A Stake In The Ground

There is something about making a commitment out loud.

At the end of a workshop or retreat, I ask people to reflect on what they’ve discovered or learned as a result of our work together, and to write down, specifically, what commitments they are willing to make. What are their personal marching orders going forward? At this point I also advise them that as a way of closing out the time together, each person will have the chance to share one of their commitments, out loud, with the rest of the group. The caveat being that whatever they share, they are giving everyone in the room permission to support them in their efforts, check in on them, and help them stay accountable to their word.

It is inspiring to watch them think deeply and trust the information that surfaces for them. The words they write down are an important step in keeping them close to their intentions once they leave the room. But there is something powerful that happens when they give voice to their commitments. By speaking them out loud, they are putting a stake in the ground for others to see, and once it’s out there…well…it’s out there.

Recently I decided it was time to drive a stake in the ground myself. I’ve lived with tinnitus for a number of years now, and lately it has been ramping up even more. I’d give up almost anything to experience actual silence. Except coffee. I love coffee almost more than life, and my morning cup is about as sacred a ritual as any I can imagine. I go to bed at night in anticipation of that first cup the next morning. I. Love. Coffee.

However, as it turns out, coffee is one of the culprits that, for some people, can contribute significantly to this ringing I live with day and night.

I’ve known that fact for a while now.

I’ve inwardly made a commitment to think about eliminating it.

I’ve inwardly made a commitment to eliminate it…someday.

I’ve even written that commitment down.

But until a few days ago, that’s all it was. Some words written down on a page. That was the morning that I turned to my husband, hands wrapped around my favorite coffee cup, and said, out loud, Starting tomorrow, I am going to stop drinking coffee long enough to see if it makes a difference.

Tomorrow will be day number three.

My stake is in the ground.

Any stakes to put into the ground?

Just remember. Once it’s out there…well…it’s out there.

Glenwood - Jan - March 2008 & RLP 127.jpeg