Pity Parties and Dancing with Stuckness


I should have known.  When I wrote about joy last month, I should have known that I would immediately be put to the test.  This past month I had a series of small incidences that sent me into a nosedive.  I know the techniques that help bring me back to a state of joy and here was my test.  Did I do them?  


I delayed, I procrastinated, I came up with reasons why my tools were not worth pursuing.  Dancing to my favorite music?  Meh.  Exercise?  I pulled my hamstring and could not be bothered to go to the pool.  Hanging out with friends?  I isolated myself instead, "saving" my friends from my surliness.  Grumpy dwarf could have taken lessons from me.  I blamed the overcast weather, I blamed my injury, my spouse, I blamed the alignment in the stars, the tides and well, you get the picture.  I was stuck in my morass and as I kept looking for a way out, I had to acknowledge the giant elephant in the room.  

I didn’t want out.  There was a part of me that wanted to wallow in the muck. I wanted to lay in the mess and make mud angels in my cocktail mix of pessimism, pity and blame.  This part of me wanted to put on a black leather jacket and give inspiration and joy the middle finger.  Destruction, implosion and misery sounded way more interesting.



Um, yeah.  Not my proudest moment but a powerful one.  Something changed when I acknowledged this inner rebellion.  I was able to see more everything more clearly.   

I dug up a blog written by a friend, Elisa Mehl, that had always resonated with me.  I respect her immensely.  She talks about the experience of feeling stuck:

“When we can't move forward, often it's because we are not finished with the experience we are actually having.  What if we were simply present for the rich alive pulsing of the exact state and moment?  What if we didn't pay attention to our mind, or society, or friends telling us we should be more mature or positive or open or accepting or whatever?
Often this takes a reframe.  We are conditioned to seeing our "stuckness" as bad.  But what if we reframe the stuckness into an embrace?”

    •    When we try to change something we are outside of it.
    •    By not trying to change something and being curious we get present.
    •    Presence carries us inside, to the center of whatever is going on.
    •    In the center, is our presence.   Presence is life.
    •    Our perspective is different when we are present.

Until I acknowledged my desire to stay in the misery, I was fighting an unseen opponent, one stealth and well-versed in ambushing me.  In getting curious about my desire to stay stuck, I could suddenly start to see my choices again.  I had more space to see and decide and felt less committed to my inky pity pit.  I invited my husband for a surf and went for a walk with a friend and did some stretching.  I even dragged myself to a yoga class. Afterwards, I felt the best I had in weeks and I remembered why I like to feel good. 

It’s rejuvenating and the the world is brighter again.  

We all drop into that hole in life.  And sometimes, we want to stay in the hole.  The key is to get curious about it.  Be present with it.  Acknowledge it.  Then, decide.  Where do you want to go next? 

with love,

For Elisa's full article click here

Rewiring by Joy

rewiring by joy

Joy is the serious business of heaven.
                          - C.S. Lewis  

I am coming undone.  Rewiring by joy.

I’m often on a high when facilitating a workshop and afterwards comes the fall.  It’s like coming home after a fabulous vacation and realizing it's time to do the laundry and bay the bills.  Necessary, yes.  Fabulous?  Less so.  It is in this place where my rubber hits the road.  Choosing joy on these days.  From what part of me am I going to live during the non-peak moments of life?

I have friends who don't get joy.  Joy is bigger and different than happiness.  Take holiday carols, for instance.  Frosty the Snowman was...  happy, until he melted.  Songs of joy, on the other hand, include angels, triumph and exultation - the Herald Angels sing, "Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies."

When someone wins the the Olympics, it’s joy.  Can you listen to the theme for Chariots of Fire and not feel something rise in your chest, this exultation of spirit, the desire to stand tall, burst into song or take a stand for something?

For those of us not winning an Olympic medal today and not immersing ourselves in holiday songs as summer approaches, how can joy make its way to us?  And how can we meet it?

This experience of joy is a conscious decision to reorient towards something new.  This is what I am climbing towards, and sometimes crawling towards, in the non-peak moments of life.  The average days, the gray days, the busy traffic and the folding laundry days.  And it is not always easy.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, refers to the choice as an act of will.  She describes it as stubborn gladness.  In referring to her work as a writer and lover of her craft, “My ultimate choice, then, is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness....  I’ve decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can - because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice.”

Stubborn gladness isn't as sexy as exultation, but it speaks to the commitment, the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-gritty-with-joy.  It takes effort and will.  Without the commitment, dullness and dissatisfaction can creep into life like wet fog, clouding the exuberance of life.   In her commencement speech at U.C. Berkeley, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook describes the effort and commitment to choosing joy in the grieving months after her husband’s unexpected death.

"When life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning."

It takes guts.

When people come to me in workshops, meditations, or for one-on-one sessions they often have specific wants.  They will likely never use the word joy.  They might say they want to be happier.  But what I hold for each and every person, all the time, is a connection to their own joy.  The source of it, the power of it, the exuberance that can blow open doors and the stillness that feels so full, it has no choice but to rub off on others and expand the room.  Always and forever, every time I take any step with someone on their journey, this is what I aspire for them.

with Love,

"My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild