Monthly Archives: January 2009

Pulling English Ivy on Inauguration Eve

(A poem for the Occasion)

I took direction from the Universe and the Internet

Clicked here and there and found a team to join

and just like the new President

I spent my morning in service
Making the world a better place,
removing one creeping root at a time.

Call me a radical. I went to the root of the problem
Foreign terrorists of the plant variety.
Prying , pulling and yanking at
Ivy roots strangling tender native plants,
their tentacles wrapped around small trees
robbing them of their constitutional rights.

Radical Service: Uprooting

As I move into this year of Radical Kindness, I’ve been thinking about roots.  It turns out the origin, or “root” word for radical is “root.”  Gotta love it!  So I’ve been working with images of watering my own roots and engaging my clients in noticing when they’re nurturing their own roots so that they can serve others effectively.

So it’s ironic that I’m honoring National Service Day by helping a team pull up some roots. English ivy is so well-suited to the Oregon climate that it has invaded natural areas for years.  Its tough and widespread root system takes away nutrition from the more fragile native species.  The best way to get rid of it for good, short of serious nuking, is to pull like crazy. It’s an enormous job in some areas, a worthy project for local service.

This work is so like the work I do every day as I work with clients.  Every thought, such as “I’m not good enough,” has an enormous root system, supporting a whole world of other thoughts: “And this means I can’t be happy, get a job, be a good dad, take care of myself.”  On and on.

I love finding the roots and uprooting them with some really good questions.  There’s such freedom for newer, kinder thoughts when they have space to grow. So today as I pull, I’ll be imagining some of my old core beliefs coming up, too.  And in my mind I’ll be clearing a place for all of the people I care about.

Do your own mind a service today. Begin a list of any thoughts that you notice would keep you from being at peace. Find the root systems and begin unearth the root beliefs. Allow yourself the Radical Kindness that would clear the soil for fragile and kind new thoughts.

Aha! Moments and Epiphany

From the first day of the holiday season, even as I’m savoring the feasting, singing and celebratory chaos, my favorite holiday moment beckons.  I’m not of the religious persuasion that celebrates Epiphany at the end of the Advent season, so I stumbled on it by chance.  For a number of years I noticed that the season wasn’t really over for me until a few days after New Year’s Day.  Once tree was down, the last stale cookies were eaten, the kids were back at school, I dropped back into my own life with a sigh of relief.

This was the time to recap the holidays and decide what might work better in the future.  This was the time to imagine possibilities for next year. I began to notice how many insights would come as I sat with my journal and tea, waiting for resolutions to emerge from detritus of Christmas past.  As it turns out, year after year this magical day was nearly always about Jan. 5th or 6th.  Curious, I looked up the date on a liturgical calendar and discovered that it’s a celebration of the Three Wise Men, the Persian travelers who showed up to acknowledge the divinity of the Christ child in human form.

Following from that origin, the word Epiphany is about an Aha! on any level, a sudden realization or comprehension of the essence of something.  Aha! I thought.  No wonder I had discovered clarity over the years, had recognized my own essential direction every year about this time.  It was a time honored tradition! So for the last ten years I’ve entered the Epiphany date in my calendar along with some extra private time for contemplation. I invite all my friends and clients to do the same.  Sit. Be still. And listen for direction. My wish for you on this, my favorite holiday.

Happy New Now!

This cry resonated in the ballroom on  New Year’s Eve,  where I was attending the Mental Cleanse, a five-day event with Byron Katie. The event is an annual Love Fest where participants spend the last days of the old year challenging the beliefs that imprison them and taking off the chains, one thought at a time.  As always, Katie was unconditionally loving with every person and thought she invited into her “parlor.”  And we’re always invited, each moment, to finish the past and begin again, in a new now.

Over the week I noticed all the beliefs I had been acting out in my life that were no longer relevant and had caused harm to myself and to others.  Decisions about what to do in 2009 just kept making me as I watched others undo their own painful beliefs and questioned my own.   A very different way to make New Year’s resolutions, from a place of what is truer and kinder for my world.  I’ll be continuing to explore what this looks like in future blogs, I’m sure. I just find I want to share as much as I can about my own work with anyone who’s interested.

On New Year’s eve there’s a No-Talent show where participants challenge themselves to do things that would bring up fears and beliefs.  This year was my first year to take the stage, and I shared a couple of poems I’d written about what happens when you question thoughts.  Now you should know that I’m a closeted poetry writer who has never (and I mean never) shared my work. This It was scarey.  I watched my mind compare myself to the person before, convinced I could never be as funny or perfect for the occasion.  And when I read what I’d written  in front of 300 people about half of what I was on stage was me. The other was a totally freaked out lizard, victim of the reptilian Flight or Fight brain. Afterward the applause (and one person even cheered!), I was still pretty scared. It was after that biochemical cocktail of limbic wore off that I felt freer, more open to whatever is next.  To whatever that scares me. A new year. A new Now.