for what I want and how I want it?? How quickly can I shuck the lie that I need to curb my desires??

First, I need time and space to dream and practice creativity; to come up with my own lightning bolt designs for life.  

Then I want to trust that everything is conspiring to help me ask for what I want to become reality.

Everything might not turn out exactly how I want – but it won’t be because I held back or talked myself out of it because I didn’t want to annoy anyone or make them uncomfortable.

How about you? Where in your life do you need to ask for more!?

What are your unique designs you want to bring to the surface?
Where could you reframe ‘I can’t because…’ into creativity for how you actually could??  
Where is possibility hiding in plain site in your life??

How incredible would it feel to go for it?? Whatever IT is??

If the answers to all these questions feel like way long shots, reach out to me or Kendra for a nourishing session to connect you to your True You. Email us at trueyou.inspire[at]gmail[dot]com

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfection. That unattainable goal that dangles in front of us and slips through our fingers just as we think we have a grasp on it.

It’s kept me grovelling, on my knees, reaching out like a beggar on a street. Please! Please! Let this time fit the bill!

Perfection has been my nemesis. It will either take over my actions, trying to force a flawless outcome. Or it will stop me from taking any action, because there’s too much risk of failure in the attempt.

I’ve been aware of this for awhile and so have slowly been embracing the imperfect. I’ve started to change how I live… evident by the mess in the kitchen, the garden that needs weeding, and the business that could have more of a financial cushion.

I’ve written about it here.

And while I thought I had put to bed my struggle with perfection 18 months ago, something’s been niggling at me since then.

Sometimes letting go of perfection feels like settling. Shouldn’t I strive for better? Shouldn’t I be working harder to get the results I know I’m capable of?

And so this tug of war between getting it right and letting it go continues on.

A week ago I opened an email that stopped me in my tracks. One of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. They hit my inbox roughly around 7:12 am, just in time for my 2nd alarm of the day to go off (my imperfect start to my day).

I read this:

“If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially in ourselves.

A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond imperfection.”

I’ve been reading and re-reading and re-reading this over, letting it all sink in.

So basically, thinking that I bagged the ‘perfectionism’ mountain, actually isn’t the point. Declaring to the world, I’m not perfect and I’m OK with that, sure that’s a start… acknowledge and accept, right? But had I forgiven and included imperfection?

Not sure I can say I have been. I’ve still be trying to find the Override button.

So what exactly is the freedom RR is offering me?

Today my answer came in another email of his, this time at 7:15 on the dot:

“The only perfection available to us humans is the ability to include and forgive our imperfection. But the ego doesn’t want to believe that. The ego doesn’t want to surrender to its inherent brokenness and poverty. Yet the truth is, realizing your imperfection is the beginning of freedom and grace. There is such freedom in no longer pretending to be something we’re not.”

Here’s my word for that: Vulnerability.

It’s beyond ‘Hey world, I’m not perfect!’. It’s spelling that out a little bit more.

I have flaws. I make mistakes. I don’t get it right all the time. I need help. I have no clue what I’m doing sometimes. I’m the blind leading the blind. I’m giving it my best shot. Sometimes my best doesn’t reach the mark I was aiming for. Sometimes my best tires me out and so I need to take a nap.  Sometimes my best is so far below the world’s standards that I ask why try in the first place.

My ego fights hard not to admit all that. My ego wants you to think I have my act together 100% of the time, (even though ‘I know’ I’m not perfect…)  and the blips are only there because ‘It’s not my fault! I didn’t know better!’. Sometimes my ego likes to play the victim.

I find it’s hard for me to shake the perfection when I’m looking around me, comparing my best to someone else’s, assuming that I should be further along.

It’s even harder when pesky little fears sneak in… what if they find out? What if my best is never good enough? What if I am doomed to always get it wrong?

But that’s not the picture that got painted by Richard Rohr. What he pointed out to me is this:

I am doomed to get it wrong.

But that’s only a big deal when I can’t accept the fact that I will get it wrong.

Accept the fact that I will get it wrong? Now I can relax, stop fighting it, melt into the sweet grace that I am whole anyway.

That gives me permission to give it all my best shot AND be OK with my best is not always getting the ‘perfect’ result…. It’s going to get the perfectly imperfect result instead.

For some reason the only way I could understand this seeming contradiction was as I contemplated the existence of Black and White Cookies.

You know those cookies? They’re big and round with chocolate icing painted on one half and white icing painted on the other?

Perfection is like wanting a 100% black cookie or a 100% white cookie.

Perfectly Imperfect is saying, that the cookie is still a cookie with only half black and half white. Heck, it’s still a cookie with a 75/25 split. It’s still a cookie with jagged icing edges instead of smooth ones. It’s even still a cookie with a bite taken out of it.

And a damn good one at that.

We all have our flaws, our imperfections, and our egos that work really hard to cover them up AND want a guarantee of safety before taking any action outside the comfort zone of ‘I know I can land this one’.

Maybe it’s time to accept I’m a black and white cookie… you’re a black and white cookie…

Even with bites taken out …we’re still pretty awesome just as we are.