Steps that count vs. counting steps

I have an Apple Watch that I rarely wear. It enables me to count my steps which, on good days, encourages me, but on less-than-good ones has me feeling less-than-good about myself, even though I did take steps, did actually move, did get up from my desk at least a few times! Still, it’s this latter reality that keeps me from wearing the watch at all.

I don’t like feeling like the steps I have taken don’t count. 

It strikes me that courage is a lot like this:

On good days, I’m more than happy to count all the ways that I’ve demonstrated it, held fast to it, remained committed. I can see the ways in which it is moving me toward my goals…and then some. But on less-than-good days I can’t take much pleasure in any steps…even though they absolutely exist because they don’t seem like enough, I’ve not taken enough of them, they’re not spectacular or Watch-worthy!

*sigh*

We often feel like courage has to be ginormous, amazing, bigger than life, cliff-jumping-esque. Certainly, such displays and experiences of courage do exist. But if they become the standard (like the bare-minimum of 10k steps), we become disheartened by anything less; worse, we become disappointed in ourselves.

So, what’s the alternative? What’s the non-Apple-Watch version of courage?

Any step at all matters, even (and maybe especially) the tiniest and most incremental.

Tiny steps of courage make an amazing difference and enable the kind of ongoing movement, transformation, and change you desire and deserve.

An example:

I used to get super-irritated at myself when I wouldn’t just say what I actually felt, speak my mind, tell my truth. I spent an inordinate amount of time in my head – spinning about with thoughts like:

  • If I say what I actually think and feel, all hell will break loose. (But wait! This IS what I think and feel! Shouldn’t I be able to express that, no matter what?)
  • They won’t be able to handle it – or me. (If they can’t handle me, why is that my problem?)
  • It’s only going to make things worse; I need to figure out another way through this issue or problem or reality. (Why am I still deliberating about this? Really?!?)

And this spinning, this craziness? Milliseconds. The list was far longer, believe me – and endlessly on repeat.

One day I decided to experiment with something, just a little thing, the tiniest promise to myself:

Just one time today, you will tell the truth. Just one time today you will align your inner thoughts with your outer words/actions. Just once. That’s all. Nothing more is required. 

Amazingly, I did it! And miracle of miracles, the world did not come crashing down around me. Some days were harder than others, to be sure, but still, I survived them. And even more amazing? Over time I realized that I my capacity to demonstrate courage was building, getting stronger – like a muscle. Those tiniest of steps began to add up. And what at one time had looked like an uncrossable chasm, eventually just required one more tiny step to now be on the other side.

What if you experimented? What if you made a promise to yourself? What if you chose the tiniest, seemingly inconsequential step and then repeated it day after day after day?

That, dear friends, takes courage.

That, dear friends, IS courage.

Any step at all matters, even (and maybe especially) the tiniest and most incremental. 

And when you choose to take those steps, even (and maybe especially) honor them and yourself over and over again? That, dear friends, is sovereignty.

May it be so. 

***********

 

Courage + Wisdom + Agency + Hope are the four “pillars” of SOVEREIGNTY – my 9-week program. They are all interconnected, even dependent upon one another.

Consider the following (unique to courage):

  • Wisdom without Courage = Stuck
  • Hope without Courage = Naive
  • Agency without Courage = Lost

Or these:

  • Courage without Wisdom = Directionless
  • Courage without Hope = Foolish
  • Courage without Agency = Resentful

There’s more; this is but a taste. And hopefully it is clear that courage matters! Tiny steps matter. The incremental matters. You matter.

What we walk through together in SOVEREIGNTY is content and concepts to be sure; even more – small, practical, even sacred steps that, when combined, move us into the sovereignty that is (already) ours. Not one-and-done, but over and over again. And not alone: accompanied and companioned by each other (as well as some of the ancient sacred storiesI LOVE to tell).

