Giving Up Labels For Lent

Labels get us into trouble. Labels separate us one from another, and keep us swimming in our end of the pool, safely out of splashing range of "those" people who might rain on our political, religious, socio-economic, and world-view parade. 

Labeling others is the practice of quickly categorizing another person or group into a box of our own making, and of our usually limited understanding. Labeling others is the easy way out. I know, because I do it all the time. 

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Hide And Seek

Dear You, Come out, come out, wherever you are. Without you, I am nothing. Love, The World.
Dear You,
Come out, come out, wherever you are. Without you, I am nothing.
Love,
The World.

When I was a little girl, as I remember it, everyone came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Tables were put end-to-end to make room for our extended family, and while there was a "kids table" set up, my cousins and I preferred to hide under one of the other tables. Sure that the grown-ups couldn't see us, we sat under the table as life continued on around us, and the adults played along with our little game. What with our giggles and little feet poking out from beneath the linen table cloths, we were hiding in plain sight. Sometimes we hid for the thrill of it all,  but mostly it was a strategic ploy to avoid Uncle Blake's lumpy gravy and my aunt's famous creamed onions. But eventually we had to leave our little hidey hole, and would find, much to our dismay, our untouched plates still awaiting us, and the gravy was now not only lumpy, but cold. And the creamed onions were, well, still creamed onions.

When my daughters were little girls, they loved to play hide and seek. One of their favorite hiding places was under a blanket. Sure that I couldn't see them, they sat as life continued on around them, and I played along with their little game. "Now where could they be?" I would wonder aloud, well within their earshot. What with their giggles and little feet poking out from beneath the blanket, they were hiding in plain sight. Sometimes they hid for the thrill of it all, but mostly it was a strategic ploy to avoid any unwelcome chores, or to delay the inevitable bedtime. Eventually they had to leave their little hidey hole, and would find, much to their dismay, the chores still awaited them. And bedtime was, well, still bedtime. 

Hide and seek is not only a childhood game. Most of us play it for most of our lives. And like me, my cousins, and my young daughters, we hide smack dab in the middle of the room which is our life, hoping not to be found by whatever it is that we'd rather avoid. But unlike the unwanted lumpy gravy, creamed onions, childhood chores and the inevitable bedtime, now we hide from more serious things. Pain and discomfort, unresolved issues and challenging conversations, unanswered questions and unfamiliar territory, important decisions and necessary changes. These are the things from which I have often hidden. Still do sometimes. But when I do, the game always ends the same way. With lumpy gravy.

Every one of us does it. We play hide and seek from our own life, and, we hide under tables of our own choosing. My tables have included, but are not limited to:

One too many glasses of wine.

Taking care of everyone else.

Staying busy, no matter what.

Blaming others for the state of my life.

Binge watching my latest favorite series

We hide under the blankets of our own weaving, made up of the threads of our long held stories, fears, wounds and sorrows. My blanket has been made up of fabrics including, but not limited to: 

I am not enough.

I might fail.

It's too hard.

It will be too painful. 

I don't know how it will turn out.

But our tables don't keep us safe, they keep us small. Our blankets don't protect us, they prevent us from living the life that is ours. Hiding from our lives today only means running back into them again tomorrow. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over...

So come on. 

Come out, come out wherever you are.

It's time to come out from our hidey holes and get on with our messy, complex, beautiful, imperfect, creative, compassionate, flawed, and, one-of-a-kind miraculous lives. Our life is waiting for us, and so is the world.  And, no matter how long we crouch under our tables and huddle under our blankets, those creamed onions will be, well, still creamed onions. 

COVER-Women_and_Wine.jpg

 

 

 

Water-Ditching Survival Training

Posted earlier. 

Now more important than ever.

My husband Tom is a scientist. A volcanologist to be more exact, and his area of expertise is the lahar, a destructive mudflow on the slope of a volcano. Sometimes his research takes him out into the field, and sometimes that means flying in a helicopter. As an employe of the US Geological Survey, he is employed by you, the American taxpayer, which also means that you pay for him to receive Water Ditching Survival Training. Your tax dollars hard at work. Please know that you have my profound thanks!   

