Transition: The empty place between stories

“Something is shifting in my life. I feel lost. Everything I once depended on and believed in feels unstable and unreliable. I don’t know who I am anymore.”

I hear some version of this story almost every week in my coaching work. Somewhere in the middle of their lives, women (and men, though I hear fewer of those stories) go through a period of transition when their world shifts and the ground feels wobbly under their feet. They’ve left behind an old story but haven’t found themselves in the new story yet. They don’t know how to define themselves anymore and they’re not even sure they have much value.

The stories are almost always accompanied with tears and some measure of shame. They think they’re doing it wrong. They think everyone else has it figured out. They think there’s supposed to be a straight path between the old story and the new story. Or they think they were foolish and selfish for no longer being satisfied with the old story that once felt comfortable.

They’ve been fed a false narrative.

While still in high school, they were told that they’re supposed to figure out “what they want to be when they’re older” and then they’re supposed to follow a straight path to the “American dream.” They’re pretty sure that means that once they’re forty, they should have everything figured out and the question that once plagued them will have all been answered or at least have faded in importance.

But once they get to a midlife point, they realize that the questions are getting bigger and more urgent. They don’t know what to believe anymore. They don’t really know who they are. They don’t understand the meaning of their lives. They discover that motherhood, or their career, or the book they got published, or the dream they brought to fruition doesn’t satisfy them as much as they’d hoped. They’re feeling empty and lost, like a boat adrift at sea.

It’s such a common story that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I could go on a very lovely vacation to the Caribbean.

The first thing I do when I hear this story is give them permission to cry and feel the grief. The second thing I do is tell them “This is where you’re supposed to be. This is a woman’s journey. You have to give yourself permission to be lost for awhile. It’s the only way you’ll find the path to your more authentic self.”

We all need to go through the empty place in order to connect with our deeper selves.

Every woman I know who has found her way into a deepened wisdom and a deeper sense of calling has gone through the empty place between stories. They’ve all found themselves adrift at sea somewhere in the middle of their lives, where they had to let go of old paradigms, old belief systems, and old ways of defining themselves. It was only when they let go of the resistance and the need to “be productive” and “be successful” that they were able to sink into the deep stillness of the empty place between stories.

transformation diagram

Nobody wants the complexity of real transformation.

The mess and the grief of letting go of the old story is scary and uncomfortable. We want the simple solution that many of the self-help books are selling us. We want ten easy bullet points.

But real transformation is more like the labyrinth. Real transformation invites us to step off the path into a complex, labyrinthine journey.

“Most of us arrive at a sense of self and vocation only after a long journey through alien lands. But this journey bears no resemblance to the trouble-free “travel packages” sold by the tourism industry. It is more akin to the ancient tradition of pilgrimage – ‘a transformative journey to a sacred centre’ full of hardships, darkness, and peril.” – Parker Palmer, Let your Life Speak

The labyrinth teaches us much about the journey through transition.

When we enter the labyrinth, we are invited to release. We let go of Story A. We let go of our expectations, our “American dream”, our comfort level.

Once we reach the centre, we are ready to receive. But our cups can only be filled up again if we reach that place empty and open. We’ve emptied ourselves of the old story so that the new story can begin to grow. At the centre, we receive guidance from Spirit, we receive grace, and we receive the strength we need to continue the journey.

When we are ready, we return. But we don’t go back to Story A. We return with the new story that has begun to grow at the centre. We return with a deeper connection to our authentic selves. We return ready to step into Story B.

What’s surprising, though, and always somewhat unsettling, is that Story B bears little resemblance to Story A. Story A fit into a much cleaner box. Story B has a lot of loose ends and a permeable border. Story A was black and white. Story B has a lot of complex shades of grey.

We are invited into a place of non-duality.

As Richard Rohr says in Falling Upward, the story for the second half of life is one of non-duality. When we are in a story of duality (the first half of our lives), we see the word in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

Rohr describes non-dual thinking as “our ability to read reality in a way that is not judgmental, in a way that is not exclusionary of the part that we don’t understand. When you don’t split everything up according to what you like and what you don’t like, you leave the moment open, you let it be what it is in itself, and you let it speak to you. Reality is not totally one, but it is not totally two, either! Stay with that necessary dilemma, and it can make you wise.”

Many people resist the invitation into Story B. They want to stay in a place where the world feels secure and safe. They hang onto a black and white world and they judge those who introduce them to shades of grey. Those people often become the fundamentalists who fight with all their might to resist change. They close themselves off in a box of self-preservation rather than step into a place of ambiguity.

But there is little value in hanging onto Story A when the new story wants to emerge. Your comfort will soon turn to bitterness, your safe home will become your prison.

Our world wants us to move, individually and collectively, into Story B.

new storyThere are many thought leaders who believe that our world is in that empty place – the place of chaos – between Story A and Story B.

Yesterday, I participated in the first session of ULab, hosted by Otto Scharmer of MIT and Presencing Institute. On this MOOC (massive open online course) there are 25,000 people who are connecting to talk about the transformation of business, society, and self. We’re learning what it means to be in that “place of disruption” between stories. While on the webinar, thousands of us were tweeting from all over the world about what is ending and what is emerging. There’s a general consensus that the world can’t continue to function unless we step into a new story, a new way of connecting with ourselves, each other, and the world. But before getting to that new story, we have to let ourselves be lost for awhile.

In The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Charles Eisenstein talks about The Story of Separation that the world has been living in. That’s a story that keeps us locked in a financial economy that demands growth and the pillaging of the earth for the resources that feed that growth. It’s a story that has us living as separate, self-sufficient individuals instead of in community. It’s a story that requires a greater and greater investment in military actions that help us protect our resources and our self-sufficiency.

The new story that the world is longing for is a Story of Connection.

It’s a story that brings us back to a healthy relationship with each other and the earth. It’s a story of trust and compassion, community and spirituality.

As the diagram above shows, we won’t get to the Story of Connection until we are ready to release the Story of Separation, step into the centre of the labyrinth, and receive the new thing that wants to be born in each of us.

If you find yourself in that empty place between stories, know this – you are not alone. You are living a story that is playing itself out all over the world.

We are all trying to find our way into the new story. Some of us are desperately hanging onto the old story, some of us are ready to hospice the old story into its death, and some of us are ready to midwife the new story into its birth.

In the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, there are a few cells, called imaginal cells, that hold the dream of the butterfly alive while all of the other cells see only the end of the world that was once their caterpillar life. Those imaginal cells lead the transformation into the new, more beautiful thing that is meant to emerge.

In my work, I am blessed to be in connection with many imaginal cells – people who sense the end of Story A has come and who believe that there is something new and better emerging. Perhaps you are one such cell.

Perhaps you have been invited into the difficult stage of transformation so that you can serve as a model for others coming after you.

I invite you to consider that whatever you are going through right now, you are going through something that is helping you emerge into the more beautiful world. And your transformation is part of the transformation of the world around you.

Step into the labyrinth. Let yourself be changed.

Need some support on this journey through transformation? Registration is now open for The Spiral Path: A Woman’s Journey to Herself. In this 21 lesson course, you’ll be guided through the three stages of the labyrinth journey.


I believe in the resurrection

I love Easter. There is so much good in it. There’s something about the resurrection story, and the many little reminders nature offers us at this time of year of how new things are born out of last year’s death that keeps me coming back to faith.

By the end of almost every Easter weekend, after the Easter services, the time with family, the great food, and the easter egg hunts, I’m in a happy, contemplative mood.

Almost every year… except last year.

Last Easter was horrible. Epically horrible.

On Maunday Thursday – my mom’s birthday – we received confirmation that my mom had cancer. A fairly serious kind in her internal organs that had way too many unknowns for our comfort.

Three days later, on Easter Sunday, my 18 year marriage unraveled. On the way home from an Easter “celebration” with my family, I told my husband that it was either time for us to live apart, or else we’d need to find someone who could help us overhaul our severely broken relationship. It just wasn’t working anymore. We’d forgotten how to communicate and I was tired of feeling angry, hurt, and lost.

I did a lot of crying in the weeks after Easter.

Ironically, a month before Easter, I’d started a series on my blog called “Let go of the Ground“, about how we are all called to surrender – to the Mystery, to the God of our understanding, to our calling, to Love. The premise was that – like the caterpillar who must surrender to the cocoon and enter the difficult transformation process before becoming a butterfly – we too must surrender and learn to trust what is emerging for us. I interviewed a bunch of wise people about their own surrender stories, and I was preparing to create an e-course on the subject. It felt like important work and I knew I had some wisdom to share, having experienced groundlessness and transformation many times in my life.

