Better Because of You … “C with a big bold heart”

It’s her birthday today.  Her name is Cynthia.  She is also known as Cyndy.  And Cookie (but only in privileged circles).  And she signs her name like this:C with a heartAnd, she puts that big, bold heart into everything … with fabulous, flamboyant flourish. With juicy, joy-filled jubilation.  With energetic exuberance and excitement. With lots of loud love.

Yes, she lives loud and she laughs loud and she loves loud.  She’s utterly reluctant to miss out on any of the magical moments that life invites her to embrace.  And even when she leaps before she looks she brings light and laughter to where-ever she lands. And, she inspires me to surrender parts of my highly edited and cautiously crafted existence and simply allow life to have it’s wondrous way with me more often too.

She is wildly creative and cheeky fun and she has the incredible capacity to take myriad forms of miscellaneous scraps, useless bits and pieces, left-over odds and ends and shape them into the most magnificent, meaningful collages. With her remarkable artistry, she fashions ‘something’ quite special out of ‘nothing’ particularly important and that rich, magical transformation invokes immeasurable awe, inspiration and appreciation in the eye of the bestowed beholder.

For example … she gifted me with this little gem on my last birthday.  See what I mean about how her zest for life breathes brilliance and beauty into her benevolently inspired creations!

happiness is by cyndy

And then there was this one.  She offered it to me when I got brave enough to venture out and start my own business … and it melted my heart because my company is  called Miracles! Your Center for Well-Being Inc.

expect miracles

And the gifts of her heart come so richly wrapped that one is tempted not to open them and disrupt the dazzling beauty …

Cs gift

And … her big, bold heart shines through her emotional expressions with such warm, wonderful wording.  One year, I arrived at work and was delighted to discover an email with these heartfelt birthday wishes:

Happy birthday from C!

And she loves books … and tea … and England … and her daughters Courtenay and Mary Elizabeth.  And she lives a large life because she genuinely invests her whole heart in all the things she loves!  And her life loves her right back … even through the bumpy parts of the path.

be youAnd so, when I saw this quotation I couldn’t help but think of you C !  And I decided to take this opportunity to thank you for all the ‘heart’ you have so generously breathed into the world. You have a magnificent way of speaking straight from your soul and connecting from that vulnerable space …  and in doing so … your vivacious vitality tenderly cracks our hearts  wide open. I applaud you for living your life with such rich, unpretentious expressions of spirit.  I admire you for daring to bare your raw, real and unscripted soul.  Thank you for simply being you … transparently, authentically and wholeheartedly YOU! 

And  … I thank you for inviting me to do the same!!  Thank you for inviting me to turn up the volume in my own life and live more moments as amplified and audaciously as you do. Thank you for the ways you light up the Universe with the gifts of your heart! My life has been so much better because of the ways in which you have enriched it.

Happy Birthday ‘C with a big bold heart’ ! This tribute to you, about you and for you comes with much love from me,   ❤ Karen ❤

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Better … Because You Were Not the Least Bit NICE!

burning bridge

It might sound entirely crazy … but … I am so much better because of one of the darkest times in my life … with someone who seemed like one of the most mean-spirited people I had ever encountered.   I expect I am not the only one who has encountered someone that squashed their spirit, poked their most vulnerable wounded spots, and found fault with their very best efforts to make peace and be nice.  In this particular case … it seemed to me that they got a charge out of it in some convoluted way.

256In fact, I am seeing now, that in my best efforts to convince them that I was worthy of their respect, I became a victim. Not because of how I was treated by this person, but rather, because of how I victimized myself in terms of what I made their behavior and actions mean about me.  I beat myself up mercilessly. What is so wrong with me that they hate me so much? What hoops can I jump through to win their approval?  And, the harder I tried to get in her good graces the worse it seemed to get!  Eventually, I began to question what would possess someone to be so nasty, unkind and downright unlikeable.  At that point, I became a little bit self-righteous with a generous helping of self-pity.  How could you treat me this way?  I have been nothing but good to you.  Who the hell do you think you are?  Pffft … you are certainly a piece of work!

