Tag Archives: change

Where’s the window control?

30 Sep

This spring we traveled to Oregon to visit my mom. Our rental car was configured differently than our Corolla, which is always a fun adventure when you first drive an unfamiliar vehicle. I kept rolling down the back windows because when my hand reached for where was the right place to hit the button for the front window in our car, I was in the position of the back windows. Yes, when we got back home 11 days later, I overshot the window controls at first.

Measuring how many parking spots we could take up in South Dakota

Measuring how many parking spots we could take up in South Dakota

This month we drove a Uhaul across the continent (Kansas City to Anchorage). The Uhaul didn’t have power windows, and the way you sit in it feels totally different, so I didn’t have the same issue when I started driving it. But when we got to Washington we took the car off the tow dolly and drove it around for a day. What do you think I did? I reached down low for the hand crank to roll down my window. I did this more than once, and then again when we got to Anchorage and were back in the car for good.

It is amazing the things our brains fill in for us. “hey I know where the window control is, you don’t have to look” and the things the brain is slow to pick up “oops, different car”

Which leads to the next question, what other things is habit or ease filling in for us? I have seen people who just ate a filling meal go open and stare into the refrigerator because it’s the unconscious habit they have when they are bored. What about screens? Scrolling any number of websites that might be in part news or social connection, but a lot of time wasting. But it’s not just the internet, the same zone out happens with the TV, and other distractions.

I’m not saying some time to unwind and relax is a bad thing. I’m saying that it’s a choice. We don’t have to follow the pattern of the day before or, for that matter, the pattern of our upbringing. We don’t have to believe anyone else’s standards of what makes someone successful, attractive, or worthy.

An old story tells of a young woman cooking a ham. Her kid is watching and asks “hey mom, why did you cut the end off before you put it in the oven?” She replied, “that’s the way my mom always did it, and so that’s how I learned to make it.” Later she calls up her mom and asks about the ham. Her mom’s reply was similar to her own. Now curious, she calls up her grandma who replies, “whole thing wouldn’t fit in my pan.”

Sometimes the things we’re thinking and doing really are working, other times there are things that could be so much better with some conscious decisions. I’m guessing most of us are somewhere in the middle, and unless you are a Bodhisattva there are still progress to make. The good news is we are amazingly adaptable and intelligent beings, after all my habituized location of the window control did change over a foot in 3 days. It’s up to us to use that intelligence to realize when the controls have moved or the pan has gotten bigger or the goals have shifted.

Once your realize this, it may take a while to get the ducks (in your brain) marching in the direction you want, but keep at it, you are on an amazing journey!

I believe in you!

PS Karen Taylor-Good has a great little song about just this. 

Handle with Care

15 Aug

20150812_133737I’ve been shipping orders at the warehouse and slap one of these on every poster I send out. While it may seem obvious that a shipping tube or box containing glass is fragile and needs to be handled with care, looking at these stickers every day got me thinking.

Some days I wish I could just slap one of these stickers on myself, or give one to a friend who is in need of some tender care. I suppose many years ago, more people lived in smaller communities where people did know when a person was going through a rough time and they could respond with that knowledge and compassion in their heart.

But the fact is that most of us don’t go through our day interacting with folks who know the history of our lives. So how do we balance out this need to be gentle with people with our simply not knowing? The easiest way would be to treat each person you come across with a loving heart and kind smile. But let’s not pretend that all of us have reached that level of presence at all times.

Any kind of change can be difficult to traverse, and I can tell you from my own experience and the shared experience of those near to me that the most well meaning people can say the most insensitive things.

Recently I shared on Facebook that I was traveling to Anchorage to interview at the church there. This was a big deal for me, I had not shared publicly any of there other interviews I had done. In part this was because I didn’t know if I could deal with the onslaught of questions about it if I didn’t get the offer. Since before I graduated 2 years ago I’ve had well meaning people ask me how the search is going. I know in my head that each time this was an expression of caring, however I was fielding these kinds of questions a lot. It could be really disappointing and discouraging to say the same thing over and over. But I decided with Anchorage to go ahead and share it, and also ask people to give their encouragement but please refrain from asking about it until I share whatever I had to share. This was my Handle with Care sticker.

Unfortunately, it only half worked. Some folks were amazing and didn’t mention it or said I’m thinking about you, or holding you in my prayers, etc. Others seemed to not notice my request. Because when your brain is having a debate between trusting the process and oh shoot I messed up in these ways (followed by bullet points), you don’t really need anyone asking about it and adding to the times you get to hash it out. It’s my very human response to my being in the ‘in between’ place on the journey of my calling that I’ve been on since I was a child.

