being the seed

"They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."

Dinos Christianopoulos


During this season of Lent, I'm interested in everything that gets buried and reborn.

Right now our sidewalks in Texas are ankle-deep in acorns, these everyday miracles of resurrection, these tiny fragile seeds of oak trees.

It seems to me that a lot of us like end product of growth. We like the poetic results of maturity.

"For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit." Jeremiah 17:8

"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61;3

Not too many of us, though, love the process--the falling, the burying, the darkness, the breaking open--all the things that have to happen, to make way for new growth.

All that stuff is hard.

And we'd just rather get to the end.

(Speaking just for myself, anyway.)

This last year, one of my mantras for myself has been:


Accept, accept, accept.

Accept the reality of the present.

Accept my emotions in light of reality.

Accept the change that comes.

Accept the brokenness, accept the pain.

Accept the process.

Let the acorn fall, let the rain fall too.

Let life be kindled, at its proper time.

Let growth take place, as growth is designed to do. 

Let healing come, as healing does.

Accept: trust and rest and let it be.

"All is well, and all shall be well,

and all manner of things shall be well."

Julian of Norwich

"You can't rush your healing
Darkness has its teachings
Love is never leaving
You can't rush your healing."

Trevor Hall

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witness to darkness, witness to light

I want to say thank you to everyone who's sent kind words after my last post, along with thanks to everyone for your patience with my season of silence.

It feels appropriate on many levels that my interior world is dark and quiet during this season. 

First, I have my own grief to process, my own pain to bear.

Then, we are in the season of Lent, and that's often a subdued season in the church calendar. A time of reflection, a time of release, a time of darkness, a time to remain in the tomb before the resurrection of Easter Sunday.

Also, I am struck once again that I am always, because of my work as a therapist, a witness to seasons of darkness and grief and waiting-for-resurrection in the lives of others.

I am a witness to darkness and, I am a witness to light.

I'm a witness to light in my own life, healing that comes after seasons of suffering.

I'm a witness to light in the cycles of death, darkness, resurrection, and new life that all the stories of Love has written since time began.

I'm a witness to the light that shines when together we recognize the reality of darkness, stare it straight in the face, and choose Light and Love as our Way instead.

The thing I've realized over time is this: in order to be a good witness, I've got to be an accurate witness.

 Culross Abbey, Scotland. photo; me and my cell phone

Culross Abbey, Scotland. photo; me and my cell phone

I've got to accurately witness both the darkness and the light, without glossing over the darkness or creating a counterfeit light.

If I I gloss over the darkness, if I try to make counterfeit light, I'll end up with quick fixes that do more harm than good. 

We've all probably had this happen to us: we try to be vulnerable about the deep pain in our lives, and somebody tells us to cheer up and stop being such a Debbie Downer. It just makes everything worse.

But if we're going to accurately witness the darkness and light with others, we've got to first do that with ourselves: go into our pain, be in the silence, learn its shape and its secrets, so that when we come again into the light, we're wholly there, fully present.

That way our witness of light is as real and as true as our witness to darkness, both for ourselves and for others.

When we're accurate witnesses, we don't have the false arrogance to believe that we're in the light because we're good people who have it all figured out.

When we're accurate witnesses, we don't malign the pain of others by suggesting that they're in the dark because they've done something wrong.

When we're accurate witnesses, we walk in the light, we lift our faces to the it, bask in its glow, we share it with others every chance we get. But we never, never think that we've somehow cracked the code and gotten this light for ourselves by our personal goodness, no matter how comforting it would be to believe so.

Something I've learned about being an accurate witness is this: not everybody likes it, and that's painful too. 

The truth is, people like to think that they have control. They like to think that they did get this light for themselves by personal goodness, perfect following, or at least by the power of prayer, for goodness sake.

The illusion of control is a safety net, and people love to feel safe.

My own story, my own experience, it often flies in the face of that safety.

