If Faith Is Your Fortune, How Rich Are You?

Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is one element of faith.
Paul Tillich 

Often in my coaching practice I find myself speaking of faith. There is resistance to this word, this concept. It’s scary. It requires what I call air-time – call it a leap. Time when you are moving forward, gently or rapidly, and you have to keep going no matter what. I have kayaked backwards through some very “interesting” rapids, nothing to be done but do what I could as well as I could. In this case the kayak has the same shape coming and going – it was not sea faring – and the only difference is that I had to have a great twist for longer than I would have chosen.
Doubt was not on my mind. Neither was faith. I was all action. But in other moments when I have had time to contemplate, doubt has been friend and foe. Doubt has kept me from making sudden decisions – hasty words and actions. I think doubt has made me look wiser than I am and it has made me wiser in the process.
There is this drive we all share for unity, oneness, wholeness. We are often puzzled and struggle with our own complexity. That we might have an unsavory thought, not be the kind of person we want to be all the time. My companion Liam is a great example of just this. He is the sweetest, snuggliest, kindest of dogs. And then going out the door he has to be the awfullest, most inconsiderate, impossible, neck-biting maniac to Jules, the stately greyhound. Or barking and throwing himself against the window – the screen is not yet fixed – at Momacita the feral cat who teases him relentlessly.
We think we would like to live in a black and white world. One in which bad guys looked bad and good guys… But that’s a little like Midas. When we wish for something to be always true we forget times we don’t want everything the same color. Our own diversity is our friend. Even when we feel we lack something in the moment. In the next moment we might get exactly what we want.

Everybody Wants To Be On Oprah

True or not, truth or dare, for me Oprah has become the Highground, along with TED talks. And now my hero Brene Brown will be on Super Soul Sunday. I first saw her on TED. Pretty much nothing rattles my cage – for good or ill – I’m classed as “steady” and most of the time that’s true. That said, I am really excited about these ideas. The mission of people like Oprah and Brene, their ability to speak out, show up and expose themselves is truly a gift.
What carries me along with the current of these pop and popular venues is the high ground they take. These are some of the most moral, vulnerable, open, expressive and passionate human beings I have ever seen. I feel so blessed to be in a world where these ideas and values can be shared. I know it’s getting better and better here on planet earth and I know this kind of dissemination of ideas is as important as Johnny Appleseed and honey bees.

for each new moment here on earth
another moment fades
moments pass us – well, like moments
the mere mention is one
push the space bar and it’s gone
another here
one there
each one countable and accountable
each one a weave into the next
this is how we grow
no other way to do it

In The Still Of The Night

My heart reaches in the moment for the moment

Will it be what I want? Will I know it when I see it?

Will I slip away on the back of the deer, the pony, the wind sending us

on an eternal midnight’s investigation, a never-ending story

will I know delight? will I know the solace and support I have always sought

I can look down on the world just as it is

just as I am and know that in my heart the world turns with a grace if I am willing to fall with it, if I am willing to count myself among the holy, the gentle, the humble

then can I feel myself in my house in myself, connected and ridiculously present in the moment of understanding that it is only when I am separate that fear closes my door and that when my heart is open I soar.

Finding The Right Balance During The Holidays

The holidays bring a lot of different challenges to people for many different reasons.  Financially, emotionally or mentally it can be a draining period of time.  It does not have to be though. Finding the right balance can make your holiday more enjoyable.

Some people find dividing their time to be the most difficult part. Almost everyone wants to spend time with his or her family, but too much time can be overwhelming.  You might feel swallowed up. We’ve all seen the classic scenes of families getting together enjoying their company, then 15 minutes later the conversation has turned into argument, uncomfortable moments and turmoil.  I was speaking with someone recently who mentioned to me that they have a tough time enjoying the holidays strictly for this reason.

“I don’t enjoy spending a whole day with my family because it inevitably turns into a finger pointing, shouting match.  I love them, and I want to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s around them, but not at the cost of feeling distain and annoyance with certain members of my family.” Unfortunately, he mentioned how he’s stuck in a tough situation. His family recognizes he’s not around as much and takes it as a sign of distain and separation. “I don’t want to alienate myself from my family, but finding the right amount of balance can be difficult.”

Overcoming these habits of mind and finding balance within yourself for the holidays can be a challenge.  Give yourself a break. Be gentle with yourself. Get really curious. Who are these people? What do you love/like about them. How do you reflect each other? Don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment of a reaction.