It’s been said: “Hurt people, hurt people”When we are hurting, there is a part of us that wants to hurt others. I have come to recognize (both from my work as a counselor and from my own lived experience) that victims can be the most vicious people on the planet.  In our most painful moments, we can justify some pretty nasty retributions for the people we believe  have wronged us. Fortunately, most of us never act out the vengeful schemes we are dreaming up in our heads.   The healthiest response for most of us is to deliberately put some space between us. That is, we try to ignore them, walk away, or simply limit our exchanges with them. OK … and the less healthy versions of distancing include: snubbing, gossip intended to ostracize, talk to the hand, and the ultimate … “f*#k you”. There are times, however, when those kinds of distancing are simply not an option.  The ‘victimizer’ might be your boss, a family member, a friend of a good friend  or someone that is loved by someone you love. In any case, your lives are tangled up in such a way that and you just can’t avoid or escape them.

Over the past five decades,  I’ve had a handful of these folks invade my heart-space.  It sucked … and because I’ve always valued connection, it always caught me up-side the head when I ended up in those entanglements. In the height of my people-pleasing days, I made every effort to create something different between us.  I would wage Herculean efforts to win them over and redeem myself in their eyes.  And then, I would experience immeasurable pain and heartache when my attempts failed miserably. Sheesh, in retrospect, I can see I wasted so much precious time, energy and effort with that unfavorable handful of people … time I could have been investing favorably in the healthier relationships in my life. BUT … enough talking about the heartache with that handful!  This particular ‘better  because of you’ tribute is dedicated to one of those people in particular … who shall remain nameless (for obvious reasons).

e950e90670036a63d416db966261a71aIt took me a long while to heal enough to seek out the gifts in my experience with this woman.  But, I can see so clearly now that I have so much to thank her for.  Really, I do. She rendered visible how hopelessly dependent I had been upon other people’s approval for my own sense of self worth.  If people liked me, I must be OK.  If people didn’t like me, there must be something wrong with me.  She has shown me (however painfully!) the absolute fallacy in that.  I can see now, how I triggered her … however unintentionally.  And, I can own my part in co-creating some of the prickly-ness between us, but … because of her, I no longer give other people’s perceptions as much power to define me.

never waste your timeBecause of her, I learned that I can survive it if others don’t like me.  She has taught me that people can and will find fault …even in the best of situations, if that is what they are seeking.  And it may have nothing to do with me.  Unless, of course, I let it.  I have to thank her for teaching me that I may not be safe with all people.  Once again, hurt people hurt people.  I am grateful to her for reminding me that we are all interpreting the world through the lens of our prior lived experiences (some of it very wounding) and that those wounds can (dis)color each of our perspectives. I even remember thinking at one point, “If I was on my knees kissing the ground she walks on, she’d accuse me of tying her shoe laces together while I was down there”.  I am aware that she had been very wounded in her life.  I have come to believe that her past experience unfavorably skewed her perceptions of my intentions.  I may be wrong, but it helps me to make sense of things.

I thank her for helping me learn that I am not responsible for everyone’s happiness. My interactions with her clearly demonstrated that people have their own agendas … something I can’t always know and/or understand … and … certainly cannot be responsible for.  I really needed to learn to let people think what they want to think and feel what they want to feel.  I don’t have to make them happy.  I just don’t.  I want to thank her for showing me that I can still be who I am, even if that is not who others prefer me to be. I can survive their disapproval …

This woman really showed me how much courage I have. I thank her for teaching me that I’m tough enough to take the ride, with all it’s ups and downs.  I can respect her for asserting herself, however misguided I believe she has been.  I have chosen to re-interpret her as an ‘angel in a dark disguise’ sent forth to stretch my soul … to help me grow … to teach me how to hold on tight during tumultuous times and look deep inside myself and honor my own ‘truth’ … regardless of what others are thinking or believing.

f0a29b99680afd959ac2eb3f4bcea0b0I can thank this woman for teaching me that I don’t have to participate in every battle I’m invited to.  I thank her for showing me how hurtful gossip can be, and how negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive. I learned from this woman that I can stand tall without making someone else small.  In fact, in the best of my humanity, I can hold a different point of view without criticizing others. I thank her for teaching me that there is no integrity in doing the right thing if you do it for the wrong reason … nor … in doing the wrong thing for the right reason. There is only integrity in doing the right thing for the right reason.

