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Postcards from the Open Road

wile e coyote and the stupid dust

I had dinner with a newish friend tonight, with the intention to also give her a tarot reading as she navigates some really big changes (end of major relationship, beginning of master’s program and a new job). I showed up in my comfortable, well-worn role as the “helper,” but my friend in her wisdom wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily. She has attorney training and she’s a very skilled coach, a delightfully lethal combination, it turns out.

She said a couple of things to me during dinner that left me feeling like I’d been sprinkled with stupid dust. You know the feeling? Like Wile E. Coyote just over the lip of the canyon holding completely still before the fall.

Not a common feeling for an extroverted know-it-all, but one I’ve come to recognize as pay dirt for major leaps in my personal and professional life:

1. If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do things you’ve never done

After the stupid dust settled, it struck me as obvious. Well of course! You actually have to learn how to do it by trying to do it. If I wanted to be a professional bowler, would I read all the bowling books, join bowling groups, read bowling blogs, talk about bowling all the time, but not ever actually roll the ball down the aisle? Risk that I might actually suck at bowling? Why would I want to do that?!? I LOVE bowling!

Loving the idea of something is not the same as actually doing it. I realized this about 20 years ago when I heard a successful novelist say that being a writer meant spending 8-12 hours a day in a room by yourself focused on one thing. Yeah, I’m never going to do that. I like the idea of it, but it stops there.

What do I have to be willing to do to have what I really want? What about you?

2. “How much longer do you have?”

I’ve been having essentially the same conversation with my friends, colleagues and coach for the last 3 years. With more or less swearing, some iteration of “I want to completely focus my business on coaching people to discover and fulfill their calling but I’m scared to put myself out there.”

My friend asked me how much longer I was willing to play small. 3 years? A year? Six months? How did I feel when I thought about doing exactly what I’m doing now for another 3 years?

What’s that? You say it makes you feel sick?

Well, yes. Sick. The way many of my clients feel when they finally decide to call for help. Heavy, overwhelmed, exhausted.

So at my friend’s urging I gave myself the rest of this year to really focus on my own calling, to be curious about it, embrace it, embody it in the spirit it was given to me. Be willing to do things for it that I’ve never done before. Being married is good practice for this.

Stay tuned. Maybe Wile e Coyote might fly this time. And let me know what cliffs you’re hovering off the edge of.

A baked potato fell on my house and…

The other night I was sitting on my couch typing away on my laptop when I heard a very loud BANG!…thump, thump, thump (overhead), crash (into the weed jungle on the west side of my house).

Now, I love my neighborhood, but there are guns aimed and fired occasionally and I have had to call 911 several times in the last few years. So it makes sense that my first thought was “go get Dakota.” My partner is kind of a tough ass when she needs to be (she’s the one on the right in the photo).

She hadn’t heard the bang thump thump crash, but she gamely went out into the weed jungle to investigate, yelling back over her shoulder that I should keep away from the windows.

She thrashed around out there for about 3 minutes before I couldn’t stand it any more and opened the window to ask her what she’d found. Incredibly, she turned to face me and held up…yes, a baked potato. Intact except for a small round chunk missing from its side. We looked at each other for a looong tiiiime.

This is one of those stories that I will get mileage out of for years. But that’s not why I’m sharing it here on my blog for social change agents who want to fulfill their calling with ease and grace.

What I found myself thinking for days after “the incident” is the fact that I live in a world where a baked potato can fall out of the sky onto my house.

I did not know that. In fact if you had asked me before-hand whether I live in such a world, I probably would have said no. But I would have been wrong.

So what are all the other things that are possible in THIS world, my little sphere specifically, that I don’t currently believe in?

And I’m noticing – there are a lot of metaphorical baked potatoes falling from the sky all the time. A crow raises a kitten. A burned-out nonprofit worker finds the courage to take care of herself and find a new leadership role. The thing that really needs to be said gets said.

What might be possible for you that you don’t believe in yet? What if it can happen anyway?

The power in accepting the unacceptable

I have been getting migraines since I was about eight years old. Intense throbbing pain blooms on the inside of my right eyebrow, light and loud noise are suddenly unbearable, as are strong smells.  Sometimes the pills work but make me sleepy and woozy, sometimes they don’t.

I’ve had to cancel a lot of plans on friends, family and work colleagues, disappoint and frustrate a lot of people over the years. My partners have often felt helpless, exasperated, and convinced  there was a cure – something we could do, or that I could do, to make them go away.

I have been sure too, seeking help from pretty much every medical tradition and modality, including pills, needles, rubbing, cracking, tinctures, pressure, stinky herbs, patches, devices, talk therapy, meditation, traction and combinations of the above.

I continue to hope that I will find a solution, but I’m tired of fighting. Tired of thinking of my body as a problem to be solved, as a mysterious machine that I have not yet figured out. Tired of feeling angry, helpless, believing that I’m being invaded by some external alien force every time I feel the telltale throb in my eyebrow.

When they’re feeling truly stuck, I tell my clients that the most radical, useful thing to do might be to accept the truth of the situation. And when my brave, amazing clients are able to do this, I’ve seen them find the strength and courage to go after what they’re really meant to do and be. Incredible power is released when we tell the truth, when we can bring gentle awareness to what is actually happening, when we stop fighting.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to coach someone else to do this than to do it yourself. I tell my clients this too.

I will not be taking to my bed for the rest of my life, but I will be resting when I need to, and accepting that that I am a whole package, and that the very qualities that make me a good coach and an excellent dog-mom and partner may also give me migraines.

I’d love to hear what you’re working on accepting, and what power you suspect might be released as you gently embrace the truth.