Non-existent, but no less real (February 29)

My father died a year ago today.

No, that’s not quite right.

He died on February 29, 2020. That day doesn’t exist this year – or next, or the year after that.

The fact that the date itself is not on my calendar, doesn’t prevent me from remembering, reflecting, and honoring him. Still, it’s a strange phenomena: to have such a significant marker arrive and almost pass me by, to not be something I can land on, see in front of me, capture, or hold.

Perhaps because this is so, I am even more aware of him, his life, his death, and his ongoing influence on and presence in my life. Maybe it’s something being intangible that makes it all the more real, more true.

And this makes me wonder about something else equally (and perhaps even more) intangible…and real…and true.

As we develop, mature, grow, and transform, we move from reliance on the voices and seeming-wisdom of those around and outside us to an awareness of and trust in the voice and actual-wisdom we hold within. We learn to listen to our intuition. We are willing and able to hear our deepest heart. We know-that-we-know-that-we-know. 

But like February 29, there is little to validate such – at least externally. It requires that we hold onto something WE know, but that others can’t easily see, name, or acknowledge. It requires that WE be the ones to remember, reflect, and honor who we truly are. It requires that WE mark, name, and denote all the brilliance and beauty we hold within. And all of this without measure, without out-loud celebration, without any date on the calendar.

As I think about my dad, I know he’d understand what I’m talking about. Our best conversations were always philosophical in nature. Unanswerable and intangible questions that we wrestled to the ground. Endless unknowing that we attempted to lasso and hold – even for a moment – before it slipped out of our grasp. Books we’d read, things we’d pondered and perseverated on, stories we’d lived or heard that captured something nebulous, mysterious, glimmering, and true. Always heady. Always stimulating. Sometimes frustrating. And endlessly reliable: his thinking, his pushing the boundaries, his deep desire for knowing, understanding, and being, and his requirement that I do and be the same.

So, on this non-day – February 29 or March 1 – I’m holding on to three irrefutable but un-markable truths:

  1. This day, the day my father left our presence, exists and is real – whether seen and named on my calendar, or not. It’s deserving of a date. He is. And, as my mom acknowledged in his memorial service, it was just like him to die on a leap year so that we’d only have to remember him every four years. Mmm hmm.
  2. My wisdom, my knowing, my heart is as reliable (and even more so) than the wisdom that can be named, written down, memorialized, taught in institutions, praised in public forums, or canonized in sacred tomes.
  3. This is true about your wisdom, your knowing, your heart, as well.

You, me, all of us have vast and infinite opportunity to believe and trust in ourselves – our wisdom, our knowing, our heart. It doesn’t matter that it can’t be proven, that it’s different from the status quo, that it defies cultural norms, that it upsets the apple cart, that there’s no date on the calendar.

And if you’re struggling to believe this, to trust this, to be this, you can be certain that my dad is holding every bit of it on your behalf. Me, too. I am my father’s daughter, after all.

Refrigerator-Magnet Wisdom

Last month I was in a bookstore in Lexington, KY with both of my daughters. We wandered in three different directions, as we often do – drawn to different things, different genres, our own stories speaking through what we collected as we walked through the aisles.

One of the girls called out to me, motioning me over to the rounder filled with magnets. And this, now impossible to ignore on my fridge, offers me exactly the reminder and the wisdom I need, multiple times each day.

Whatever you are meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

 

Indeed.

But oh, how we wish for different conditions…

  • before we have that hard conversation.
  • before we make that needed decision.
  • before we hit “publish” on that blog post or sales page or amazingly updated bio.
  • before we say “yes.”
  • before we say “no.”
  • before we speak our mind.
  • before we tell our truth.
  • before we step forward.
  • before we let ourselves be truly seen.
  • before we trust our wisdom.
  • before we act on our wisdom.
  • before we launch.
  • before we let go.
  • before we write that text, that email, that post, that book.
  • before we take care of ourselves.
  • before we do pretty much any number of the things we know are ours to do…

All of this is understandable.

We believe that if the conditions were different, then all of these things would be far easier and way less risky.

But here’s what I wonder – for myself and for you:

If the conditions were different (far easier, less risky) would the benefit, the impact, the “result” of doing any/all of these things be as profound and powerful?

It seems to me, at least with hindsight, that what seemed most impossible at the time was, in fact, what made the biggest difference, invited the most change, transformed me. Had I waited until the conditions were more favorable, it might have passed me over entirely – the experience, the moment, the leap into the unknown, the bold and beautiful (and difficult and risky) choice.

Doris Lessing is right, of course: now is the time for us to do what we are meant to do. Not once things are better, easier, calmer, figured-out, mitigated, or resolved. Now.

