Saturday, February 26, 2011

The million-dollar garbage can

These past couple of weeks have offered up a fair share of upheaval in my life.  To wit, a couple of uncomfortable not-quite-knowing-what’s-going-on days with The Robert, a difficult career-related meeting, and a very challenging facilitating session – basically, mayhem.  Here’s a brief synopsis … bear with me, a theme does emerge!

The Robert and I had a conversation during which I pushed his buttons without realizing it, and his response to that was to withdraw.  The temperature of his usually warm emails plunged to a distinctly cool reading.  My experience of that is that I’ve done something wrong, and I’m incapable or incompetent when it comes to relationship.

Then, in a meeting where huge decisions needed to be made about the direction of our business, the only comment that I heard was that I hadn’t been able to work sufficiently well with our local district to have a garbage can moved from one corner of the street to the other.  Again, I heard strains of “You’re No Good” coursing through my brain.

Fast forward.  That evening.  I am to facilitate a group session in which we must come to a couple of decisions that affect a larger group.  I wasn’t able to corral the troops or report back that we had succeeded.  Again.  Abject failure.

Wow.  What the heck was going on?  I mean, all of this was so loud I had to sit up and pay attention.  And then it hit me.  It was like waking up after you’ve fallen asleep at the wheel. You are in motion and you need to get back on the right-hand side of the road to refresh your trajectory.  I was unconscious to the fact that I was letting my cracked identity lead the way.  Wherever the notion of incompetence, not good enough, or stupidity pointed, I followed.  It was in the driver’s seat.  I was hell-bent down the path of self-invalidation.  And not for the first time.

This time was different though.  I woke up in time to “keep ’er twixt the ditches”.  What was even louder than all this was a profound sense that I could experience this differently.  I could let in other information – such as the summons from the House of Parliament in Ottawa to be at a press conference in West Vancouver first thing the next morning.  (It turned out to be a long-waited-for announcement of over a million dollars being invested in our village to allow greater traffic to all of our businesses.  And I had played a role over the past few years in helping to make that happen.)  And the group facilitation was as much a crucible for learning as it was a necessary decision-making piece.  And The Robert – well aren’t relationships about finding out about what buttons are still hot ones?  And can’t we learn and heal those pieces through discomfort?  I believe we can.

So after a very challenging and emotional week, I am choosing to resonate more deeply with the truth – and believe that I am not incompetent or stupid. My intent is to make good use of that garbage can.

Authentically yours,


Monday, February 14, 2011



Happy Valentine’s Day.

Authentically yours, Buns and Marty!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What is this for?

Hey Buns,
Congrats on stepping into those risky exposed places in your relationship with The Robert…or in reality, with yourself. As scary as it can be I applaud your commitment to honesty. You too Robert. Can you hear me clapping? It’s a good sound.

I feel like I have been off the radar for a while now. Not hiding out so much as allowing myself an experience that invites all feelings without the need to change them. Not a problem when the feelings are happiness or joy. I can’t recall a time when I said to myself, I feel so flipping fantastic and full of life, wonder how long this will last. It is much harder to allow when the feelings that arise are grrr…and ouch…do you know what I mean?

I recognize my core nature as joyful and passionate. When I am feeling other, more uncomfortable feelings like helplessness or powerlessness it’s much more difficult to not try to get rid of them in order to return to the state I know and love. This is my challenge, to accept ALL feelings with an equal and welcoming reception. So I have been saying yes to grrr…and yes to ouch….and yes to NOT understanding things or trying to shift them.

The one question that keeps recurring throughout all of these growing pains (which is how I am viewing this period) is how long is long enough? And by the very nature of that question I insinuate that I want a shift and therefore perpetuate the experience. So while I know perfectly well how to change my state in terms of getting busy, getting passionate about a project, having a blast with friends, I am choosing to simply be with this particular state trusting that there is a reason for it, that information will arise in direct correlation to my openness, my surrender to not knowing, to being neutral about being uncomfortable and remaining curious about the whole dance. Yes, this too is a dance and one that my ego finds particularity grueling.

I am trusting that my state will shift and transform on its own if I receive myself here with compassion and grace. And I would not be honest if I did not say that every time I get a glimpse of the Me that I recognize as my Core, every time I feel that joyful essence bubbling up in me, I want to do a happy dance and launch into a refrain of She’s baaaack, like Jack Nicholson entering a room with maniacal glee in The Shining.

So how long is long enough? How long does one allow a feeling state that involves uncomfortable stretching and feelings? You know the answer…as long as it takes. Our egos do not like this. Certainly mine does not!
And as I veto the usual distractions knowing that whatever you avoid or try to get rid of returns with a vengeance, I know that the opening for me is in knowing that there is meaning in ALL experiences if you ask the right question…face the right direction.
By right I mean expansive. Asking ‘why’ questions, like ‘Why is this happening to me?’ is victim energy and it narrows your experience into cause and effect…into a little box. Asking ‘What is this for?’

broadens perception and invites you to find meaning even in pain, even in feelings you would rather not be feeling.