Registration closes Sunday night (5/9). The online learning platform opens up on Monday morning, and our first group call takes place on Friday with eight more Friday’s following, finishing up on July 9.

Perhaps joining me IS the smallest of steps that ultimately makes the biggest difference. If so, say “yes,” and click here.

I’d be honored to count steps with you. No Apple Watch required. ‘Promise.

 

Amelia Earhart. Agency. Taking action.

Amelia Mary Earhart was born July 24, 1897. In her short life, she was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and set many other records. She wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences. And she was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety Nines, an organization of female pilots. After disappearing on July 2, 1937, she was declared dead on January 5, 1939.

As if all that weren’t notable enough, there’s this quote of hers: 

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Wow.

 

The word I use for this is “agency” – not only knowing I can choose but actually doing the choosing itself, acting on the decision, taking action.

We have agency. But oh, how tempting to believe otherwise.

I’m a perfect case study.

love to deliberate, to consider all the options, to weigh every pro and con, to journal, to reflect, to be curious, to wonder if I have enough data or resources or wisdom, and to then take every bit of all that pondering (and all that it subsequently invites) as permission to keep my head in the clouds instead of landing the damn plane. 

But as long as I circle, as long as I allow myself to stay in deliberation, I don’t take action.

And why would I choose such a thing?

Easy: fear.

(I’ll keep speaking for myself, but I’m guessing you can relate.)

I fear that if I not only listen to, but actually trust and act on the wisdom that is mine (not all the perseverating, but the deeper know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice within) there will be an onslaught of risks, costs, and consequences that will show up and undoubtedly subsume me. Disaster will befall. Relationships will crumble. The world will come to an end. 

Yep. That sounds about right for starters.

Of course there will be risks and costs and consequences to actually trusting and acting on my wisdom! That is always the way of it! It inevitably leads me into brand new territory, change, and transformation. (Which means that people, systems, and institutions around me will have to change, too. Yikes: more risks and costs and consequences!)

What if the awareness of risks and costs and consequences was the very thing that compelled our actions – instead of stopping them?

The best case study?

Back to Amelia Earhart. I’m thinking she was pretty clear on the risks and that those were the very things that kept her going instead of holding her back; that compelled her instead of stopped her.

Right.

So, bottom line?

Amelia Earhart invites you (and me) to choose – and then act on that choice; to decide – and then act on that decision; to acknowledge and USE the agency that’s yours.

Amelia Earhart invites you (and me) to land the damn plane. Or maybe start flying it in the first place! To push the boundaries, the limits, any and every restraint that’s kept you grounded. Say what you feel, what you mean, what you know. Trust your voice (and your wisdom), your creativity, your value, your worth. Be completely, fully, authentically you – all the time.

One might say this looks and sounds a lot like sovereignty.

Yep.

 

*****

 

These choices? These decisions? Hearing your wisdom in the first place? Having the courage to trust it – and yourself? Smartly acknowledging the risks and costs and consequences and choosing agency? Holding on to hope in the midst of it all? This and then some is definitely part of sovereignty – embracing it, practicing it, and yes, the 9-week program itself.

Registration is open for the next cohort of SOVEREIGNTY. We begin together the week of May 10. The cost is $450. Your sovereignty? Invaluable!

Learn more, book a call so we can chat, and/or register today. CLICK HERE

Wisdom does as Wisdom says

Women hold all the wisdom they could ever need, that the planet could ever need, that the world so desperately needs.

 

With that bold a statement as start, why then, do we so rarely trust ourselves? Why do we, individually and collectively, know the pain and trauma and anger and mess-of-it-all that we do? Why is the world not already changed, or at least changing faster?

I won’t speak for you, but I am pretty clear on my own answer to these questions:

There’s a vast and painful difference between hearing our wisdom and actually trusting it, between knowing what we know and acting on what we know, between what wisdom says and what wisdom does. 

Why?

