I would like to live like a river flows carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.
Sitting in my inbox is an email reminding me that it is time to renew this website domain. It sits also in my mind pressing me to confront questions that have been forming during the near six months since my last post.
The tagline for this blog, supporting the emergent, is the impulse behind my inquires: Is it time to let go of the way I have done my work in order to support what wants to emerge? Is something longing to come that needs a new kind of space to live and grow?
This blog has served an important purpose- it has given me a structure through which to share my insights and the writing of each post has been a nourishing act. Now I sense its purpose complete. Like the weeds working their way through the rocks in the path, I am tentative yet convicted that my writing in the form of this blog has come to a close.
I can not say what is wanting to emerge nor do I have a plan for how my work ought to take shape, but I can say I trust in the ever emergent journey of life and that despite my fears and limitations, I am wholeheartedly open to the creative flowing through me and taking the form it wishes to take in the world.
This website will stay live for now but as the river flows, who knows?
I have learned, as every good doula knows, sometimes the easiest thing is the hardest thing to do- nothing except hold the space for new life to come. I’ve been occupying a state of extreme nothing-ness and it can feel really scary. Now I’m sipping my tea watching the northeast winds fling brown and yellow leaves from the mulberry tree with nothing more to do.
I once had an intuitive tell me that I would not be happy unless I was living a wild life.
“HELL YEAH,” I thought, even while my life was sweet and conventional, the way I’d always played it, safe.
The off-ness of the comment confused people, they just couldn’t match it up with the person they saw in front of them.
But it wasn’t off to me. It was right on. And I knew it. In fact, receiving those words was like diving into a warm sea of recognition. When for so long I’d been fine, just fine, on the shore in my self-constructed, hurricane-proof house.
And then came the pain from wanting to be seen, to feel my self alive. To escape on a boat and rock it so severely that I’d fall into the embrace of those warm waters that loved me. I thought an escape was necessary. Until I realized- I didn’t want to leave my life, I wanted to show up for my life! I needed to be seen with my own two eyes.
It is mightily uncomfortable to allow pain to wash through me and flood all the structures that keep me safe. Oh but the insights and gifts that flow through that wash! And then the greatest, most unexpected one of all: this water that washes loves me too. It sees me, adores me, and moves me.
My wild life was begging to be born. Wild, creative energy ready to be released.
And slowly, ever ever so slowly, I was no longer on my knees in supplication but on my knees in glorified gratitude and grace, prone in the green grass hugging me, holding me.
With more than a pulse, with the breath of God flowing through me.
From the outside, nothing looks all that different (yet), I create my wild life every day here and now in the sacred spaces I cultivate, becoming as liquid as the water that drives nature and swallows up hurricane-proof lives.
At the ready for transformation.
I am enthralled by where the flow will go.
I remember the ache. I remember how it badgered me one morning at the breakfast table, the song from Sesame Street popping up in my head: Which one of these things is different? Which one of these things just doesn’t belong?
homemade banana pancakes
vermont maple syrup
a sweet family eating breakfast together
It was the ache. It should not have been there. I remember feeling like a royal criminal for being incapable of adoring this beautiful, still-frame moment in which I had everything I could ask for. What was wrong with me? Why was there an ache, a dullness inside of me?
I’m certain that if I had not had the support from a community of wise women around me, and the fortunate ability to create consistent downtime in my week, I would have been one out of the every four women in America on psychiatric medication. In a recent New York Times article, Medicating Women’s Feelings, author and psychiatrist, Julie Holland explains how this medicated normal is at odds with women’s biology. I hope you’ll click on the link, along with this follow up from my friend who shares what anti-anxiety pills did for her (got her through severe panic attacks), and what they did not do for her (change her life). Neither article is shaming, but rather a reframing.
So, we’re chucking perfect together and continuing this conversation. We can shift perspectives on how we feel, whether you are a mom or a dad feeling anxious around the pressures of work and money, of getting the children fed and the laundry done…whatever the feeling, we need new guiding questions, a new way to understand something that effects us all.
What is wrong with me? is the wrong question. Holland says that brain and body chemicals are meant to be in flux. Accepting our gloomy moods as a natural part of our biology is a big first step, and it opens up all sorts of possibilities:
What if these were normal states that don’t need to be fixed?
What if these states were actually very fertile and can catalyze positive change?
What if it’s worsened by trying to comprehend, control and resist natural feelings?
And an even bigger question-
What if our low states were a part of the creative process?
And an even bigger question still-
What if by trusting these states of being, we allow something creative to come through?
And bigger still-
What if it is in this deep acceptance of our natural rhythms (and life’s) that we harness our true potential?
Because we allow the creative process to work through us.
Because what if it’s more a question of expression, not depression?
And what if the world is waiting for our unique expression?