Heavy sigh. Deep breaths. (Both are reasonable here.)

As I look at this magnet, again and again, I see my resistance and, most of all, my fear. I can call it “conditions,” but at the end of the day, fear is what I’m faced with – and what I’m invited to name, acknowledge, and heal by choosing sovereignty instead.

It’s me (and you) showing up in exactly these conditions, whether impossible or not, and…

  • having that hard conversation.
  • making that needed decision.
  • hitting “publish” on that blog post or sales page or amazingly updated bio.
  • saying “yes.”
  • saying “no.”
  • speaking your mind.
  • telling your truth.
  • stepping forward.
  • letting yourself be truly seen.
  • trusting your wisdom.
  • acting on your wisdom.
  • launching.
  • letting go.
  • writing that text, that email, that post, that book.
  • taking care of yourself.
  • (insert any and everything else that you know belongs on this list)
  • doing all the things you know are yours to do…not someday, but now.

This is why I have created SOVEREIGNTY. Because I know the “someday” and the waiting on perfect conditions is exhausting and endless…

SOVEREIGNTY is a 10-week program that acknowledges the conditions (and your conditioning). It invites you to walk straight into the truth of your life with courage and grace. And it provides the advocacy and generosity and support you desire and deserve – so that you can do what you are meant to do. Not someday. Not when the conditions are right. Right now.

And since you can’t walk past my fridge multiple times a day, let me repeat this one more time on your behalf:

Whatever you are meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

The conditions aren’t the issue. Not really. You, being you – glorious and wise and brave and yes, sovereign – in the midst of them is what matters and makes all the difference.

Let’s do that – together!

Registration closes on 2/21. We begin on 3/1. Learn more.

What’s left on the cutting room floor?

Each morning, lately, I have been reading from a book with 365 reflections. Some I resonate with; others, not so much. And some surprise me. Like today’s… 

The author began by telling a story of having once interviewed the runner up of The Bachelor (the last one standing besides the one who gets the proposal). She asked how much of what we saw on the show was real, and how much just reality TV. Not surprisingly, the woman confirmed what all of us already knew (right?!?): she was not seen for who she was – not really. Every clip of her being anything other than how the producers wanted her dipicted (partying, disruptive, etc.) had been left on the cutting room floor. 

Ouch. 

We would be wise to name the “producers” in our world – those who are intentionally shaping the narrative, the story, the plot they want us to believe and buy – whether media, religion, politics, our family of origin, even those closest to us. We need to ask ourselves what’s being intentionally left on the cutting room floor so that we comply, stay in line, and don’t make waves.

We would be wise to ask ourselves how many women, how many stories, how much wisdom has not been ours throughout time. And we need to pay attention to how that has impacted us – dramatically and definitively. Because we’ve not seen those reels – the raw vs. edited footage of  Eve, Mary Magdalene, Tamar, Hagar, and so many more, it’s not surprising that we often feel isolated and alone (part of the producer’s plan, no doubt). We have not been given access to the legion of women who long to speak, have much to say, and stand alongside us even still. 

We would be wise to wonder about how we produce and edit our own stories. On the cutting room floor lie reels and reels of what we don’t want others (and sometimes, even ourselves) to see, what doesn’t “fit” with the story we’re telling, what feels better left unsaid, hidden, even thrown away. 

For every scene, every conversation, every part of us that’s been discarded – whether by choice or under duress – the woman others do see is not complete, not whole, not all of who we are. And that is both excruciating and untenable. 

We would be wise to consider:

  • what we intentionally cut out of our own story so that we better meet the “reality TV” ideal, the IG influencer ideal, our culture’s ideal, even the ideal of our boss, our peers, our significant other…
  • how feeling the pressure of other “producers” or “editors” in our life has translated into compromising the story we want to tell, the life we deserve and desire to live. 
  • how the reels and reels on the cutting room floor might, in truth, be exactly what and who deserves to be seen and heard.  
  • what we are most afraid of if fully seen, fully ourselves, unedited, unrestrained, untamed.

…what the world needs right now in order to evolve is to watch one woman at a time live her truest, most beautiful life without asking for permission or offering explanation. ~ Glennon Doyle, Untamed

That woman leaves nothing on the cutting room floor.

May it be so.

 

*****

 

Yes, Glennon Doyle’s words, but worth repeating as a clear and concise definition of sovereignty: living your “truest, most beautiful life without asking for permission or offering explanation.” This is why I have created SOVEREIGNTY: a 10-week program. It’s what I long for on your behalf – and what you deserve. We begin on March 1. Learn more.

[Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash]