Earlier today, I posted this on Facebook:
Let’s pretend we’re setting off on a long, leisurely walk together. Just you and I. We’re walking along the shore, an eagle is flying overhead, there’s just the right kind of gentle breeze on our faces. We dip our toes in the water now and then. Now, tell me… what would you like to talk about if you had all the time in the world for a conversation?
A little while later, after people had shared what they’d love to talk about, and several said they’d like to simply walk in silence, I said this:
The sun is shining. There’s nothing urgent I need to do. I’m going out for a real walk. I’ll pretend I’m taking you all with me.
On a whim, while I was walking, I started sharing photos from my walk, with the hashtag #ifyouwereherewithme. Here’s the sequence. Imagine we were on that walk together.
If you were here with me, I’d take you to my favourite place to wander, where deer often greet me and butterflies flit among the milkweed.
If you were here with me, we’d sit for a spell when the conversation got so juicy we’d need to look into each other’s eyes.
If you were here with me, I’d introduce you to the tree I call the Dancing Goddess Tree because of the way she reaches her thick limbs to the sky in praise.
If you were here with me, I’d tell you about the Spring I sat on the stone bench among the birch trees and wept because I realized I’d lived through a whole season without my mom.
If you were here with me, I’d invite you to leave the beaten path and step into the wild with me.
If you were here with me, we’d stop to stare in awe at the eagle circling above our heads.
If you were here with me, I’d tell you how I dream of living by water, and how the Red River near my house has to suffice for now.
If you were here with me, I’d tell you about the time I broke my foot and felt such a strong hunger for this place, I had my husband drop me off at the gate so I could limp part way in on crutches.
If you were here with me, I’d pour you a glass of iced tea and invite you to sit awhile when our wandering was done.
Thanks for coming for a walk with me!
Note: Read all the way to the end of this post to find out how to enter to win free registration to Spectrum: A holistic visual journaling workshop.
“All transitions are composed of an ending, a neutral zone and a new beginning” – William Bridges
In my last post, I talked about how the journey from Story A to Story B is almost always longer and more complex than we expect it to be. As the second diagram suggests, we must enter the labyrinth of transformation, release the old story on the journey in, sit quietly at the centre and wait patiently to receive what is there for us, and then make the return journey out of the labyrinth and into the new story that’s ready to emerge.
Several people have contacted me to say that the post resonated and that they find themselves in that in-between place. Some of them express their discomfort and want to know “what should I be doing in the in-between place?”
Here are some of my thoughts on how to live in the in-between place:
1. Let go of the mindset that you have to DO something. We are products of a culture that has convinced us that in order to have value, we must be active, we must produce things, and we must – at all costs – stay busy. I know it’s hard to break away from old patterns, but that mindset will not serve you well in this journey. New seeds do not grow on ground that is plowed every day. Nor can the land continue to be fruitful if it is not allowed to lie dormant through the winter. We need to learn a lesson from trees, release our fruit in the harvest season, release our leaves so that our trunks do not need to keep pumping sap through them and risk freezing, and simply lie dormant over the quiet season. Only then will we be ready to receive what is waiting for us at the centre. Only then can the new story begin to grow.
2. Be quiet. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3) The in-between place is not a time for a lot of noise or conversation. It’s a more introverted time – a time to sit in your own silence and wait patiently for the wisdom to come. Turn off social media, cancel the parties, and just be quiet with yourself for awhile. The deepest wisdom in our hearts can’t be heard above the noise. If you can, go away for a silent retreat for a few days, or at least find time regularly to wander in the woods or in labyrinths.
3. Find the practices that sustain you and take you to a deeper place. This may be the time to bring in a new practice – dancing, yoga, meditation, Mandala Discovery, art journaling, walking, photography, etc. Find something that helps you get in touch with yourself and release the old stories.
4. Find an incubator where the new story can begin to grow in safety. It’s hard to believe in the new story that’s emerging if everyone you know is still stuck in old stories. To nurture your new story, find places where you feel safe trusting in what is possible. Find people (online or in person) who are also inviting in new stories and be intentional about supporting each other and growing new stories together.
5. Break away from the things that keep you stuck in the old story. This may mean you have to walk away from old jobs and unhealthy relationships. It may mean giving up some of your volunteer commitments that keep you too busy to walk the labyrinth. Be courageous in seeking what you know you need to get through this. Practice saying “no, this is not what I need right now”.
6. Be as honest as you need to be with the people around you. Be clear about your needs. You may need to tell your life partner “I need to be by myself for awhile. This is not about you – it’s about what I need for this transition I’m going through. I would appreciate your support.” It may mean you’ll need to tell your Mom “This is what is now true for me. It might make you uncomfortable, and it might not be true for you, but I’m asking you to respect my journey anyway.”
7. Allow yourself to grieve and to hospice the old story into its death. You’re letting go of something important. It’s a story that has sustained you for a long time. Don’t take that lightly. Allow yourself to properly grieve its loss. Don’t rush through the sadness or any of the other emotions that show up. Offer respect and gratitude to the old story for the role it played in your life. Give yourself permission to really feel this pain.
8. Be patient. The most difficult thing about this in-between place is that it doesn’t end as quickly as we want it to. Old stories need time to die. New stories need time to germinate. You won’t serve either story well if you rush from one to the next. You won’t serve yourself well if you don’t take the time that’s needed in between.
9. Remember that your journey is your own. No two journeys through this will look the same, so you’ll need to trust your own wisdom to get you through. You can seek advice from other people, read books about it, or take classes, but at the end of the day, nobody can know exactly what you need except for you. Trust that. Learn to listen for the voice of intuition.
10. Lean on a Higher Power. You’re not walking through this alone. God/dess wants to walk the journey with you, supporting you and holding you up when you get weary. Practice doing the things that help you get in touch with the God of your understanding – pray, meditate, be in nature, go to the synagogue, etc. Trust that something bigger than you wants this new story to emerge just like you do.
What’s your experience of the in-between place? Do you have any other points you’d like to add or any questions you’d like to ask? Add a comment to this post for your chance to win free registration to Spectrum: A holistic visual journaling workshop (where I’ll be teaching a workshop related to this post, on an art journal process inspired by labyrinths). Contest closes Friday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m. central.
Also, don’t forget that you have until Saturday morning to register for Mandala Discovery.
Note: All links to Spectrum are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a portion of the registration fees if you register through these links.
“Do not be afraid of the empty place. It is the source we must return to if we are to be free of the stories and habits that entrap us.” – Charles Eisenstein
I’ve been having a lot of internal dialogues lately, and one of the conversations sounds a lot like this:
Me 1: “Mandala Discovery starts again on Saturday. Why aren’t you doing a better job of marketing it?”
Me 2: “I don’t know. I’m really struggling with marketing lately. Marketing language gets stuck in my throat.”
Me 1: “But you don’t have to be a traditional marketer to make this work. You just have to offer affiliate programs for past participants, buy Facebook ads, send out multiple reminders to your list, blah, blah, blah. Oh… And you have to be more clear about what they get for their investment. People don’t understand just how good Mandala Discovery is because your language is too vague.”
Me 2: “But… The trouble is, I can’t tell them exactly what they’ll get for their investment. Every journey through this will be different and they’ll each find what they need on the journey. I can’t tell them what need will be filled because I don’t know their unique needs.”
Me 1: “How do you think you’ll ever be a successful entrepreneur if you don’t learn to speak in clear marketing lingo? You’ve worked in PR for a long time – surely you know how to tell the story that will sell the product. ‘You want to get to Story B and you’re stuck at Story A? Buy this simple product and you’ll have guaranteed success.’”
Me 2: “That really doesn’t work for me. Nothing I sell fits into the ‘simple product’ category. I don’t offer simplicity. I offer complexity. I invite people into the ‘empty place’ (that Charles Eisenstein talks about in that quote at the top of this page). You can’t put that empty place on a sales page.”
And so it goes, on and on, with Me 1 trying to be more financially successful and Me 2 trying to be more authentic.
Me 2 usually wins, but Me 1 is stuck in some old stories about worthiness and conventional wisdom, and so the dialogue continues.
Last week, I had a series of a-ha moments that have helped me clarify my work even further. First of all, I was working with the leadership team of a local organization that was going through a major transition. When I did individual coaching with each of the people involved, I realized that the stories they were each living in were not in alignment with the direction the organization was heading. In the group conversation I hosted, these stories started coming out, and they realized that the true story that was emerging was very different from what they’d thought was needed. Embracing this true story meant that they would have to release something that was very important for all of them, and possibly even close the doors of the business. This came with a lot of grief that they will have to work through in the coming months. I was reminded, as I held the container for their stories to emerge, that part of my work is to help people and organizations navigate this difficult journey of grief and change in an authentic way.
The work I deeply believe in is not a simple step from Story A to Story B – it’s the releasing of Story A, living in the complexity and grief of that loss, and then being in the empty place where Story B can begin to emerge.
A similar thing happened in my coaching work recently. A client had hired me for three sessions, and in the first session a few months ago, she was trying to decide what her true work was and whether she should leave her job or change jobs to step into something new that felt more purposeful. Finally, however, in the third session, she admitted what she really wanted. “I don’t really want to have a purpose right now. I just want to BE for awhile. I don’t want to DO. I just want to give myself permission to SIT.”
And so, instead of giving her ten easy steps on how to move from story A to story B, we worked on what that empty place would look like and how she could give herself permission to be in it, spending time in play and stillness. She’s now got plans to go away on a personal retreat and to spend time creating a quilt that has no planned outcome, design, or recipient.
Again and again, as I do this work, I hear the longing in people’s hearts for real transformation. In the longing is the assumption (or desperate hope, or outside pressure of family and friends) that they can find a simple fix that will help them move from Story A to Story B. That’s what the marketers have been telling us for years, and so that’s what we want to believe. “Buy this car and you’ll finally feel good about yourself. Use this skin cream and you’ll never age. Take this course and your confidence will grow. Sign up for these coaching sessions and you’ll magically be ready to step into your bigness.”
But when I go deeper with my clients, they recognize that their authentic journeys have nothing to do with the easy steps the marketers want to sell them. Real transformation doesn’t work that way. Real transformation is much more complex and nuanced, and doesn’t fit into bullet points.
As the illustration suggests, we all want the bullet points that will help us take a direct path from Story A to Story B. But the truth is, the bullet points short circuit the change and Story B doesn’t really have an opportunity to grow out of it.
If we really want Story B to emerge, we have to be willing to let go of Story A, take the winding journey through the labyrinth, and wait for Story B to emerge naturally.
There are three stages to the labyrinth journey. When we journey inward, we release. When we cross the threshold and stand at the centre, we receive. When we journey outward, we return. But we don’t return to Story A. We take what we have received at the centre, we allow ourselves to be transformed, and we follow where the path is leading to Story B.
It’s easy to sell the bullet point, but it’s much harder to sell the labyrinth.
Nobody wants to step into complexity and messiness. Nobody wants to feel lost and confused.
We want short cuts through the grief and emptiness that comes when we let go of Story A, and so we go shopping, we overeat, we sign up for courses, and we try to bury our fear in staying busy. Instead of sitting still at the centre of the labyrinth, we rush to find our new purpose.
Instead of releasing and stepping into trust, we hang on tightly to stories that no longer serve us.
Instead of risking the pain of growth, we try to fool ourselves with the ten easy steps to a better life.
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 shows above, 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.
I want to be part of that Story of Connection, and that is why I will never sell you what you don’t need, or try to convince you that anything I offer will provide you with an easy solution.
I won’t get rich doing this work, but that’s not one of my values anyway. Getting rich would simply help me hang onto that Story of Separation.
What I would much rather do is invite you to let go of the stories that no longer serve you and step into the labyrinth with me.
I can’t promise you that it will be easy or that the path will be smooth. From personal experience, I know that transformation is rarely easy or smooth. There will be grief, you will have to step into the shadows, and there will be moments when you’ll feel completely lost. Some days, in fact, you will probably regret that you accepted my invitation to step onto this journey.
In the end, though, it will be worth it. The new story will be more beautiful than anything you’ve had to release. You will gradually find your way into your authentic heart, and that is the most beautiful place that you can live. Along the journey you will find other pilgrims who are also finding their way through the grief and shadows, and you will discover that being in community is much better than living a self-sufficient life.
If this is a place you’d like to go, then I invite you to start with Mandala Discovery. You’ll receive 30 prompts that will guide you through a labyrinthian journey into your own heart.
If you want to go even deeper, consider one-on-one coaching and/or a journey through Lead with Your Wild Heart.
p.s. In my desire to live in the gift economy, I look for ways to support people that doesn’t involve financial transactions. If you are interested in any of my programs and do not have sufficient financial resources, please contact me to see if we can work something else out.
I am home after nearly two weeks of journeying across the prairies. It was amazing. I am replenished, encouraged, and feeling full of the goodness of this earth and the people on it.
I am still on a bit of a high and not entirely sure that I have the right words to articulate what this journey meant for me, but I’m going to try anyway, before it slips too far into the past and is lost in a sea of other stories that want to be told.
Part 1: Journey to myself
“In solitude, at last, we’re able to let God define us the way we are always supposed to be defined—by relationship: the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence itself. Not performance but presence.” – Richard Rohr
Though I could have easily gotten to Calgary with one long day of driving (and have done it many times), I chose to make the trip in two days so that I could savour the trip and enjoy a night of camping by myself. As Richard Rohr writes in Falling Upward, the older I get and the more I learn to love and understand myself, the more I enjoy my own company.
From the moment I left the city limits, I knew there was going to be something special about this journey. It was a stunningly beautiful day, with the kind of fluffy, storybook clouds artists and photographers pine for. It was also the perfect season, when there are still rich summer greens mixed with subtle autumn golds, browns and reds. The canola and flax are in full bloom, the wheat and barley fields are readying themselves for harvest, the round bales are beginning to be laid out across golden hay fields, and the calves born in early summer are strong, virile, and rambunctious.
Everywhere I looked, the prairies seemed to be laying out their finery for me. I couldn’t resist stopping for photos of bright red barns set against bold blue skies, fields where flax flowers flowed like the waves on a peaceful sea, and ditches where butterflies and dragonflies danced from wildflower to wildflower.
When I pulled into Regina, I stopped for a bottle of wine and a cheap plastic wine glass (to enhance the picnic I’d brought from home) and headed to my campsite by a lake. The first thing I spotted at the campsite was a shiny loonie (dollar) on the ground – like someone had left it as a good luck charm.
Pushing through a broad strip of clover that stood higher than my head and smelled of heaven, I came to the lake. There in front of me, for no reason I could ascertain, was a picnic table half submerged in water. I waded out to the table and sat on it for awhile, snapping photos of fishermen, seagulls and rocks. The sun was about two hours from sunset, as far as I could tell, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of its setting. So I brought my picnic lunch and journal to the table and spent the next two hours on my little wooden island in the lake, hidden from view from most people by the huge stand of clover along the shore.
Those two hours were magical. My senses were heightened after a day full of prairie beauty, and every angle, every bit of light, every shadow, every rock, every bird, every line, and every reflection was drenched in beauty. For two hours I sat in awe, watching the light change on the lake and the clouds glow in the sky. God’s presence was palpable. It was one of those thin places that the Celts talk about, where heaven and earth collide.
After the sun set, and night began to drift across the lake, I lit a fire at my campsite and had another magical hour of capturing light of a different kind – orange, glowing, flickering, pushing against the darkness. From the largeness of the sunset sky to the smallness of my cast iron fire pit – I was mesmerized by light.
The next day was much like the one before, with equally piercing blue skies and impossibly white clouds. I wandered on the beach, took pictures of more birds, feathers, and rocks, and then started the drive to Calgary. At one point, a storm rolled in, and the clouds changed to dark and dramatic. After two days of beauty, I wasn’t surprised to see a rainbow show up.
By the end of the day, I felt like I had just been courted by a devoted lover who was doing everything s/he could to make me feel special. In the words of Richard Rohr in the quote above, I was very much in “the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence itself.” I found God on the prairies and God laid out the finest that the prairies had to offer to make sure I felt loved.
For more photos of my prairie journey, here’s a little video I put together.
Part 2: Journey to my family
“Always remember, there was nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name.” – The Avett Brothers
The purpose for my trip to Calgary was to visit my oldest brother, Brad, who’d been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks earlier and had had a three foot section of his colon removed the week before. When I’d heard about his cancer, I’d felt an intense need to spend time with him, and so I took advantage of the opportunity. It’s been a hard year for our family, after losing Mom to cancer in November, so the bond between us feels especially important.
If you met my big brother, you might marvel at the many ways that our world views are different, and – on the surface level – you might even question how we find common ground. His politics lean further right than mine do, he’d rather spend the afternoon in a hockey rink while I’d choose an art studio, and he doesn’t see the point in much of the self-discovery or community-building reading and writing I do while I’d be bored to tears with the kind of detail-oriented computer coding he does. (It almost seems like a cliche that he has a degree in math and I have a degree in literature.)
And yet… if you looked at only those things, you’d be missing a lot. For one thing, there’s something about 47 years of shared history, stories, jokes, faith, questions, and grief that creates a common language that few people in the world can understand. There is great safety and comfort in that common language, especially after you’ve lost a few of the only people on earth who know it. When you are in a place where you can speak that language and ask those questions without fear of judgement, it is worth more than gold.
And there’s another thing… unleash us in the mountains, on the prairies, or by the seashore with our cameras, and both of us can wander happily for hours. (Or – in the case this week – lament the fact that we can’t wander for hours due to a recently broken foot and major surgery.) And then we can sit together on the couch for another couple of hours going through the pictures to find the few in which we’ve captured the light just right.
In those things, there is plenty of common ground to make a trip across two provinces after a cancer scare an indescribably worthwhile thing to do.
I didn’t know how this visit would go, and frankly, I was a little worried to see what cancer was doing to my normally energetic and adventurous brother. On top of that, my sister-in-law (whom I also love dearly, and would easily cross two provinces for as well), has been dealing with some pretty heavy things this year, and my teenage niece has had an interesting recent time of learning more about her identity as well.
I expected their home to be full of turmoil and sadness… and yet… it wasn’t. There was a surprising amount of peace and grace in their home, not to mention a whole lot of love. My brother has a remarkable capacity for accepting life as it is and enjoying every moment that he can, and my sister-in-love has a remarkable capacity for making meaning of what is and articulating it in a way that shines new light into it. Plus they both have a deep faith that sustains them and gives them hope.
One of the most poignant moments of the visit was when I stood next to my brother in church (yes, he’s stubborn enough to go to church two days after being released from the hospital) and sang “Come Thou Fount”, a song that has a rich history in our family and was sung at both of our parents’ funerals. “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.” The Bible verse that those lines are inspired by was made into a wall hanging for Mom and Dad’s 25th anniversary, and hung in their home for twenty-three years after that until Dad died and the farm was sold.
Another poignant moment was standing at the shores of Lake Louise on a drive into the mountains. My recently broken foot and his surgery wounds meant that we couldn’t walk far, but it felt like a moment of grace to be able to stand there with him and Sue, enjoying the beauty around us. We are all broken people, heading inevitably to our deaths, and yet there are moments of beauty, grace, and light, and for that we carry on in this journey.
Part 3: The journey to others
“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” ~ Flora Edwards
The final destination on this journey was a small prairie town, perched on the border between Saskatchewan and North Dakota, that looked a lot like the prairie town I grew up in. In North Portal, people trust each other enough to not only leave their doors unlocked but to leave the border unlocked. When you go golfing, you start out in one country and end in another, and they trust you to leave the parking lot through the same entrance (Canadian or American) that you entered through – no passport required. There used to be churches on either side of the border, but when their numbers dwindled, they joined and now meet in the new Canadian church in winter and in the older American church in summer.
In that town, there is an old school building that looks a lot like the place I spent the first nine years of my school life. There are not enough kids in town to fill it anymore, so they started bussing the kids to another town and sold the building to one of the townsfolk who put a friendly neighbourhood bar in one classroom and rents the other classrooms out to artists, healers, and others who need space.
In that building, Visions Art Guild holds their annual retreat. It’s a blissful week of summer camp for artists, with the local church ladies catering their meals, and everyone pitching in to do the dishes and keep the place clean. During the day, they make lots of art, have occasional inspirational sessions, and encourage each others’ creativity. In the evenings, they drink wine, make a little more art if they feel like it, and have a few good belly laughs (especially on the night of Frida Fest, when everyone dresses as their favourite Frida Kahlo painting or photo).
Every second year, they bring in a facilitator to inspire them in some area of growth. This year I was that lucky facilitator. On the theme of journey, I was invited to do three full sessions (a couple of hours each), three mini-sessions (about 45 minutes each), and one-on-one coaching sessions for anyone who wanted them (nine sessions). In between I got to make my own art and wander from station to station being inspired by the different styles and different mediums. Some worked in acrylics, watercolour, and oil, one added tiny twirly stitches to art prints, one did beautiful beadwork, one made fanciful beings out of found objects, one played with adding fabric prints of her prairie photos to her loomed rugs, one incorporated hand-dyed paper with natural objects, and one worked on a complex mixed media collage backdrop for her fanciful raven drawings. I dabbled with acrylics, watercolours, and mandalas, and took a lot of photos.
At the beginning of our week together, one of the retreatants helped me make a labyrinth in the grass, and that became the foundation of our exploration into the theme of journey. On the second day, I read Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, made road signs for the twelve places in the journey from the book (the prickly perch, the waiting place, etc.), and added those to the labyrinth. In addition, I’d collaged the words they’d sent me in response to some advance journal prompts onto a long piece of paper that represented the journey we were on for the week, and that piece of paper became a group art project that we added to throughout the week. We also made prayer flags to represent the things we most want to invite into our lives, our art, and our relationships.