I thank her for helping me learn that I need not carry the anger, hurt and bitterness of our exchange into the future. I was able to forgive her when I realized that each challenge in our lives is just one small aspect of our total lives.  We don’t have to give it more space than that  … lest it eclipse all the bright and beautiful points of light that also exist in our personal worlds. I thank her for inviting me to keep things in perspective and not give more energy than necessary to the negative forces amongst us.

darkness leaves starsI thank her for inviting me  to learn how to intervene on my own behalf … instead of remaining a victim and waiting for someone else to save me.  Oh my … this  may have been the most critical lesson I needed her to teach me!  I had erroneously assumed that it was somehow noble to suffer in silence … well … until the pain of our exchange made it unbearable for me to do so.  Thank goodness.  I might still be going along to get along, I might still be silencing my own pain … were it not for her.

As crazy as it sounds, I have got to the point where I can truly thank her … not for the pain that existed in our exchange, but for the lessons that were also tucked into it.  I gained so much more through those awful few years with her than it cost me! Honestly, I am so much better because of her … truly.

universe always expalins

Source Unknown

Beneath every challenge is an invitation to transform my life.  May I be wise enough to look for it … Karen

 

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Better … Because You Cared Enough to Say Something

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

I’d like to share a remarkable story with you. It reinforces my desire to continue acknowledging all the ways I have become better, grown wiser and been serendipitously shaped by the people who have generously left their heart-prints on my soul.  I hope I can do the story justice!

One day, a middle-aged woman entered the crowded waiting room at the dermatologist office. She heaved a discontented sigh because it was clearly going to be a long wait.  She was aware, however, that she could pass the time begrudgingly or she could simply make the best of it.  She consciously resolved to use the ‘waiting’ as an exercise in building more patience (not always her strong suit!).  She determined herself to be a ‘patient’ patient. She had barely settled into her reading when one of the doctor’s receptionists plopped unexpectedly into the seat right next to her … gently apologizing for bothering her, but at the same time curiously searching the patient’s face and saying:

“I have a weird question for you. Did you, by chance, have a baby in February of 1986?”

“Yes” responded the puzzled patient with palpable rumblings in her heart around where this odd inquiry was headed.

“Oh good!” exclaimed the visibly relieved receptionist.  “I hoped it would be you.  When I saw your name come through the system, I was hoping I would get a chance to thank you.” With her eyes welling up a wee bit, she continued: “We shared a room in the hospital when our babies were born. My daughter was born with so many problems, it was such a rough time … and … you were just so kind to me.”

The patient felt herself feeling totally unworthy of the appreciation and a bit sheepish to accept the generous acknowledgment because she had absolutely no recollection of those moments at all.  She suspected she could not have been this woman’s roommate, but didn’t want to discount or dismiss the significance of her heartfelt recollection by admitting her total lack of recall.

“Oh my  gosh … that was 28 and a half years ago” uttered the patient incredulously.  “How on earth did you remember my name after all this time?”

With a wistful glance downward, the receptionist warmly acknowledged “I remember  it like it was 5 years ago.  I have never forgotten you. You even brought me carrots … to my house. You have no idea how much your kindness and caring meant to me.”

The patient was deeply humbled, because it really was true that she had ‘no idea’ … except for the carrots.  That comment triggered some unwelcome memories stored in the deepest recesses of the patient’s mind of an exceptionally stressful year when they had been farming carrots.  With that, the patient’s eyes softened  …  maybe, just maybe she could have been the one who shared that hospital room with the lovely receptionist after all.

It was the strangest thing though, because in that magical moment of awareness, the patient felt as if she were the one who was being transformed by the exchange. She could not believe how good it felt to know that she had somehow, however unwittingly, eased a very difficult time for a complete stranger.  She thanked the receptionist for not bypassing the opportunity to re-connect and gift her with that kind recollection.

The two women took some time to catch up on what their little baby girls were doing now that they were grown women.  The receptionist shared that it had continued to be a bumpy ride for her daughter in many ways, but things were OK.  The patient shared that her daughter had just delivered her first child … and … that her cherished 8 week old grandson might be facing a surgery.  The receptionist was all too familiar with such unwelcome things … she offered some empathic words of compassion for the patient.

As they parted, the receptionist re-iterated the gratitude she felt in finally being given a chance to express her appreciation.  She indicated that she had always wanted to say “thank you” to the patient.

Just as the patient was letting all the richness of the special moment land deeply into her heart space … another patient unexpectedly plopped into the chair beside her. It was a young lady who had caught the patient’s eye when she had entered the waiting room.  This wholesome 30ish(?) young woman was unpretentious, outdoorsy looking, and exuded a really earthy energy.  She was wearing a Bohemian style dress and she had a cap fashionably pulled down over her long blonde hair … beautifully highlighting her  bright, blue make-up free eyes.

Her name was Ayla.  She began by saying “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing you say that your grandson may need surgery.  I just wanted to tell you that my little girl had the same problem when she was a baby.  I can only imagine how scared your daughter must be.  I was a complete mess, but I didn’t need to be.  It went really well and I only had to give her a few Advil for the first day.  She was just fine after that.  Maybe you could tell your daughter so she is not so worried about it.” 

The patient was deeply touched by this genuine, sincere and compassionate offering.  She could feel the gracious warmth and heartfelt empathy that drove the young mother’s intention … she was benevolently intent on easing the fears of a complete stranger.

The patient contained her own tears of gratitude until Ayla was called in for her appointment.  She was overcome with emotion … an intense sense of appreciation for the blessings she had received that day in the crowded waiting room.  She could never have guessed the gifts that were about to be offered to her in her efforts to be the ‘patient’ patient ….

kindness everydayI share this story with you because it proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are absolutely no insignificant moments in any of our lives.  We can never begin to know, and may not even remember, the things we might have said or done that will spark something special and land indelibly in another person’s soul.

And, I can tell you that 28 years from now Ayla might not remember  the other patient’s name or how much her kind words meant to that worried grandma … but I certainly will. You see, that other patient was me.

And, it is my honor to use this public forum to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate these two phenomenal women …‘ Ayla’(from Fernie) and ‘Karen’ (the receptionist from the dermatologists office).  It is my hope that one day, you will come across this little blog … and then … I will get the opportunity, from the deepest place in my heart, to say “thank you”.  I will never, ever, not in my lifetime forget the time we shared in that crowded waiting room.

I am so much better because you cared enough to say something … Karen

stop and give thnaks

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Better and Brighter … Because of You Kim

Love your light
Were it not for you Kim, my favorite book of all time (and the catalyst for providing the bridge between who I was and who I desperately wanted to be)The Dark Side of the Light Chasers …. would have been just another really good book written by Debbie Ford. It would have been another great conversation, another meaningful exchange about deeply spiritual things … about dreams and goals …about kindling our internal flames … about living life with  no regrets … about how to make the very most of this journey.  We had those conversations all the time.  It is one of the things I have always cherished about our friendship.

But, here is the thing.  Without you, I might have understood the concepts of my very favorite book cognitively, but never really lived them experientially!  But you were not content with merely reading the book and philosophizing about the content. You figured there needed to be a workshop… so we could translate what we understood into our lived experiences. And you searched it out!

And you discovered a life-altering event called The Shadow Process. And we wanted to go!!  But we feared we had absolutely no way of making THAT big, bold dream come true. There were far too many responsibilities and realities in our world to keep us from getting to San Diego to attend. But, we had done enough spiritual homework that we dared ourselves to TRUST the possibility that:Until one is committedAnd so we did.  We decided to ‘put it out there’.  We opted to live ‘as if’ we would be attending that workshop!  And we laughed as we told family and colleagues that we had to schedule around our trip … because we would be “out of town”.  And … we literally did experience several of those acts of providence that Murray spoke of.  It felt like such a miracle. Somehow … despite all the things that should have stopped us, we DID get on an aircraft (just weeks after the horrific events of 9/11) …and … we made that dream a reality.

