Created: Tuesday, 03 January 2017 22:15
So many thanks for the emails in response to my posts! I will be getting back to all of you soon!
I’ve decided consistency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My New Year Invocation continues to morph. Personally, I believe the process is as useful as the outcome. My original “Personal Love Statements” were handwritten and not so postable. The revised ones – with pledges instead of apologies – are here: https://www.slideshare.net/secret/hnzyAhv8SbaS0A
Note that these are mine – and they are expressions of a moment. A process. The point of sharing is for you to develop your own. Create your own and do what you will with them. I used mine for the SlideShare, and Bob reads them to me before bed from time to time.
And they morphed into my New Year Invocation SlideShare. That’s still morphing. I had forgotten that the SlideShare doesn’t go out in the blog emails. That link is here. https://www.slideshare.net/merylrunion/2017-70579272
So – Let’s Make 2017 Crazy Beautiful. I was so intensely immersed in beauty amidst the hallenging diminishments of my father’s passing. Energetically, it was sublime. In a very different reality. I felt so degraded by the whole tone and tactics of the election – not just the candidates, not just the media, but the unconsciousness of the communication and/or lack of communication at all, on the ground level. Energetically, it was slime.
So I want to use the energy of my journey with Dad and the energy of the election to create and live a higher vision for myself and my community.
So Let’s Make 2017 Crazy Wonderful. That’s my 2017 title and theme and I’m sticking to it – until I change it.
Created: Tuesday, 03 January 2017 01:09
Opposing realities in one single year
Companioning my dad to his death was a beautiful sacred experience. The level of authenticity and trust was almost painfully exquisite. People talked about how hard it must have been, but in many ways for me, it was easier than ordinary life because it was so pure and close to soul. It wasn't hard because it softened me.
The election season was the opposite. It was profane. Nothing was held sacred. The level of dishonesty and misinformation was excruciatingly soulless. Every principle I have taught for 30 years and written of was trampled. That was hard.
I was traumatized. I grieved. I processed. I laid pretty low because I didn’t want my communication to be an expression of the gutter consciousness I had been tainted by. I needed to find my own integrated voice and not speak from reaction.
Personal Love Statements
When the holidays rolled around, I created what Matt Kahn calls Personal Love Statements. The first iteration was a pretty good summary of words my heart yearned to hear from others and myself – but included a number of apologies. For example: I’m sorry I dismissed you. Then I created a second iteration that turned those apologies into pledges. Example: I will never dismiss you. I will honor your perspective.
Next, I created a New Year Invocation that turned it all into I want to invoke. I made a slideshare. I am thinking of blogging on the inside story of each slide and creating a narrated presentation.
I think the process is as useful as the “end result.” If you want a copy of my Personal Love Statements, let me know and I will send it to you.
What did I leave out? Let me know.
Created: Sunday, 01 January 2017 20:23
The Circle of Life
“What are you thinking about?” I asked my Dad. I once considered that to be an intrusive question. In our last years together that question got some great conversations going.
“I'm thinking about the circle of life,” he told me. I was pleased. That was a term I had used over a year prior in response to his diminishing his worth as his abilities declined.
I had told him, “I see every stage in the circle of life as being equally valid – and beautiful in its own way. It’s easy to value the younger years, but there are treasures in all the stages. I find you as easy to love or even easier now than ever before.”
Apparantly he heard me. I had never heard him use the term before that day. I was eager to hear what he had to say. He had been in hospice for nine months, and was at a point where the phrase held a lot of clout for me. For us.
Talking was difficult. He stammered. It had recently taken him a half hour to explain how he liked his bed made. It took a lot of patience on both sides, but with the patience came grace. Or I should say Grace.
What will take you a few minutes to read took him several hours to speak.
“I was thinking about what a disaster this would have been had you notshown up,” he told me. His words made my heart happy. I had extended myself tremendously, and it pleased me to know how he valued that.
“The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” he continued. “This is like that but it isn’t. He ran away. You didn’t run away. This is a parable about a daughter who was asked to leave and obligingly did. But she came back. She came back to save her family. It’s the "Parable of the Unwanted Daughter. And it would have been a disaster if she hadn’t come back to save her family.”
“That sounds like a blessing,” I told him.
“I meant it that way,” he replied. My heart soared so muchit hurt.
There were things I could have argued with, but opted not to. “It’s true, isn’t it?” he asked.
Yes, it might not be the whole story, but it was true. I received his blessing as given.
