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Posts Tagged ‘serenity’


Yesterday my “Unfolding” group met, as we have done monthly (mostly) for the past ten years.  In that year, my friend Julia Mossbridge’s book “Unfolding:  The Perpetual  Science of Your Soul’s Work” was published and as part of the process she decided to start a group.  Though Julia was born at around the same time as the women’s movement of the late 60s/early 70s, and so hadn’t been there at the time, this group bore a resemblance to the women’s consciousness raising circles of that time.  The concept has been simple – a small group of us (the group is now five of us) gets together once a month.  We go around the circle, with each woman having as long as needed to provide an update and just speak on what is relevant to her life today.  The others listen, then when the speaker is ‘complete’ we offer encouragement and feedback (always positive).  Then on to the next  woman.  Once we have all ‘had our piece’, we then go around the circle, one by one, stating our intention for the month ahead.  The first part is usually 15-20 minutes of talking/woman, the intention part is just a sentence or two.  We have simple snacks while we’re meeting and a bit of chitchat before or after, but that’s the gist of it.

It’s so powerful!

What I think makes it the most powerful is simply being heard.  So much of what passes for conversation is two competing monologues.  People interrupt you to make their point, talk over you, or go off on tangents totally unrelated to what you just said, leaving you wondering “did they hear me at all?”

Our Unfolding group isn’t a conversation in that while a woman “has the floor” as it were, we don’t interrupt her.  And in our commentary afterwards, we ask clarifying questions, sometimes provide challenges and mostly provide meaningful, specific encouragement and positive feedback.

There’s a phenomenal personal growth book, Circle of Stones:  Woman’s Journey to Herself which asks “How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you ….a place of women, where you were received and affirmed? A place where other women, perhaps somewhat older, had been affirmed before you, each in her time, affirmed, as she struggled to become more truly herself?”

I’m so lucky!  My life IS different because I have this each month!  For me personally, though I consider Julia, Carol, Betty, Carol and Sue all friends, I don’t really socialize with any of them but Julia outside the circle time (and as I write this I think I will change that this year!) and yet they know more about me, know me more at a soul level than some people whom I see far more regularly.

I think we all long to be listened to, long to be heard, long to be understood.  Susan Atchley Ebaugh says “The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence.”

And by the way, this isn’t just a woman thing.  Guys need our rapt attention just as much!  Kids, pets – even, as my tsk-tsk-ing friend Bill reminds me, houseplants need attention (ahem! personal growth opportunity for me).

How would  YOUR life be different if there were a place for you where you are received, affirmed and listened to?  Do you have that?  If you do, celebrate! If not, I invite you to change that.  Start your own group.  It’s easy.  Free. And I guarantee you – it will change your life.

Now, I invite you to the conversation – how is the power of being truly heard manifesting (or not) in your life?  What can you do to provide this gift for those  you love?  I really want to know!

 

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This morning my Saturday morning group  talked about acceptance.  I love the Serenity Prayer, which to me sums up one of life’s conundrums:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

The conundrum, of course, is the wisdom to know the difference.

A few of my friends were talking about accepting all of life as it comes along.  Ah, oil spill in the Gulf? Accept it – we don’t know the Bigger Plan.  Elongated metatarsal causing your foot to collapse – ah, part of the plan.  People acting like idiots at work?  Smile and move on.

Sometimes we DO need to smile and move on (and that last is probably as good an example as any).  But I also believe in “act, or be acted upon” and in the importance of social activism.

The issue of course is “when am I acting for the higher good (my own or life’s) and when is my Superhero Ego getting in the way?

I think I know a few ways to help discern the answer.

Prayer.

Meditation.

Time.

The first two are sorta obvious.  But the last one is hard for me and is likely, due to my innate impatience, the most important.  Especially as it’s the one I least practice.

I’m pretty good with money and so (in a self-congratulatory way) I often read articles and books about it and feel good that I am staying on track.  One often given nostrum is that if you feel compelled to buy something to walk out of the store (or, as is often the case for me, close your browser) and give it three days.  Still really want it?  Well, then sally forth!

There are surely situations in which I should take that same advice about my urge to speak up! to speak out! and gosh darn it to make SURE you know what I think!  I think they call that “biting your tongue” or “counting to 10” and it’s not something I practice often enough.

It seems to me like so many people are on one or the other “wrong sides” of this issue:

People like me jump into the fray without perhaps thinking things through, hearing all sides and giving things time to work out.
The upside of this is that we are passionate, we care, and whether or not prematurely we “put our money where our mouths are.”
The downside is sometimes we say or do dumb things that don’t help the situation, some of which, alas, make things worse.

Then there are the more “Type B” personality people who perhaps don’t jump in – not wanting to make a mistake, they sit back, think it over, don’t want to embarrass themselves or others and think they “will get to it in good time.”  Except — they don’t.  So the petition goes unsigned, the words to a coworker who just told a racist joke stay in their heads, not spoken and the opportunity to make a difference passes them by.
The upside to this is that they hardly ever offend anyone, dont’ regularly make asses of themselves and when they DO think things through and get into action their actions probably have more backing.
The downside is that they don’t make the difference they could.

One other thing on this topic is I’ve seen how in some cases I can immediately tell that acceptance, not the action I just took, was likely the better choice – oops! there’s an amend owed.  But sometimes it takes years or decades.

And so often we don’t really know the Rest of the Story as Paul Harvey was fond to say.  We are the blind men with the elephant – now thinking we’ve found a fan, now a snake, now a wall – not realizing we’re touching the ear, tail or body of an elephant (or as someone said this morning, maybe on AN elephant who is part of a whole herd).

So I say the Serenity prayer. And I figure God made me the action-oriented, speak now, save-the-day Big Sister type that I am for a reason – I just wish I had more wisdom. But that’s where the prayer and meditation come in.

How about you?  Is it easy for you to tell when to hold ’em, and when to fold  ’em and when to lay your cards down?  Do you err on the side of saying/doing too much or too little?  Are you okay with that?   What helps you figure out what to do?  I really would like to know!

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