Things Grow Here

Awesome Sea of Yellow

I asked Dean last night: Has it dawned on you in more than an obvious way that we don’t live in the desert anymore?

He thought for a moment and said: No. I guess it really hasn’t until just now.

I replied: Take a look around. Things actually grow here!

IMG_20130813_190611

Heading north on Hwy 59 toward Haxtun… revel in the sunflower fields!

A quick glance out either side of the car proved the point. Corn / wheat / hay / potatoes [I think] / and awesome fields of bright yellow sunflowers. The sunflowers especially, are speaking to me these days.

I cruised the backroads to Sterling yesterday to join educators from all over northeastern Colorado and began a brand new leg of the adventure that is my life anymore. I have become a school counselor. Quite the surprise I must say.

I didn’t see this one coming. One voice mail / a couple of phone calls and emails / two face-to-face conversations and Voila! Now I have a desk / a computer / an office and will be the K-8 counselor in Yuma as students begin another school year starting next week.

I am still fairly stunned… though pleasantly surprised… by this unexpected turn of events. I guess Forrest Gump got it exactly right:

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

And Then Sunflowers

Last month driving past these fields of plants with strange leaves piqued my curiosity. Not corn. Not soybeans. Not hay or alfalfa or any other crop that my limited knowledge of farming could identify.

But wait a few more weeks / a few more days of heat and thunderstorms and you see the sun come out! Sunflowers turning their faces to greet the eastern morning sun and smile at the dawning of a new day. A happy reminder that: Things grow here!

IMG_20130813_190827I have lived in the real desert and the metaphorical desert for the past 17 years and have looked toward the desert fathers and mothers for spiritual guidance and sustenance. It’s a hard path, for sure. I don’t know how those early ascetics survived. They were much stronger and way more devoted than I will ever be.

It dawned on me in a profound way yesterday that I am moving toward a new horizon. The spirituality of the Prairie… hmmm… wonder what that’s all about.

I think sunflowers might have some good lessons for me to discover. If you’re reading this and know any sunflower farmers, hook me up! I want to go walk through those fields and immerse myself in the awesome sea of yellow.

Things grow here… and I will too.

3500 Miles in 4 Weeks

After a 4-week/3500+ mile journey across the western 2/3 of the US, we have finally landed in Yuma, Colorado… at least for a few days. People keep asking if we are moved in… and I respond: No, but we have successfully relocated our stuff. Every time, they just kind of turn their heads to the side and smile with confusion.

As you know, such adventures in my world always provide ample opportunities for learning or re-learning important life lessons. This one is no different. So here I humbly offer: What I Learned on I-80 [and I-70].

1. Don’t make comparisons. It will always turn out in their favor.

I am frequently tempted to look at my own life circumstances and believe that no one… absolutely no one… has it harder than me. My stamina and resolve have been tested repeatedly of late and I’m a little more than embarrassed to admit that I’ve had about a handful of total meltdowns. There was just so much emotion inside me that I couldn’t contain it. [Three implosions and two explosions later, I felt much better.]

But all the while, the monkey-in-my-brain was chattering away about how hard I was working and how easy everyone else around me has it.

Rubbish. I am blessed beyond measure!

raiders_of_the_lost_ark_government_warehouse_newTake this simple example… every time I have tried to find something in my stash of boxes that rivals the Indiana-Jones-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark warehouse, I have found it in a snap. [I mean really… how blessed it that?!?! ;)]

Okay… I could give you lots of other examples but the bottom line is this: Don’t compare your life with anyone else’s. Just don’t even go there. Ever. Why?

Because the other person’s life will always come out looking greener than your grass. Always. That’s the job of your monkey brain… to convince you that another person has it easier than you do. And that just makes us want to dig deeper into the Pit of Despair. So don’t even go there. It won’t end well.

2. Be a BiG person. That means letting go of small ideas.

The minutiae of the everyday can easily become a grind. Sometimes we just lose present-moment-awareness and we get stuck in This-is-how-I’ve-always-done-it. Often we don’t give ourselves permission or room to grow. And often, we impose the same restraints on others.

Amid the conversations and celebrations with family and friends, I could hear my heart wanting to shout out:

Wait a minute! I’m not that person anymore!
I have grown and changed in ways that you don’t know yet.
Let me be bigger in your eyes. I have secretly evolved.

I never did shout that out, of course… shame on me. [So here I am spilling my guts to the cybersphere.]

Just as I want others to see me differently, I must look at others differently too… allowing them to evolve and grow into new people who have learned their own life lessons. [This is especially hard to do with your own family members… moms and dads / brothers and sisters that you don’t see very often. Their adventures challenge them to secretly evolve too.]

So I had to let go of my small ways of thinking and acting. It was hard, but in the end, worthwhile. I started to see them all as bigger people. Hopefully, they saw me that way too.

3. Stay until they drive out of sight. Life is precious and fragile.

A big part of the whole Colorado-relocation was to live in the same house with my husband again. We have been cross-country commuting for about four years. Not by choice mind you, but because I’ve been following jobs trying to make ends meet.

So all in all, there have just been too many goodbyes over the years. Way too many. Couple that with numerous health issues for people we love and you start to wonder if one of those goodbyes will be the last one.

Life is precious and fragile… and we just can’t take any of it for granted. We must give every goodbye our fullest attention.

Some call it southern hospitality. I just think of it as a way to appreciate and enter the moment:

Stand on the porch watching and waving goodbye until they drive out of sight. No matter how long it takes. And if it takes a long time, send your love and prayers to them as you wait.

You just never know what the next day will bring.

4. Be generous with the bug spray.

It’s simple. Get bitten or don’t get bitten. You decide. If you ignore that wisdom, plan to invest in the hydrocortisone/calamine industry.

Yes… there are all kinds of warning about the side effect of chemicals in those handy-dandy concoctions. But there are just as many natural repellents too. Use them. It’s so much easier than dunking your whole body in a vat of anti-itch medicine.

So use the bug spray. And floss your teeth too.

Rainmakers and Linchpins

True Story

A few years ago, I was driving over to a friend’s house and noticed a poster on a Stop sign pole in her neighborhood. We’ve all seen some variation of this lost pet plea although typically it’s for a lost dog or cat. But this was a “Lost Parrot” sign, which is probably why I remember it after all these years.

Back in those days, it was an ordeal to make such a notice using a photo and color printer, so this one was hand-drawn and written text.

I filed it away in my gray matter as an out-of-the-ordinary sighting.

Went to my friend’s house… stayed for a little chat… then drove over to the grocery store. Took a while to do the “big” shopping… checked out… then forgot that I had to stop at the customer service desk.

Waiting in line, I started reading ads on the bulletin board behind the counter. What?!?!

“Found Parrot”

Really? The grocery store was only a couple miles from the neighborhood where I’d seen the “Lost Parrot” sign earlier that morning. Could it be the same parrot? I mean really… how many lost parrots are there in this corner of the world on this particular day?

So I wrote down Found-Parrot’s name and phone number.

Retraced my route and went back to get Lost-Parrot’s name and phone number. Drove home to call Lost-Parrot and tell him about Found-Parrot. [We didn’t have cell phones back then… yes I know… I’m really old.]

When I heard Lost-Parrot’s voice scream in disbelief, I melted with exhilaration. I might have been the only person in the world who saw both of those signs and was able to help reunite Parrot and Parrot-Lover.

I don’t know for sure but I’m going to assume that the story had a happy ending. [I mean really… what are the chances that it wasn’t the right parrot?]

Which brings me to my point.

Are You a Connector?

Rainmaker with wordsAre you the third person in a triad that helps people who need each other to find each other?

Are you someone who can see how situations and people align and then work to connect the dots?

USC Marshall School of Business professor Dave Logan calls this kind of person a triad-builder or a Rainmaker. It’s the person who can lead a group to Stage 4 and 5 in Tribal Leadership.

Seth Godin calls this person a Linchpin. It’s a person who sees and understands the larger picture and then works like crazy to help the tribe connect to each other.

So the question again: Are you a Rainmaker? Are you a Linchpin?

Parrots Reunite!

What I take from the story of Lost-Parrot/Found-Parrot is that my role in the grand scheme of the world is profoundly bigger than me… in ways that I will never know.

So I’m banking on God to show me the details someday, should I arrive at the pearly gates. At the very least, I want to know if Parrot and Parrot-Lover reconciled their separation.

But more than that, I hope someday to see the huge web of connections that bind people together and teach us that we need one another.

As humans, we were made to live in community. But some of our communities are fractured; others are broken; still more are all but totally vanished. How do we deal with that? Does it even make a difference in our lives?

It should. If it doesn’t, we might one day look out and see one of the apocalyptic worlds that film-makes parade across our big screens.

Maybe if we intentionally build triads and work like Linchpins, we’ll make our way through life noticing Lost-Parrot and Found-Parrot signs and help others connect the dots.

It’s all part of the worthy adventure.

What Goes Around

Chopped

There is a circumstance going on in my life right now that has chopped me at the knees. To be quite honest, my self-esteem and confidence are about shredded. Things have been done and words have been said that have caused me much pain and heartache.

I haven’t responded to any of it yet because I know that I would lash out in anger and none of it would be pretty. Or kind.

I don’t like to be ugly or mean-spirited so I try to avoid exposing my shadow side to the world unnecessarily.

I’ve been praying about the best way to handle this situation… how to respond in a way that honors myself / is firm and professional and honest / but also gentle-hearted.

I have thought of words I want to say / actions I want to take. I have way-too-over-obsessed on all this and I need to let go and allow karma to work its bite-you-in-the-butt magic.

Driving

GiraffesYesterday on the way to work, I was thinking about one particular thing that I want to do in response.

My guard was down… because the answer came from my heart instantly:

I want to do that because I want them to hurt like I’ve been hurt.

Well… that was honest… but * OUCH * !
How can I be so cruel and harsh?

Do you want to forgive them?
Yes. I really do want to forgive / let go / and move on.

Or do you want to be a person of forgiveness?
Oooohhh… double * * OUCH * * !

The two questions coming from some deep place in my soul crystallized the choices at hand into something much bigger than simply dealing with this situation.

Do I want to spend the rest of my life totally focused on myself and all the ways I’ve been mistreated / will be hurt by other people’s words and actions?

Or do I want to be a person who cultivates a spirit of generosity and kindness in all that I am and do so that maybe I won’t take offense in the first place?

I am reminded again of what I learned recently from Fr. Richard Rohr:

Only the false self takes offense.

Karma

My false self is working its bite-you-in-the-butt karma magic on me today… big time!

I want to be a whole person of forgiveness.

Now that the words spill out from my keyboard, my task at hand is obvious. Don’t know why I was obsessing so feverishly. The answer is pretty simple:

Do the right thing and take the high road.

How to Keep Your Personal Power

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I feel compelled to warn you… these flippers are lethal weapons!

Had a good chat with my friend Dobie. He is one of those people that I just click with… he gets me… he understands who I am and what I’m about and I rarely have to explain myself to him. He is a gift to me.

There are significant events going on in both our lives these days and as we talked, some pearls of wisdom emerged that I thought you might like to reflect on for your own spiritual journey.

Get to a healthy place.

Physically / emotionally / psychologically / spiritually. Most often, we know when we’re in an unhealthy space… the hard part is deciding that we need to make a change. What paralyzes us is the fear of what will be required to make that change.

Even situations of dis-health can feel comfortable and/or safe… but change is unknown and intimidating because… well… it’s unknown. Be courageous enough to change your context and put yourself in a place or space where you can heal.

Change your expectations.

We suffer because our expectations aren’t being met. Very often, that’s because we have the wrong expectations. Whether it is people who let us down or circumstances that didn’t pan out, we feel hurt or disappointment because we anticipated different outcomes.

Have you had enough hurt or disappointment already? Maybe you need to change your expectations. I know I do.

In this particular case, I have set the bar too high. So when reality didn’t come close to meeting my anticipated outcomes, I have felt pain and sadness. I am tired of feeling that way. I can’t control the situation [silly that I ever thought I could!] so I’m trying to let go of what I thought should happen and be more willing to respond with Whatever.

If they didn’t get it then,
they probably won’t get it now.

Even with one final very eloquently worded appeal, your message still may not be heard by the ones who need to hear it.

It’s kind of a romantic notion to think about leaving after getting in the last word. Speak your peace and ride off into the sunset… leave everyone’s jaws gaping to the floor because they were utterly speechless and unable to find adequate words to respond to your final wisdom.

* * Dream on! Both of us! * *

Probably isn’t going to happen that way. One last ditch effort to enlighten / clue-them-in / provide clarity or understanding / teach / shake-rattle-and-roll will likely fall on deaf ears or disbelieving hearts. Sometimes the best-last-word is no word.

This last pearl of great price caught my attention after I hung up with Dobie.

Pick yourself.

Don’t wait for the world to pick you based on your qualifications / education / credentials / experience / talent / knowledge / skills / connections or any other benchmark that you allow yourself to be judged by.

Pick yourself based on who you know yourself to be and what positive contribution you want to make to the world. And then go change the world.

By not picking yourself, you give all your power to “them”… whoever “them” are in your world.

Picking yourself brings back your power and places the privilege of carving your path into your hands.

[Do it yourself… rather than relying on someone else to set the course… because they won’t do it how you wanted anyway… unmet expectations… suffering… vicious cycle…]

So pick yourself and lead the way.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.

John 15:16

What a comfort to know that while we were seeking God, God was already seeking us. God thought I was worthy enough to be chosen. So I must be worthy enough to choose myself.

Pearl of great price!