overwhelm

Talking plum

It was a perfect day in Seattle yesterday, which doesn’t happen that often. 80 degrees, bright sun, mountains clear, soft breeze. Despite my gratitude, I still found myself speeding frantically from place to place, wishing I could stop and enjoy.

My mind sounded something like: “OK time to drive downtown for acupuncture, oops gotta take the dogs because must be at vet on time for Francine’s owie, which means Kona has to sit in the car, and what about walking them? blah blah blah…”

When I finally did get to take the creatures for a walk in the gorgeous sun along Lake Washington, I found my mind was still racing, jumping from worry to worry like a little stress frog. “What about dinner? What about that meeting I have to get ready for tomorrow? I should eat something healthy.  I want ice cream!”

Coming up the hill, huffing and sweating, dogs pulling and sniffing and mind racing, out of the corner of my eye I notice something red sitting on top of a fence post. I glance up briefly and note the house seems deserted – under construction – and no car in the driveway. “Red thing is probably just more garbage.”

Then I notice there is a tree with the same red shapes hiding in the branches. I look down at the fence post again, and realize it’s a plum. Dusky red with a galaxy of pale green spots across the belly, perfectly round with a heart-shaped top, stem still attached. “Probably rotten on the bottom” says mind.

Quiet voice says “pick me up,” so I do. The plum says “look at me, smell me” so I do. And the world fades, there’s just this absolutely perfect plum in my hand, a perfect fit, and warm, and soft, and smelling like heaven.

I remember: we live in a world where things like this happen all the time. The world makes plums for us, they’re everywhere, really, all we have to do is let our eyes be caught by them, and listen to them when they ask “look at me,  smell me, taste me.”

Today, see who or what talks to you, and listen. Let yourself be transported.



Whose business are you in?

Someone asked me this somewhat snotty-sounding question the other day, and it really got my attention.

Granted, it was in the context of unpacking an unhelpful belief using Byron Katie’s four questions, but still. I was viscerally reminded of times I’d asked “inappropriate questions” as a child and got a glare and “that’s none of your business.”

The basic idea is that there are three kinds of business:

1. Your business
2. Someone else’s business
3. God’s business (or whatever word you may have for the mysterious forces at work in our universe)

I’ve noticed that often when we feel really stuck with our calling – questioning whether we’re on the right track, feeling alone, getting close to burn out – we’re focused on someone else’s business.

For example, who’s business is it that the unemployment rate is up? Your actions may contribute to this situation, but you yourself did not create and cannot undo the problem. Now, if you’re thinking that there’s no point in pursuing what you really want to do because the unemployment rate is so high, that is your business. And probably not a very fun business at that.

Or, who’s business is it that your boss doesn’t give positive feedback very often? Does it affect you? Of course. But can you really do anything to change your boss? Does criticizing, disliking, or getting frustrated by your boss’s insensitivity make it better? Then you know you’re not focused on “your business.”

That’s the magic of it – if you have a tight feeling in your stomach and it seems like there’s no way out, you can be 99% sure that you’re not focused on your own business. And refocusing on what your part really is and what you can do will greatly lighten your load, and make you that much more effective.

Spend a few minutes looking at the belief that gives you a knot in your tummy, and ask yourself the snotty question – who’s business am I in, anyway? It might be just the ticket.

Ps. I do recommend Byron Katie’s process for getting clear about the business you’re in.  Check out her book Loving What Is: Four Questions that can Change Your Life.



The difference between Heaven & Hell

Over the weekend, I (mostly) recovered from another bout of overwhelm. Sometimes I feel like a ping-pong ball, bouncing from too-much to not-enough. Whether its work, social engagements, or connecting with family, feast or famine seems to be the rule. Can you relate?

Faced with the prospect of another very busy week, as I wrote in my journal on Saturday, I found myself wondering “what makes it worth it?” What makes keeping my “skin in the game” worthwhile, through the overwhelm? The answer, I think, is each other.

I remembered a parable about the difference between Heaven and Hell. In both Heaven and Hell, people sit around a huge table laden with the most delicious food and drink imaginable. In both places, no-one has elbows. In Hell, people sit at the table, weak with hunger, unable to eat because they can’t bring food their mouths. In Heaven, people feed each other, reaching across the table with their long arms.

Then last night I had the good fortune to be attend the lovely Janet Boguch’s birthday party. She treated her friends to a yoga class, during which the instructor read a Rumi poem. The essence of the poem was that reeds and rushes, by themselves, can get blown away by the wind. But woven together can make a lovely basket that can keep food dry and even shelter a baby.

So this week, if (really, when) I find myself feeling like that ping pong ball again, I’ll remember – I’m one reed among many, woven into a fine basket. I’ll visualize putting my tired little ping pong ball in that basket. Sometimes mixing metaphors is a good thing. :)



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