In last week’s blog post, I wrote about daring to stand in the trembling. I first recognized the trembling a dozen years ago when I taught my first course on creativity and spirituality. Since then, I’ve experienced it many times. It’s the signal my body sends me that I am in my right work, serving my right people. It’s like a divining rod that lets me know that I’m standing above water.
How do you experience the trembling? All over your body, in your heart, in your throat, in your legs?
Sometimes we assume the trembling is only fear or insecurity and we do our best to stay safe and step away from whatever causes it. When we do that, we fall short of our calling and don’t serve the better world our hearts know is possible.
I want to invite you to step into your own trembling and to find the path your trembling is pointing you toward. I want to stand there, in the trembling with you, holding your hand if you need it, reminding you of your courage, and coaxing you to step forward.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since I first recognized the trembling in my life is this… It’s much easier to find the courage to stay in it when you are in community with supportive, like-minded people.
Pathfinder Circle is such a place. It’s an intimate circle that will meet for 8 intense and intentional weeks. The ten participants will be invited on a journey through Pathfinder: A creative journal for finding your way. You’ll receive encouragement, support, and guidance as they seek the calling that takes them deep into their own trembling.
If you feel yourself at the edge of something new, something scary, and something bigger than you’ve ever stepped into before, then Pathfinder Circle is for you.
Join us now and we’ll begin on May 8, 2014. Register soon to secure one of the ten spots.
If you’re curious about what Pathfinder Circle will be like, below is an excerpt and some journal prompts from Pathfinder that will help you find your courage.
A Basket of Courage
“When we look for what’s right, instead of what’s wrong, we are able to see the good in every situation and every person.” – Debbie Ford
Appreciative Inquiry is a system most frequently used for organizational change which also has a lot of value in personal transformation. Instead of asking “What’s going wrong and how can I fix it?”, Appreciative Inquiry asks the question “What’s really working well around here and how can we do more of it?”
What we focus on becomes our reality.
If we focus on our problems, we become mired in the problems and can’t see our way through to the future. If we focus on our gifts, we give our energy to those gifts and we nourish and grow them. We are more confident moving into the future if we are looking at the strengths that carried us through the past than we are if we focus solely on the places where we failed.
To do an Appreciative Inquiry on our own lives, we need to focus on what has life, meaning and value. It’s about collecting our personal stories, asking good questions, and imagining how the meaningful stories from our pasts can help shape our futures.
One of my favourite Appreciate Inquiry practices is something I call the Basket of Courage Stories.
Along your pathfinding journey, imagine that you are walking through an orchard. You’re carrying a basket and filling it with fruit that you’re picking from the trees as you walk. This is the food that will nourish you in the journey later on, so you want to pick fruit wisely.
There is some fruit that has already fallen to the ground. It is juicy and smells heavenly, but you know that it has fallen because it is over-ripe – past its prime. You don’t want to bring that fruit along, because it will rot before you have time to eat it, and there’s a good chance it will cause the other fruit in your basket to rot prematurely as well.
There are wormholes in some of the fruit still hanging on the trees, and you know that you don’t want to pick those either because there will almost certainly be worms destroying the fruit from the inside.
You’re looking for plump, nearly ripe fruit that will nourish you and fill you with strength later when your energy flags. You can only carry so much without weighing yourself down, so you don’t want to waste space in your basket with fruit that’s over-ripe, that has wormholes, or that won’t taste good.
Sometimes we waste a lot of our energy carrying the fruit that will never feed us well.
The just-right fruit in your basket represents the courage stories that you will carry with you into the future. This is your Appreciative Inquiry that will help you grow your life and use your gifts in even more beautiful ways. In your moments of weakness, further down the path, when you begin to doubt your ability to complete the journey or doubt that you have enough courage to face the dragons, the courage stories will nourish you and give you strength.
Let’s begin to collect some of those courage stories that you’ll carry with you as you continue this journey. First, let’s take a look at what courage is.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the choice to step forward despite it.
Fear is a natural and necessary part of life. Without fear, we do irrational things – we hurt people we love and we never learn to recognize danger or the deep longings in our hearts.
Fear can be very useful to us. It keeps us from getting hurt when we spot an angry dog foaming at the mouth. It reminds us to lock our doors at night. It sends us physical signals – sweaty palms, racing pulse, trembling lips – when we need to protect ourselves. In this context, fear is a life-preserving reaction to a recognizable danger.
The problem is not that we HAVE fear in our lives, the problem is that we let fear CONTROL us and keep us from the things our hearts are longing for.
When we have courage, we feel the fear, we acknowledge it, and then we decide that fear is not in the driver’s seat. Fear may still be our companion on the journey, and it might even help us navigate some difficult terrain, but when courage is in charge, fear takes a back seat.
Courage is simply taking a step – even just a small step – in the direction our paths are calling us, even when fear tries to hold us back.
Courage is opening our mouths to speak when we’re sure nobody in the room will agree with us.
Courage is kissing our children good-bye when they leave the house to go places where we can’t keep them safe.
Courage is saying no when a friend asks us to help them when we know that we are in desperate need of self-care.
The last time I was courageous was when I…
When I was a child, I stepped into courage by…
The most courageous act in my life was…
Today’s simple small act of courage was (or will be)…
The area in my life that I need more courage is…
Draw a large basket full of fruit. (Or find a colouring book image online and print it.) On each piece of fruit, write a few key words from each of your courage stories. Imagine that you are carrying this basket on the journey with you, feeding on these morsels of courage when you need them most.