People don't want to read my story and know that you can be a missionary and your husband can look at porn anyway. They don't want to know that you can love your kids and be a good parent and your kid can be gay anyway. They don't want to know that you can love God, have doubts about a lot of religious stuff, and be okay anyway.

People like guarantees and my story is not exactly full of them, which means some people don't like my story one bit. 

Until the darkness comes to their life, and they need a witness.

And then I'm here to say, I understand.

I know what it's like when the walls all fall and everything is wrecked past repairing.

I know how the pain feels, like it will drag you down and never let you go.

I know how it is, when those who said they would help made everything exponentially worse.

I am a witness to that darkness. I know every inch of it well.

And I also know the light, I'm a witness to that, too.

How the little shoots of green pierce the cold earth in the Spring.

How the ray of solstice-sun gleams down the darkest passage-tomb.

How Love emerges out of devastation, a miracle every time.

That light is Real, and that light is True, and when it shines, the darkness cannot overcome it.

I'm a witness to all of that.

And that's why I say to those who are deep in the dark, wandering a cave underground: 

Keep walking.

I'm right here with you.

I've been here before.

I recognize this bend in the tunnel.

There's light, just up ahead.

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On a few occasions in my life, I've had repetitive dreams that provided important clues to my emotional and spiritual landscape.

 Clare Galway Fransciscan Priory, County Clare, Ireland, photo: Andy Bruner

Clare Galway Fransciscan Priory, County Clare, Ireland, photo: Andy Bruner

Just a couple of months ago, back in December, I started dreaming that I was Cinderella. 

On a number of occasions, I had this same dream and I would wake up saying to myself, "I am the emotional Cinderella."

Cinderella, the orphaned servant girl: lonely, overworked, unappreciated. 

My brain was clearly trying to tell me something about my emotional workload, and while I didn't take it all literally, I did take seriously that my emotional self was not feeling well cared for.

My friend Patty, whose story I shared with you a couple of years ago, was in her final days of life with ALS during November and December.

My spiritual director said to me, "I'm worried about how you will be when this is all over." 

And my brain was saying: "Cinderella, Cinderella, Cinderella."

Patty died on February 6, and her memorial service was this past Friday. 

Richard Rohr says, "Everything that passes away is reborn into the reality of God."

And while this truth is a comfort, I am still left with the hard emotional work that Emily Dickinson calls "the bustle in the house."

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted opon Earth –

The Sweeping up the Heart

And putting Love away

We shall not want to use again

Until Eternity –

Cinderella indeed.

I've adjusted my work load accordingly, taken more naps, and done fewer emotionally taxing things when possible. 

So for those of you who were wondering why the blog has been quiet, this is the reality of life right now.

I trust in Love.

I trust the process.

I trust that healing will come.

I may be quiet a while longer yet.

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the season of epiphany

I love the idea of an epiphany, that "a-ha moment" that brings a flash enlightenment.

Right now, we're in the season of Epiphany, according to the church calendar. Epiphany begins just after Christmas and runs all the way up until Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins.

It's a strange and beautiful story, the original Epiphany: astrologers following a star to find Jesus.

 photo: Michael Bruner

photo: Michael Bruner

The way I grew up, the only way to find Jesus was through the Bible.

But here we find in the very birth-story of Jesus, the Magi, the Wise Ones, the Kings of the East, who found Jesus through astrology, used dreams as a method of guidance against the evils of Herod, and went away into their own country again without a conversion-to-Christianity story. 

The story of Christmas is all about God-With-The-Unlikeliest: Mary the Girl, Joseph the Carpenter, shepherds in a field. Even the Kings who come to visit are outsiders, following a star instead of religious protocol, astrologers instead of pharisees.

If we take away anything at all from the story of Christmas and Epiphany, it should be this: Love shows up everywhere, peace on earth, goodwill for everyone.

For women.

For the poor.

For the unclean.

For the unchosen.

For the unknown.

For the unexpectant.

For the religiously different.

Here, in the birth-story of Jesus, it's so clear: the all-inclusive embodiment of Love has come to be With Us, whoever we are, wherever we are.

