You showed up without an invitation.
bursting into my life unexpectedly.
I set out to beat you,
determined to show you
just how things will be the same
and I will be who I have always been.
Yet, you won –
you showed me
how your power changes things
and I was different the moment you showed up.
This poem is about how unexpected challenges change us, despite (or sometimes because of) our resistance or denial. I wrote it originally in spring of 2012 about my experience with an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis. Circumstances are different, yet the wisdom seems fitting as much today as it did back then.
* I took this photo of the needles on a saguaro cacti in San Agustinillo, Mexico.
inside my head
the little voice
whispers worldly words
that I want to push away
her arms to fight
then I remember
to take a deep breath
to slowly walk up beside the voice
acknowledging her wisdom
grateful for her good intentions
and to stand calmly in her presence
from this accepting space
the world opens
and I feel free
to write a different story
that moves me
in the direction
that I truly want to go
Today’s post is a tribute to Teresa, who led restorative yoga classes at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for breast cancer survivors back in 2012. One day in our practice she invited us to befriend, rather than resist, our natural unpleasant thoughts…to try standing beside them versus pushing them away. I remember the sense of calm that came with her invitation and this fresh relationship.
This post is also dedicated to ‘Coach Christina’ who guided me for 6 months in early 2012 at a time when unwelcome thoughts were abundant following my mastectomy. With her guidance and incredible loving support, I was able to befriend and shift my thoughts in ways that brought welcome catharsis.
I am so grateful for the wise leaders who guide and inspire me.
* I took this photo in San Agustinillo, Mexico. These two little guys capture so nicely how I would like to be friends with those sometimes unhelpful voices in my mind. 🙂
I strip away the film
that has built up over the years.
I feel as if I’m moving backward
as the layers fall away.
I question the false self
that I have created with my beliefs.
My certainties drift into air
like sand disappearing in the wind.
I stand open and empty
like a young child without expectations.
As my real self is exposed,
I see I have been moving forward all along.
I wrote this poem over 7 years ago. I forgot that I even wrote it. Somehow it never made it into the file where I stash away my scribblings. I happened upon it when reviewing some old journal entries and letters to a friend. I was surprised how it spoke to me again, all these years later. Circumstances are different, yet again there is opportunity for rebirth.
How my coach at the time interpreted the writing was inspiring: She saw a woman shedding old layers to transform into the beautiful butterfly she was meant to be, a woman who discovers that she has always been a beautiful butterfly, she just needed to let go of what was weighing her down so that she could soar.
* I took this photo of a geranium blossom in my backyard. I picked this photo because the water on the petals speaks to me of tenderness, and that seems relevant given the open and exposed feelings expressed.
gathers in me
beyond my fear
a precious place
of cool and calm
where my heart
rests in the quiet
May we slow down enough to notice the tenderness within and find peace in the sanctuary of ourselves.
* I took this photo at a beach near Saint Florent, Corsica, looking out at Cap Corse. I selected this photo because the sailboat seems to be resting in a peaceful sanctuary. The entire scene seems calm and quiet compared to the previous day out on the Cap – photo below.
to be where
we should be
of the present
the future’s plans
this moment’s grace
out of habit
of the beautiful nuance
available in our current experience
to the gift
This poem, similar to last week’s (a simple dream), evolved from noticing myself expecting that I should be doing something more or that I should be somewhere else. I find myself in a hurry to know what the future holds, as if the days will somehow be richer if I just know.
And then grace enters the room, I catch myself getting ahead, begin to wonder why I’m rushing, and find what it takes slow down. Once I stop the scurry, I can breathe into the present, with all it has to offer. I discover that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and there is enough time for life to unfold.
No grand entrances,
big accomplishments, or
For joy to
carry my heart, and
nourish my spirit.
For joy to
fill me with grace,
envelop me in calm,
open me to hope, and
allow trust to flow through me.
For joy to
guide my intentions,
shape my choices,
carry me in action.
Oh, that my joy
moving ever so gently,
Could it be –
my dream is
as simple as joy?
Sometimes I find myself searching and striving as if something is missing, as if there is somewhere else I am supposed to be. Yet, in the morning calm, I see the simple truth — that everything is already here and I am already what I need to be.
I once lost my joy. I found it when I learned to be more aware and awake to ‘what is’. That is, I learned to be more present. I learned to tune in to the power I have to create my experience and impact others. I’ve carried joy through abundantly delicious adventures, exciting challenges, job changes, health crises, personal losses…and I know that joy changes everything. It is the passageway to whatever is next.
* I took this photo of day lilies in my backyard. I selected this photo because the way that the lilies reach for the sunlight looks like joy to me.
the awakened spirit
bravely leans into
the moment’s softness
the hungry soul
opens and allows
others’ love to flow in
the tender heart
the gift of wholeness
This post was inspired by reading Healing is Mutual in Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom. She writes about a doctor who follows his intuition and breaks with his training to pray in his office with an elderly woman patient in the final stages of cancer. Rachel describes how the women touched the doctor’s cheek in appreciation and how that simple act of grace was a powerful gift for the physician, giving him strength and recommitting him to his healing work.
I love how Rachel inspires me to listen to the wisdom inside, deep down where my heart beats softly. I like the way she invites me to be vulnerable and courageous in acting on what feels right, even though it may be different from what I would usually do, or what I might think is ‘professional’ or aligned with others’ expectations. I appreciate how she helps me see what’s possible when I show up 100% for what’s happening – and the beauty of others’ gifts flowing into my life.
* I took this photo at Terre di Vendicari in Sicily, Italy this past summer. I chose it because of the way these horses seemed to give and receive from each other.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~William Arthur Ward
We just celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States. I love this holiday – what a beautiful act, to be thankful for all of our blessings and the vast array of ways that abundance shows up in our lives.
How often do you pause during the day to appreciate the beauty around you? Like the color of the sky on a clear day, the architecture of a barren tree, the dove huddled on the fence as the cold wind blows? Like the way your partner laughs out loud, the way your kids run with glee, the way your pet snuggles with you? Like the flow that sometimes comes when your passion and work collide, the opportunities to make a difference for others with something as simple as a smile or kind gesture? Looking for ideas about ways to increase your gratitude – you might want to check out this post featured on IBM’s recruitment blog that I wrote as part of my work in leadership development: The Goodness of Gratitude: More ways to practice mindfulness and cultivate gratitude and appreciation.
What I love most about being grateful is how it makes my heart feel different. What do you notice about how you feel when you pause in appreciation?
strong and resilient
so often underappreciated
despite her majesty
as she sways amidst
the wild grasses
where her energy focuses
on the warming sun, and
soaking in the nourishing rains
that she may stand tall
surrounded by kindred spirits
in her grand garden,
the vast, open prairie
Are you a wildflower? I didn’t always realize it, but I am, for sure. From here, I wonder why I spent so many years trying to become a cultured rose, perfectly colored tulip, or brilliant dahlia. I’ve found so much freedom when I’ve embraced my true essence!
This post was inspired by my first prairie harvest when I joined a friend who is in training to become an Iowa Master Naturalist. We collected grasses and wildflower forbes, from which seeds would later be harvested to create another prairie in another part of our county. I had not fully appreciated the beauty of wildflowers, especially as they die off for a winter break, nor the diversity of flowers that grows amidst the prairie grasses here in Iowa. Thank you, Ginny!
* All photos were taken at F.W. Kent Park in Johnson County, Iowa.