And little did I know at that time, but because of your passionate desire to get more out of that book, the most spectacular part of my life’s journey was about to unfold …and take me to places and possibilities that I had only ever dreamed about.  Little did I realize … but I was on the cusp of making many more dreams become realities!!  And, of course, so were you …

And we stretched ourselves. We spent countless hours excavating our inner worlds. We didn’t always like what we found … but … we brought it all to light and turned our wounds into wisdom. And we laughed … and we learned …and … we laughed as we learned.  And we cried some too.

And then there was Chapter 7. Remember sitting in the airport, flying back to San Diego for one of our coaches trainings, and co-incidentally (or not) , we both happened to be reading Chapter 7 of The Secret of the Shadow .  I’ll never forget the sheer terror sparked in our hearts as we loaded the plane, anxiously anticipating what it would be like to clean up our pasts and make amends for any choices, regrets, mistakes, grudges, heartaches, secrets … or anything that compromised our capacity to stand in clear conscience and complete integrity.  And we knew we had to do it if we wanted to become Certified Integrative Coaches ourselves … because Debbie Ford required that level of impeccability from her coaches. And so we got really brave. Oh how it challenged us … but we cleaned it all up.

For me, that even included redeeming my integrity around the case of disposable diapers that I didn’t get charged for about 25 years earlier … and … the Juicy Fruit gum that I stole when I was about 10 years old after I opted to run for my bus rather than continue waiting for the store clerk who was chatting incessantly with someone else and simply ignoring my presence and effort to pay.  In order to make amends for such ancient regrets,  I bought a case of Pampers and delivered them to the Food Bank … along with …  a carton of Juicy Fruit.  I was shocked at the lightness I felt in righting those seemingly innocuous wrongs.  I honestly had no idea I had been carrying so much guilt (just for a quarter of a century!)  for those choices that I could have continued to justify and excuse by blaming them on another person’s error.

And because we were doing these hard things together … I had the strength to continue, even when I thought I’d rather quit than face my own shame. And we shared these beautiful but often brutal moments with each other … and … we were such great stewards of each others souls during those hard climbs. And you taught me that the power of 1+1 is not equal to 2 but is equal to 11. And I needed that shift in perspective to foster my resolve to continue to challenge myself …

And we grew so much ourselves. And we laughed. And we got really real. And we got triggered. And we owned our projections. And we embraced our light. And we learned to welcome the dark … trusting in the gifts of the shadow. And we grew some more. And people noticed the changes in us.  And people began asking how they could get some of ‘whatever it was that we had’ …so we facilitated study groups and, once we were certified, we coached people.   But, most importantly for me personally, we encouraged each other to become the next best expression of who we could be in the world. And we helped each other when we stumbled. And we believed in Miracles … because we had seen how our own shifts in perception helped us better resist our patterns of fear-based living in favor of dwelling in an energy of love.

And, despite all the shifts we were experiencing, we kept going to our day jobs. And the days we spent at the office were always better because of you.  And meetings were so much better because of you … with your undeniable verve, vigor and vitality!  And, of course …your spectacular sense of humor!  You brightened the moments for so many of us with your knack for telling a story and your capacity to find the blessing in the darkest moments.  Your light could not to be denied … only treasured.  And it was …

And we built our vision boards. And we pursued more of our dreams. And then, so many of our passionate pursuits actually came true that they took us in different directions. And we no longer got to see each other every day.  But I want you to know, I carried all those memories in my heart.  And I still do.  I have always loved your light.

So … I want you to know, Kim, that I will never be the same …  because of you. I am forever altered because of your brilliant, bold and bright presence in my world.  I owe so much of my spiritual growth to the times we have shared as we dared ourselves to stretch into the next best expression of who we could be in the world.

And we are still growing.  And we still laugh when we see each other. Thank you for lighting up the path and sharing that most remarkable part of my journey with me. I am deeply, truly, and most very gratefully so much better because of you …

Love ya, K

 

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