Learning to Amble

I like to walk fast. I have a short list of friends that share my natural pace and a couple that I can barely keep up with. I enjoy going on walks with them and always feel better in mind and body afterwards. Walking quickly provides an opportunity to process stress, exercise my muscles, and view a multitude of houses/gardens in a short amount of time,

I also like to walk slow enough to notice the scent of pine trees as I walk by. I allow myself time and freedom to stop and actually smell the roses, catch the glint of sun dew drops. and watch the inhabitants of the nearby pond go about their little amphibian and fowl lives.

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Amble: (noun) A walk at a slow, relaxed pace, especially for pleasure.

There are many things in life that we can benefit from doing quickly at times and at other times more slowly. Cooking a quick meal provides sustenance on a busy day. Attending to each step of a recipe and slowly bringing together a melody of flavors will provide sustenance and then so much more.

What’s something that you typically do quickly that could be engaged at a slower pace? Give it a try. I’m curious what you’ll notice.

Daily Prompt Amble

Lions, Tigers, and Small Talk, Oh My!

When I first considered today’s prompt, causal, I quickly thought of casual conversations and the small talk it usually entails. And then I shuddered, because I find small talk to be difficult on many levels. I struggle to think of things to say. It takes a very conscious, concerted effort to answer the common “How are you?” or “What’s new with you?” on the same level of interest it is typically asked. The process of whittling down how I truly am to the “Pretty well” they are expecting takes more energy than it usually feels worth.

A few thoughts I’ve had about small talk:

Why do people ask me these things if don’t want to truly know? Can’t we come up with a different form of causal talk? And why is it so easy for some people? Don’t they care about being honest and speaking accurately about their lives? Why do we have to play these communication games? Don’t we have better things to talk about in our short time together on this earth? Don’t they see all of the important things going on in the world that we should discuss? Are they even in touch with themselves? Do they even think?

Judgement is allll over my dislike of small talk.

Now, I firmly believe that there are a group of us humans that simply aren’t wired to engage things like small talk with ease or grace without some intentional practice. We spend much of our time thinking with a depth, seriousness and often heaviness that makes small talk far more work than it’s meant to be. For others, perhaps they don’t see the point in talking about the weather/price of gas/score of last night’s game as a precursor to the topic everyone is actually there to talk about. Introversion is certainly a contributing factor for many of us that don’t “do” small talk very well. And I’m sure there are many other valid, understandable reasons to not be a fan of it.

But I would bet I’m not alone in hopping on the judgement train regarding the prevalence of casual, small talk in our culture.

If someone is trying to engage you in small talk, it does not mean they are shallow, unintentional, uncaring, unthinking, silly, insensitive, or any of the other things you or I may try an attach to them. They are, simply, saying the things our culture has identified as safe, easy topics to engage another human with. Perhaps they love a deep conversation just as much (or more!) as you do. Perhaps they’ve read more books or listened to more thought-provoking pod casts than you. Perhaps they are tired from work or caring for family or insomnia and while they would love to have a more “meaningful” conversation, they just can’t. Or, most likely, they are just doing what is normal in our culture for whatever setting you are in and it has nothing to do with their depth or characteristics as a person.

The judgement train never travels anyplace worth spending our time. Too often, our judgement of “meaningless” small talk causes us to miss out on the meaningful person sitting or standing across from us. So what if small talk isn’t your favorite! If the person engaging you is worth your attention, converse with them in a way that is accessible for you both. Come up with a handful of questions that strike a balance between “What’s up?”  and “What’s the meaning of your life?” so that you can contribute to a casual conversation in a way that reflects your personality and values without weighing things down too much.

What questions can we ask that will allow casual conversations to be more palatable for those of us uncomfortable with small talk? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

 

Daily Prompt Casual

Partner While You Wait

This is what I have learned.

Partners don’t always get along.

Partners don’t always partner.

Partners don’t always know how to partner.

Partners don’t always want to partner.

Can they become a better partner?

Yes.

Should you wait around for that?

Sometimes.

What do you do in the mean time?

(While waiting on the one worth waiting for)

Be the partner YOU want to be.

Don’t wait to live your values until someone else lives into theirs.

 

 

Daily Prompt: Partner

Let The Fog Roll In

Day one of  the idea “blog daily in August using the daily prompts” started out with the prompt toothbrush. I had little time and less inspiration of how that connected to any thoughts in this head of mine…so on to day two I have come. The prompt, foggy, is fitting on so many levels, I barely know where to begin.