What is this feeling for? What is this experience for? Now of course to open to this question you would have to accept the possibility that there are no good feelings or bad feelings, there are simply feelings.
I will forever be indebted to my Buddhist teacher who I studied with many years ago. She responded to me with the same gentle, loving reception whether I brought her my passionate highs or despondent lows. I didn’t understand it, not at all! I actually judged her as unemotional at first since her demeanor did not change with the material I was presenting.
Then it dawned on me I WAS THE ONE JUDGING AND EVALUATING MY EXPERIENCE, not her. I had boxes for what was good and boxes for what was bad. I began to question where I had learned that one feeling is good and another is bad. I looked at my family system and the rules around different feelings. Which were acceptable, which were not….and I changed the lens on the glasses I was looking at my life through. I began to change my relationship to my feelings. I began to say to myself, who knows if this is good or this is bad?

Feelings simply are part of the human experience…all feelings. They offer information in a language that is not necessarily cognitive. Feeling language is like another channel, no less valuable than thought, simply different. Following feelings brings me to depths I cannot experience solely hearing my minds dictates. Following the threads of feelings into myself brings me to my Authentic Core. And yes that is a journey that I still want to control and sped up. And sometimes it just takes it own sweet time.

To hear and understand the language of the unconscious, of feelings, the approach is not complicated. It may be uncomfortable depending on the feeling yet the approach is always the same. YOU ALLOW. You get your interpretations and evaluations out of the way by centering yourself with breath. Breathing past the noise in one’s head and accepting what is in the PRESENT moment. You breathe into your body and own it, feel it without any need to get rid of or change it. That is surrender. That is acceptance. You accept yourself in the present feeling and it will transform.
No feeling will last forever. The avoidance of feeling however can perpetuate a state of depression…where you become hostage to the continual, vigilant and exhaustive act of numbing out or repressing a feeling. THAT takes all your energy and you end up feeling depressed. It is not natural to control feelings. It is an act learned in childhood, based on a fear of being judged unacceptable and it will zap all your energy. It IS natural to learn to contain feelings inside the body, to have freedom around what you express and share, yet open to feeling everything. That is radically different than controlling or eliminating feelings.

When we behave in a way that suggests our feelings are a problem, we are in essence saying we are a problem, there is something wrong with us and we must change. It’s not the feelings that are problematic, its ones relationship to feeling the feeling! It’s your evaluation of what it means about you.

So here I am, loving the choice to enjoy a latte while I write, a simple pleasure that I relish. I open to trusting that the answer to ‘ what is this for?’ will become clear when it becomes clear. I plan to share that with you soon….or sooner rather than later…or WAIT…WHENEVER…big breath…whenever it IS clear….

Saturday, February 5, 2011

You say "potato", I say "potahto"

Let’s call the whole thing off.  Or at least that’s where I thought The Robert and I were headed yesterday.  We had settled into a lovely pattern of waking up to emails, phonecalls each morning, a couple of little missives during the day, and a goodnight email.  Then suddenly his pattern shifted noticeably.  No daily rise-and-shine messages,  only one-word notes during the day, and although the phonecalls continued, the silence at his end was deafening.  My first reaction was to go to a very well-inhabited old shoe – the “I guess I’m not good enough”, “or I’m not worth it” place and I felt a familiar clenching in the pit of my stomach. You could hear the doors of my heart starting to creak shut. 

But then I came to my senses.  I needed to look at this from a centred-as-Self place, and not a self-centred place.  That helped.  It gave me the space to become curious about my reaction and have a different experience.  So, making no assumptions, taking nothing personally, and at the same time being truthful with The Robert, I asked him what was going on.  And I told him how I was feeling and what had been activated in me.  I owned my not-good-enough piece.  He didn’t say too much but enough to let me know that the burden of the distance between us is weighing heavily on him and he doesn’t know what to do about it.  He is a problem-solver by trade, and this to him is a problem that he can’t solve.  He ended the conversation and I still felt heaviness in my heart.  I had the feeling he was strugging with how to tell me this couldn’t go on. 

Later in the day, he sent me the longest email I have ever received from him.  It was very articulate, it helped me see where he was coming from and it gave us the beginning of an incredibly intimate, loving, and healing conversation the next morning.

He had spent a sleepless night, worrying about the shape I was in.  He doesn’t think he can make me happy in the long run because we are so very different.  I told him he can’t make me happy in the short, medium, or long term because that’s not his job.  I asked him if he really meant that he wouldn’t be happy in the long run.  We talked a lot about his discomfort with these kinds of conversations.  And yet, what I know of him is that he is incredibly supportive of other people’s processes, listens well, and has good advice for them.  As long as it’s not his stuff.  I suggested that we had mocked each other up so that we could both experience a relationship in which we are scathingly truthful about ourselves and evolve from that.  He’s not so sure about that one yet.

What we came to was this.  My primacy of interaction is from a spiritual and mental source, and my emotional and physical planes are less obvious (both to me and those around me).  His is physical and mental.  That just opened up a huge space for us to play in and learn more about each other.  We were able to discover the difference between being curious about life’s challenges and wanting to learn from them (me), and seeing life’s challenges and not knowing how to fix them (him). I said I want a partner who has an appetite for learning about himself and who is willing to step outside his comfort zone to do so.  And I am completely committed to having our relationship evolve organically and not be focused on a particular outcome.

So while he is still saying potato, and I’m saying potahto, we’re calling off the “let’s call the whole thing off”.  For now. 

Here are a couple of treats for you.  Enjoy this classic…

And, my deep appreciation goes to my teacher who pointed me in the direction of this wonderful book, Undefended Love, A Practical Guide to Exceptional Relationships, by Dr. Jett Psaris and Dr. Marlena S. Lyons. The way you felt when you first fell in love ...