A short explanation of said training is that he and his fellow students are taken to a local pool where they spend several hours learning about and practicing what to do in the event of a water ditching. They take turns strapping themselves into the seat of a mock helicopter airframe, are then plunged into the water where the airframe is rolled over and over until they find themselves submerged under water. They are disoriented and expected to find their way back to the surface. Sound like fun? 

Imagine what that might feel like.  You are flying along, minding your own business and then something happens that sends you careening off your fight path and into the watery depths. It is dark and cold, you are confused and unsure which way is up... literally, and terrified and desperate to get out. My first instincts would be to 1. Panic. 2. Free myself from my seatbelt as fast as possible. 3. Get out of the aircraft. 4. Swim back up to the surface. 

Following those instincts, I'd probably drown. 

According to his training, Tom learned (and I'm loosely paraphrasing here) that as soon as you realize that you are headed for the water you should 1. Stay focused.  2. Grab ahold of something, anything - the door handle, steering wheel, armrest, and hold on until the helicopter settles.        3. Unstrap your seatbelt while STILL HANGING ON TO YOUR HANDHOLD.  4. Figure out which way the bubbles are rising  while STILL HANGING ON TO YOUR HANDHOLD.  The bubbles are rising to the surface, but you may be hanging upside down. That handhold is the only thing that will orient you to which way is actually up. Then, and only then, are you ready to let go, free yourself and swim to the surface.

I hope to God almighty that I never, ever, have to try that out in a real helicopter and a real body of water, and I hope you never do either. But. Water-ditching happens to us in life all the time. We are flying along, riding inside of our life, and suddenly we are plunged into deep water and have to find our way back to the surface. We lose our job and don't know what to do. We get a new job and don't know what to do. Our heart gets broken and it feels like we will never recover. We fall head-over-heels in love and it feels like we will never recover. We move to a new town and find ourselves alone and uncertain in the midst of the unknown. We don't move to a new town and find ourselves alone and uncertain in the midst of the familiar. We over-commit and pay the price. We under-commit and pay the price. We take a risk and fail. We play it safe and fail. 

These past few months have left me under water wondering which way is up. The handholds that are helping me find my way to the surface are the ones I've learned to grab, and include the practices and people that keep me grounded, spiritually, physically and emotionally....Meditation, prayer, exercise, sleep, good nutrition, French Press coffee (really!), time and connection with my inner-circle, (including myself).  The people who keep me both grounded and oriented are those who love me for who I am and who I am not, who show up no matter what, are willing to be vulnerable and real, and who have sworn (along with me) to tell one another the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us God.

As the saying goes....Shit happens. So does water-ditching. 

  • What is your handhold?
  • Who is your handhold?
  • What is it that will steady you, and allow you to wait for things to settle?  
  • Who will help you orient yourself so that you can find your way to the surface?  

Time to get to the surface!  We've got work to do!

 

PublicDomainPhotos.net

PublicDomainPhotos.net

The Dash That Connects Our Dots

This was first posted on December 5, 2015. In light of the current state of our world, it seems that the dash that connects our dots is more important than ever. Time to connect our dots in ways that heal, restore, touch the world for the good of all. Because we are all in this together. 

We have a tradition at our church.  After the sermon, called a Reflection by our community (which I think is a totally better name for it), those of us in the pews have a chance to give our two-cents worth, which often is as valuable as the message itself.  Recently there was a reflection about the importance of a hyphen, that punctuation mark defined as “the sign that connects two words”.  We were challenged to think about the connection and meaning conveyed in that small little mark. Afterwards as a few of us reflected on the Reflection, one person shared that the first thing he thought about was a childhood memory of visiting a nearby cemetery.  He would wander through the headstones, most of which gave a birth year, followed by the year of death, connected by not a hyphen, but a dash.  To be more specific, it is the En dash, as opposed to the Em dash, that is used to indicate spans or differentiation. (To read more about the dash — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash) That dash served to represent all the years between the beginning and end of a life.  He commented that those two dates on the headstones were in many ways the least significant, as all of the living of the person buried there was to be found in that tiny dash. Made up of every step, every thought, every word, every pain, every relationship, every breath, every…. everything of that person’s life, the beginning and the ending are but dots on either side of the lifeline that connects the first breath to the last.  An entire life is contained in that dash. 