And what about grief? I have heard way too many stories of people being ‘should-ed’ about their grief process. Just as every person and every relationship is different, our process of grieving each relationship will be different. Who am I (or anyone else) to judge how fast or slow or intense someone experiences their grief?

What does all come down to? Awareness. I can be aware of the times I need to be handled with care and ask for that from those around me. I can notice when those around me seem tender and ask how I can support them. I can apologize if I realize I did not handle someone with care. As a community we can continue to shift our culture to one where having feelings and supporting another is the accepted norm instead of putting up walls to protect and look good.

Let’s not be afraid to say hey I’m feeling fragile right now. It doesn’t make us weak, it is a show of strength and wisdom. Let’s give others the space to work their process in the time it takes. Let’s listen more.

With love,

Ra

It Starts with Me

22 May

I get frustrated when I feel like people that matter to me are being attacked or that there is unwillingness to explore various perspectives. So I wrote this blog, mostly to remind myself where I stand, but to also tease out some of my reasoning so that maybe it might encourage another.

the light within

I am for love

I am for compassion

I am for voicing concerns with an open heart and mind so that real understanding can come forth.

I am for finding workable solutions

I am for taking action that brings forth justice, clarity, peace, compassion, and understanding.

I believe a solution doesn’t come from the consciousness that created it. (Albert Einstein thought so too)

I believe that people are inherently good.

I believe that people make decisions based on the information they have. Sometimes it’s not accurate information, sometimes the decision is not life-affirming, and sometimes the decision comes from an illusion of not enough.

I believe that disagreeing doesn’t have to create conflict or violence.

I believe that there is enough.

I think that as a society, at least in the United States, are in a big turning point phase. I have talked about this numerous times with people one-on-one, and events have called me to take a bigger stage.

There are heart-breaking events making the news all the time, and there are plenty of folks who are happy to tell you what new indignity you should be mad enough to sign a petition about. It can easily become overwhelming. It could be easy to start down the road of hopelessness, victimhood, or apathy.  It could be easy to rage about every single thing, letting the anger build with each new revelation.

I currently live in Missouri, one of the handful of states where a bunch of my friends still can’t get married, it’s also the home of the city of Ferguson, and just down the road from the headquarters of Westboro Baptist Church. To say it’s an interesting time is an understatement.

I have heard interviews with several movie experts and they pointed out something I had already been wondering about. In the 50’s there was a cultural obsession with the ramifications of the nuclear age, think Godzilla, and there were the outbreak of disease or bio-weapon themed movies of the ‘90’s.  Now I find it interesting that there are so many books/movies/TV shows about a post-apocalyptic or dystopian world. It’s like there is this feeling of big changes ahead but no way to put it into something that makes sense. Zombies and the Hunger Games is the best popular culture can do to explain this feeling of impending change. There also seems to be a rise in superhero movies and it’s not just because Marvel is on a good run or that CGI is taking us to the next level of reality.

So what, in my opinion, is the big change that for some means zombies? In the ‘spiritual’ crowd, many are talking about a shift in consciousness, you may recall the end of 2012 and how that was going to transform everything.

I think the answer is partly in all of the above. I think that as a society, and many of our organizations that are sub –sets of our society, are experiencing growing pains. Think about an adolescent, which, on a global scale, the US is. The struggle between who that adolescent is becoming and its roots is tough. The decisions of where that adolescent’s alliances are shift as better offers are made. It’s an often confusing and chaotic time and there are strong allegiances within that are struggling with one another. The wise adult sees the bigger picture and strives to support, console, and gently nudge toward wise choices. So here we are, a country (and many organizations and companies) that are trying to figure out who we are, what we stand for, and what we want.

Then we add that we as a world seem to be heading toward some kind of critical mass moment that the scientists say is coming. Some say it’s an enlightenment, others say it’s zombies. Probably both are possible, and maybe the both are already happening. I think most of us have zombie moments. Where we do something unkind, we hurt instead of heal, we choose fear instead of compassion.  We have enlightenment too: we help, share love, lift up, seek understanding, use wisdom, and consider the big picture of our choices.

