Thursday, April 23, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Hide

For many years, I hid the true me - somewhere amongst the fear of being really seen, or the belief that my voice mattered, I hunkered down and just played small. This blog here kind of rattled along during those years, my voice to weak and unsure to really make any sort of splash. My message not quite polished or directed.

The last nearly five months have been about shattering through that ceiling. My phrase for the year has been "no toggle," which simply means living authentically. I'm the same person at work as I am at home as I am leading retreats. I don't shy from who that person is, and it frees me up to JUST BE.

The difference has been profound. I laugh more. I admit when I'm happy or scared or not feeling great. I speak my mind with my boss and the other "senior" folks at work. It's not that I don't care, it's more that I do care. I care about mattering, about being seen and heard, and that all started when I dropped worrying about what people would think if they knew who I "really" was.

When I stopped hiding, the most interesting thing happened. When I started being authentic, standing up for myself, being all in, well that's when people started listening more. They seek me out for advice, ask my opinion, want to spend more time, instead of less. It is the opposite of what I feared, of why I hid. And I really could not be happier.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Embracing our Brokenness, Accepting Ourselves

Perhaps you've seen the photo by Tyler Shields of the ballerina's feet? The left foot is wrapped, looks beautiful and graceful, wearing a ballet slipper while the dancer balances enpointe. The right foot is bear, showing multiple bandages, bruises, blood, cuts, worn toenails. It is showing the raw beating that a foot takes to dance enpointe. You can see the image here. It is what inspired this post I originally made during Lent.

I was taken aback when this image showed up in my Instagram feed on Thursday. Dance, broken-ness, projected image, perfection, practice, things hidden and those revealed, all rolled in to this one picture.

Each of us has flaws and our own brokenness is inherent to who we are. Even the most practiced of ballerinas, embodying beauty and grace, has her own brokenness, some of it hidden just below her shoes. Just below the surface. The scars of her practicing, her falling, her getting back up one more time then she falls to try again. And she does it all to fulfill what she is driven to do.

It is love and passion and failing that brings us to life, in our entirety, in our wholeness. We dance greatly because of our imperfections, they are what has formed us, what made us stronger, what gave us such strength and focus and purpose.

Like the ballerina, each of us has scars, our own equivalent of bruised toes that have supported our whole weight. Some of the the scars are emotional, some physical, some run so deep that we are nearly swallowed by them some days, while other days we stare it down and tell it to "be still." But each morning, we rise, we muster faith, we cover up what we can with pep talks and emotional bandages, and we keep going.

It is all a story of Crucifixion. It is all practice of dying and rising, getting ready for the final dying and rising. Our brokenness, our scars are reminders of dying. We sit with suffering. We are given opportunities to rise, to live out and past our pain, but for now, this is just practice. Practicing the dance and practicing living and falling and dying and rising.

"And great mystery: to redeem our brokenness and lovelessness the God who suffers with us did not strike some mighty blow of power but sent his beloved son to suffer like us, through his suffering to redeem us from suffering and evil.
Instead of explaining our suffering God shares it." - Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

Jesus is showing us how to do this;  He is the exemplification of sitting with the suffering. And on Easter Sunday, we will witness the trans formative nature of His suffering, His sharing in our suffering, as he Rises and our brokenness and lovelessness is redeemed.

If we embrace our brokenness we can accept ourselves in this moment, and accept the invitation to rise again. For today, we sit with broken-ness and see how it is intimately woven with love, with wholeness, with balance, and that it is all a part of the dance.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Break

Welcome to Five Minute Friday where I join Kate Motaung and the #FMFParty girls to write for five minutes. There's no editing, no polishing, and then we all link up together. I've been joining for Lent, and love the challenge.

And... go!

Traditionally a time of reflection, of self review, of solitude, Lent has become something so different for me over the last couple of years. Yes, plenty of reflection, and self review, but instead of the quiet and retreat like space, I have gathered with a whole group of lovely women to travel the road to Easter.

Kath and I take up a largely un-choreographed dance for forty days, each day posting a new reflection, each day taking a turn to chat with our group. While it is sometimes scheduled, many of the days there is a text "I can post this morning," or "I'll post later," or "Can you post today," and we do. We support each other. It is an act of community and beauty. I love this part of the dance.

By the end of the season, we have hit a time of mixed emotions in so many ways. I'm always torn on how to address The Crucifixion. We can not ignore the truth of what leads up to Christ's death, as grizzly and awkward and unnerving and upsetting as it is. It is part of the love story, this death. And the elation and glory of Easter can not be the same unless we have sat with the heartbreak and ultimate sadness of Christ's death. This is how life is. We descend to ascend.

And so as many people rush off to Spring Break and a time of renewal, for my little tribe, we still have one week before we get to that break. We have a road to travel, a story to bear witness to, and a heartbreaking love story to witness. And then, only then, we can rest.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Want to Help Others Fly

A year and a half ago, I was working with a life coach, and was looking to leave advertising, and find a job that would give me better balance, that would shorten my 4 hour daily round trip commute. At the time, I was also trying to decide what I wanted to do next. I had an interview with a large financial industries company as part of this journey, and wrote the following post (which I haven't published until now).

Even at the time, I could feel that my reaction to this interview was different. It was a a solid realization that I truly wanted to move in to something new, in a role where I could support and uplift others.

I can't quite pinpoint what was so off putting about the interview. Maybe it was the one guy who asked how many hours I currently work a week, and when I answered between 55-60 he asked, “so you are comfortable with that kind of work load?” Or the beige cubicles with wine colored stripes. Or that I heard the term “fire hose” used repeatedly.

