Created: Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:13
I had invited "Elle" to dance with me several times. Normally, when I invite her to something, she gives me a clear yes or no. Dance was different. She would give vague and indefinite answers. Or she would just go silent.
I noticed a similar thing when she invited me to classes she likes. I would go silent rather than give a clear yes or no. So I told her that I would love to go to be with her, but the event itself wasn't top priority to me, and I wanted to focus on things that were. What I didn't say (but will) is to keep inviting me, because sometime I might decide I want to join her.
Elle's response to my dance invitations felt odd enough that I was about to address them. But I didn't have to. Elle initiated the conversation herself. She said,
- I asked myself what my resistance to dance is, and I realized that I feel nervous about going.
I appreciate her directness and clarity.
I've done much the same thing around calling my parents. I asked myself, what is my resistance? I discovered that it seems to me they want news, and my life is simple and routine - on the outside at least. So I started looking for things to tell them. I'm not traveling the world these days - I don't have glamorous tales of outer adventures, but the crab apples getting ripe will have to do.
I picked up the phone and called. They were happy to learn about the crab apples.
Created: Tuesday, 16 September 2014 16:44
I've posted about our cat Cindi before, and about our morning ritual. It was such a sweet start to our day to sit on the floor brushing and adoring her while she danced and pranced around for us to admire her. We delighted in being with a critter we love and are excited to see. There was an innocence to the whole experience... until recently. Here's what happened.
We discovered our cat loves liver. We started feeding our cat liver at the end of our morning ritual. It only took a few days for us to notice that the addition of liver changed the whole morning dynamic. Suddenly, Cindi seemed uninterested in being adored. She didn't seem so glad to see us anymore. Her parading about appeared mechanical. The morning ritual became all about... liver.
Oh, she still goes through the motions. She'll rub against something, take her bows, lick her lips and look up to the counter where we keep her liver. Perhaps we're projecting, but it sure seems to us that she's saying, "Was that enough? Have I earned my liver? Is it time yet?"
Innocence has been lost in Cat-ville. Love was tainted by a goal.
Where have you experienced that before?
Have you ever had a job you loved that became a means to an end until the life got squeezed out of your labors?
Have you ever found that the big adrenaline quest has rendered you unable to enjoy simple sweetness?
Has something that once was beautiful in its own right ever been turned into a means to an end, and you started going through the motions?
The liver is really good for Cindi. She is vibrant and healthy. We'll keep it as part of our morning routine. But we can't help but feel a bit of a loss for the way we used to begin our days.
Created: Monday, 08 September 2014 16:11
I received some powerful responses to a recent blog post. I was focused on other priorities, so I let my community members know that I had received and appreciated the communication, and would reply when I had time and clarity to sink in to my response.
I think that kind of acknowledgement is courteous and it aligns expectations. Plus, I loved the replies, and looked forward to being able to reply. I wanted my readers to know that.
Dee, one of my readers, replied to this email in a welcome and gracious way. She told me,
- I don't reply to your posts just to get a response from you; I just like to reply! If you don't find the time to reply, I won't be offended.
Dee's clarity is freeing and welcome. And gracious.
To my mind and heart, replies like the ones I received require a response, whether or not their authors do.
Created: Friday, 05 September 2014 15:24
Yesterday I coached a young woman in an animated way that was made possible by what she didn't do with my words.
She didn't globalize, demonize or black-and-white-ize. She heard my observations in proportion to the situation.
She didn't take my personal examples of my own struggles in similar situations as an excuse to care-take, teach or analyze me. She let me stay in the role as coach and kept her focus on how my words could help her move forward.
She didn't play victim. She heard my observations about unhealthy boundaries as an imperative to speak up decisively with those who are taking advantage of her goodwill, instead of an invitation to self-flagellate.
She didn't put me on a pedestal and hang on every word as gospel. She used my observations as a tool to help her see the situation clearly for herself.
Another way to put it is: she stayed conscious. That meant we were able to go deeply into her challenges and the resources and options available to her. We got a lot done in a short time.
Earlier this week I posted about self-betrayal. People often betray themselves by getting on their own case about their flaws, quirks and foibles. Some of my readers did some of that after reading that post.
That's beating a dead horse. This young woman and I wouldn't have been having our conversation if she hadn't already outgrown the person she was who got her in her conundrum. Yes, it was helpful to see how cause-effect had created an untenable situation in her life. It's even more helpful to recognize and applaud the new eyes that are allowing us to see our folly and make new choices.