Finally, with all the adolescent in-fighting, the finger pointing, the blame slinging, and fear mongering, many are looking for a hero. When said hero isn’t perfect they get trampled for not being everything everyone needed. What if instead of following the one finger pointing out, we paid more attention to the three pointing back at us. What if we realized that WE are the heroes we’ve been waiting for? What if Margaret Mead is right?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.~Margaret Mead

I have often said that there are several ways to go about trying to make the change you wish to see. You can stand on the outside and throw rocks at the big boat going by- which brands you a nuisance and doesn’t typically change to course of the boat. You can go elsewhere and find another boat- which also doesn’t change the course of the original boat, but you have decided to peacefully move along and make your way. Or you can get on the boat and become part of the organism that is steering. That may be the hardest route, and it may take more effort, but it is the best chance of effecting change.

It starts with me. Each day, each moment I am making choices. I choose compassion and love. I choose to be understanding even when someone around me is having a zombie moment. I choose to make amends when I have a zombie moment. I choose to see the bigger picture of the events in the world and seek understanding and wisdom about what parts I am called to take action on. I choose to be my own hero and help those who aren’t yet able to. I choose to see others who have different opinions from me as fellow beings and not the enemy. I choose to see a deeper consciousness and understanding coming forth to form solutions.

It is not always easy, no one ever said that it was. Sometimes it will feel like you are swimming upstream, that’s ok.

I choose grace

Rachel

Changing the future to be different than the past

6 Mar

“I’m not listening to the people who say I can’t because of my past failures.” 

I overheard someone say that recently and while it was not appropriate for me to comment directly, I had some things to say about it. 

First of all. Right on sister! Go for it!

And at the same time, most of us have heard a version of this quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” by George Santayana. We’ve heard it because it has many elements of truth. 

If, you think that continuing on the same path you have been on and acting in the same ways is going to get you somewhere different than where you have already been, you are sadly mistaken. 

I have been in the position, and dear reader, you may have too, where you see a loved one jaunting down the same road you’ve seen them head down before. The road that ends in all sorts of heartache and chaos. Do you warn them? How can you? It’s different this time they say. You are being silly and unsupportive. The answers aren’t easy and there isn’t one ‘rule’ that can sum it all up and apply to every situation. 

My general strategy is: I remind myself that while I can hold the highest vision for this person, they are on their own journey. Every journey has hiccups and detours, sometimes they look darned familiar. But I can’t fix it for them and I can’t make the timeline look like what I want it to be. I say, “I’m cheering you on dear one, and I hope that you can have a happy successful journey. If you fall, I will still be cheering you on, but I’m not gonna fix it, only you know how.”

But back to you, you bucker of history, ready to conquer the world and change your destiny.

Let’s say the change you are making has to do with an unhealthy relationship, (which could be a person, substance, idea, pastime…) you have been in and out of relationship with this person (substance, idea, pastime…) for a long time. You have declared your freedom, you have shouted from the rooftops and taken a victorious step in your ability to be free from that blankety blank. But then something changes, they do something nice, you cave to temptation, the people around you try to have hope that it’s different this time, because you say that it is. But eventually you realize that it’s not and you end up back at the beginning of this paragraph. 

Then you are back to those people saying your history shows you can’t make the change. Well, that’s the thing about the past. It happened. Instead of putting your energy into convincing others that it’s different, put your energy into examining what the triggers were that caused yourself to get where you are. Then do something different!

Were you participating in an activity or group that was keeping you engaged and then stopped? Were you supporting yourself though a more healthy living practice (food, exercise, sleep, laughter)? Who are you spending your time with and are they influencing your behavior towards your independence from this relationship or towards your dependence? 

These can be hard questions to ask and harder questions to honestly answer. To really be honest about the situation is a first big hurdle, and then you have to make the changes which takes a lot of courage. Doing it once isn’t enough of course, that is where so many of us have fallen down before. The tenacity to stick to it, to believe that something better is possible, and attainable, and worth it.

Because you dear one are worth having an amazing, healthy, successful life. You deserve to be in relationship with people who care about you and encourage you to have that wonderful life. You have the right to be safe. You have the power to create the life of your dreams. (which will require hard work, belief in yourself, time, and lots of help)

Like I said before, Right on sister! (or Brother) Change your future so you won’t be reminded of your past failures again.

For those of you holding the high watch, keep up the cheering!

Rachel

PS Remember, history give us lots of data on what doesn’t work, inventors don’t keep trying the same thing, they use the info they have to try something better. Reinvent your life!