Which is pretty much what fog does to you, right? Literal fog makes it difficult to navigate, obscuring your vision and disorienting you from the familiar landmarks and guidelines that help you know where you are. You barely know where to begin. So you go really slow, straining your eyes for the familiar and daring to trust that you are mostly in the right lane as you continue down the highway.

So what about when the fog is figurative, not literal? Like when your vision is obscured regarding a particular relationship or situation, only its not fog hindering you – it’s fear, ignorance, judgement or full-blown denial. Sometimes we live in this valley of fog for so long that we don’t even realize our view is unclear.

Another type of fog I’ve experienced has occurred when I’ve allowed my ideas and beliefs to shift around as I consider new possibilities. This can take place in small and big ways, from reconsidering my view of a person to reimagining my spiritual framework. Choosing to reconsider can be a significant act of courage. Choosing to allow what you thought you knew to become less certain in light of further information gained- this is brave.  As this process unfolds, the fog rolls in and you begin to strain your eyes for the familiar and dare to trust that you’ll remain mostly in the right lane. In my experience, the fog may stay around for quite a while. So long that I wonder if it was worth it to kick up all this dust. Because life is often easier when things remain where and as they are. Familiar. With reliable landmarks for navigating this crazy life.

But the thing is: I want a life that is bigger and wilder than the landmarks that have grown familiar. I don’t want to always be able to make sense of my experiences, perceptions, and life as a whole. So perhaps the fog is at times a signal that I’m onto something good, or at minimum something beyond my control or current level of understanding. A sign that I’ve dared to ask questions for which I don’t yet have answers. For most of my life I have placed a very high value on knowing what’s going on and being in control. But lately, I’ve come to realize this understanding and control is a) impossible to maintain at all times and b) often at the expense of being fully alive.

So when the fog rolls in, sure- slow down and look for what’s familiar as you navigate down the road. But also be willing to lose sight of what’s familiar. Trust that you’ll stay mostly in the right lane as you wait for the way to clear. Let life surprise you.

 

Daily Prompt:  Foggy

Things Change

The other day I had a lollipop for the first time in a few years. It was my childhood favorite: A Cherry Blow Pop. Perfect combo of “cherry” flavor and chewing gum that makes your jaw ache in the 3 minutes it takes to lose it’s flavor. It was especially satisfying to reach the tipping point from sucker to gum that would leave me picking candy from my sore molars.

This time around, as I tasted that “cherry” sugar stuck on a stick, disappointment quickly settled in. A few more half-hearted licks and it went into the trash as I thought about how many I’d eaten in my life, never expecting that one day they would lose their appeal.

There are other items on this list of “things that have unexpectedly lost their appeal”.

  • Somersaults
  • Cilantro
  • Keeping my house really clean
  • Idolizing other people
  • Getting stuck in my head
  • Green Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Christianity

Some things have lost their appeal due to changes in my body (spinach = tummy ache), others because they reached a point where the negatives began to outweigh the positives. For instance, I discovered that a house cleaned to my preferred standards requires time that I want to give to other things…so now the dishes and dust are plentiful, but so are my hobbies. What’s interesting is that there are times that I look around my house and think “Who lives here? Surely not the me?!” I still can’t quite believe that I, a life-long cleaner of all the things, am now able to (almost) peacefully co-exist with piles of all the things while I make things or play with my dog. I still want a really clean house- but I want other things more.

It can be unsettling to gaze around my external or internal landscape and wonder: What has become of the self I once knew? Some changes have brought a lot of pain even as they ushered in freedom. Many relationships didn’t make the journey into this new place I call Me. And the transition time from there to here…sucks. There’s just no easy way. But change we often must if we are to remain true to ourselves. Or perhaps more accurately, if we are to become ourselves.

When I look back on all of the years that I was deeply committed to the Christian faith, I see myself. My authentic self. Arguably it was a self less able to think for herself, so perhaps authenticity was a times lacking. But truly: My commitment to this belief system was life-long and genuine. I could never imagine a life outside of those beliefs, rhythms, rules and comforts.  It was the common thread between myself and nearly everyone I knew. It shaped many daily thoughts and actions. And I was always striving to learn, grow, and live a good life – just like I am now. I was thoughtful and caring and serious and hard working – just like I am now.

And yet.