But then… Easter came, and groundlessness wasn’t just a topic for a blog post. I was living it all over again, and not by choice. The ground had been whipped out from under me and I was plunging through space without a parachute.

It’s easy to talk about surrender when you’re on the far side of transformation and you know what it feels like to fly. It’s another thing entirely when you’re in the messy, gooey chrysalis stage, you’re hanging by a fragile thread, and you have no idea when and how you will emerge.

The months after Easter continued to be hard. Mom started chemo, lost all of her hair, got continually sicker, went for surgery in the summer, and then spent a few more months in chemo. Normally an energetic, young-for-her-age woman who takes delight in climbing trees with her grandchildren and being the fastest one (and sometimes the only one) up the climbing wall when she goes to seniors’ camp in the summer, Mom could hardly handle the many hours she was forced to spend sitting or lying around. I could see her muscles twitch when someone else was in HER kitchen making food for her.

As for my marriage… we agreed that it was best for the kids if we stayed in the same house while we tried to repair what was broken. Like a couple of brick-layers trying to rebuild after a tsunami has wiped out the village, we gathered the pieces that still looked like viable relationship-building bricks, added a few new ones, and started piecing them together slowly but surely. Fortunately, we found a counsellor who was good at helping us do that.

Now it’s a year later, and I’d be lying if I told you I feel like a butterfly with freshly dried wings, fluttering effortlessly through the air. No, there’s lots of effort still involved, and lots of unknowns. I still feel pretty groundless.

But things are changing, and Spring has come again. When we rake away the dead leaves of last year, we see the tiny shoots poking their way out of the dirt built from many deaths in seasons past.

My mom started baking buns again last week, a sure sign that some of her energy is coming back. (When she starts distributing them to everyone in the neighbourhood who could use some nourishment, we’ll know she’s truly back.) Her chemo is finished, and it appears that the cancer has been halted for now. She cooked us a big meal for Easter and we celebrated together. True to form, she’s headed off on a trip with her husband later this week, headed to places where tulips bloom in rows and rows of wild and glorious colour.

Though it’s not perfect, my marriage feels much more stable than it did a year ago. We’re finding new ways of being truthful with each other and we’re working on rebuilding our trust. It feels hopeful, like there’s something worth fighting for. There are enough salvageable bricks that we can build a relationship that is better but still carries with it the stories of the old one.

It’s because of these stories that I continue to believe in the resurrection. Life comes out of death. Hope emerges out of darkness. Beauty follows surrender. God makes good things grow when we let our egos die.

There are many, many people who will try to tell you otherwise. They’ll try to sell you magic. They’ll try to tell you that life can be easy if you have enough positive thoughts and you surround yourself with people who are always happy, happy, happy. They’ll insist that if you attract good things, you won’t have to suffer.

I’m here to tell you that those people are telling you half-truths. Don’t get caught up in their deception no matter how convincing they are. They’re snake oil salespeople trying to make a quick buck out of your desire for an easy life.

Easiness is not the path to true happiness. Surrender is.

It’s not that I don’t believe in miracles – I do. I’ve seen them happen many, many times.

But the best kind of miracles are those that show up in the middle of the grit and suffering and messiness of life. The best kind of miracles are the hugs from friends when you need it most, the breathtaking sunset that brings tears to your eyes, the offering of support when you feel like you’ll crumble, the first crocus of the season – blooming despite the threat of frost, the fresh baked buns after a year of cancer, the tender touch of a loved one after you’ve regained trust, and the butterfly that flutters past when you’re lost in the woods.

The best kind of miracles don’t take you out of the suffering or make you immune to it, they simply help you bear it.

We need the suffering if we’re going to get to true beauty. We need the dying compost if we’re going to get crocuses in the Spring. We need the gooey chrysalis if we’re going to learn to fly.

Without the death, we wouldn’t get to celebrate the resurrection.

Teaching and Leading in the Ambiguous Spaces

At the beginning of every Creative Writing for Self Discovery class on Thursday evenings, after I ring the bell to welcome people into the circle, I read a poem. Usually it’s from a fairly serious, weighty poet like Mary Oliver or David Whyte. We don’t deconstruct the poem like we all used to do in high school English – we just sit with it for awhile and let it seep into us. Sometimes I read it twice. And then we share the way that the words may have pinched or soothed us.

Yesterday I thought it was time for a bit more whimsy and fun, and so I brought in my favourite Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Places You’ll Go!  Earlier in the day, I’d spent a fair bit of time with the book, coming up with what I thought were some good writing exercises to use as a follow-up to the book. I was well prepared for a fun, engaging, imaginative class.

Before going to class, I read Bob Stilger’s post about a workshop he’d co-hosted in Zimbabwe. Bob wrote an honest critique of how he and the rest of the hosting team had run the kind of session they’d been hired to run but hadn’t done enough to respond to what needed to emerge in the room.  “We did not work well with the needs and hopes present in the room,” he says.

Bob’s words made me wonder, “Am I doing enough to allow the needs and hopes in the room to emerge? Am I creating enough space for people’s stories to be told in the way that they need to tell them, rather than imposing my own style on them?”

This is, after all, why I teach this class in circle instead of a more traditional hierarchical structure. I don’t see myself as the expert in the room, transferring knowledge to my students like a mother bird dropping worms in hungry mouths. I see myself as a co-learner with them, exploring stories as a way to get to our deeper truths. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “I’m not a teacher: only a fellow-traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.”

Yesterday, after reading Oh the Places You’ll Go!, but before launching into the well-planned writing exercises, I asked participants to share the writing they’d done in the week since we’d met. The assignment had been an exploration of personal voice and the passions and delights that are most easily communicated when one speaks in his/her most honest voice. One women shared a beautiful poem that began with words that were something like “my voice rises when I see someone fall.”

The second person to offer something up admitted that she was having a hard time sharing in class. At the first class, she’d openly shared a vulnerable and raw piece about loss and loneliness, but since then something had blocked her from sharing. She feared her writing was all going to the same dark places and she wasn’t sure of the validity and value of that for anyone other than herself.

At that moment, the circle proved its worth. We honoured her reluctance, we recognized her pain, we shared our own pain, and before long we’d entered a deeper place of conversation than we’d been in the past three classes. We talked about the universality of loneliness, and reflected back to Dr. Seuss’ words about the lonely place as one of the “places you’ll go”. We admitted the shame we felt when we’d been lonely in the middle of marriage or parenthood, or a gathering where everyone else is shiny and happy. We talked about the “slumps” and “waiting places” that Dr. Seuss so wisely defined for us.

And then we talked about how these stories connect us with each other and make us feel less alone. We discussed the value of writing these stories and sharing them in order to touch other people’s pain and walk the journey with them. We wrestled with the fine line a writer must walk between being personal and vulnerable, and yet being universal and not too self-absorbed.

Together, we took a deep dive into “the places you’ll go”.

At one point I glanced at the clock and realized that my well-planned exercises would never see the light of day. And when the tiny voice of regret whispered in my ear, I wished it well and sent it on its way. And when the slightly louder voice of my internal critic tried to insist that “you need to maintain order in this class. You need to share your expertise and exercises or people won’t get what they paid for,” I smiled, and then leaned in even closer to the person whose story was slowly and tentatively emerging.

In the end, we let the stories in the room (with a little help from Dr. Seuss) guide our adventure last night. We never got to the assignment, but it didn’t need to be done. We let the whimsy of Dr. Seuss take us from the not-so-good streets to the high heights, past the Bang-ups and Hang-ups, through the Slump and to a place where the streets are not marked. We raced across weirdish wild spaces, sat still in The Waiting Place, found the places where the Boom Bands are playing, let ourselves experience the lonely place where we met things that scare you right out of your pants, and in the end, tried to believe that we will succeed (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed).

Throughout the course of the evening, we went to all the right places, even though none of them were the ones I’d carefully orchestrated.

The further I go down this teaching and leadership journey, the more I realize the value of the ambiguous spaces – the spaces where we let go of our plans, let go of certainty, let go of agendas, let go of “the way things have always been”, and open ourselves to possibility. It is in those spaces that true creativity can emerge. When we let ourselves (and the people we lead & teach) get a little lost, we can write deeper stories, ask deeper questions, and find deeper meaning.

It’s a scary place to go, and it’s hard to convince ourselves (and the people we’re with) that it’s the right place when we’re supposed to be “in charge”. Nobody likes to feel out of control. It’s scary for the leader and it’s scary for the people being lead. (I remember being reprimanded by former staff for letting meetings slip away from the agenda. There was fear of the unknown in those reprimands.)

And yet, if we want to go to deeper places, we have to be more comfortable with ambiguity and confusion. Rather than trying to enforce our own plans, we have to be willing to let the stories in the room shape what needs to be done. With caution and respect, and an intuitive sense of when it’s time to steer the ship back into safer harbour, we as leaders and teachers need to risk security for creativity. Otherwise, we’ll never leave the shallow water and we’ll never know what’s possible.

This greater comfort with ambiguity is, I believe, one of the gifts of feminine wisdom.

And now, for your inspiration, here’s John Lithgow reading Oh the Places You’ll Go!


Wanderers, Edge-walkers, Artists, and Connie Hozvicka

This morning I’ve been working on the latest email for the e-course I originally called “A Path for Happy Wanderers”. Today’s email is all about how I’ve recently come to call myself an edge-walker and how claiming that name has been kind of revolutionary for me.

Ever since I started using that word, I have had quite a few people say “me too!” There seems to be a sense of relief and deep understanding in the people that I’ve talked to – I have named for them their restlessness, the sense that we don’t really fit in with the status quo, and the endless craving for more wisdom, more experiences, and more truth. (Is that the case for you as well?)

As I was working on the email, it occurred to me that a re-naming of the course might be in order. Instead of “A Path for Happy Wanderers” it is now called “A Path for Wanderers and Edge-walkers“. It’s a subtle change, but I think it’s important. I wanted to acknowledge that many of us who are wanderers are also edge-walkers, prophets, truth-tellers, artists, change-makers, and intuitive-thinkers. Wandering isn’t just something we do to kill time – our place at the edge offers us a unique perspective on the world that is vitally important. (By the way, you can sign up any time and start receiving the emails. It’s only $25 and there is a LOT of good content as well as interviews with some pretty amazing people.)

The interview that’s included in the latest email is with one of my favourite fellow-edge-walkers, Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studios. A few months ago, when I was working on the series that I’ve since put on hold (Let go of the Ground), I did a different interview with Connie about what it means for her to let go of the ground and surrender. Because the story she shared fits so well with the theme of wandering and edge-walking, I thought this was a good time to share it.

On an related note, I am delighted to be one of the artists in Connie Hozvicka’s art journaling course, 21 Secrets. Because of the big and beautiful response she received to this latest offering of art journaling secrets, she decided to keep it open for several more months. You can still register for the course and learn all kinds of delightful secrets that will fill your art journal with colour, depth, and some pretty profound truth. (In my workshop, I teach you to use paint to explore your relationship with your body.)

Here’s my conversation with Connie – enjoy!

A tale of two trees – the story of transformation

sapling in a stump

out of the rot of the old, the new will grow

The above image has become my most powerful metaphor this Spring. I discovered it a few weeks ago and have made a couple of pilgrimages back to it since then. Last night Maddy and I braved a swarm of mosquitos to finally take photos of it. (We tried to do a video too, but Maddy was too busy fending off mosquitos to hold the camera still long enough.)

This simple sapling, taking root in the middle of an old rotten stump, has taught me more than many of the teachers in my life.

Out of the rot of the old, the new will grow.

Nobody understands more about transformation than the Creator does. Look at nature, read the story of Easter – it’s all about transformation, and its all intertwined.

Life happens in cycles. Birth, growth, maturity, death, decomposition, regeneration, new birth, and so on and so on.

It’s the same for every one of us. In order for new seeds (ideas, projects, businesses, etc.) to find places to take root, we need other things to die.

When we fail, we need to have the grace and dignity to let those failures sit and rot and become compost for new ideas.

When a project has reached the end of its value, we need to be willing to kill it, watch it decompose, and then watch what new things emerge out of the space it creates.

It’s human nature to want to hang onto the old “tree” (project, lifestyle, career, home, relationship, etc.), because it offers safety, familiarity and strength. But sometimes that tree has already begun to rot from the inside (the places we keep hidden from each other and even from ourselves) and holding onto it is only serving to hinder the growth of the young seedlings lost in its shadow.

Death is hard. Decomposition is excruciating. I know it – I’ve been through more cycles than I care to count. Rot is ugly, painful, and demoralizing. Some days it feels like it will never end. Some days it feels like there is nothing but rot in our lives.

This past year has been that way for me. Lots of ugliness. Lots of wading through rot. Lots of letting go.