It’s all about the dash.

Over the years, I’ve reviewed more than my share of resumes. Potential candidates for hire or promotion list their experience, starting with the most recent, and identified with the starting and end dates of that position.  A long expanse of time does not automatically equate to depth of experience or expertise. What did you learn?  What did you contribute? How have you grown? Tell me about the dash.  Nor does a short experience suggest a lack of lasting impact.  During his short time in office, prior to his assassination, John F. Kennedy’s presidency was marked by history making events and issues including the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the establishment of the Peace Corps and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Length of experience always counts for something.  That something is contained in the dash.  

 It’s all about the dash.

In the biblical story of creation contained between Genesis verse 1, which was the beginning of it all, and verse 31, when God saw that it was good, a lot happened in the time spanned between the those two verses.  From an endless void to a world teeming with life, whether you believe that took seven days or billions of years, that heavenly dash contains a hell of a lot.  The story is found in the dash. 

It’s all about the dash.

In the past three years we have planned as many weddings for our daughters.  The first two were beautiful, the one still in the planning stages will be so as well.  A wedding is an important event, and marks a deep commitment being made between two people.  The wedding is only the beginning.  The marriage is what happens from the moment vows are made to all of the rest of the moments when the vows are kept. Or not. The quality of the life built together by two people isn’t found in an evening of ritual and celebration, no matter how well planned, extravagant or beautiful.  A marriage is found in the dash.

It’s all about the dash.

Time is a gift.  One of our most valuable resources, it can be sliced and diced in so many ways.  Every day is a new choice, a multitude of choices about what will happen in the moments in front of us. Our life is found in our dash, as It is what connects our dots that tell the story of who we are, what we do and how we do it.  

I was born October 12, 1953.  So far, my dash, which measures about 1/16 of an inch in my favorite font, American Typewriter, contains 63 years, 3 months and 24 days.

Molly Davis

1953 - 

It’s all about the dash. 

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To The Mountaintop

Photo by Tom Pierson

Photo by Tom Pierson

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop." 

                                                                           - Martin Luther King

None of us knows what will happen now, and the days ahead will be difficult. And the promises of democracy are now ours to make real. 

None of us knows what will happen now, and the days ahead will be difficult. And the beloved community is now ours to make real.

None of us knows what will happen now, and the days ahead will be difficult. And the dream is now ours to make real

To the mountaintop. 

All of us.

Together.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. - I Have A Dream Speech

 

 

 

 

Snow Days

It's been snowing for days now.

We are, what you might call, snowed in.

Our road is half a mile long, and in order to get out to the highway, the road has to be plowed almost every day. Thankfully, we have wonderful neighbors who show up and plow the road, often without being asked. They might come as late as midnight or as early as 6AM. Without their help, we would be up a frozen creek without a (useless) paddle. To get out of our house at all requires constant shoveling. Thankfully, we have a couple of good snow shovels and the wherewithal to shovel. 

Blessed to have a roof over our heads, a warm house, plenty of wood to keep a fire blazing, and food in the pantry, we are safe, comfortable, and able to enjoy all the magic that comes with a snow day. We forgo the gym, and head out the back door on x-country skis for a killer workout. Shoveling snow replaces the need for free weights. Strapping on snow shoes, we track a small herd of elk, spot a squirrel popping up through the snow to grab a snack at the bird feeder, and watch wild turkeys march through the woods.  We nap in front of the fire, catch up on reading, play endless games of backgammon, and cook hearty comfort food. Tucked in front of the fire, conversations slow down and go deep. These are the treasures of being snowed in. 

But.

It isn't all snow globes and magic. Meetings and social gatherings get canceled, plans have to change, and eventually, in spite of the outdoor adventures and indoor coziness, cabin fever sets in. When the snow falls for days, so does the pace of life. Everything slows down, and when things slow down, our anxiety usually speeds up. We find that we suddenly have to sit with the discomfort of whatever it is we try to avoid by getting out and getting busy, or by distracting ourselves through binge watching our go-to series (again), or by losing ourselves in the blackhole of cyberspace. But that same discomfort is calling for our attention. It is the souls way of getting on our radar screen, inviting us to dig deeper, venture further and climb higher. It might be asking us to step fully into our untended pain, our unaddressed issues, or our unresolved inner and outer conflicts. It might  be urging us to step over our fears and out into the world. It could be imploring us to stop playing small and start imagining something larger. Finding ourselves snowbound is a summons to become free of whatever binds us up. It is a call to step onto the trail,and hike our way through whatever it is that blocks our way to living as fully and wholeheartedly as we can. And the trailhead is always, always, always, squarely beneath our feet, even if buried under three feet of snow. The next good step is there to be taken. 

