Why does the bird sing?
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Lou Holtz
I woke up worrying. Or did I start worrying once I woke up. In those early moments before getting out of bed and way before coffee, it’s hard to tell. What I can tell is how my 60 minutes of worrying between eye flutter and first sip of caffeine made me feel. Like poop.
To escape the blistering heat at our lovely trailer, we stayed the last two nights at the Highland Haven in downtown Evergreen. A lovely respite from reality, the Highland Haven is a high-end B&B built around an 1884 homestead. A small river runs along the property, towering spruce provide ample shade, the gardens are tended but not over manicured. Our room is lovely and dark and one might have thought I could have slept in – but oh no, I need to get up early enough to begin my worrying. Well-worn grooves of worry were my focus. Challenging relationships, the heat, fires burning across Colorado our future, where to do the laundry… It wasn’t until I walked back to my room with coffee in hand that it occurred to me that I might choose something else and start the day over. Some of us are slow learners.
Looking deeper, below the worry, I see fatigue. These small retreats keep us going but our souls need a little more time to mend. Two nights at an expensive (albeit lovely) hotel won’t fix me. Darn it! We did have a lovely dinner by the river having picked up take out Thai. And, we had some much needed together time, away from it all. Later today, I check in with my therapist, my first appointment in a couple weeks. I will lie on her couch and tell her my tales. She will remind me that it’s all ok, to be expected, and that I am actually doing quite well.
Writing seems stiff this morning. More proof of what I tell my clients: you can be tucked away in a mountain retreat, by a river, all alone – and still not be inspired to write. There is no perfect time to write. It takes dedication, saying no to some things to say yes to this, willingness to sit through the discomfort, the ability to watch words that bore you show up on the screen and keep typing anyway. Don’t edit as you write is a mantra – yet of course, us perfectionists, can’t stand that! I attempt to follow my advice and type away, knowing I can come back. I could add this to my worry list – maybe I am running out of steam with my writing. Maybe there isn’t anything left to say. But I don’t actually believe that. I think it’s just often the same themes emerge and I get tired of saying it, tired of feeling it – and concerned that you might be tired of reading it. And, I am going to write anyway. Write regardless. Write on. That’s what I tell my clients – and I am telling myself that too. Over and over again.
There are sweet spots in the day where I imagine writing emerging themes and insights and beauty. I want to share all of it with you but then the moment passes and I don’t remember. Last night had quite a few. A conversation with two dear friends as we do a Vision exercise that I give to all my clients. Part of an Abundance circle, we three are creating the next year of our lives. In a flash of inspiration, I sent the assignment with a rallying cry to complete it. I have done Vision exercises over the years, the first time being when I read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles and let ‘er rip which (unbeknownst to me at the time) began my adventure in book writing. I know magic can come from the willingness to throw our hats over the fence and create dreams so big they scare us. And, I have done these assignments, creating castles in the sky and never quite following through. This time, it’s different. The usual instructions are to “dream big, think big, stretch, allow wild imagination”. Now, at the beginning of so much, I am allowing something (for lack of a better word) smaller. I am tired of pie in the sky lingo, I just want to be willing to dream of something. Like any good resister, I put off the assignment for two weeks and began working on it an hour before our call. Talk about putting rusty fingers to keyboard. The resistance was screaming in my ears. “That’s stupid, that’s a terrible, that’s boring, that’s unrealistic…” And, I kept the fingers moving anyway.
Something started to emerge. I wrote about the house that is taking shape, the lifestyle we are creating, how the fire brought us closer. Each sentence I wrote, I questioned. “Really? Do you want that really?” When the three of us came together, it turned out that we all had variations of the same theme. It is common lingo in the circles we travel to say, “when we declare something, what often shows up is not that.” Meaning, the challenges often rush to the surface to fill the space that is created in declaration.
With my powerful friends, I urged the permission for all of it. The glaring “not that” that has shown up, our mutual pissy-ness, dashed hopes and dreams, financial concerns (real and imagined), relationship challenges, and more. And, without having exact words for it, I urged us to do it differently. All of us have created before. What will make this one different I queried? We are all around the same age, have done a lot and seen a lot. We have transformation up the ying yang, we are self-aware and moderately successful in our fields. What will make it different this time?
I have been in this conversation a lot lately. I was on an inspired fast-track with my business last year, movin’ and groovin’, launching programs and products and astounding myself. And, I ended the year bone tired, realizing that even though I adore my work, I was still trying to prove myself. The old “when I get there, I will be ok” bullshit. Yes, I wrote a whole book about this, and YES I was still doing this to myself.
I want for these women like I want for myself. And, what I really want for all of us is to find peace. Peace within our hearts as a starting place. Then we can choose our dreams from there. So quickly my lofty goals turn to a proving ground for my worth. So quickly my admiration for another turns to what they have that I don’t. So quickly my success turns to not enough. So quickly inspiration turns to driveness.
Yes, we all have this and do this. Now, much of my motivation and push has burned away with the fire along with stacks of books telling me how to be better, stronger, faster; binders full of notes from my Masters degree, massage training, personal development work and all the business training I ever did; CD’s and workbooks of teachers offering their wisdom to entrepreneurs in the form of list building, business management, tele-seminar creation and more – all turned to ash. I implemented much of the training, yet many “to-do’s” continuously sounded their alarm from my shelves. “You are not doing enough” was their call. “You need to, you should, you have to, you must. Hurry up, don’t forget, don’t miss out. Don’t mess it up. You are missing opportunities. Now is the time. Hurry hurry hurry.” I hear their ghosts still singing to me. No, I say. I won’t listen. I won’t buy the garbage. And, I am certainly not saying it’s all garbage. I think you know what I mean.
It’s time to take it down to the bare bones. Just what is really going on here? How can so many of us go through life dissatisfied? We are smart, savvy, educated, talented, beautiful, yet it’s never ever enough. And, it never ever will be.
What I am asking now is:
What do I care about?
What do I really want?
How can I have goals, commit to move towards them yet not become over-identified with the outcome?
Can I let go of needing to prove something?
Can I really, truly be ok with who I am and where I am right now?
What if this is as good as it gets – can I be ok with that?
Do we judge the bird for not having answers? No, we let it sing its song. What does it try to tell us? Maybe nothing. Nothing at all. Maybe there is no message. Maybe it is merely singing.