But for many of us, the beginning of Love is the hardest.

We can barely believe that Love loves us first.

We can see that Love is limitless for others, but we have a hard time accepting Love for ourselves. We don't truly believe that unconditional Love is truly unconditional--not for us, anyway.

Our experiences of abandonment, abuse, judgment, failure--these teach us that Love is highly conditional. Toxic theology reinforces what our broken hearts feel must be true: we'll never really be good enough, unless and until ___________. And the blank never, ever gets filled. It just stretches into endless, exhausting demands for perfection, performance, approval.

It's an act of radical, counter-toxic-religious rebellion to love ourselves fully, completely, and unconditionally, the way we've always been told that Love is.

But this is what we are called into this season of Epiphany: the great, epic, mysterious "a-ha" of Love that includes ALL OF US.

All of us star-followers,

all of us dreamers-of-dreams,

Epiphany calls us to into the great, unending journey of inclusion.

Love is limitless, and so we will never come to the end of what Love includes.

Beginning with ourselves.

May this be the year that Love includes you, and Love includes me.

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joy, in the dark

"Be joyful though you have considered all the facts."  Wendell Berry

Every year, I struggle with Week 3 of Advent, the dadgum Joy candle, and how to be joyful, considering all the facts.

The thing about Advent is this: we're waiting.

And sometimes we're waiting for things that aren't going to happen.

That abusive husband is not going to change.

That health issue is only going to get worse.

That relationship is not going to get its Disney-approved happily-ever-after.

That budget bill looks like it is going to pass, the one that gives the Wal-Mart family a $52 billion tax break, while the CHIP program that provides insurance to poor kids is being defunded because "we can't afford it."

And even if we're in a situation that we think will get better, this Advent might just be a sucky time of life, a season full of facts we'd prefer never, ever to consider at all, thankyouverymuch.

I have to tell you, JOY is not exactly what I feel, right off the bat, when I consider things like this.

 The nativity that makes no sense: made in Peru, depicting a (sort-of) Thai Mary and Joseph, with a red-headed Baby Jesus. And elephants.  Naturally.

The nativity that makes no sense: made in Peru, depicting a (sort-of) Thai Mary and Joseph, with a red-headed Baby Jesus. And elephants.  Naturally.

Last year during Joy week, I struggled through to see that when I recognize Love, I can find joy.  Here's what I wrote last year:

I recognize Love in a field of wildflowers: I feel Joy.

I recognize Love in the creative work of an artist:  I feel Joy.

I recognize Love in the intentions of another:  I feel Joy.

I recognize Love in the face of my best beloveds:  I feel Joy.

And it occurs to me that maybe Joy is just this simple: seeing the Love, all around me.

Reading back over that today, I realized that is that this is a lesson in MINDFULNESS.

Seeing what is right now, right here, right in front of me.

Recognizing what I so often overlook.

Receiving Love in every infinite way that it presents itself.

Maybe NOT waiting (sorry, Advent) but seeing where the Kingdom of Love unfolds here and now.

Sometimes Love is obvious and wonderful, that person who shows up at the right time and place, bringing the gift of joy.

Sometimes Love is just the next beautiful breath, that conscious, grateful receiving of Spirit and Life.

Most of the time, I think we can be recognize Love somewhere around us. 

Most of the time we can be mindful if we take a moment to look and breathe.

But maybe today, for you, life is so sad and hard that you can't be mindful of anything outside of your own tears. 

If that's the case for you, know that this is why we light candles at this dark time of year: to share Love and light with each other.

Every candle on earth shines for you, because we are all part of each other.

Your tears are ours, and our light is yours.


May this light from my home in Texas

shine Love and joy for you today,

wherever you are,

no waiting required.

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peace begins with justice begins with me

"Teach us the peace that comes through justice." Candle-lighting liturgy, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ

"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." Sy Miller and Jill Jackson

It feels deeply ironic to be talking about peace this second week of Advent. 

It's ironic every year, I guess. 

There's never a year without war somewhere on the planet. 