The other blessing
Dad had kicked me out of the house when I was 20. His second family took his attention and I was secondary. There were other circumstances, but those were facts. I had stayed politely distant until four years before, when I realized he and my Stepmom were in over their heads. They needed what I was able to give. I started making frequent trips to visit and assist.
Dad often marveled at the fact that I returned. He wondered why I would want to. Companioning him to his death was one of the most powerful and rewarding experiences of my life. Being so emotionally intimate with someone who was consciously dying was an honor and a blessing. That’s why I WANTED to come back.
He passed three days after the passing on his parable. He took his last breath September 30, 2016, peacefully and with a sense of completion.
Over his final yearsI cultivated our communication tenderly, layer by layer. It was as if my SpeakStrong training and practice was all to give me the gifts and skills to navigate those waters.
It was a very beautiful, Grace-filled experience. It was the perfect completion to his circle of life. I was blesed to have becomme indispensible.
Speaking of circles
I have been in my personal percolating cycle/circle. Supporting Dad took a lot of energy. Then the election took me out in many ways. The communication was the opposite of what I teach. I am regrouping, I am finding my footing. I hope to be posting more frequently in the coming months. Thanks!
Created: Wednesday, 02 March 2016 03:00
It has been a while since I've posted here. I've been busy living life. I have posted some on Facebook, but that has been erratic as well. It might be time for me to start posting here again.
My father entered hospice in December. Most people contact hospice in the very last stages of life, but he asked to be admitted to it as soon as he decided that he didn't want to focus on strengthening and extending his life. It turned out to be a great move. Not only is he getting physical support that way, he is under no pressure to perform more than he chooses to. His decline became much smoother once hospice got set in place.
But that's not why I'm posting. I'm posting to tell you about SpeakStrong. About how it almost seems that my whole career has been to prepare me for the tender, intimate and delicate conversations that have been so precious in this grand journey. More than that, I post to speak of how I've been coaching Dad to SpeakStrong.
Last week he told me his nurse was failing in her responsibility to communicate things effectively to the aids. He was gearing up to blast her. To me, it seemed like a misunderstanding with a well-meaning support person - and an issue that could be cleared up with a simple well-worded request. As he built his case talking with me, I asked if he was open to a suggestion. He said he was. I told him that I find it helps to focus more on what I want that what I don't want. So instead of pointing out how his nurse failed in her responsibility to communicate and complaining in detail about what happened, that it might work better to focus on what he needed her to do for him moving forward. I suggested he frame his conversation as a request more than a complaint.
He thanked me for the advice. Then he followed it. Tonight he told me, "It has become immediately obvious why this is a better way." Hooray!
I noted that one advantage I see for him in this approach is I don't think he enjoys dumping on people and hurting them. He acknowledged that was true.
This is a gentle hearted man who used to bring out the big hammers for small issues. I was a tender-hearted girl who used to be shattered by it. I never knew when he might explode. He didn't do it often, but it was devastating enough that I made a lot of choices to ensure I wouldn't be the recipient of a verbal attack or undermining.
I got past that. So has he.
What a amazing experience.I'm putting my father to bed. He's 96 now. I'm able to help him not only discover how to die well, but also to discover how to live better.
Created: Friday, 20 November 2015 18:40
The last time I was in the Hilton Heritage banquet hall was over fifteen years ago. I gave the keynote at a lunch conference. This time I had a table at the back of the room and someone else spoke. The keynote title was Honor Your Season. I was doing just that. I like my new role (roll).
I was there to give away my excess book inventory. I literally gave away a ton of books. One of my signs said; "Free your voice. Free my shed. Books for FREE."
I am happy. My books are happy. The shed is happy. The people who took books are happy. And my husband, who always likes space, is happy.
It was so much fun!!!
Although I believe these days I could give a much better keynote than I did when I was presenting so long ago, I was at home in the back. These days I have much more wisdom than I did then. That wisdom keeps me from hankering to be the one on stage.
I am in a different season now than I was then. I may have another season that puts me back in the front of the room again, but I'll let that unfold as it will... or not. These days I am happily at home in the back, giving away what remains from my rise in a different season. Nothing to sell and nothing to prove.
Flying high is fun. So is laying lower - when it is the season.
What season are you in?
Created: Monday, 17 August 2015 19:40
My husband laughed out loud when I showed him this Zits cartoon. I laughed too, but I also sighed. The cartoon pokes fun at how Jeremy's mother "overdoes everything" by fetching pillows, candles, Kleenex and refreshments at the first indication of her son wanting to talk. From her side, it shows her joy, love and anticipation of a deep connection. From his side, her preparation made his point about her excesses.