Present yourself with realistic expectations for the holidays. If you have a specific vision of what the holidays are supposed to be like, don’t let that dictate what happens. Chances are they may not live up to the idealistic vision you have of what will happen. Don’t worry about holiday spirit and take the holidays as they come. At the same time, don’t have too little expectations. Some people go into the holidays with expectations so low that it makes them more depressed. Limiting your expectations, both good and bad, will make them more enjoyable.

The holidays in the end are meant to be pleasant, entertaining and a time to spend with people you care about.  Finding a balance in your time and expectations can help make the days, weeks and month go by smoothly and enjoyably.

Opportunity

In talking with clients the issue of discomfort with a current situation is likely to come up. After all, I am called to make a difference in their lives. As humans we often get tied up and attracted/attached to what isn’t going right. We can be sure of what’s wrong, it’s obvious, isn’t it? So I’m often called to be the coxswain to a new life.

I, of course, can’t change direction but I give strategies and practices to clear a new path enforcing and re-enforcing the goals and vision of each person. In this lofty capacity the most important and really about the only action I take is to listen. Awareness is often what we leave behind while we are in an attitude of disappointment, discouragement or  hopelessness.

The mark I can make is fueled by attention. When you describe a reaction, a feeling, a situation that brings discomfort or dis-ease, my tuning in can make a difference. Accountability is the pen that can write the new path and compassion is its guiding light.

So often we let our minds be the spokesperson for tyranny. Where it came from matters less than turning away from the voices of discomfort and sorrow to allow what is. What is here around us is enough. When we can look with compassion at what disturbs us, we can see more clearly where change can happen. It’s not that things don’t change for the worse, they can, but dropping them without understanding, without vision can often lead to a repetition of the same circumstance.

Sometimes when we see green bitter berries, we forget they might be blueberries in a little while – given some sun and the right conditions. Not everything has a sweet ending and we don’t have to accept everything as it is. We can use our vision, compassion and intention to change ourselves and see where we really want to be.

Cesar Milan and the Embrace of Failure

Failure’s Negative Connotations And Breaking Down Those Walls

Failure is too often associated with negativity, fear, and despair.  Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.  In my experience, failure is not the opposite of success.  In fact, in my sticky notes on my desk is the phrase, “failure is feedback!” Looking at failure as a negative is the farthest thing from the truth.  I often learn more from failure than anything else.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a speaking engagement, where I experienced a small moment of failure.  I could tell I was not engaging the audience in the subject.  However, it was a blessing in disguise.  I wrote, “Being able to learn a lesson in a safe place is rare. Being able to learn any lesson is a wonderful gift. How many of us give ourselves the opportunity for growth?”  In that moment I learned a valuable lesson.  That small failure was a success.

Many times I find people are afraid of failure.  They’re afraid of rejection, being let down, or letting people down.  These are rational fears, but ones that can be easily overcome when you change your perspective on them. Instead of looking at failure as negative, break down those barriers and see a teachable moment where you can come to a greater understanding of yourself and your surroundings.  Because I’m always striving to have people find their most authentic self, I ask them who is talking when they hear negative mental prompts. In order to do so, we have to look at apparent failures and see what we can learn from them.

In communicating with animals of all kinds I’ve learned that dogs in particular learn by observing their, as they fondly call us, person. They watch carefully to see what is expected of them. They want to please, if corrected in a way they can understand, they will rarely make the same mistake twice. Cats don’t care, horses for the most part want to give it all they have – whatever “it” is. They go all out. All of this enthusiasm is dependent upon the clarity of communication from us.

To the extent that we are clear and observant of a dog’s message back to us, they are very quick learners. In the event that a dog’s curiosity has been mistreated, the ability to learn will be curtailed. (pun intended) The dog Whisperer Ceasar Milan will come into what appears to be a failed situation and turn it around. He uses what’s there – the “failure” of the dog’s people to understand the dog. He approaches with curiosity and the skills he has learned all his life.

Without curiosity, the ability to investigate, the awareness of possibility is blunted. What we see is that the animal is limited in some way. Usually reflecting our own limitations. Without curiosity our fears mask our own learning – what we know is muted by our fear in the moment of our perceived failure.

Failure, to be effective, loves to have an unconditional love component.  When we are free to explore and create without worry, we nurture our curiosity, which nurtures our sensitivity, which nurtures our growth.

Growth only happens with acceptance, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum – the airless place created by fear of not being acceptable, fear of failure of any kind.

We are not so different from dogs, are we?

SONG

SONG

Wrapped in their blue

iron rag of a car

mother and child

sing loudly.

Heads up

in the warped torn steel,

their rusty voices

hushed by windows

closed on a grey day.

They smile each to each

in their warm rug of a car

they are their song.

 

Every day I work on my song. Every day I  use my voice. Just like the birds, the dogs, cats and all the Beings I know. What about you? Is your voice heard? Seen? Touched? Felt?

