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”
Stress. It’s something that every living being experiences. From animals to plants to humans, stress is a part of life on this planet. A zebra experiences stress when a lion springs from the bushes: that rush of adrenaline and cortisol that fuel the instinct to flee keeps the zebra alive for another day. A plant in the garden experiences stress when the weather is hot and windy or cold and too damp: the resiliency that is built due to these conditions helps the plant to thrive when conditions evolve. Much like in the zebra’s story, a human can experience stress when life is physically threatened whether that threat comes via a gunman, a grizzly bear or an icy road. The heart races, palms get sweaty and all we can think about is the crisis at hand. We react. And that reaction to a life or death threat is necessary for survival in such cases.
However, in our modern societies today, we generally experience significantly less life or death stress than our hunter/gatherer ancestors did. For most of us, stress arises when we perceive a situation to be stressful and when we let our perception hijack our response. There are challenges galore in a human life – that goes without saying. Schedules are tight, communications with loved ones or colleagues or neighbors are strained or non-existent, traffic is bad and there are too many bills to pay. But are they life or death situations? Usually not. Yet they often trigger the same fear or stress response: Our hearts race, palms get sweaty and all we can think about is the crisis at hand. We react. But in this case, our reaction is not helping us to survive: in fact, it might even be causing damage to our health in the form of elevated blood pressure, chronic tension headaches or inability to get quality sleep. In today’s modern culture, particularly in the corporate workforce, values of more, better, faster have invited everything from chronic stress to burnout to a general disliking of Mondays. When we view the world as an emergency room, our stress levels soar. But when we can really see what’s going on, we regain a sense of control and peace. Continue reading “Own Your Story: Managing Stress in Three “Easy” Steps”
Productivity doesn’t equal worth. Right? Deep down, I know this statement it absolutely true. At the core, each living being on earth is of infinitely more value than can be measured or quantified. Each person, or creature, or plant, or river is so much more than whatever is accomplished or produced in a lifetime. Yet we have a hard time accepting this. We see our land-base as a commodity more often than we see it as a partner in life. We tend to use water and air and soil for our own gain with little thought beyond what our actions might mean for someone across the world or a child born three generations from now. Often we mean well and even start to change our ways, but then life gets hard and it’s easier not to. We slip back into believing that more is better and that getting ahead and making the grade is what’s important. We start to see high productivity as the ideal and we lose faith in believing that it really isn’t when we are trying to tell the truth and the people who have the power to create change don’t believe. Or don’t want to.
I say I am trying to be ok with mediocrity. In another blog post recently, I wrote,
I’ve recognized that if I’m going to stay in my day job and thrive as a human being, mediocrity is my new goal for success. It’s hard to let old tendencies of wanting to be a top performer or make good grades or always receive glowing reviews go. But I’ve realized that, at least in my current life and work situation, being a top performer isn’t what matters to living the life that I want to live.