I salute her for honoring herself (and me) rather than betraying herself.
Created: Tuesday, 02 September 2014 07:44
When was your first betrayal? For me, it was when I was four years old. I was allowed to cross the street - one block in any direction. I crossed the street at my grandparents' in Providence Rhode Island to play with the kids there. The kids' father saw me and acted like I had committed a crime. He brought me back in disgrace, acting like he was some kind of hero. I felt sure my mom would stick up for me, but she didn't. She sat there with a silly grin on her face as he preached and proselytized. In my mind, I screamed, "One block in any direction!!! I'm allowed!" Outside I just cried.
It was a betrayal. The first I recall. Not the last. It was a betrayal where I learned to betray myself. It was a betrayal where I screamed inwardly and cried outwardly.
How many times and ways have I betrayed myself since?
When was the last time you betrayed yourself?
I was four years old at the time. Now I have many more options. We all do.
What does sticking up for yourself look like these days?
Created: Tuesday, 26 August 2014 14:12
"I'm sorry!" Nancy exclaimed with a trembling voice.
Rose's heart sank just a little. "You have nothing to be sorry for," Rose tried to explain. "Things change and our working together is a learning process. We've outgrown how we did things, and I'd like us to work together to set a new direction that works for us both."
Try as Rose did to get Nancy on board with her intent, clearly Nancy had gone under. Nancy's "sorry's" kept her from being able to understand what Rose was aspiring toward. That's common in improvement efforts – people hear a desire to grow and improve as criticism of how things are.
Nancy kept being sorry, and Rose started to feel sorry that she had raised the issue. Not that staying silent had been an option.
Rose understood the tendency to collapse, go unconscious and default into apologies. She recalled one client who had missed an appointment.
"I came on time for the appointment, but the door was locked," the client complained.
Yes, just as she had told him it would be. Just as she told all her clients. The front door to the building stays locked and the back door remains open, so go in the back door and walk up the stairs. Bring my number with you in case you have any problems and I'll come down to greet you.
So why had Rose apologized to him as if she had committed some egregious error? Even as her "sorry's" came out of her mouth it felt backwards. If any "sorry's" were in order, he should be apologizing to her. In fact, he should be offering to pay her for the missed appointment. Yet, Rose continued to say how sorry she was, even as something inside her screamed in protest to her self-betrayal.
That was many years ago. Now, as Nancy apologized when she had done no wrong, Rose was tempted to apologize for hurting her feelings. But she refrained. Nancy had nothing to apologize for, and neither did Rose. They might not get through it in this conversation. But it was time for a change, and Rose knew that could be a process. Her heart hurt as the conversation came to it's necessary close and Nancy told her, "I need to cry." It was hard to let it rest there. Yet Rose trusted that their mutual respect and love would get them through to a new level. Eventually.
Created: Friday, 22 August 2014 03:31
Rose bounded in to share her gratitude with Tony. She told him: "Holding someone while they have a release like you held me yesterday is kind of like holding them while they throw up."
Tony smiled. "Yeah - and holding their hair back so it wouldn't get anything on it. Good metaphor."
"It's an act of love." Rose planted a kiss on Tony's cheek and meandered off to her next adventure. She called her friend Angie.
"I'm reading a book I've had a long time," Angie told Rose. "It's called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die."
"Buried alive," Rose mused. "You never know what's in there until you let it out." For me, it's mostly energy these days, although I can work up a case sometimes."
Rose revisited a CD she recorded 20 years before. One song, Inside, touched her now. You can hear it here. http://www.speakstrong.com/audio/06%20Inside.m4a
Here are the lyrics.
Well, he slammed the door and stomped his feet,
Called her names I won't repeat.
He told her he would not be coming back.
He took the keys and took the car,
Drove off to a local bar
Where everyone could tell his mood was black.
On the inside his heart was breaking
From the beating it was taking.
Inside he could not stand the pain.
He felt alone, he felt neglected,
Undervalued and rejected,
Unappreciated and constrained.
She watched him leave and heaved a sigh,
Had a twenty hankie cry,
Then she poured her heart to a friend,
It hurt when her man wouldn't listen
When she told him what was missing.
He was way too easy to offend.
But on the inside she was filled with terror,
Frightened she had made an error
Her body shook. Her face was almost white.
