Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reading inspirational words

One thing that nurtures my resiliency as a helper is to read inspirational writings. I have a collection of favorites (so far in my travels). Today, I want to share one with you. Here goes:

The Invitation
By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It does not interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It does not interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
If you have been opened by life’s betrayals or
have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,
If you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips
of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful,
be realistic, or remember the limitations of being human.

It does not interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day,
and if you can source your life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,
and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me to know who you are, how you came here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Welcoming Whimsy into Our Lives

Life can be so serious at times. Working as a healthcare or healing arts professional – or as an educator, clergy, or caretaker – is tremendously serious work. We devote ourselves to facilitating healing in others, teaching them, inspiring them, helping them confront real life challenges and personal dilemmas. The genuine intensity of the work can sometimes influence our perception of the world and those around us, such that we may begin to see most of life through a “realistic” lens (that those outside our profession might consider “bleak” or “dour”).  The concept of vicarious trauma explains this change in our perception as an inevitable shift in worldview that stems directly from our exposure to the suffering in the world.  Working in the service professions requires a great deal of resiliency and stamina.  While the change may be inevitable, there is also much we can do to counter the effects of vicarious trauma. One very important action, I have found, is to celebrate the victories in our work. I keep letters and emails from people who have shared the story of their overcoming and their gratitude for the role our work together played in it. It’s important to remember that, while there is indeed pain in the world, there is also healing.

Another strategy I find particularly helpful in countering “the serious effect” (what I call the pattern whereby those of us engaging in deeply serious healing work become overly serious ourselves) is through allowing, welcoming, and even seeking greater whimsy in my life.  As I’m using it here, I define whimsy as silliness, playfulness, dreaming, fun for the purpose of fun alone.  No one is being “saved” when we are acting whimsically. I see whimsy as the opposite of seriousness – it offers lightness where seriousness can be quite heavy. As an opposite, whimsy has a lot to offer those of us anchored in the weight of our serious work. I encourage you to invite more play and whimsy into your life.

How do I enjoy whimsy in my own life? Silly hats help. Goofy movies can be a joy. Creating cartoon voices for the children’s books I read – well, that’s great entertainment. Whimsy to me means unnecessary by definition – and therefore really fabulously fun! One of my favorite whimsical activities happens during a monthly Creative Writer’s Meet-Up Group I host. We play a round robin story-writing game in which we all start a story simultaneously and write one to three sentences. Then we pass the papers to the next person and add one to three lines – and so on until each person’s story gets back to them. Then we read them aloud, to much laughter and amusement. These stories have no purpose other than to be fun. We don’t save them or build on them or make them to be something they are not. They are random and hilarious and fun to create. Whimsy at its best.

Today, I invite you to welcome more whimsy into your life - in any and every way that strikes your fancy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mindfully Choosing How We Respond to “Found” Time

My schedule for yesterday morning was full at the beginning of the week. On Thursday at 7:00 p.m., it was still full. And then I received two phone calls Thursday late evening cancelling my morning appointments. This meant that I had until 1:00 p.m. to myself to do as I pleased! As much as the business part of me sometimes groans when appointments are cancelled unexpectedly, my spirit often embraces the change in schedule.  This is also the case when things just don’t take as long as I’ve anticipated. Like the doctor’s appointment that I allotted two hours for that only took 30 minutes or the driver’s license renewal process that was ten minutes instead of the dreaded sixty. These are moments that may have us rejoicing – and moments that invite us to become increasingly conscious about how we spend our time.

When our schedules suddenly open up free time, we are faced with a choice. It is often far too easy to use that time unconsciously – to plunge the time back into work commitments or to hurry to our next destination early. But these unanticipated moments in our schedules offer us a real choice to prioritize self-care.  Perhaps we’ve wanted to go for a walk at a local park but felt we could “never find the time.” Perhaps we didn’t have time to meditate this morning and would like to devote our “found” 30 minutes to a daily mindfulness practice. Maybe we have a friend we’ve wanted to call or a book we’re yearning to read. I love viewing these “found” moments of time as gifts for myself, opportunities to mindfully choose what will enrich me most at this given time.

So what will you do the next time a few moments or a few hours open up in your life? As for me, when my morning opened up on Friday, I chose to sleep in later than usual, enjoy a leisurely morning, and do a little reading.  I felt refreshed, replenished, and a bit inspired as a result. I highly recommend it.