This year, however, aside from the wars already raging, there are tweets and threats and political palaverings that place peace at risk on practically every continent. 

If there's a spot without outright war at this minute, it seems like it's just a matter of time.

 Olive wood nativity from Bethlehem, photo: me and my cell phone

Olive wood nativity from Bethlehem, photo: me and my cell phone

What do we do with the second week of Advent and its peace theme at a time like this?

First of all, I think we have to face this reality: 

True peace only comes through justice.

Peace without justice is simply oppression that we happen to be ignoring right now.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we stop ignoring injustice, then we feel pain. 

And we don't like to feel pain. 

But if all of us, who have the privileged option of pretending that things are okay, would allow ourselves to experience just a fraction of the pain that victims of injustice suffer every day, then that pain might motivate us to be the change we want to see in the world.

It's a very common truth in the therapy world: pain is the great change-agent.  As long as we're feeling fine, we'll keep doing what we're doing.  Give us some pain, though, and we're pushing for change.

If the terrible realities so blatantly displayed before us right now (sexual abuse, racism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia) actually end up causing us some pain, which then motivates us to care for victims, to care for the sick and suffering, to become kinder and more compassionate, to end wars rather than start new ones--well, that would be some measure of justice in the world: justice and peace.

Justice and peace often begin with our own personal pain and motivation to do better, which ties right in to my second point:

Peace begins with me, right here and now.

We can't wait for someone to legislate peace from on high and let it trickle down.

We have to take responsibility for peace within our own circle of influence, and let peace rise like the tide. 

The powers that be, the powers that love the status quo with all its injustice and personal payouts to the mighty, those powers might dam up a river. 

They might build a wall. 

But they will never stop a rising tide.

And we can all be part of that tide of justice, one drop at a time in an ocean of mercy.

(And on the eve of elections in Alabama, where the choice for justice is facing voters, I just have to say it:  roll, tide, roll.)

The practical reality of bringing justice and peace, I have found, is that I must first create within myself a space for peace. 

I cannot fight for justice and peace unless I already possess it myself. 

The tide of peace has to rise in me first.

In my line of work, I am a witness to endless experiences of injustice.  Without some peace-space within myself, I will quickly begin to oppress others to deal with my own pain, which just births more injustice and un-peace into the world. Without that peace-space inside me, rage against injustice will burn me down in a heartbeat. 

For me, creating peace-space in myself means a contemplative practice, receiving the Love of God and the peace that passes understanding, receiving the life-breath of the Spirit for myself, before I can breathe it out to the rest of the world. 

A helpful read is How God Changes Your Brain, and here's a short introduction to contemplative prayerYoga is a huge part of my contemplative practice as well.

As I attend to my own peace-space, I'm able to extend justice and peace into the world. 

How peace flows out of each of us into the rest of the world will be highly individual.  We occupy our own finite spaces in the world, we have our own finite spheres of influence and interest. 

When we accept where we are, when we accept who we are, when we let ourselves see what we see, when we attend to what impacts us, then we'll naturally find the peace we're supposed to make and the justice we're supposed to do.  And if we all do that together, peace comes on earth.

Andy and I happened to be up at church on Saturday morning for a volunteer training session.  After the training session ended, I was talking with a friend and Andy went over to look at the "Giving Tree" where there was one last request from a child at a nearby elementary school. 

"Daniel is 5 years old and in kindergarten," the tag read.  "His teacher and the school counselor say that he has had a really hard year.  He wants a bike, like the other kids in his neighborhood.  Can anyone help out with this last-minute request?"

So Andy and I had a wonderful time on Saturday buying a bike (and a helmet, because I'm a mom) for Daniel.

How is does giving a kid a bike promote peace and justice? 

I don't know for sure, but my hope is that this child understands that he is equally valued in the world. 

I hope he knows that his voice matters just like everyone else's. 

I hope he knows that we care that he's had a hard year. 

I hope a bike brings joy and makes his life a tiny bit better. 