We hear our intuition, that know-that-we-know-that-we-know voice within. It’s clear. It’s decisive. It has a very strong opinion! But instead of going with it, making choices in alignment with such, saying a clear “yes” or “no,” we waffle.

And why?

Because to trust our wisdom, to act on it, will – inevitably – have risks, costs, and consequences.

We’re afraid of those.

When fear shows up, the tendency is rife to try and find other wisdom; something that does not have risks, costs, or consequences attached. Which usually means we repress our own knowing and default to the wisdom around us. We look to and lean on those people/institutions/powers (translate white and male) that promise to keep us safe as long as we don’t step out of line, don’t speak our truth, don’t speak at all.

I can type these words because they have been true about me. Decades of growing up in the shadow of the church and an authoritative wisdom that I was not to question. Self-esteem that was shaped by the glorification of self-sacrifice on the one hand and shame on the other (NOT a good combination). And a way of being in the world that was determined by anything/everything other than my own knowing and intuition.

But inevitably, a day came when the gap between what I heard/knew and who I was required to be, grew too wide. I could no longer bridge it with more comprome and compliance. I had to act on my wisdom, to trust it, to trust myself. No matter what.

And no surprise: risks, costs, and consequences abounded!

But there were benefits I couldn’t have imagined, as well: empowerment, discernment, clarity, hope. Even more, the establishment of a baseline: Oh, this is what my wisdom sounds like, feels like, looks like!

Believe me, I’m far from perfect at this. But I have come a long way, have let a lot go, have lost a lot along the way, and have gained far more.

It is a powerful thing: a woman’s wisdom. Following through on it? Life-changing. World-changing. And then some. 

How about for you? (Just a few questions to ponder, journal through, and if you’re up for it, DM me your answers! I’d love to hear: truly.)

  • What would be different in your relationships, your sense of self, your work in the world, if you could consistently hear and trust your wisdom?

  • What is compromise, compliance, and not acting on your wisdom costing you?

  • What might happen if you allowed risk, cost, and consequence to be the very discernment tools that tell you you can trust your wisdom?

  • What is the change you most deeply desire for our world? (Your wisdom already knows what to do. What if you did what it said?)

It has always been needed: women’s wisdom.

And it has always been present.

Now it’s up to us to bring the two together…

…to be women who listen to and trust ourselves. On our own behalf. On behalf of the planet. On behalf of a world that so desperately needs us to not just know, but to “be” and most of all, to do.

 

May it be so.

 

*****

 

Hearing AND trusting your wisdom, then choosing agency and demonstrating courage, is but a part of what we cover together in SOVEREIGNTY  – the 9-week program.

The next cohort begins the week of May 10. The cost is $450. Your sovereignty? Invaluable and so, so needed/wanted!

Learn more, book a call so we can chat, and/or register today. CLICK HERE

 

If your stories could talk…

A number of years ago I learned about intertextuality.

It is how one text speaks to or shapes another; how seemingly distinct texts can be in relationship with one another.

Here’s an example: three books stacked together in my home:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is the powerful story of a womans moral and spiritual development in 1st-person prose.
  • Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton captures the spirit of a city (and our humanity) through photography.
  • Women is a collection of 170 photographs by Annie Leibovitz with an accompanying essay by Susan Sontag.

If they could talk to each other, imagine the dinner party conversation they’d have.

Jane Eyre and Bronte would talk with Liebowitz and Sontag about all that has changed (and hasn’t) in women’s perceptions of themselves. Stanton would jump in and speak of particular images he took where those very perceptions were what he saw through his lens – and sometimes just the opposite. Sontag, a brilliant critic, would draw everyone’s attention to the larger themes and constructs present in all three of their texts: what we see, what we don’t see, what that says about us.

There would be no end to the things they could discuss! All the ways in which their perspectives and protagonists and photographs and prose would overlap and intertwine. This is intertextuality. You have this kind of dinner party taking place in your life all the time: texts and stories that operate in exactly the same way – overlapping and intertwined and endlessly speaking.