What can I say about that week? For starters, it was SO MUCH FUN! Hanging out with artists and being inspired by their creative techniques and their capacity to see beauty made my own artist heart soar. For another thing, it was SO RELAXING! Yes, I was facilitating and coaching, but there was just so little pressure and the women in the group were delightful to work with and host in circle. They were receptive and responsive to my questions, they jumped into my activities with their whole hearts, and they embraced me as one of their own. And for another thing, it was very, very FULFILLING. In the coaching conversations, when I saw their faces soften with some new wisdom that was growing in them, and in the circle when I saw them opening themselves to new stories that will help them walk in the world with new courage, I knew that God was working through me to create safe space for their authenticity to show up.
This is my absolute favourite kind of work – gathering women in circle and fostering their growth, creativity, and leadership. This is the kind of work that feels so much like play I almost feel guilty when they pay me at the end of the week.
I left that little prairie border town feeling like I was floating on a cloud. That beautiful circle of women gifted me with more than I could have possibly gifted them. They gave me tangible gifts (shoes, jewelry, a hand-woven rug, artist trading cards, and more), but the intangible gifts were far greater. They gave me love, acceptance, inspiration, and trust.
Part 4: The scary part of the journey that reminds me of the value of all the rest
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I would never have to live without you.” ~Winnie the Pooh
This part of the journey was so brief it hardly bears mentioning, and yet it was so impactful it belongs on this page.
About an hour before I got home, driving along a single lane highway, a half-ton truck coming toward me swerved into my lane when it was only about 100 metres away and came at me full speed. I swerved onto the gravel shoulder on my right, and then the truck swerved there too, looking like the driver was determined to kill me. I swerved left (thankfully there was no other traffic), missed the speeding truck by mere inches, and then started spinning out of control, convinced I would end up rolling in the ditch. I finally came to a stop in the middle of the road, and turned back into my lane.
In the rearview mirror, I could see that the truck had turned around and was coming toward me again. I took off as quickly as I could, not interested in sticking around to see if they were coming to check if I was okay and apologize or try to kill me again.
The rest of the way home, my heart was racing, and I kept bursting into spontaneous tears. Just the day before, while still at the retreat, I’d gotten an email from Brad saying that the prognosis on his cancer is not good, that it has spread to his liver and possibly his lungs, and that – even with chemo and surgery – there is an 80% chance the cancer will kill him within 5 years. Between my near-death moment and the knowledge that I might soon lose my brother, life started feeling exceedingly fragile.
When I got home, hugs from my kids and a hot bath helped calm me down. I had to host a call for Lead with Your Wild Heart, so I did what I could to centre myself and be present for whoever showed up. Fortunately, the call morphed into a delightful hour-long conversation about the value of hosting meaningful conversations in circle, and I became energized talking about the work that most inspires me. That call also inspired me to write the following on Facebook:
Life is short. I know it sounds cliched, but believe me – it is. One day you find out there is an 80% chance your brother’s cancer may kill him in less than 5 years, and the next day a crazy driver tries to kill you, and then you find out a dear friend is having eye and kidney complications far away in South Africa and you can’t hug her, and everything just feels so fragile that you want to gather everyone around you and hug them and tell them to BE REAL, BE PRESENT, and BE GOOD TO EACH OTHER. There is just NO DAMN POINT in wasting your time doing things that are not authentic and full of love and true to the purpose God put you on this earth for.
Please… do me a favour, and stop wasting your time with lies and masks and artificial lives. Stop trying to please the people who don’t have your best interests at heart. Stop trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal that has nothing to do with who you are. Stop trying to find your happiness in money and possessions and fake happiness. Find people who believe in the beauty that is in you, hang onto them, and don’t stop holding each other until you all emerge with more courage to do the things the world is longing for you to do. And then hold onto each other some more, until you have spread every last bit of love God has put in you to spread and your work on this earth is done.
I nearly died on the highway today, and that moment shook me to the core, but at least I can say one thing… I would have spent my last week on earth doing EXACTLY the kind of work that I was put on this earth for – hosting REAL people in circle, giving them a safe space to be authentic, encouraging their creativity, and inviting them to live to their most beautiful potential.
I will keep doing this work and spreading this love until my time is done. Are you with me?
And with that, I end this part of my journey but continue on with the ongoing journey of my life, loving the people around me, living in the beauty that God is making of me, and serving the world with the gifts that have been entrusted to me with whatever time is left for me on this earth.
If you’re on a similar journey to a deeper place, and could use a guide to help you, consider signing up for one of my “Back to School” coaching sessions.