I hope that peace reigns in Daniel's 5-year-old world when he is respected and cared for, heard and responded to, on Christmas morning.  

I believe that every time we act with justice and mercy, we contribute a drop to the great rising tide of peace, a peace that is "too big" for a single person to accomplish, but completely within the reach of every one of us together, as we each "Do small things with great love." (Mother Theresa)

Peace comes in every place where every person is perfectly loved and safe and chosen, a precious part of the whole, on earth as it is in heaven.  And that is the work of justice that each of us has in our  hands today.  We can make that kind of justice and peace come right where we are, every minute, always.

When we light the peace candle in the Advent wreath this week, we're also lighting the justice candle. 

When we commit ourselves to be lovers of peace, we're committing ourselves to be lovers of justice. 

I wish that this Advent season, I could feel all comfy, safe, and warm and pretend that peace is a present reality.  Instead, I'm disturbed and uncomfortable, losing my faith in political and religious leaders to do the right thing.  In this particular season of Advent, instead of waiting in hope, it feels like we're just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But when I let myself center down and breathe, here is what I know for sure.

I have faith in YOU.

I have faith in ME.

I have faith in the Love that flows through us and never lets us go.

We are the Branches of the Vine. 

We have the mind of Christ.

We are the light of the world.

We will do justice, we will love mercy, we will walk humbly.

We will be the change we want to see in this world, you and me.

Love will light the way for us, to justice and to peace.

And so we light the candle of peace today, and the darkness will never overcome it.

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hope, our anchor and our wings

The first candle of an Advent wreath is traditionally the "hope" candle, so this is the "hope" week of Advent.

We wait in hope.

We wait, not in fear and dread, but in hope.

Two things immediately come to my mind when I hear the word "hope":

"Hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Hebrews 6:19

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all."  Emily Dickinson

 Nativity from Peru on my mantle, photo: me and my cell phone

Nativity from Peru on my mantle, photo: me and my cell phone

These quotes represent two opposite things that I think are equally true:

hope is our anchor, and hope is our wings.

Hope is necessary to life, like water and air and food and shelter and friendship. 

Hopelessness, the feeling that everything is bad and that nothing can change, is a mental state so painful that human beings can't stand to live with it for long. 

Hopelessness is a big red flag for suicidality, in fact.  When a client tells me that they have no hope, I want them to go to the doctor right away.  I want to make sure that all the chemicals that make up our emotions are doing what they're supposed to be doing.  Once we're okay on the chemical front, then I feel comfortable talking about what else might be contributing to the hopelessness.

Most of the time, it seems to me that hopelessness arises from the loss of something vitally important to us:

the loss of a marriage

the loss of a loved one

the loss of purpose or meaning

the loss of identity.

We can't imagine our life without that crucial person or purpose, and with that loss, hope drains away. 

How can life ever be okay again? We just don't know.

I think maybe hope returns to us as we follow the anchor down, deep within ourselves, where we discover new truth, and those discoveries give us the capacity to fly again. 

  • When we've lost somone precious to us, we follow the anchor down in grief, and we find at the depths of ourselves a longing and a capacity for love, which gives us courage to connect again to others.
  • When we've lost a sense of passion or identity, we follow the anchor down in exploration, and we discover anew within ourselves the truth and beauty of who we are, so we can carry that gift out into the world once again.

A few years ago, I bought this little card by artist Deona Fish. 

My friend who was with me said, "Oh dear, is this how life feels to you?"


And I guess it is. 

When we lived overseas, I had this picture of myself in a laden canoe, paddling far from shore, waiting for the big wave to take me down, clinging to the sides of the canoe, living in dread, sure I was going to drown.  My hope was that I would do everything perfectly so that nothing bad would happen.

And, of course, bad things did happen.

The waves did take me down.

But then I survived.

And somehow life became even better in the aftermath.

And so now, when I look at this picture, I see the girl in the boat, but she's not living in dread and fear.  She's at peace, doing her thing, even though the seas are rough at times, and maybe she will still get tipped into the drink at some point.