Maybe the future’s not stark,
maybe in the dark
there’s nothing wrong
maybe a new kind of strong
is incubating, updating, resonating
we are mutating
What do you think? Could your low state be telling you something new wants to express itself? Can you trust it? If you need support with medication, can it serve as a bridge to bring you back to your rhythm?
I encourage you to contribute your thoughts in the comments below.
If you’re a mom (local to Jacksonville) in need of downtime to connect with yourself, please consider joining us for Deep Relaxation & Connection.
“If teaching is to be reformed in our time, it will not be the result of snappier teaching techniques. It will happen because we are in the midst of a far-reaching intellectual and spiritual revisioning of reality and how we know it.” Parker Palmer
Parker Palmer’s To Know As We Are Known, first published in 1983, is deeply relevant today, and this quote in particular has everything to do with what we like to call innovative education. I found the book when I was a graduate student studying educational psychology at the turn of the millennium, and I was awestruck- I did not know exactly what was meant by a new reality, and at the same time, I could feel the exactness of the words cutting straight to my heart. Looking back now, I can see how the future was pulling me toward it.
In 2015, this message of a new reality is everywhere. Scientific evidence provides support for a global field environment that connects all living systems and consciousness. We are revisioning who we are and how we know, along with our relationships to each other and to the planet.
Some schools are adapting, taking a more holistic view of the child, and cultivating what are termed “21st century skills,” such as empathy and teamwork. The majority are stuck in an outdated and narrow definition of intelligence and how to measure it. We know this, but how do we get un-stuck?
We can’t just throw in some “snappier teaching techniques” and call it transformation. Leaders in education and in every sector have to become active participants in the revisioning of reality, which begins within ourselves.
Once we relax into ourselves
we can trust in the planetary crises as evolutionary drivers
we can open to a fuller picture of the human being
Yes, we have to relax. We have to relax into ourselves. This is a radical act, because we want to get out there and fix things! But that is the old way of the mind- forcing solutions based on limited logic, and it’s out of balance. Changes in the system will not bring the wholeness we desire. It is the cultivation of wholeness within ourselves from which new systems will be built.
With a relaxed mind and ego, we activate the intelligence of the heart, an understanding that arises from our whole being. From this space, we can sense a possible future that our minds can’t yet even grasp–
this is the unknown, emergent future, from where we must lead.
Our actions in the world must come from this inner knowing. In economics, MIT researcher and founding chair of the Presencing Institute, Otto Scharmer, calls this the shift from ego-systems to eco-systems. In education, so much depends on how we answer the questions- Who are we? How do we know?
I can think of nothing more innovative in education than to support teachers in this new way of being. Innovations in all sectors will sustain when we cut through the red tape and birth new structures based in this new reality…a reality to which we must be radically receptive.
How lucky are we to be living in these times of great challenge and potential, with the opportunity to re-imagine ourselves and our relationships with one another and with the world?
(A huge thanks to the Association for Childhood Education International for giving me the opportunity to lead a roundtable discussion on this topic titled Transformation from the Inside Out, at the Institute for Global Education Diplomacy)
I’ve just returned from the Institute for Global Education Diplomacy held in Washington, D.C. March 5th-8th. I met the most remarkable individuals who are creating positive impacts both locally and globally, whether improving the quality of education in their communities or advocating to end extreme poverty. Instead of reporting right away on the meaning of education diplomacy, and the skills and ideals behind it, today I am writing about a chance encounter with someone whose work I’d like to share here, because I think it highlights the essence behind the concept itself.
Donald worked for the United Nations within a diplomatic framework in economic and social development for poverty eradication. Currently he serves as President of the International Committee for October 17 — the United Nations International Day for Poverty Eradication — and Adjunct Representative of the International Movement ATD Fourth World to the United Nations. His mission is to work to end poverty and hunger, restore human dignity, promote human rights and reverse climate change.
I did not know any of this when I sat down next to him with my bagel, fruit and coffee, the first morning of the conference, of which he was the first speaker on the agenda. We had a friendly chat, he’d taken interest in my work, and by the end I’d learned his title, but I also understood that he is more than his title- he doesn’t just know diplomacy, he creates it in harmonious exchange.
I mention this because it is relationships that are at the heart of diplomacy. Being capable of relaxing your ego so that you can open to really hear the voice of another, is not only a diplomatic skill that moves relationships forward in a constructive way, it is a way of be-ing. A way of living in the world that creates harmony everywhere you go.
So when onstage he said, “All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system,” I knew they were not empty words. As he spoke about how we are all connected through time and space, I knew he spoke from an authentic place; that like me and so many others, we know our destinies are not to rule over nature or over one another, but to live in partnership with nature, with one another and with society, recognizing the interrelated quality of all of life.
I’m excited to write more about how this partnership takes root with our relationship to our selves in an upcoming blog where I’ll highlight my roundtable discussion on “Transformation From the Inside Out.”