This is the first public space in which I’ve acknowledged that I am no longer a Christian. But even as I type these words, I am reminded that the process was very much an acknowledgement. It was not an intentional move from there to here. I didn’t one day decide I wanted to move away from the belief system I had always called home. It was more that, slowly but surely, I had to admit to myself that this was happening. I was changing. What used to fit, didn’t. Ideas that had never quite fit were now safe to discard. The worldview I had always considered “it” was not, in fact, it. And much of it is no longer appealing.

568 words ago, it was not my intention to discuss this change. I hadn’t realized it was time. But it is.

So there it is. Here I am.

And there you are. Be you. Even if it means changing in ways you never imagined.

 

Daily Prompt:  Lollipop

Meddle in Your Own Life

For much of my life I have struggled with the aching fear “Who am I to decide what I want/where to go/what to do/how to be.” To make a decision for myself felt like I was meddling in affairs beyond my scope and ability. For many reading these words, you will have no idea what I mean. Sure, everyone has their moments of self-doubt when they look to another for support or example because they aren’t sure how to proceed. But the desperation I have felt goes far beyond this typical human experience of inadequacy. For much of my life, I have fundamentally not understood the power I have to chose how/who/where to be. While I’ve managed to live a pretty good life, it’s often been with the help of an idolized person or two that I’m seeking to emulate and please. I’ve been oblivious to the power and knowledge within to live my own, good life. And I’ve been desperate. Desperate to know if I’m on the right path…have I made the right choices. I have spent countless hours analyzing, fearing, wishing, wanting, unable to connect with what I want or consistently live a life that is authentically mine. Some of you that find this blog will know exactly what I’m talking about.

I am incredibly grateful to say that I’ve got a lot to learn– but my life is becoming my own. There is hope alongside the desperation. I am learning the power, knowledge, and light that are within….not just in other people– but in me.

Here’s one part of this journey.

Seven years ago I “broke up” with a friend that I’d idolized for years. She and I had journeyed together through some really rough years of my life. She helped me get out of an abusive relationship and provided space in which to heal and find my feet again. She was a cheerleader and support in many ways, and we had fun together- vacations, cooking good food, hosting parties. But from the moment I’d met her she’d been up on a pedestal and other types of mess grew through the years. Co-dependent is the name for our kind of relationship. Pleasing her, acting like her, even looking like her…it quieted the desperation. She became a voice in my head, a guide when I was unsure what to do.

It pained her that I did this, to the extent that she was aware, but she was also a partner in making this unhealthy bond. When I finally cut myself free she insisted someone else must have put me up to it. But for one of the first times in my life– there was no “someone else”. I had begun to discover ME and the power I have to decide. To know something within and take action to create the life that I want for myself. I didn’t break up with her well…there was so much I didn’t know how to articulate and so much I didn’t understand about the conviction I felt that this relationship was no longer a good fit for me. I was so new to making those kinds of choices.

I did it, but messily. It unfortunately went on to cost me several other friendships because they couldn’t handle that I’d dumped our mutual friend. If I’m fair, they had their own stuff to sort through. They ignored my calls and letters after years of life lived together. Perhaps they feared I’d break up with them too, so they got there first. I will never downplay the pain and confusion they must have felt, but I do wish they’d pushed through to ask me what they surely wanted to know: why. Why had I broken up with someone who I’d been so loyal, so close with?  Perhaps we all would have found a bit more clarity and healing together before going our separate ways.

I did it because I had to. There was just no two ways about it.

That’s all I knew at the time- and it was enough. Not enough to save the other friendships. Not enough to save me a lot of pain and turmoil over the decision. in the coming years. But it was enough that day to say the words I could scarcely believe I was saying. I said yes to me in a profound way that day. I have not been the same since.

I’ve uncovered many layers within this necessary decision. I do not doubt or regret the decision, or even the other relationships lost…only how it was executed. This regret must remain paired with grace regarding the lack of skill, lack of knowledge in charting my own course, and lack of experience being brutally honest about what I think and feel when it will disappoint someone else.

I share this to be honest about my story. It’s messy and at times confusing, certainly not perfect and painful far more often than I’d like. But my life is becoming more beautiful than I’d dared ever imagine… because it’s becoming mine, not an image of someone else’s crafted with fear and desperation. I want to share anything I can that will help anyone reading these words who shares my desperation, my propensity to idolize another vs. live authentically, my lack of skill and knowledge regarding the power and light within. Never compare yourself to me- don’t you dare. But you can let the things you read here and in other blogs/books/lives be a light to you on your own path.

May the long time shine upon you. All love surround you. And the pure light within you guide your way on.

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Meddle