Your words a song
Your power the beat of a drum
Your grace notes filling the air
A resounding instrument
Your song leads me
Who I want to be
My favorite word coming out of the transformational Radical Leadership retreats I attended back in 2005 is possibility. As I’ve reviewed my writings over these past dozen years, curiosity, openness, wonder and hope fill my experience.
In 2009, I began to play with the possibility (smile) of writing a book of poetry. I had a rough collection of some 25-30 poems that I titled “She Just Left Neverland: In Search of Possibility”. My journal has a description of what was happening for me at the time:
It’s coming together
These flashes, these little ideas
Hinting at something
Glimpses of what I can create
when I slow down
And am open in my looking
Through the haze
I see the possibilities shining
And leading me to action
I wrote Music about a colleague, Otema, who gave me the courage to play with my words and explore writing poetry. She was an inspiration and invitation that opened the possibility of poetry for me, and put me in action. Her early advice was so brilliant:
- Look for themes in what you are writing
- Identify your purpose in sharing
- Read lots of poetry
- Be authentic
- Leave spaces for the reader to fill in
* I took this photo in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland in 2016.
Not seeing the way.
a path out.
To the other side
of this place.
that I cannot
Despite the light
it seems so dark,
Alone in the middle
From the corner
of my eyes
scanning for the exit.
Not even sure there is
some place I should be going.
Mostly when I think of possibility, it comes from a positive, pleasant place. My life experience has shown me that possibility can emerge from dark places, too. (I captured a darker chapter of my life on Mostly My Heart Sings.) The key for me has been to sit in the darkness, not ignore it or run from it, just be with it, and, when possible, befriend it. In so doing, often its grip is released and something new moves in.
When pulling together And Then Opens Possibility, I wasn’t sure about including the second chapter, “Into the Deep”, or at least about how deep to go. Some of my early reviewers said it felt like too much and were reluctant to include some of the darkest works. No, it’s not easy to sit in the darkness – however, doing just that was transformative for me so I yielded to the depths of my feelings.
While I have a long, long way to go, I feel that I’ve become more accepting of negative, imperfect, ugly and painful experiences. I continue to find that by opening to them, I often find a way to let them go more easily.
* I took this photo on Playa Rinconcito, San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico
Through You I See
I speak the truth that I see for you.
Only to discover that in really seeing you,
I discover what is true for me.
In the summer of 2005, I attended a couple of Radical Leadership weekend retreats that changed my life. I came out of the first workshop having found my joy – even though going into the workshop I was not even aware I had lost it! 😊
Therese Kienast, the founder of the program and an amazing Master Certified Coach, brought me out of my slumber – and truly opened me to possibility. Diana Bing, my leader at IBM who sponsored her entire organization attending the retreats, was instrumental in my opening and seeing the abundant deliciousness of life. I am forever grateful to these two incredibly inspiring women and leaders.
Through You I See is a poem I wrote about a Radical Leadership experience. I remember vividly participating in an activity with my 11 other workshop teammates. Each of us had a turn sitting in a chair at the front of the room, with the rest of the group sitting in a circle around the room facing the person at the front. Those in the circle wrote down two things about the person at the front that would support them in reaching their full potential. Then we went around the circle with each person sharing their ‘gifts’ with the person, who sat in receiving mode, palms open on their thighs, simply saying thank you and nothing more. Hearing other people’s truths about you is very humbling.
The most powerful part of the activity for me came as I completed the homework – going back through the list I had created to consider how each of the gifts was true for me. My discovery: my view of others is powerfully filtered through my own personal lens, and what I see in others is a reflection of myself.
I first shared the poem HERE on my Mostly My Heart Sings blog. You’ll see it was initially much longer. I thank my sister-in-law, Liz , for the power it has in its brevity now. She took to heart my request for feedback on an early draft of my book, and my writing is stronger thanks to her insights and ideas. I am grateful.
* I took this photo from Hotel Costa D’Or, Lluc Alcari, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
The sunlight streams through the window as she holds her pencil and looks into the distance. An 11-year old girl sits, quiet and contemplative at the dining room table. The paper in front of her receives her feelings and the ideas that flow through her. Each word a creation and the collection of them a story about what’s inside speaking to her.
Since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to be a writer. In part inspired by my adopted grandfather Garber, who was an author, and consistently encouraged and affirmed my writing. I’ve had many opportunities to write through my education and work; however, only in the past dozen years have I found my way back to the girl at the table, opening my heart and allowing my experience, so rich with emotion, to melt into words.
I remember the day this book started, back in 2005, when I sat at a table and wrote down a word to capture how I felt in the present moment. That led to capturing words that inspired me and made me feel alive, and I found myself creating little word pairs and triads that spoke to me. Connecting my feelings with words allowed me to understand and express my experience – and to powerfully shape and create my experience.
This poem describes how I felt when empowered on a project at work. It’s about inspired action and the beautiful things we can create when we follow our heart’s intentions.
Beauty in Motion
Like a butterfly
Spreading her wings
Engaged in a graceful dance
Moving gently forward
Lifted by gentle breezes
Weightless as air
Beauty in motion
* This photo was taken from Mount Pantokrator, Corfu, Greece.
it is hard to hear.
In silent moments
I feel its breath
Its voice is clear:
Be who you are
This poem is about what happens when I make time to just be, to just sit still with myself, to just let whatever comes up be what’s needed.
These quiet times with myself are not always magical. In fact, they can be downright difficult. I’m sometimes challenged by my thoughts running around like a kid on a sugar high, and just can’t shut them off. I’m sometimes overwhelmed with all that my life seems to demand of me. I’m sometimes gripped by fear of something, be it failure or success, knowing or not knowing, having or not having.
By coming back to the quiet space, time and time again, I’m sometimes gifted with the truth. A partial reinforcement effect that invites me to return with some consistency. Sometimes it speaks loudly and unquestioningly – but mostly it whispers. Mostly it entices me to listen more deeply. I’m invited to not only hear the words in my head but also to feel my experience.
As a runner, I know what it feels like to challenge my body, but to listen to it share secrets about what’s happening when I’m sitting quietly, that’s a skill I’m still building. Yoga helps. Guided mindfulness practices help.
This is the title poem of the first chapter of And Then Opens Possibility. The chapter is a collection of 10 poems about the way possibility opens when we are vulnerable enough to be seen and courageous enough to live in integrity. I first posted a version of it on my Mostly My Heart Sings blog, which you’ll find here.
* I took the photograph at the beach in Fenore, County Clare, Ireland in 2016.