Too often, we dive into a conversation without any preparation or stage setting. At times, people working with me show up at the appointed hour without having reviewed any of the relevant materials or having given our time together any anticipatory thought.
I love it when people show they value their time with me by setting the environment and preparing practically and psychologically. Even simple questions like:
- What do I/we want to have happen here?
- How can I prepare to increase the likelihood of success?
...can optimize our time invested in each other.
I call my father every day, and knowing that I won't be able to do that forever, I ask those questions before I dial. It's amazing how much closer we have become over the last months as a result.
Does Jeremy's mother overdo? Perhaps. But perhaps she is compensating for his tendency to underdo. As we run from one activity to another, we can neglect simple preparation. We might not need pillows, kleenex, candles and refreshments for every exchange, but a simple pause between events can make all the difference.
Created: Tuesday, 11 August 2015 15:34
What is the fascination with celebrity gossip? I think there is something innate in us that likes to penetrate a facade.
It's ironic because we do like the facade. We like the vision of flawless beauty. We like the perception of limitlessness and invincibility. Celebrities give us tantalizing glimpses into the Archetypal realm of existence. And although it is unpopular to affirm it in professional circles, such realms are real - just not in the way most think of them.
We also yearn for grounding and a sense of concrete reality. Hence we gleefully approach illusory bubbles with a pin. Or a hatchet.
Have you ever looked at photos of gorgeous celebrities at their worst? Which image is more real? The Greek God or Goddess version, or the crawled-out-from-under-a-rock one?
Well, both pictures have their own reality, and the sum total of that celebrity is somewhere in-between. Those photos are visual celebrity gossip.
I would not want pictures of me at my worst or descriptions of my "baddest" behaviors memorialized as if that is who I am. On the other hand, when the meeting planner doesn't recognize me when I show up because I don't look like my press photos, it's time for a new, more "real" one.
Of course, our fascination with gossip isn't limited to celebrity gossip. We put real people in our lives on pedestals only to tear them down later. Pedestals are dangerous. When I sense someone has me on one, I prepare to be demonized later. It's predictable. It's a clunky kind of balancing.
Lucy didn't like it when her guy Joe praised her to the heavens. I suspect it's because she knew she was being set up for a fall. It happened. She went from angel to devil in his eyes. He looked for anyone who would listen... and look... as he painted verbal pictures of her at her worst. Were his indictments true? Perhaps, just as the "ugly celebrity pictures" are. His words have the feel of celebrity gossip.
Communicating with Joe is tricky. Joe likes the facade. He seems less interested in relating to a real human being than in figuring out how to get Lucy to go back to acting the leading role in his drama where she is the angel. I can't help him with that: especially because he tries to do it by dragging his mannequin image of her over rugged terrain with anyone who will gawk. I don't read tabloids and I am not interested in Joe's B grade movie.
The real Lucy occasionally falls into the trap of acting out his worst images of her. Plus she has illusions of her own, as we all do. But when she sobers up from that, she beckons: "Over here! I'm over here!" Unfortunately, the real Lucy can't compete with the spendiferous beauty and graphic ugliness of Joe's illusions.
Not yet anyway. But when the paved road crumbles and the veil of illusion dissolves, reality becomes inescapable. It doesn't match the tabloids, but it's real. It is often indicated by tears. When Joe and Lucy have a good cry together: that's when they'll find each other.
Change happens when people stop preferring the facade.
Created: Sunday, 02 August 2015 22:53
It's just another Mellow Monday here in Roseville. We plan to keep it that way. Sometimes the mellowist of Mondays become manic despite our best efforts, and should that happen, we will roll with it. But today, so far, Bob and I look forward to taking care of life one step at a time without any adrenaline surges or high drama. We balanced our weekend with that intention.
If you search Craigslist for shared housing, you'll discover that close to half of the postings state: "No drama." Interesting, huh! One can only surmise that these people have previously rented to drama kings or queens.
Even the least dramatic among us find ourselves embroiled in drama at times. It's unavoidable. But many of us are addicted to drama and seek it out for an adrenaline rush to distract us from how exhausted we are. Or so says Dr. Rubin Naiman, author of several books and the article Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder: A Hidden Cause of Sleeplessness.
Post Dramatic Stress Disorder. I suspect that's exactly what the people who state "no drama" on Craigslist rentals suffer from... and have the sense not to set themselves up for again.