Snow isn't required to get snowed in. We all know the feeling of finding ourselves stuck inside and unable to get out, with drifts so high that we can't see the sky. Who shows up to "plow our road" without being asked? Do they know we are snowed in? If not, time for us to ask for their help. (And as much as I hate to admit it, that almost always proves to be a next good step.)  What "shovel" do we reach for when our way is blocked? Don't have one? Time to go find one and learn how to use it. 

The next time we are snowed in, will it be a call to settle in and sit with whatever we find there?  Or, will it be an invitation to strap on our snow shoes and step out to discover the life that is waiting for us outside our door? Either way, answering the call is our next step. 

 

Go Forth and...Give Voice!

My good friend and colleague David Berry wrote an exquisite book about leadership. More specifically, A More Daring Life talks about the importance of finding our own voice of leadership at the crossroads of change. He presents this concept of voice through three distinctly different yet intricately connected lenses: The Voice of Understanding, The Voice of Connection, and, The Voice of Exploration. I'd tell you more, but then you might not do what I hope you'll do, which is to get your hands on your own copy and take a deliciously deep dive into his pages. I can't think of better fodder to kick off the year!

A few days ago, I wrote my first blog of the new year about my search for new marching orders for 2017.  Simply put, they are to Go Forth each and every day and bring all that I have to offer to a waiting world. The necklace with those two words, Go Forth, the one I wear every day and that is pictured in that blog, sits squarely between my head and my heart. And, as I learned from David's book, so does something else. My voice. He recounts an experience of discovering that on him, exactly midway between his cerebral cortex and the middle of his chest, sits his voice box. That discovery led him to the insight that it is our voice that connects our head and our heart, and that we need both in order to live and lead well. It is our voice that connects our cerebral gray matter with our blood-red hearts, conveying both what we know and how we feel, what we think and what we believe.

These are trying times. Uncertainty, strife, fear and divisive forces seem to be at work all around us. Strident voices shout from every possible outlet, and they seem to be either emotionally charged but without thoughtful substance, or a spewing of cold hard data without any heartfelt warmth. I probably can't change that tide. And neither can you. But I can bring a different kind of voice to my days, and a different kind of message to all whom I encounter. And so can you. If ever there was a need for intelligent, wholehearted communication it is now. Inside our homes and in our houses of worship, in our places of work and the gyms in which we work out, on the street and at the checkout counter, in the airport ticket line and in the evermore cramped seats on the plane, in our social media conversations and in our social circles. Everywhere life is hungry to hear thoughtful, heartfelt words meant to help and to heal, to inform and to inquire, to encourage and to empower, to challenge and to change. 

The power of our voice is immense. Our voice can change the world for good, but only when powered by both head and heart.

Go Forth and...Give Voice!

Go Forth and ...

It is a serious thing

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in this broken world.