But let’s be honest: we work pretty hard to keep everything compartmentalized and separate. More than opposite ends of the dinner table, we often put our texts and stories in completely different rooms in the house. As example:

  • Your teenage years.
  • Your current Netflix binge.
  • The predominat way in which you “show up” at work.

These are not all at the table together, right? Chances are high that you are pretty determined to keep your teenage self as far away from your work self as you can. Still, let’s acknowledge, shall we, that the two are completely interconnected?

It’s possible that you are pretty sure your viewing habits on Netflix have nothing to do with your past or present. But when you apply the rules of intertextuality (even imagining such) you see they have much in common, much to discuss, and infinite overlap in the most curious and complicated of ways.

It’s possible – and probable – that things can get even more complicated (and noisy) when you add in “guests” like cultural background, family of origin, organized religion, socio-economic status, politics, any number of things that have a tendency to bump into one another at parties, at dinner tables, and certainly within.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that you try to figure out how these particular “texts” speak to one another. (OK. I am actually suggesting that…) More than the details of being a teenager, watching Netflix, and going to work, this is my point: 

 

It is necessary and profoundly healing to see the way in which the texts and stories of your life talk to each other all the time.

 

Want another three to consider?

  • The stories you were told growing up.
  • The stories you tell yourself (you know: that endless chatter in your head…)
  • The cultural stories and messaging you injest via social media, all media, the water in which we swim every damn day.

Again, picture the dinner party: Hansel and Gretle, Cinderella, even Eve are making polite and sometimes pointed conversation with your endlessly-chattering inner critic who you know so well. That inner voice, a bit on the defensive, is being assuaged by the latest IG Influencer or targeted FB ad – sitting there in all their slick beauty and endless promise. And later, IG and FB chat away with your childhood stories; their not-so hidden agenda of either reinforcing or rejecting what you’ve believed and held on to all these years.

It’s true: intertextuality is *simply* a conceptual framework; but the stories and texts that are yours (conscious and not, known and unknown) are far more. They are real. They are active. And they shape every bit of who you have been, who you are, and who you will yet become.

Intertextuality, looked at another way, is considering – with depth, compassion, and curiosity – all that makes you who you are: the stories you are proud of and those you try to hide or wish you could evade. It offers you a way of looking at the complexity of your own life – the influences, the influencers, the pain, the joy, the harm, the hope – all of it speaking and speaking and speaking. Because at the end of the day…

You ARE your stories. And they are interacting with each other all the time, whether you take a seat at that imagined dinner table, or not.

So…why not pull up a chair?

 

  • Listen closely to your own texts, your own stories. They usher you into the wisdom and courage that is (already) yours; all that you long to experience and express.
  • Pay close attention to the stories you’ve been told. They help you better understand the stories you continue to tell yourself.
  • Determine, with great intention, the stories you will give credence to, will listen to, will allow and endorse. They create the world  you live in, the one we live in together, the one that is ours to nurture and heal.

None of this is easy. And as you know, few things that are of value rarely are. You are of value, though – worthy of any and every effort on your own behalf. So this is the question to ask again and again and again:

If my stories could talk (which they can and are), what do they have to say? 

 

(If nothing else, look at the books on your shelves. Pick a few that are sitting side-by-side, and imagine what they talk about when you’re asleep, what they have to say about you while you sleep and what they hope for you when you’re wide awake. All. So. Delicious.)

 

*****

 

This work of looking closely at your stories and the ways they speak is a big component of SOVEREIGNTY – my 9-week program.

Step-by-step, with generosity and compassion, I’ll take you through processes that help you identify those stories, hear their deeper messages (for good and for ill), and then choose to show up in your world with wisdom, courage, agency, joy, and yes, sovereignty.  The next cohort begins on May 10.