For now, please check out Donald’s blog, Global Social Change, and consider joining a discussion forum and find ways to get involved in the efforts to end extreme poverty at http://overcomingpoverty.org (the website for International Committee for October 17)
I was recently involved in an endeavor with a group of highly intelligent and professional people, and yet the modus operandi was this:
kill off the people with whom you don’t agree
Violence isn’t just physical, it comes in many forms.
Do you think the extremist and mass violence we see in our world has nothing to do with us?
Acts of war and violence rage across the globe, and there is an increasing number of terror attacks on schools. We see these horrific news headlines and we look to see who is to blame. What if instead we looked first at how these headlines reflect the condition of the human heart? Anytime we are faced with such darkness, it is a call to look within ourselves, and also to look at our way of relating to the people in our lives.
Being “killed off” for voicing thoughts that are in opposition to those in power is my one small example of what is happening, large and small, everywhere, in mass consciousness. We have emotional reactions- unconscious, primal- and lash out with violent behavior. We use our minds to rationalize and justify killing people who are outside of our tribes, our dogmas and belief systems.
We cut ourselves off from the wisdom of our hearts, that place within us that can sense unity despite tribal lines. We silence it. Behaving exclusively from our mind’s logic, without alignment with the heart, we are capable of very harmful acts, despite any good intentions.
It doesn’t matter how high the IQ, without emotional intelligence (EQ), people will stay locked in old, knee-jerk reactionary patterns, which lead to intolerance, and will perpetuate the collective thought field that says it’s ok to kill each other if we don’t agree, whether at a public stoning or a town hall meeting.
Take a look at the condition of the human heart.
The world headlines are not problems “out there” that have nothing to do with what is happening right here.
Take inventory of your own heart.
As more and more individuals raise their EQ, violence in the world will begin to drastically reduce. We can move out of reacting from the past, and through empathetic relationships, begin to co-sense and co-create a more positive future for everyone.
This is the global discourse we need to be having, and I am excited to be inquiring into how developing the human heart can impact education systems globally and will be leading a roundtable discussion on this topic at the Global Institute for Education Diplomacy in March.
In a December report, UNICEF labeled 2014 as one of the worst years for children on the record. Between war, violence and the spread of disease, Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said, “Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”
Watching the video, it’s hard to bear. It is hard to fathom that this is what is in our world. The leap from where we are to where we want to be may seem insurmountable. I say the enormity of the situation is indicative of the great work of our time- Can we allow this suffering to activate new levels of empathy, compassion and creativity? Like visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard, I say, that embedded within a planetary crisis such as this is “an impulse of evolution that does know what to do.” It’s been evolving life for billions of years.
There is something in us that knows we can transform, knows we can bring healing, beauty and love into the darkest places. What it requires is courage to face those dark places. We cannot turn away. We have to feel. And this means feeling the pain of the world.
As a woman who has given birth, I know how it feels to transform pain into the greatest joy. I know that within suffering lies potential beyond knowing. As a birth doula, supporting a laboring woman, I can witness her pain, hold it sacred, because I know the miracle in it, I know she is rising with the occasion; I know she can access her extra-ordinary power, despite the difficulty; I watch her discover a previously unknown, audacious strength.
I know that the seemingly unbearable opens the door to the impossible. We have to get out of our minds, where possibilities are limited, and allow the impulse of evolution to awaken within us. That is where we must start. We have to feel the pain of the world’s children, knowing that within this, lies some hidden, “impossible” potentiality.
Contemplate what it means in your life to feel the suffering and the joy of another
and allow your actions to arise from a heart cracked open.
With new capacities for compassion, you’re ready to move into the world, advocating and creating change. If 2014 was devastating for children, 2015 is a turning point. Global activists and organizations see it as exactly that- the most important year for global decision making since the start of the new millennium. You can get involved at Action/2015.
Bill and Melinda Gates also view 2015 as a gateway for change. In their annual letter, they make a big bet, saying, “The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history.” They say one crucial factor in ensuring that this happens is people like you and me, lending our voices, and they’ve given us a platform called Global Citizen to do just that. You can sign up at globalcitizen.org.
Join the Charter For Compassion, visit my friends at Start Empathy, or get involved with local organizations. There are so many ways. And never discount the small ways that you bring light and compassion, with a smile to the check out clerk, with a hello to a neighbor. Don’t discount the work you do in raising compassionate children…in doing so, you change the world.
You know what happens when a world full of compassionate people join together? The unknown potential begins to take shape.
*A version of this article was first published on Montessori Tides School website.
Remember the fun we used to have as children playing and singing-
Ms. Mary Mack Mack Mack
All dressed in black, black, black…
Down, down baby,
down by the roller coaster…
We thought we were just playing. We didn’t know that we were wiring neural pathways in our brain that would make learning easier.
