When You Start to Feel, Do.

Recently I have been reading, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite passages from her book, ones that I find especially wise and/or inspirational.

The below is paraphrasing but I think her point remains.

“When you start to feel, do… When you start to feel unloved, go find someone to offer love. When you start to feel unappreciated, go find someone to appreciate and acknowledge. When you feel unlucky, make yourself write down two recent blessings.”

The point is, to not let yourself wallow. This strategy of, “When you start to feel, do” is fascinating and new to me. It seems to be based on the underlying premise that we’re all connected, a belief which I hold dear. It makes sense to me as a concrete and tangible way to sidestep wallowing and overthinking ourselves into despair.

When you start to feel, do.

I Don’t Believe in Advice

I don’t believe in advice. So when someone comes to me and says, “I need advice,” what I think they’re really saying is, “I need love.”

And offering love looks a lot like being quiet, listening, empathizing, and letting someone talk long enough until he/she discovers that they already know the answer they’re looking for.

The thing is, we each hold the answers right inside of us. Sometimes, people simply need a safe place and some time to discover what they already know. So I think offering advice is essentially just trying to hold that space and time for folks in need.

Letting Go

Letting go of an ambiguous loss is often the most challenging and important task we face.

At some point in our lives, we all experience it. Someone important to us isn’t willing to talk. Maybe we need to talk, but the other person needs not to. The more history involved and the higher our expectations for that relationship, the more painful their silence.

Painful events happen to all us. But our real problems arise when we attach to that pain.

Often we have this fantasy that somehow by holding on to our anger, the other person will magically decide to apologize and/or come back. As long as we hold on to our anger, we hold on to our hope. Or so we think.

But while you’re sitting there ruminating, the person in question may very well be out having a wonderful day at the lake. The simple fact that you’re the only one suffering, should be your own best argument for letting go.

Negative attachment is still attachment.

Anger is often the glue that keeps us stuck, expressed as an ongoing obsession about “why” this person has wronged us. It’s human nature to want to understand behavior. But the fact is, it’s hard enough to understand our own, let alone somebody else’s. And we simply can’t force another person to talk to us or own up to “the truth” as we see it.

Sometimes we just have to let go.

A sad ending doesn’t negate the value of a relationship. And while it takes two people to form an intimate relationship, it only takes one to end it.

We have to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

Can Doesn’t Always Mean Should (A Poem)

It’s true what they say, you know.

You can go anywhere you want to go. You’re not a tree.

You can do anything you want to do. Your will is free.

You can be anything you want to be, so long as you can perceive it.

You can say anything you want to say, so long as you really mean it.

But…
“Can” doesn’t always mean “should”
Can you believe it?

Inspiration is Like a Butterfly

Have you ever noticed how inspiration often comes at the most inopportune times?

When a million other things are vying for our attention. Or when we’re right in the middle of something else. Like a shower. Or a run. Or when we’re simply not in the mood to write. Because we’re tired. Or hungry.

Have you ever had a brilliant idea come to you out of nowhere? A sudden flash of insight that you promise to write down later.

But when later comes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t recall what is you were supposed to write down. Maybe you remember the general idea, but the words are no longer fully formed, waiting to flow effortlessly from mind to paper. The inspiration is no longer a sudden flash, but rather a struggle to be grasped. And it’s brilliance is lost.

I think inspiration is purposefully inconvenient.

Because, you see, inspiration is ultimately a gift that wants to be shared. It’s constantly searching for the right receiver.

Inspiration demands attention. And it determines who’s rightfully worthy of it by arriving at the wrong time.

If we’re not willing to put time on hold, stop what we’re doing and fully receive the inspiration in the exact moment it arrives, then like a butterfly, inspiration simply flutters off to find another mind somewhere else. It wants to be with a person who recognizes its worth.

Soon You Will Be Confident in Who You Are and What Your Purpose Is

My new dog is what trainers refer to as “reactive”. Probably due to the fact that she had zero socialization during the first few months of her life. She sat alone, abandoned, and afraid during her most crucial development period. And then she came home with me.

dog

She’s a farm girl living in the city and she’s terrified of everything unknown. (Which given her background, is pretty much everything.) I’ve had her with me now for about four months. She’s been slowly gaining confidence and I thought it would be a great idea to send her to doggy daycare once a week. Not only to give myself a much needed break, but also to help her socialize. She loves dogs and I figured by watching the more confident dogs at daycare, she would learn to overcome her fear of people, as well as many other ordinary, everyday things.

Yesterday, we had our much awaited initial evaluation with a Doggy Daycare Center. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. She failed her temperament test. Apparently, once I left, she sat in the corner trembling and wouldn’t let any of the dogs or people come near her. She was terrified. Not the place for her, they told me and sent us on our way.

I was crushed. I’d been spending every day working with this dog for four months and I’ve watched her make incredible progress. To hear that she hadn’t progressed enough to attend a dog daycare, when other dogs are the one thing she loves most, was devastating. I felt exhaustion begin to overwhelm my thoughts as I contemplated just how long this road to recovery would be.

You see, I feel a sadness for my new dog. It makes me sad to think she doesn’t get to experience the fullness of joy that this life has to offer because of her own unfounded fears. I’m sad when I see her insecurities preventing her from enjoying the world around her. And mostly, I’m sad because her defense mechanisms prevent other people from seeing the real her. The dog that I know and love.

The sweet soul who can talk a big talk, but doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. The playful puppy who loves nothing more than a good game of fetch and close cuddling on the couch. She’s brave and courageous and incredibly bright. She’s fast and strong. Gentle and loving.

I could hardly sleep last night. I couldn’t stop brainstorming of how I was going to help this dog. I needed to go back to the drawing board. She was making progress but not enough. I spent the night formulating our recovery plan.

When I awoke this morning, I had a new sense of determination and hope. I found myself talking out loud to her. “You are going to be the bravest pup in all the land,” I said. “Soon you will be confident in who you are and what your purpose is.”

And that’s when it hits me. Isn’t our plight as humans more or less the same?

I wonder if God thinks the same thing about us? Feels the same sadness when He sees our own unfounded fears preventing us from experiencing all that life has to offer. When He watches us push away other people with our defense mechanisms. When our own insecurities cause us to hide who we really are.

“I know you,” He whispers to us. “You’re brave and courageous and incredibly bright. You’re fast and strong, gentle and loving. If only you could see the real you, the person that I know, then you would know your purpose. You could approach the world with confidence, letting other people know you in all of your glorious imperfections. And finally, you could experience the fullness of joy that this life has to offer.”

Deep Doesn’t Mean Dark

What’s up with this notion of if it’s not dark it’s not deep?
Likewise, people seem to think the bright and happy stuff is automatically surface level.

I’ve noticed this in not only writers, performing artists, and theologians, but also my own friends and family. We don’t “go there” because it’s too dark. Or how can a cheerful dialogue be meaningful?

It’s true. A lot of times, when you dig deep, you’ll find some uncomfortable truths. And sometimes these truths are dark. But dark doesn’t mean deep or vice versa. In fact, if the truth you’ve arrived upon is dark, chances are you simply need to keep digging. Dig past the darkness until you once again arrive at light.

Just look at Dr. Suess as an example. He was one of the greatest artists of all time and he was deep. An average onlooker might mistake his work for being “fluffy” or “frivolous”, but if you look a bit closer, his messages are powerful and timeless. In order to arrive at them, I’m certain he had to wade through some dark waters. But unlike many great artists, he didn’t let the dark waters consume his work. He simply swam deeper.

I believe that all truths at their core are light. This is because at our core, we are light.

we-are-light

So next time you hear someone say that a piece of self expression isn’t meaningful because it’s not dark and/or deep enough… or if you have a friend or family member who never seems to want to “go there” because “why should we get dark”…. gently remind them that deep doesn’t always mean dark.

Life is Simple

“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment. Neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it…but it’s easier if you do.”

Make Time to Play

“Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder.” –G.K. Chesterton

boy in train station

Children are naturally creative primarily because they’re curious and playful. The experiment endlessly, let their minds wander freely, and they experience imaginative worlds with such detail that it’s often clever. 

Although the adult world is filled with deadlines and pressure, we have to continue to make time to play. It is our duty and our right to create space in our day for imagination. Perhaps then we will be as clever as children.

Busyness

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

barrenness

And know the difference between being busy and being hurried. We are always in hurry when we’re not doing the one thing that we should be doing.