And if you didn’t hear, I dropped the price by more than 75%. This may sound completely crazy, but in listening closely to my stories and the texts/themes within – even imagining them at the dinner table talking – I realized that access matters to me, opportunity for transformation matters to me, sovereignty for women matters to me. And you being able to join me in all of this and then some matters to me, too.

Learn more, book a call with me to talk, and/or register today. CLICK HERE

 

Hearing Voices

I am neck-deep in manuscript-writing these days. This book, my book, this thing I’ve been nurturing and holding and holding back for years (and years and years) is now making its way into the world. Much like labor, I can’t stop it now – nor do I want to.  

The section I’m working on currently tells the story of a young woman whose life was violently, brutally ended.

I don’t like the story at all.

I wish it didn’t exist.

There’s no justification of it, no making sense of it.

And though I might wish to just ignore it – to dismiss it as one more piece of evidence against the text within which it’s found – that only perpetuates her harm. Which isn’t acceptable to me.

It is in telling women’s stories – even and maybe especially the most painful ones – that we invite the healing we desire and deserve.

When I calm myself down, at least for a bit, about the injustice and senselessness and violence, I can hear a different voice; I can hear hers. The one that was snuffed out. The one that was permanently silenced. The one we’ve rarely-if-ever bothered to listen to. The one that I imagine she’d speak on our behalf if only we could and would hear.

This is what I believe she’d say:

  • Fear is not your birthright.
  • Do not hold back – no matter the danger or risk.
  • Pursue what brings you life.

I am clear that these three statements are, indeed, the wisdom she longs for all of us to embody – in honor of her sacrifice, in honor of her story, in honor of her, and most of all, in honor of the life and story that is ours.

I am clear that were we to follow these three statements as gospel, it would be our own healing and that of our world that we would enable, invite, witness, and proclaim.

And I am clear that if I were I to imagine her saying even a bit more, it would sound a little something like this:

I’m right about this! Fear is not your birthright. But courage is. Write. Speak. Say. Do. Be. Say “yes.” Say “no.” Quit. Continue. Decide. Whisper. Roar. Love. 

Risk is a given. To try and mitigate it, lessen it, create a balance sheet to show you exactly what might happen if you move this way or that is not the the least bit practical nor remotely close to your destiny. Do not hold back. Let risk and danger be the signs that you are moving in the right direction. And then read the paragraph above over again so that you can remember that fear is not your birthright.

Learn from me. Let my life (and death) offer you invaluable perspective. Cherish every moment. Pursue all that is yours, all that awaits you, all that exists within and around you, all that you desire and deserve. And then read the two paragraphs above over again so that you can remember that fear is not your birthright and you must NOT hold back, no matter the danger or risk!

Of course we wish that stories like hers did not exist, then or now. We must rage (rightly and justifiably) against violence. And in the midst of both, we must honor the voices that can no longer speak, the stories that are rarely if ever told.

We must use our own voices and live our own stories in ways that are courageous and risky and full of life.

 

And when we do? Well, Jepthah’s Daughter smiles and says “Thank you.” Oh, and this:

Read the three paragraphs above over again? And then maybe a few more times? 

With her wisdom as rubric, encouragement, and hope, I labor on – knowing and trusting that the imagined words of even one ancient, sacred young woman might strengthen you in the labor that is yours, in the story that is yours, in all that is yours to birth and live and heal.

May it be so.

 

*****

 

Just last week, inspired by stories like the one above, it struck me that what I want most of all is for more women to have access to all this and then some (courage vs. fear, the ability to take risks, pursuing life, etc.) So I decided to dramatically reduce the pricing of SOVEREIGNTY from $1995 to $450. I know! It’s a lot! No worries: it’s not a fire sale or a drastic, last-ditch sales effort. All is well. It’s just me, listening to my own sovereignty, and wanting to do everything I can on behalf of yours.

The 9-week program begins with a new cohort of women on May 10. Learn more. And if you want to talk, ask questions, discern whether it’s right for you, etc., don’t hesitate to book a free call with me. I’d love that! No pressure. Just sacred conversation together.