Mary Oliver

It's time to start writing again.
At our house, Christmas has been "put away" for another year, the Christmas decorations and nativity scene all (somewhat) carefully tucked away for a long winters nap. Family and friends have departed, and a new year has begun. I've been away from my desk for a month, and a new year always beckons me back to the page, and the need to put words down on the clean white space. I'm not much one for resolutions or goals, strategic plans or strict timelines. I am one, however, for marching orders, for a call to action that helps direct my steps in a meaningful way. We are all here, alive together, on this beautiful and broken planet, to make a difference for the good in the world that is within our reach. Making that difference is a serious thing indeed. 
What are my marching orders for 2017?
What are yours?
As I pondered what to write about, and how to connect my writing with my marching, I kept drawing a blank. I have a book coming out in February (BLUSH: Women & Wine), so I could write about that, expanding on the message in between the covers of the book. But that didn't seem to quite cut it. Last year, my marching orders were to finish that book and get its message out. But them's old marching orders. My business name is Trailhead Coaching and Consulting, so I could write about "adventures from the trail" and the importance of connecting who we are with what we do and how we do it. Nope. Not that either. One evening I decided to just get it done, and with lots of determination and a wee bit of aggravation, I sat down to brainstorm a list of themes for the year. It turned out to be a short list. As in, there was nothing on it. The harder I thought the bigger the blank I drew. So, I did what I usually do, when I can remember to do it. I quit thinking about it, and trusted that new insights and information would  rise to the surface in due time. And sure enough, it did.
The next morning, as I have every day since she gave it to me, I put on the necklace that my daughter Lauren gave me for Christmas. A small gold tag with two small words that pack a big punch. Go Forth. And just like that, those marching orders appeared. The necklace sits squarely between my head and my heart, reminding me to use both as I move through this new year, a day at a time, a moment at a time. Reminding me to be mindful and wholehearted in all that I do. 
This year, perhaps more than any in recent memory, needs our help. 2017 is a year in which we all have important work to do if we are ever to live side-by-side in the midst of our differences. This last year has taken a toll on everyone I know, and on people I will never meet. 2017 is beckoning us, it is begging us, to Go Forth, and bring all we've got to the new years party. What that means for each of us is particular. The need for it is universal. Whatever your calling, whatever your gifts, whatever your passions, whatever your deepest values, Go Forth and do. Go Forth and be. Go Forth and give. Go Forth and lead. Go Forth and serve. Go Forth and create. Go Forth and work. Go Forth and play. Go Forth and learn. Go Forth and speak up and speak out. Go Forth and listen. And no matter who you are, Go Forth and love. 
On your mark, get set...Go Forth and ... 

MARGINS

Today is my sister's birthday. This post is shared with gratitude for the best sister a girl could ask for. Thank you for teaching me about the need for margins. They make all the difference. And... Happy Birthday Margie!! Where would we all be without you?

The Need For Space

Imagine a book in which the pages have no margins, or a photo where the image fills the frame with no space in which to sit.  The empty space is as important as the rest.  For it is the emptiness in which the words fill the page, the art the canvas, the photo the wall.  Without it the power of the words and beauty of the image is lost. Or at best, diminished. In order to be fully there, they have need of some  space.  So do we.  We have need of margins in which our lives can reside.

And yet.

The urge to fill my time with doing feels relentless, the willingness to simply stop and rest like a foreign language. Doing means I am getting somewhere. Doesn’t it?  Or in the constant going am I spinning my wheels, and in the doing am I coming undone. The ancient text says there is a time to work and a time to rest.

And yet.

How to find time in the midst of days that seem too short, calendars too full, the very real needs that press upon us, and the list that never ends? Like most things, it starts with one thing. Getting up thirty minutes earlier so as to linger over that first sacred sip of coffee.  (A no brainer.) Arranging my days more carefully. (Effort required) Shutting the door for thirty minutes of solitude in between meetings. (Often impossible)  Or maybe just five. (Usually doable)  Saying ‘no’ just once. (Scary at first, f-ing liberating as skill develops)  Not answering the phone just because it rings. (That’s an option?) Disconnecting from the internet so as to log on to my inner one. (Learning to surf all over again)

In order to write our stories well, to make something lovely of the lives we have, space is required. Margins can be as expansive as a silent retreat or sabbatical, as far away as a remote island, as close as a walk around the block, or as brief as a deep breath.

Where might a bit of space exist that is there for the taking?

Photo by Tom Pierson

Photo by Tom Pierson

First posted in September 2014 on Matters That Matter

When NO means YES

My new issue of Real Simple just came in the mail. It is one of my favorite magazines, as it really does provide ideas for keeping life both real and simple. Especially during the month of December when living up to the holiday  hype feels unrealistic and complicated. The theme for the issue, as we head into a new year is "Say Yes To Saying No." Those sound like marching orders a lot of us could relate to. And, the theme reminded me of an earlier blog I first posted on Matters That Matter. It takes a slight twist on the Real Simple theme, and, as one year winds down and a new one is about to begin, it seems like an idea worth a bit more reflection. What is waiting for your resounding YES? What could use a quiet but firm NO? The answer is usually real simple, but rarely real easy.