4’s and 9’s

I think a lot about “who’s here.” What does that mean? Another Pamism. Yawn. But, really, who am I at different points in my day, my life? What am I presenting? Who is asking? Who is looking? Who cares? In a speech I gave about ritual a few weeks ago at a Toastmasters meeting I started with some gestures I thought showed the subject. When I saw people taking a break and waiting for me to get started, it was quite clear to me how ineffective I was being.

That moment was a gift. Being able to learn a lesson in a safe place is rare. Being able to learn any lesson is a wonderful gift. How many of us give ourselves the opportunity for growth? The reason I put the numbers at the heading is because I noticed that many people who are drawn to my Insight Coaching practice currently are approaching either a midline or an end of a decade. Thirty-four, forty-four, forty-nine, fifty- nine, sixty-four and so on.

I thought it not so odd that when we reach a certain point in an age, we want to reach out and touch it. Feel the feelings of that age, prepare for what is to come. Give sense and meaning to what we’ve done, what is behind us. We can become very interested in how we come across, what is it we really want to do, to be. How can we be who we want to be, how can we even know who that is?

The strategies for this are fairly simple, getting to the action steps can be more complicated and that is the interesting (sometimes like the Chinese curse) and wondrous look in the mirror to set our course and keep it going – and going. If you think about it, the Energizer Bunny has nothing on us!  We are unique and each of us is needed to be counted. We are here, after all.

Oh, and that’s Tashi who ever only was who he was and is ever in my heart for who he is.

What’s Important

Honor them, love them, help them, heal them, but above all else, Pam, free them.

Everyone, of course – The Universe

Everyday I get a note from the Universe of Mike Dooley, who with his mother Sheelagh Mawe and brother Andy make up a triple threat of raucous and wonderful cosmic truth.

I met Andy virtually in a mastermind group with Rich German and loved his “take no prisoners” style of advice. His was kind of a Red Queen’s “Off With Their Heads” advice that made mine seem so sane and calm. I love the mirror of it all. Letting my clients find their way, keeping myself off their toes. It’s a dance I’m loving.

Feeling the beat, getting to know the steps, looking in the mirror when it’s a good choice. Most of all I love seeing how brilliant we humans can be when we reach for the best in us. That’s what my horse Sanne sees all the time; the best in us. My goal is that each one of us loves and respects ourselves like Sanne see us. So when we look in the mirror or the mirror of our hearts what we see is what we love.

 

 

 

 

Parasite Rex

A while ago I wrote about how parasites, viruses, and bacteria all contribute to who we are and how we relate to each other. I referenced the book, Parasite Rex, which talks about our interaction with our environment – in this case, very small creatures.

On Sunday in a NY Times opinion column, i.e., not necessarily endorsed by the paper, Moises Velasquez-Manoff discusses autism as possibly a function of the lack of parasites whose presence is known to suppress inflammation.

I don’t want to get into an argument about this – what I think is so important is that our interaction with our world, macro and micro, is so significant.

Maybe it’s because i was horrified when I was introduced to Rene Descartes in college. I haven’t gotten over it. How could someone leave out most of the body’s attributes and focus in on a single aspect! (no question mark here, this is rhetorical)

It’s so human of us to isolate one person, idea, phylum and have it support one huge idea. The most obvious to me at the moment are the religious views that would have us be evil or incompetent or superior depending which side is talking.

I know it is often hard for me to feel my connection to the universe in a palpable way. I allow the concept of the universe in me and I in the universe to penetrate my consciousness, I seek it, I believe it. Until I get in a pinch, then it’s really easy to separate.

When I read the article on Autism – and I am drawn to them thanks to my godson Jacob and his teachings – I think of all the places I’ve seen where people live, their relative health and happiness. With my Western mind it is hard for me to fathom how they can live at all. No flush toilets or Saran Wrap, no Betadine or Hydrogen Peroxide. How do they do it? And then I think how I just had the opportunity to walk around in Retail Land for four hours on Saturday and Sunday as Chandrika took a required course for the DMV in preparation for her driver’s license. We don’t look so healthy here. No, not at all. Happiness is a bit of a stretch too. And I think to my time in Nepal and India, many months spent fending off all the disease and dirt and allowing in the smiles, the happiness, the easy and available color, the simplicity within the cacophony of life.

I’m not winding to a Conclusion except to say that I eat organic food because it has withstood the onslaughts of bugs, thereby making the plant stronger and hopefully giving me some of that benefit and I’ll take my answer off the air but I think having a bit of the universe in me in the form of a little dirt wouldn’t be a bad thing.