Sitting with rot seems counterintuitive, especially in a culture that values productivity and success and climbing social ladders (with sturdy rungs that never succumb to rot). And yet the rot is an important part of the process. The rot creates the nutrients for new growth, and that takes time – LOTS of time. Compost isn’t created out of freshly killed trees. The tree stump in the photo, for example, was probably dead for about ten years before a new seed found enough nutrients there to sustain its growth.

For each of us, it’s the same. When something old has died, we need to give sufficient time for the transformation before we can expect new growth to happen. Patience is the most valuable part of the process.

Don’t rush your way through transformation. Let rot happen.

Note: If you are currently going through a transformation process, you may want to consider working with me as your Transition Guide. Contact me if you have questions.

Are you striving or are you trusting?

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been doing a lot of striving lately. Striving to make my business work, striving to make my relationships work, striving to make my life not seem like a colossal waste of time.

What do I mean by “striving”? Well, for me that’s the word that best describes the panicky, desperate, clawing-for-success effort I put into things when I feel like I’m losing my grip. Striving is all about spinning-my-wheels, addicted-to-action effort, that usually has little to do with what’s in my heart. Striving is the opposite of trusting.

Striving is the space I’m in when I think “if only I could figure out the magic to online marketing like so-and-so, I’ll be able to sell more copies of How to Lead with your Paint Clothes on“.

Or “maybe if I create a few ‘cheap and easy‘ e-courses and sell those first, I’ll be able to generate more of an audience for the ‘hard and soulful’ stuff that’s closer to my heart”.

Or “perhaps I’m not tweeting enough, engaging enough, marketing enough, hanging out with the cool kids enough… etc., etc.”

Or “maybe if I could just get an endorsement from So-and-So-Bigshot I’d have hoardes of people flooding my blog.”

Or “I’m just not going to the right events, meeting the right people, doing the right dance, singing the right songs.”

Or, in the relationship realm, “something’s broken and if I don’t bend over backwards to FIX IT NOW, then I’ll be a failure, the relationship will be a failure, everything will suck, and it will all be MY FAULT.”

Honestly? Striving sucks. It sucks big time. It sucks all of the energy and creativity out of my soul and leaves me depleted and feeling lost.

Striving is the stuff I do when I’m not being true to myself. Striving is the stuff that takes me far from my authentic self, far from my heart, far from the path I feel called to.

Striving is almost always about comparing myself to other people and finding myself lacking.

And the truth is, striving never works. Striving takes me down a dead-end-road every single time. Maybe not right away (sometimes there are momentary rewards that make it seem worthwhile), but in the end, it’s always the same – failure.

Whenever I’ve attempted any kind of suck-out-my-soul marketing, or paste-a-cheery-face-on networking, I fail. I can’t lie to my heart. I can’t “fake it”. I can’t cozy up to So-and-So-Bigshot or market like Big-Shiny-Expert – I just can’t. It’s not me and it never will be.

I’m learning the same about relationships. When I’m giving away pieces of my heart that don’t feel right to give away, or participating in things that feel like betrayal to my heart, I’m losing and the relationship isn’t really working (even though it may temporarily seemed fixed because of my actions).

If I can’t sell the things that are true to my heart, that evolve out of my deepest truths, then I might as well go get that job as a postal carrier that I’ve been tempted to get. Because at least walking the neighbourhood delivering people’s mail feels authentic and honest and doesn’t turn me into a big fat self-loathing fraud.

Authenticity is the only way I know how to live. I mean REALLY live, not just “get by”.

A meditation teacher once taught me “When you’re sitting in meditation, and a thought enters your mind, don’t try to judge it or chase it away. Just label it ‘thinking’ and let it pass. And then when the next thought comes, do the same with it.”

I’ve started to apply that teaching to my temptation to strive. Whenever I sense myself doing that inauthentic, desperate-for-sucess striving, I simply label it “striving” and then let it pass. Once it is past, I try once more to lean into trust.

Because trust is the only thing that can replace striving. Trust in God. Trust in my own authentic heart. Trust that even if I fail, I will be okay and my failings don’t define me as a failure. Trust that Sophia God is calling me down this path for a reason, even if that reason seems blurry these days. Trust that there is goodness and abundance available for me.

Trust that the best thing I can offer the world is not a reasonable facsimile of Big-Shiny-Expert, but authentic, beautiful, flawed, honest me.

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