In the spirit of keeping life real simple, here was my take a couple of years ago.

My cell phone rang as Kristine and I walked back to the conference center to facilitate another workshop at the retreat. Gathered at a beautiful resort in Woodstock, NY, the woods ablaze with fall colors, it had already been two days of connection and inspiration, new friends and new ideas.  The workshop was one of our favorite topics, a best seller with clients, always a crowd pleaser, resulting in powerful insights for all.  Starting of course, with us. Since as everybody knows…”You teach what you need.”

With a few minutes to spare, and seeing that the call was from a client, I decided to answer. “Hey Molly. We’re in a big bind.  The person who was going to facilitate the Leadership Experience can’t make it.  Would you be able to do it?  It starts the day after tomorrow.”  Immediately I knew the answer to that question….

A vehement “No!”

As in…

Hell No!

Never!

Not on your life!

That kind of No.

While certified to facilitate the experience, I had yet to actually do so.  Not only that, it was going to be with a senior global team, and the facilitator they had really wanted was obviously not me. He had more experience, and was clearly their first choice.  Stepping into a big arena, trying to fill big shoes, coming in at the last minute, with people who expected someone else, felt like a recipe for disaster all around. Besides that, getting an earlier flight out would be almost impossible due to our commitment to the current retreat.  There was one other tiny little detail. I was terrified.   Afraid that I couldn’t do it, wouldn’t meet the high bar set by the group, and couldn’t measure up to their expectations, I respectfully declined, politely thanked him for thinking of me, wished him the best of luck, and hung up the phone, filled with relief.  Except the relief kept getting pushed down to make room for something else.

Regret.

My reasons for saying no were logical.  It  made perfect sense.  Still, I had the sense that I had just let myself down.  Imperfect as my facilitation might be, was it possible that I was the perfect person for the job, and it the perfect job for me?

It was time for the retreat workshop to begin.  Stepping up to kick it off, I couldn’t get that phone call out of my mind. Thankfully, Kristine stepped in and masterfully led the group through the first exercise, allowing me to clear my head of my swirling thoughts.  In saying No to the request, I was saying Yes to my fear.  In answering No to a big challenge, I was opting for a Yes to playing it safe.  Just then I heard Kristine as she continued leading the participants through the exercise, asking them to complete the statement: “If I had the courage, I would………

Oh, did I forget to mention that the topic of our workshop was COURAGE? Oops.

Heads bent over their journals, the participants began to write down as many ideas for completing that sentence as they could.   As they finished writing, I stepped back in front to lead them through some reflection on what they had just discovered. Looking into their faces and seeing their courage, they led me back to my own.

As soon as our workshop was over, I called the client back.  “Yes.  I’ll be there.  To be clear, this will be the first time I’ve actually facilitated it, and I won’t have time to review any of the materials.  If flying by the seat of my pants is ok with you, I’ll change my flight and be there.”  It was a powerful Yes that began as an overwhelming No. Rather than disaster all around, it turned into a blessing for all concerned.  Starting of course, with me. Instead of a miserable failure, it was a mighty success. Starting of course, with me.

Now when I experience a knee-jerk “No!” and want to run the other direction, I pull up my boot straps and start walking the scary trail toward Yes.

When our first response is No, can we find the courage to search for the deeper Yes?

When desperate to scream No, can we find the strength to whisper Yes?

When it feels safer to say No, can we brave the waves to Yes?

Yes.  We can.

No.  it isn’t easy.

And Yes. That means we are on the right track.

TODAY

November 9, 2016

November 8, 2016. Election Day 2016. A historic day by any measure. 

But that was yesterday.

Today.

I write here not because there are more words needed as we collectively process what has just happened. Already I have been inspired by words more articulate and powerful than I can put forth. Words that I needed in order to get myself up, out of bed, and a tiny bit more equipped for the time ahead. 