It scared her every time he'd shout.
It made her question. Made her doubt.
She lost her resolve when they would fight.
Well it scared him that her words were true.
Frightened him how much she knew.
He was so afraid to be exposed.
It scared him he was in so deep.
He didn't know he'd made the leap.
He wasn't quite as free as he'd supposed.
On the inside he felt regret
That he had gotten so upset.
He was sorry for the things he said.
He told the people at the bar
He was a fool to go so far
Now he'd make the choice for love instead.
She wished that she had used more tact
Pointing out a painful fact.
She wish that she had tip-toed around his pride.
She wished that he had never flung
Harsh words with a biting tongue
When half the things she said weren't justified.
But on the inside her heart was open,
She heard a car and she was hoping
He would soon be walking through the door.
And there he was: his arms extended,
A hug. A kiss. Their hearts were mended
To live, love learn and fight again some more.
Through anger, sorrow, fear, regret -
The heart forgives. The mind forgets,
And they'll live, love, learn and fight again some more.
copyright 2014, Meryl Runion Rose
Rose's life had never been quite as dramatic as the song implies. But the song did capture a powerful time in her life. Now, many years later, those dynamic energies were awakening in her again, but more as pure energy. Ready to be experienced on the Inside... and dynamically lived.
She had howled at the moon, and now she felt ready to take on the world.
Created: Tuesday, 19 August 2014 01:19
She's a master manipulator, yet I love her.
- She invites me in and then makes it difficult to connect.
- She elicits an invitation, and then stalls as if undecided.
- She approaches me and then turns away just short of reach.
It took me a while to realize she was working me. It took me a while to conclude she liked the game. It took a while to stop playing her game.
Who is she? She's my cat Cindi. Princess Cindi-rella.
Cindi comes up as if she wishes to be petted. Half the time she enjoys the strokes. The other half of the time, she pulls back as soon as I reach for her.
Cindi stands at the edge of my reach when I attempt to brush her. Cindi looks at me invitingly. I extend myself. A few brush strokes into her brushing, I discover she has pulled away little by little and I am off my center reaching for her.
Cindi stands at the door asking to be let out. Cindi stands there as long as I let her, as if deciding whether or not she wants to go out.
Cindi is really playing a game. Things are not as she wants them to appear.
My body told me before my mind did. My body knows what being manipulated feels like.
Now, think of Cindi's behaviors as metaphors. Do you know people who play games like this? I do. Like Cindi, I can't convince them to stop playing their game. The game is too engrained.
But I CAN stop taking the bait. I can listen to my body when it tells me I'm being manipulated and I can stop putting myself out to help when they are only working me.
Then I can love them without feeling manipulated.
Now excuse me while go brush my sweet cat. She's a master manipulator, yet I love her.
Created: Friday, 15 August 2014 16:14
Tony put down the sheet of paper he was holding and leaned in toward his client. He said:
- I don't know why you come to me. You know I treat the root cause of illness, and that means you probably will feel worse before you feel better while I take you through the die-off process. Yet, every time you start to feel bad you do something that stops the process. You say you want to learn from me, but you seem too intent on proving how much you know to listen. You don't ask questions, you argue. You finish my sentences for me, and most of the time, your completion isn't where I was going with my point. Yet, you tell me I'm helping you and you want to work with me. It seems to me that what you really want is a practitioner who will relieve all your symptoms and let you get on with your life without dealing with the root cause. It's like the restaurant owners who get on Kitchen Nightmares because their businesses are failing, but try to teach Chef Ramsey how to run a restaurant.
Let that settle in for a minute.
There is a Japanese tale that illustrates the frustration of trying to work with someone who isn't open to receive. It goes like this:
"The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor's cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: 'Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in.'
Nan-in said: 'Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.'"
Sometimes when Tony confronts clients like this, it results in a conversation that gets them on the same page. Other times the client talks like he or she is ready to get on board and changes just enough to stay a client, much like the employee who only does good work before the performance review. There are times when the client argues that they really are on board and Tony needs to pull the plug unilaterally.
Then there are times when Tony and his clients jointly decide they aren't a match. They dissolve the working relationship.
Do you have anyone in your world who says they want what you do? Someone who says they agree to your terms, but in practice they are redefining the relationship on their own terms?
Maybe it's time to have a conversation like Tony does. For Tony, it's the difference between loving his work and hating it. What difference might it make for you?