I found myself staring beyond one of the men interviewing me, past his ears, past a leggy plant, out the window. Where there was freedom. Big buildings needing to be explored. A vast view to take in. There was beauty beyond the walls.

When I was in first grade I had a similar experience. Math class made me feel claustrophobic. It never quite made sense. The rules were oppressive. So, instead of doing the math, I’d sit and stare out the window. There were stories out there. There was a world to explore. My life beckoned.

My teacher put me in a small walled-in cubicle. She didn’t want me to see out the window. Even with no view, I’d daydream. I didn’t want to do what she asked me to, she didn’t understand and she’d closed me in. So I would sit. I would think of stories in my head.

Next, the teacher gave me a kitchen timer, put it next to me and would tell me I had to get my work done before the time was up. The claustrophobia would rise, the anxiety would mount. I would get so upset that someone would cage me, time me, pace near me, decide what was best for me.

And there was something about that office, that team, those people, that gave the same feeling I'd known in first grade. Something about managing people through that environment that made me feel the roles were about to reverse. That I’d become the one that caged others, who defined their days, decided their priorities, that clipped their wings.

When really, all I want to do is to help others to fly.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Plan

For such a very long time, it was so important for me to have a plan. For moments to be scheduled, for me to understand what was going on. This is how project managers are ... and then, after much searching and wondering and thinking, I realized that I didn't really love planning any more.

I like being organized, but I don't revel in being the organizER.

And so, what to do? I was knee deep in commitments that meant I'd be heading towards getting a project management certificate and it felt ALL WRONG. I even had said on this blog that it was part of my big three year plan. But yet, with the rest of it, the life coaching, the planning to be on my own as an entrepreneur, getting a PM certification seemed - out of place.

That's because it totally was. I've been such a planner for 15 years and then about 5 years ago it seemed to have lost its luster. It no longer excited me.

And it's funny because what does excite me is people, and their stories, and how they fit into the big scheme of life. I like to know and understand people's hearts. I want to help them understand themselves. I feel that it's what I was put here to do.

Sure, there's planning involved to get there, and I'll have to have a plan to do a good deal of the work, but I'm ever so glad that I listened to my heart and am following what feels to be a truer calling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our Wedding Dance, or Dancing in the Kitchen

Sean and I got married in October, and we chose to have our first dance in the kitchen of the small reception hall. That's right, the kitchen.

Sure, he's a chef, and that's cute and all, but there's a lot more to our kitchen dancing than his profession.

Dancing in the Kitchen, Wedding Dance on Welcoming Spirit
Our first dance, photo by Matt Welch of Munkee's Eye Photography

It started way back when we were living together in a one bedroom apartment. The kitchen was modern and huge and it was a great space to dance. Many nights we'd just stand there, swaying back and forth, usually without any music playing.

Just dancing in the kitchen.

We moved before Zoom was born, and again we had an ample amount of space in the kitchen. While I was pregnant, it was comforting to stand and dance, and the kitchen was our favorite space. Those months were filled with me picking out about a million "perfect first dance" songs, which I'd insist we play, and we'd dance.

Right there in the kitchen.

When we moved into our new home, again a smallish home with just 2 bedrooms, a reliably open and inviting dance space is in our kitchen.

Zoom will sometimes start a dance party there, and we will play loud music, jumping, dancing, laughing in our kitchen. And there are nights, after a long day, that we still just hug and sway, in the dim light of the kitchen.

So when we looked at our reception hall, there was a clear space for a dance floor. But when we thought about where that first dance should be, well, I asked if we could have it in the kitchen. Sean loved the idea. The caterer didn't mind (but had never had anyone ask that before).

Dancing in the Kitchen, Wedding Dance on Welcoming Spirit
Our first dance, photo by Matt Welch of Munkee's Eye Photography

For us, dancing in the kitchen embodies so much more than what at first glance might seem to be a quirky place for a first wedding dance. It is in its simplicity, it's everyday-ness that we have found it to be sacred. It's a dance that can be done any day, regardless of mood or circumstance. It can (and should be) done in any home, with or without music. In pajamas or wedding gowns, with chicken pox or after gardening. After a hard day, or to celebrate something, we dance in our kitchen. It's the heart of our home, it's a symbol of our togetherness, both as a couple, but also now as a family. It reminds us that we are close, no matter what, and we are loved, no matter what.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lent: The Dance of Trust

Perhaps you've seen this video of Swan Lake, performed by the Great Chinese State Circus.

As I watched for the first time last week, I was in awe of the trust of the lead ballerina. She had an immense amount of trust and faith in herself, in her male partner, in the dance itself. Simply put, I've never seen Swan Lake like this.

And I wondered, what could I do if I trusted in myself like she does?

And then at the very end, you see her balancing on her partner's head, after dancing gracefully on his arms, and he is a rock, a solid foundation. His strength and dignity are awe inspiring.

And I wondered, what could I do if I had a partner with such strength, such selflessness, such presence?

I see myself in both roles and wonder where can I be more brave, where can I push myself, where can I dance with great courage although the dance itself seems nearly impossible? And where can I be someone's strength, their base, their silent support?

God wants both for us, and to be both for us. In this dance, I saw so much of our Lenten journey. Of the daring courage it takes to face the wilderness, to be our own self out here, and in the silent strength we have in a God and Savior. To enter into this dance takes grace and total faith. It is a dance that can be danced again and again, a different stage, a different performer, a different orchestra. And it is a dance of beauty, of daring greatly, of living fully.