Last spring I heard a woman named Cynthia Jurs speak. She said a lot of interesting and important things during her talk, but what stood out to me most was the way she spoke of “acting from the subtle” and how important it can be to stop and breathe in the midst of the chaos that seems to punctuate our world more than we want it to. She spoke of focusing on the space that is in between where we are and where we want to go. She said it’s that ‘in between’ space that allows new things to come into being. From that space we can learn to recognize our gifts, and once we’ve recognized them, we can offer those gifts out into our communities, our workplaces, and our families. She reminded us that it is from our gifts – those gifts that are unique to our own being — that we can affect our life situation in the deepest way and contribute to the healing of the world. She reminded us that due to the nature of “in between” space, we all have a different version of what’s true for us, but that we can still support each other despite being on differing paths. Continue reading “The Space Between”
Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. That’s what I have to say. The second is only a part of the first. -Anna Quindlen
It’s annual performance review time for a lot of people right now. Every spring in companies around the globe, work from the past 12-14 months is complied, analyzed and formulated into a number that dictates a merit based pay adjustment for the following year. Accomplishments are acknowledged, and opportunities for growth are identified. Depending on the outcome, it can be stressful, status quo, or the best half hour of the year. The review process is a huge part of modern business culture, and one that is probably not going to change anytime in the near future. The question that comes to mind today is this: How can we take the score – the outcome – from the previous 12-14 months, and keep it from dictating how we feel about our worth, both to ourselves and to our employer? Continue reading “Review Season”
There are many people that I have known, and many that I know still, who are searching for something – that thing that is going to make them happy, that idea that will tip the scales in the direction of abundance, that person who make them feel like they matter. I have been this person, too, though over the past several years I’ve been able to come to a place inside myself that allows me to see more clearly that I once did. Most of the time, anyway. What follows is a letter written to anyone and all of us – it’s for you, for me, for your friend, for your neighbor, for your child, for your spouse, for your dentist, for your cashier, for your bank teller – it’s for those of us who have found ourselves seeking and wondering if this is all there is.
This is a letter to you – you who are struggling to find the good in life, you who are lost in despair, you who forgot how to practice self- compassion. You know who you are. Maybe you are reading these words through tears, or maybe you are putting on a strong face to get through the days. Maybe you are floating, unsure. Maybe you are newly single. Maybe you are grappling with the unexpected loss of someone dear to you. Maybe you left something behind. Maybe you are surrounded by people who love you but you can’t seem to like yourself enough to let their love in fully. Maybe you are feeling small in the wilds of the world and can’t find a place to call your own. Maybe life has dealt you a hand that even the best poker face can’t deny in its hardship. Maybe you are unsure of your life’s purpose. Maybe you feel like you will never measure up. Maybe you feel stuck in the system. Maybe you are just lonely.
I can’t know what’s happening in that mind of yours, in that heart or in that soul. Only you, or maybe God, however you view God, can understand the depth of what is happening, or not happening, inside you. But what I do know is that you are seeking, even if you don’t know what you seek.
I hope that you find whatever it is – and though I wish the search could be done painlessly, in my bones I know that you will always be where you need to be to find what will serve you, even if struggle punctuates your experience. I hope the rhythms of this human life have a chance to heal what needs to be healed and help you see that you are whole already.
Remember that you can find that place – that one that you are seeking – within yourself anywhere. We can seek from any location, from any point on the globe, from any apartment, from any taxi cab, from any gully and from any mountaintop. That’s the exciting part of all of this – perhaps it’s not something that you can see right now. I know that. But everything that you are seeking is already inside you-even the capacity to love yourself. It just needs to be uncovered and embraced. So many see those things that make you you and love them fully – don’t forget that. In the times that you are feeling alone or struggling, or when your purpose or path is unclear, remember that your home is the love that lives inside you, and you can always return to it. You can go home again. That love that is you is a light that will not go out.
And use your strengths as you seek-your appreciation of good music, your ability to talk to anyone and make them feel welcome, the way you study things before taking action, your knack for remembering where the keys are, your soft-spoken nature, your commitment to a cause, your determination, your modesty, your humility, your enthusiasm, your outspoken-ness, your creativity, your analytical mind, your compassion. I could go on. Use your authentic way of being to live in the world in a way that matters to you. It matters to me, too. And to others.