If you need a little equipping yourself, these are the voices that made all the difference for me today:

President Obama speaking today from the White House

Still We Rise by Glennon Doyle Melton

Anne Lamott

Brene Brown

Resilience by Seth Godin

And from my fierce daughter Haley... hers, posted on FB, were the first words I read this morning:

"It's hard to know what to say this morning. I am sad, I am grieving, and I know that because of how I look, how my family looks, we will likely come through this mostly unscathed. But that does nothing to ease my heartache. It does nothing to ease my grief. 

My heart aches for the marginalized, for the people of color, the disabled, the immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, for everyone who does not fit into a white heterosexual box. As a Christian it is not my job to make sure I vote so that this country adheres to my personal faith beliefs. It is my job to love you, to consider you when I vote, to vote for my neighbor, for the orphan, the alien, and the poor in our midst. 

I am deeply sorry and I will spend the next four years listening, acting, loving, and fighting for you."

Today.

I write here because I need to hold myself to a higher standard than the lower one that is pulling on my shirttails. That lower standard is the one  fueled by fear, blame, rage, and hatred. I write here because I refuse to be pulled down, and the only way I know how to rise up is to drive my stake deep into the ground and hold on for dear life.

Today.

I write here because I need to give voice to my commitments. 

In the wise, quiet words of my husband this morning, our job now is not to project what might happen, worry about what could take place, or imagine the worst possible outcomes. That only fuels the fear and fans the flames of hatred and blame that have burned recklessly across this broken, beautiful country of ours. 

Today.

I write here because I need to remember what I said I would do today, so that I don't forget what I said tomorrow.

I commit to choose love over fear. Every time. And I know it will be hard.

I commit to listen deeply, especially to those who see it differently. And I know that it will be hard.

I commit to choose love over fear. Every time. And I know it will be hard.

I commit to speak out against injustice when I see it, and to speak up for the rights of all. And I know that it will be hard.

I commit to choose love over fear. Every time. And I know that it will be hard.

I commit to abstain from name-calling, poison dart throwing, and stone slinging. And I know that it will be hard.

I commit to choose love over fear. Every time. And I know it will be hard.

I commit to work for the good of all and the leaving behind of none. And I know that it will be hard.

I commit to choose love over fear. Every time. And I know it will be hard.

Today.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is what we have.

Let's choose love over fear. Every time. Even though it will be hard. 

Because love trumps fear. Every time. 

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop."                                                                            - Martin Luther King    

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop."

                                                                           - Martin Luther King

 

 

Holding Space

Recently a friend asked me to "hold space" for him. Life is bubbling up some big shit and he is working to make sense of it all. That sounded more than vaguely familiar to me, so when the request came to hold space, I agreed to doing so without hesitation. And, I asked for him to do the same for me. We have committed to being present to one another in an intentional way, so that we might each find ourselves more able to do the work that is ours to do. No one can do our work for us. Our questions are our own to live. But there is something good that happens when we live them together. Going it together reminds us that we are not alone in our efforts to make sense of things. 

Holding space for someone is part of what it means to be in relationship with those we care about. But what does it really mean to "hold space" for someone? My friend wasn't asking me for my advice, to share my ideas, or give him some thoughts on the matter. He was asking that space be held, by me, for him, to do what he had to do. Since I believe that the words we use matter, I decided to start with the dictionary. Space, among other things, is defined as a continuous expanse that is free, available and unoccupied. Each element gives insight into what it might mean to hold space for another human being.

A CONTINUOUS EXPANSE: We need room to do our inner work, because such an endeavor requires that we take things apart, spread them out, identify what we have to work with, what we are missing, and what is no longer useful. Then, and only then can we figure out how to put things back together in a new and more wholehearted way.

A space that is FREE: Any craftsman will tell you that clutter gets in the way of doing good work. There is no better work than crafting inner lives that connect who we are with what we do and how we do it, A clean workspace is one that is free of judgements, advice, instruction and criticism. 

A space that is AVAILABLE: Insight and understanding, exploration and discovery, all have their own timetable...they don't usually show up on demand. Available space is room that is ours for the taking. It is at our disposal and is space to which we have total access anytime of the day or night. 

A space that is UNOCCUPIED: No one else lives there. It is ours to inhabit. If someone else joins us there it is because we have invited them in. 

To hold space means to offer a continuous expanse that is free, available and unoccupied. It can be mental, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes even physical space within which to do the good, hard, and sacred work of becoming more fully ourselves.