 

A DSM-V Code

Did you know that there is a DSM-V code for religious or spiritual problems? 

Yep: V-Code 62.89. 

Apparently it is often helpful to put a code in a patient’s clinical documentation when there is no evidence of a mental disorder, but they are presenting with significant clinical distress.*

So basically this means that there have been enough people who have exhibited, talked about, named, and acknowledged religious/spiritual struggle, even harm, that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders sees it as worth mentioning.

It is worth mentioning. And then some. 

I have heard more stories than I can count about the ways in which a person’s religious upbringing has profoundly impacted who they’ve become (and not for the better). Better stated, the ways in which it has, too many times, kept them from becoming all of who they desire; instead, small, silent, and shamed.

It’s heartbreaking. Shouldn’t religion and spirituality be the very things that invite us to healing and wholeness, to freedom and empowerment, to hope and joy? Uh, yes.

What may have once been an ideology or system of beliefs that did, indeed, long to offer us the best of all things, they too-often fall prey to our strong predilection (and history) of f***ing things up. We have this nasty habit of turning something sacred and beautiful into a system, complete with rules and rigidity, exclusivity and shame. Well, maybe not “we.” The patriarchy. 

Right. No wonder the DSM code.

I’m currently watching Medici on Netflix. There are three seasons, spanning the 14th through 16th centuries, chronicling this family of tremendous power. What intrigues me to no end is the intertwining of religion into everything – warm, wealth, corruption. It is so clear, so obvious, and seen/justified over and over again as “God’s will.”

The concept is not new to me. When I was in Seminary I studied the history of Christianity. Even now I am somewhat chagrined to acknowledge just how much I didn’t know and how shocking that history is! Politics, most of it, sadly.

The impact and influence of religion and spirituality – in painful and damaging ways – goes back to the beginning. It’s never not been there.** Which makes it understandable why still today, in our own stories, we bear the brunt of that pain; why we see its now-coding in our clinical files and its encoding in our very psyche. 

I have my own stories, to be sure. None that have been categorized (at least that I know of) with V-Code 62.89. Still, I know how hard it was for me to separate from and deconstruct the religion I grew up with; to have the courage to ask the kinds of questions that dismantled my beliefs; to examine and jettison deeply held doctrines. It has only been within the past few years that I’ve been able to circle back, look again, wonder anew, and maybe, just maybe reclaim the best aspects of what got thrown out with the bathwater.

These days I feel healed and whole, free and empowered, full of both hope and joy. My understanding of the divine, my own devotional practices, my own language, beliefs, and experiences of the sacred are exactly that: my own.

It’s been a long journey. One that continues, to be sure. 

In the midst of my own, I wonder (and care) about you: your religious or spiritual struggles, the places and ways in which you’ve known harm, the impact that still has on how you see yourself, how you experience your world, how (or if) you engage with the sacred that is part-and-parcel in our everyday lives. If the DSM code applies to any of this, I am so deeply sorry. These are stories you’ll carry with you for a lifetime, to be sure; every one of them deserves infinite compassion and care. You do.

John O’Donohue said:

“Die Wunden des Geistes heilen, ohne dass Narben bleiben”…”The wounds of the spirit heal and leave no scars.”

Oh, how I hope he is right about this. For you. For me. For so many – past, present, and future. 

He also said this:

As your tears fall over that wounded place,
May they wash away your hurt and free your heart.
May your forgiveness still the hunger of the wound

So that for the first time you can walk away from that place,
Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,
And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.”

May it be so. 

 

*https://www.psychdb.com/teaching/dsm-v-icd-z-codes

** This is not to say that the only impact and influence of religion and spirituality has been pain, damage, and corruption. I understand, know, and have experienced far more. I am aware of and grateful that beauty and truth survive in spite of it all. But to only name the good is to cause more harm. 

[Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

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