The dramatist has a crisis every day. The dramatist can't refrain from exaggeration. The dramatist waits until things get out of hand to take action. The dramatist jumps to the next thrill, or fire. The dramatist speaks in absolute, all or nothing language. The dramatist keeps things stirred up so no one ever has to - or can - deal with reality. To those addicted to drama, anything less than that is boring. I have discovered the awesome beauty of "boring."
How do you communicate with a dramatist? Well, for me, it has been critical to observe and own my personal response to the drama. When a dramatist makes a federal case out of a small issue, I note my own tendency to be suckered in to the emotion. I know that if I were making such a big deal out of something, (usually) it would be more in proportion to what is happening. I tend to assume they do the same. Not true.
Once I have my sense of proportion (reality), I "say what I mean and mean what I say without being mean when I say it."
I don't speak an inflated version of the truth. I speak the simple truth. For example, it may be "the biggest event on the planet," but I just say I'd rather stay home, sit on the deck, watch night fall, and go to bed early. I just say I'm setting the stage for just another Mellow Monday.
My adrenals are so much better for it. My sleep is so much better for it. My Mondays are so much better for it. Try it.
I'd love to hear how drama shows up in your life, and how you respond to it - in yourself and others.
Created: Thursday, 02 July 2015 17:43
Dr. Gregory House on the show House used to say "everybody lies."
Bob's main mentor says that too. Dr. Loomis stood in front of a seminar of docs and told his volunteer that despite her protests, he knew she was eating sugar. His exam wasn't lying, she was.
Loomis went through a long list of ways she might be getting sugar. Was she eating this? Was she eating that? Was she eating some other thing?
No, no, no.
Was she eating dates?
Why yes, she was. And what are dates a big source of? SUGAR!
Busted. Now she can heal.
"There you go," the doc told the audience. "Everybody lies." Dr. Loomis found that out years before when a client who had seen him for years told him she ate a pure diet and her symptoms had to be environmental. After many years of this, she came to see him with a friend who told Dr. Loomis: "She's lying to you when she says she doesn't eat junk. She does when she gets stressed."
Busted. Now she can heal.
"You're getting sugar from somewhere," Bob told his client. "Something is feeding your candida."
Bob's client insisted she wasn't eating sugar. But then she relented. "Do cookies on weekends count? They're from Whole Foods and they're natural."
Yes, cookies on weekends count. Bob's client was busted. Now she can heal.
We all can heal once we stop lying to ourselves about ways we sabotage ourselves. We might play mind games with ourselves that we can cheat here and fib there. But guess what! The laws of cause and effect don't bend because we think they should. Candida feeds on sugar on weekends too. Failure feeds on trickery on weekends too. Every attempt to go cheap, every little lie comes back to bite us. That's why the only way out is through being as truthful as we know how to be - about every little thing.
Man - those dates look good! You might be able to handle them, but after years of kidding myself I know I can't. I'll have somethng else.
Created: Monday, 29 June 2015 13:32
"I have five more minutes. Can you get right to the point?"
Sometimes you need to focus your conversations to make sure priorities get handled.
Other times, attempts to rush a conversation are counter-productive. You need to sink in, put your feet up on the wall and allow time for verbal processing, rambling and for the deeper truths to emerge.
There are some conversations that simply can't happen if you rush.
In my father's assisted-living home, often people don't give him time to speak. They miss the cues that he has something to say. They don't notice him clear his throat. They miss the special breath he takes when he reaches for words. They interject before he can begin, let alone make his point.
That's why I make a point of leaving spaces and allowing plenty of time in our conversations. Space for Grace.
There are times when I need to focus him and let him know I don't have much time. He doesn't seem to mind. I think he doesn't mind because he knows I will make enough time for him to express himself before long.
Like that, I don't mind being rushed when I know I will have room to speak reasonably soon.
Giving others room to speak their deeper truths or process isn't just a gift to them. It's a gift to you because there is gold in those words. It can be mixed with some dross - especially if communication has been blocked or rushed for a while. But keep giving room - not necessarily every conversation, but often enough to avoid a backlog - and you will find yourself enjoying a beauty you would have missed had you not indulged in the luxury of more than enough time.
My dad is an amazing man. I am one of the few people who know how amazing he is because I wait while he clears his throat, takes a breath and gathers his thoughts by rambling a bit.
I am amazing too. My friends who allow me time know that. I also have amazing friends and colleagues. I know that when I allow more than enough time.
Space for Grace. Leave enough room and you discover the beauty in your midst.