I have a small stone from a time that I spent on the island of Malta years ago. A wise woman there told me of a type of stone that washes up on the rocky shores sometimes. They are covered in little holes, and they’ve been tossed around and beaten up, made smooth, and cracked open again. They’ve been changed due to their journey, and their journey has left marks. She referred to these stones as “goddess stones” and told me that they always wash up where they are supposed to, more beautiful, more filled with life and lighter than before. Their holes give them room to grow. Their holes give them the space they need to evolve and to remember the wholeness that they have always had.
May you find your own goddess stone, whether your search for it keeps you close to home or takes you into a far off land. Remember that it has been with you always.
So, until we met again.
This post also appeared at enough.
Performance reviews. Assessments. Evaluations. The dreaded annual review. Most of us have run into some kind of quality assurance technique while employed in the American workforce, or at least know someone who has.
Evaluations are a regular part of life at my place of employment and something that I am very used to by now. Typically I get good scores and the evaluation includes plenty of praise and positive acknowledgement, along with whatever constructive criticism is appropriate to the work that is being evaluated.
Usually I can look through the evaluation form, note what needs to be noted, and move on. I can accept feedback when needed, use it appropriately, and in turn notice the strengths of others and acknowledge them along the way. I do pretty well, really.
Most days, doing pretty well is enough. But sometimes I get the feeling that there is something missing. That I could still do better. That enough isn’t actually satisfactory. That if I’m not constantly evaluating how I’m doing and striving for something better, there’s something wrong. That in acknowledging others, my voice gets tired and there’s not much left for acknowledging myself.
Even though I can plainly see the strengths in others and even verbalize them regularly, I don’t always notice and acknowledge them in myself. I have a tendency to want acknowledgement but brush it off when it arrives.
I crave being recognized for doing well but hardly know how to react when that craving is satisfied.
When I receive feedback—even when it’s positive—my default reaction is usually set to “how could I do this better?” It’s easy to get stuck inside the idea that there’s always room for improvement, and then turn a blind eye to what has already been improved or what doesn’t need to be.
There is nothing wrong with striving to better one’s self, growing professionally, building skills, or figuring out how to be more effective at what we choose to spend our time doing. But I think that sometimes we spend all of our time figuring out how to better ourselves, how to grow professionally, how to build even better skills, or how to be even more effective.
We get so caught up in growing and getting better that we forget to honor the life we have right now.
I know I get caught up in our culture’s mantra of “more, better, faster” more often than I care to admit.
What if I could take my usually positive outlook and mold it into a way of being that sets my default to accepting wherever I am in my job, or my relationships, or my life situation? What if I could celebrate what is?
What if I could put the focus on the strengths and gifts that I have—like being able to see the good in a challenging situation, or finding the joy that hides under anxiety, or baking a really good loaf of bread, or always knowing where the keys are—and then accept whatever comes from that focus?
What if we all focused on what we already excel at, or what we have bettered already, instead of that thing we feel is a weakness that needs fixing?
Perhaps the intent to celebrate the perfection that we already are would allow us to evolve into a collective that is founded on acceptance and peace and less focused on longing.
Maybe accepting the perfection that lies beneath our struggles can help move us into a space beyond what we think is possible—a space that knows no limits and a space that is simply enough. Period.
Seeking to grow and building on knowledge and presence of being invites excellence by creating space for that excellence to exist and thrive. But perhaps we cannot expand without first truly seeing ourselves as complete.
It could be that the excellence I invite by way of acceptance is different from what I have been taught to strive for over the years. It could be that “living my strengths” means moving slower, or pushing forward less. It could mean resisting the urge to try to be something I’m not. It could mean listening to understand more and listening to respond less.
I think it also means stopping to notice the beauty of a pebble in the rain, or hearing the gentle rustle of leaves when the wind changes direction, or feeling the warmth of the sun after the fog lifts.
It means looking into the eyes of someone different and seeing truth reflected back.
It means accepting ourselves as whole and complete, and letting that acceptance grow into our own version of perfection.
I could say there is no such thing as a perfect life and that there is always room for improvement and growth. I think I’d be right.
I could say that every life is perfect if allowed to be. And I think I’d still be right.
Living through strengths is not easy. But living through our strengths sets us up to find our unique version of perfection. Accepting whatever that perfections looks like reminds us that we are enough.
Read the original posting at Tiny Buddha.