But here's what I know now: there's an anchor, and there are wings (not pictured).

If I get tipped out of the boat, I'll follow the anchor-chain down to bedrock. 

I'll learn what I need to know, down there in the dark. 

And I'll rise up with those feathery wings of hope.

I think this is true for all of us, and how we take hope out of the Advent wreath and walk around with it in real life, no matter what happens:

we remember that hope is our anchor,

and hope is our wings.

When we remember this, we will not be afraid to follow hope deep into the darkness, down to its anchor-point, because we know that new truths will show up for us there in the depths. 

New light will shine there, because ultimately we are anchored in Love, and we can never come to the end of Love.  There is always newness of life in Love.

And when hope has anchored us again there, we rise.

Anchor and wings: this is hope.

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advent, and the protest-power of Love

When we set up our Christmas tree this past weekend, Andy chose my Spotify "Protest Songs" playlist as our sound track.

 Church window, Prague.  Photo: me and my cell phone

Church window, Prague.  Photo: me and my cell phone

This seemed appropriate, as the first-ever Advent song, Mary's Magnificat, is a protest song, too.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty."
Luke 1:46-53

When Jesus first spoke in the synagogue, he read a passage that echoes Mary's song:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free."  Luke 4:18

It's as if Mary was the original Social Justice Warrior, and Jesus learned his lessons well. 

I've thought before about social justice and protest in terms of tearing down systems of oppression IN ORDER TO set captives free, to bind up the broken-hearted, to provide comfort to the suffering, to bring beauty for ashes, and to offer joy in place of mourning. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

But I've been thinking lately about how Jesus went about it, and it seems like he just walked right into the existing system, and started doing his thing.

Where people were hungry, he fed them.

Where people were sick, he healed them.

Where people were outcast, he welcomed them.

He didn't wait for the system to fall. He just got busy.

Sure, he said stuff to the Pharisees, like:

"Woe to you, who create heavy burdens, and lay them on people's shoulders, when you aren't even willing to lift a finger."  (Matthew 23:4)

"Woe to you, who shut the doors of heaven in other people's faces!" (Matthew 23:14)

"Woe to you, blind guides!" (Matthew 23:16)

"Woe to you, who know every inch of the law but forget all about justice and mercy!" (Matthew 23:23)

He made some whips and flipped some tables, for sure.

But mostly he spent his time hanging out with "prostitutes and sinners", and getting a reputation as a glutton and a wine-bibber (Luke 7:34).  Which sounds exactly like the kind of person I most like to hang out with, to be honest.

Maybe the best way to bust the system is just to have a party and invite everybody over.  That seems to be mostly what Jesus did. 

Honestly, I think this is what people are looking for today: a place of acceptance and unconditional love. Food, comfort, healing.

It's as simple as that.

We don't have more money than the powers that be. We can't bomb, buy, or legislate "them" into submission.

But by golly, we can LOVE.

And the protest-power of LOVE is needed today more than ever before, because we have been living in a system full of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, known and experienced primarily by its victims, who are desperate for a place to call home.

We can be that home, we can be that place of healing. 

This is how the Kingdom comes, on earth as it is in heaven: when we love like Jesus loved.

And so, this Advent season, I pray with Mother Mary:

Scatter the proud,

Cast down the mighty,

Exalt the humble,

Fill the hungry with good things,

Send the rich away empty.

And teach us to build a home for the suffering,

where Love is always enough for us all,

and the bread and the wine is always waiting.

"I am Willing" by Holly Near

I am open and I am willing
To be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change
There is hurting in my family
There is sorrow in my town
There is panic in the nation
There is wailing the whole world round
May the children see more clearly
May the elders be more wise
May the winds of change caress us
Even though it burns our eyes
Give me a mighty oak to hold my confusion
Give me a desert to hold my fears
Give me a sunset to hold my wonder
Give me an ocean to hold my tears

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feeling resentful? step back.

Some of us here are overfunctioners.

This means that we tend to do more than our fair share.

Of everything.