To  hold space means to walk alongside, and to listen deeply.

To hold space means to offer support without conditions, and to ask questions without providing answers. 

To hold space means to create a framework within which to feel safe enough to fail and courageous enough to risk.

Space held communicates that we are seen and heard. It reminds us that we are not alone and that there is someone standing with us and believing in us. Holding space means we are available rather than intrusive, supportive rather than directive, and respectful rather than judgmental.

Holding space for one another is how we are able to find our way forward in the life that is ours. 

 

 

 

Changing Our Spots

Changing Our Spots

June 20, 2016 Molly Davis

Not too long ago I had an eye-opening, heart-stopping conversation with my husband. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

In case you don't know me well enough to have discovered this, I can be a tad defensive. That might be putting it mildly. For a myriad of reasons, from family dynamics to past relationships, my dukes go up anytime I sense that someone is trying to tell me what to do, or correct me in an area that I either, a) know that I'm pretty damn competent, or b) want to do it my way or the highway, come hell or high water. The motto "Don't fence me in." is music to my ears.

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A Call To Arms...of Grace.

This past Sunday morning, after the horrific Orlando mass shooting, my heart was heavy, my heart was confused, my heart was angry, and my heart was broken. Sitting together with others in our church I found that we all had hearts that were heavy, hearts that were confused, hearts that were angry and hearts that were broken. Seventeen years ago, this same church voted to become an "Open and Affirming church" which meant throwing the doors wide open and offering an extravagant welcome to all. Not just to those who look like us, sound like us, think like us, believe like us, vote like us, worship like us, or, love like us.

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In Remembrance Of...

 

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The Podium

 

The Podium

May 14, 2016 Molly Davis

Recently I facilitated a two-day leadership experience for a small cohort of professionals. This was their final session, and they had some good, hard work to do in order to leverage the investment in their own learning and leadership development. They were a small group. Six to be exact, and we were working in a smallish conference room that kept us in close proximity to one another. No need for a podium or microphone for sure,

It was indeed good, hard work as is always the case when we choose to take on our own development,when we choose to show up fully for ourselves so that we can show up fully for those we serve.

I love this kind of work. Close, intimate and small-scale

But that isn't what this post is about.

It's about the podium. 

 

 

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Stuck.

Who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another?  Everyone gets it.  No one likes it. We all know that feeling of being stuck, unable to get out, hemmed in, trapped.  There are times when we find ourselves trapped between a rock and a hard place, and when we do, our first reaction is usually to try to get out.  Now!  Alarm sets in and the flailing begins, as we look for any and every way out of the place in which we are wedged.

But.  

What if we aren’t stuck at all?

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The Art of the Question

In twenty-something years of coaching and facilitating, if I've learned only one thing, it is that people can almost always find their way to their own answers. My job is to create the space within with they can engage in their own courageous thinking in order to hear their own courageous answers. The right question, at the right time is an invitation to step through our own inner doorway and into that space so that we can hear ourselves think. I can tell when I've posed the right question to a client or a roomful of clients, because there is almost always a look of "knowingness" that crosses their faces. They know the answer because they've been asked the right question.

The questions we ask lead to the answers we find.

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What Do You Want?

In an interview by Krista Tippet (on my go-to podcast On Being), the late Irish poet John O'Donohue recounts growing up in the midst of the wild and harshly beautiful landscape of Ireland. He would often return home from the fields after dark, his path taking him through a deserted village that he was sure was filled with the ghosts of those who had lived there in years gone-by.  A young child in a dark and deserted village filled with ghosts? I envision the young poet covering his ears and running through the dark and scary village as fast as his little legs could carry him.

Our inner landscapes have their own dark and deserted villages inhabited by our own ghost stories.

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It's Just Hard

It was the end of a long day. 

At the end of a long week.

At the end of a long month.... I could keep riffing on that but I think you probably recognize the tune.

We were approaching the end of the class, all standing in our best versions of Warrior III pose, and we had at least another 30 seconds to go.  Legs shaking, core trembling, ankles wobbling and arms aching, my inner yogini was threatening mutiny.  "This is SO hard." she hissed.

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