Household chores, emotional work, the burdens of the world.

We care about everydamnthing, so we just pick up the load and carry it.

Everybody loves us, because we make it all A-Okay for them.

 Triumphant female, Budapest.  Photo: Andy Bruner

Triumphant female, Budapest.  Photo: Andy Bruner

Sometimes that's okay for us, too.

Hey, I'm a clean-surfaces person, and it bugs me to have cups on the kitchen counter, so I put them in the dishwasher. 

Most of the time it's no big deal.


When I feel myself getting resentful of anything and everything, I've learned that it's time to take a step back.

I used to push forward and do more in situations like that. 

Clearly the problem was that nobody else was doing enough, so I had to keep doing it all, poor pitiful Christian martyr that I was.

The problem with overfunctioning is this: the more I overfunction, the more I overfunction.

The demands never stop. 

Everybody's always hungry, victims are always needy, the orange man never stops tweeting.

And as long as I keep running on the gerbil wheel, it's going to keep turning and I'll have to keep running.

But what I've learned is this: I can stop.

I can rest.

When I'm feeling overwhelmed, overworked, resentful, used, and depleted, I can step back.

And the world has never once stopped turning.

I've tried it, and I promise you that it's true.

So here we are, the day before Thanksgiving, right before the holiday insanity strikes, my overfunctioning friends.

I want to invite you to step back whenever you need to in these days ahead.

When it's just too much, when everything's going to fall apart if you don't doallthethings, do the one radical and insane thing that's never, ever crossed your mind to do:

Step back.

Find rest for your soul.

I'll leave the cups on my kitchen counter, and you can leave yours.

We'll sit down instead.

We'll breathe.

We'll let things be.

We'll receive as well as give.

We'll accept ourselves for who we are: human, limited, in need.

We'll release our need to be the hero, the martyr, the saint.

We'll just be and let be.

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this one life hack will change your life forever

Did I make you click?  Huh?  Huh?  Huh?

Or did you think a robot had taken over, breaking my strict rule against clickbaity headlines?

Whatever got you here, here it is, the one thing that will change your life forever:

Treat yourself with the same loving kindness with which you treat your best friend.

I've started saying this to clients on the regular, and you know what I get in return?

A shy laugh.

Downcast eyes.

A shocked look.

An "I never, ever thought of that."

 "Be miraculously kind to yourself."  Church window, Budapest, photo: me and my cell phone

"Be miraculously kind to yourself."  Church window, Budapest, photo: me and my cell phone

Because you know what?  As women, we have been taught to treat everybody really, really well.  We are taught to be nice, to speak softly, to always say the kind thing.

And there's NOTHING wrong with this.




Our own selves are the exception to the rule of niceness.

We know that love and kindness, dignity and respect are the right things to do for everyone else, BUT we somehow think that we are supposed to give ourselves:

a good talking to

a good scolding

a good spanking

**Why are these things called "good" by the way?  Why?**

We would never, ever treat another person the way we treat ourselves.

We would never, ever speak aloud to others the mental abuse we heap on ourselves.

We would never do the kind of violence to another person that we do to ourselves.

And only one person can stop this violence against myself: me.

And so I'm giving my clients this wonderful, radical, crazy life hack, and I'm trying it out for myself as well.

When we are sad, when we are lonely, when we are depressed, when we are scared, when we are upset at all the wickedness in the world, we ask this question:

How would we treat our very best friend who felt like we're feeling right now?

We'd probably bring them a cup of tea and a really good chocolate, fuzzy blanket and our own favorite soft pillow.  We'd put on some soothing music and light a fire.  We'd get their favorite Indian take-out and watch their favorite movie together, even though it's only 2:00 in the afternoon.

We know what we'd do unto others, because we do it all the time.

Now the challenge is to do the same unto ourselves, because we are just as beloved, just as cared for, just as deserving.  

And there is plenty for us all.  No shortage of supply.

There is plenty of Love for us, plenty of kindness for us all.

Be kind to yourself today, dear friend.

And I will do the same.

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