We know now that movement strengthens learning. This is supported by a groundswell of research in neuroscience, showing the powerful connection between movement and cognition. Appropriate developmental movement sets the stage for academic learning, and without the establishment of certain sensory-motor skills (ie..skipping, balancing on one foot), a child’s readiness for reading, writing and math can be hindered.
I have been volunteering at Montessori Tides School bringing specific rhythm and movement activities to the lower elementary students. We’ve learned hand-clap games, beanbag games, and lots of singing games that are healthy, enjoyable ways to strengthen capacities for success in reading, writing and math (such as visual and auditory perception, spatial orientation, concentration, rhythm and rhyme, sensory and midline integration). Equally important, singing and moving together builds community and spreads joy, and gives us all an experience of being in our physical bodies.
Some old favorites from my own childhood, like “Go all the way ‘round zero…” have been a hit with the students. When my daughter told me they played this circle game on their own at recess, I was thrilled. Thrilled! This meant that someone exercised self-initiative to get the group and game going; it meant everyone involved had to come into relationship with each other, and make something happen that could only be done in a group working together; it meant they created a feeling of togetherness, respect and camaraderie. As if sharpening their social skills didn’t thrill me enough, they were also becoming better readers on the playground. The skills they were calling upon- memorization, concentration, sensitivity to sounds, rhyme and rhythm- are skills needed for reading. They think they are just playing. And they are, of course!
This play supports their learning…AND this play is vital in and of itself for the sheer joy of it, and for the unhindered ability to just be children, doing what children naturally love to do.
Here are some of my favorite resources on movement and learning:
If your child is having difficulty sitting still in school or difficulties learning, I encourage you to look at how developmental movement can help. Check out Dr. Susan R. Johnson’s educational articles, the above websites for more on neurodevelopment movement programs, and how consulting with programs such as Balance in Childhood can help.
I live three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in North Florida. Suppose one day some people decided that we were no longer allowed on the sand, unable to swim in the ocean because this land was their land, or these waters were their waters. It would break us.
It would break us, this community of sandy toed, salty haired people. The souls of the surfers would be crushed and could never recover. Imagine how it would feel to be cut off from your sacred space, your soul would be crushed too.
Oh, but what a farfetched scenario! This could never happen!
Unless you are Native American.
In that case, it can. And it can happen in 2014.
Here is how it happens, in no unusual garb: behind closed doors and by a select few still operating out of an age-old consciousness, and with, conveniently, no time left for discussion. The typical fashion of leaders who are so attached to their own opinions and power that they have lost their purpose, which is to serve.
The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was supposed to be “must pass” legislation, providing for the men and women who protect our country. Authorizing the National Defense budget should have been straightforward- but it was not. At the last minute, a few members of Congress secretly added bills pertaining to the use of federal land, bills completely unrelated to national defense, including the snagging of 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest, ancestral homeland to the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Further appalling, when Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) bid to remove the extraneous “land package” bills, he received only 18 votes in his favor.
The NDAA passed on a vote of 89-11, and unless the president veto’s it, a foreign mining company will soon be able to take over the cherished land that the Apache have used for sacred ceremony, burial and prayer, for gathering medicinal plants. Land that they are spiritually connected to.
That’s how it happens in 2014 in the USA. No guns, just bad-ass politics. The lame and dirty story we have accepted as the way things operate here in this land, where we have completely lost connection to the land. Maybe that is where all these problems are rooted, in our deep disconnection to nature.
We have stopped listening to nature. We’ve gotten too cocky with our cognitive capacities, thinking we know better than nature, thinking we can control nature. But our left brains have not evolved in order for us to put ourselves into extinction! The choices we are making with our logic, though, are moving us in that direction. Logic can prove both sides to an argument- it is not meant to be our means for decision making.
Now is the time to listen, with open, receptive hearts to nature and to our own true nature as human beings, with a head and a heart for perceiving the world. The time is now in our evolution as a human species to balance our rational, left-brain thinking with our intuitive, right-brain knowing. This is the way we will move forward creating the peaceful and prosperous world that in our hearts we know is possible, despite the mind’s inability to grasp it.
Our relationship with indigenous people is key to this evolutionary leap. The ancient wisdom they behold has profound indications on moving forward as one human family. In fact, the prophecy of the Eagle and Condor, told for millennia by the indigenous people of the Amazon and the Andes, says that we’ve entered the historic time when the “Eagle” people- those who perceive life primarily through the mind- and the “Condor” people- those who perceive through the wisdom of the heart- have the potential to join together in the same skies and bring the whole world into balance.
We are living at the time of this great potential.
Fast forward to today. It’s not 2014 anymore, as it was when I wrote this article, still full of fire over this issue. Delaying this post was meant to be, because it’s a new year, a year to choose differently than we did last year.
It’s 2015. And I am full of hope that we will choose ways, big and small, to trust in the authority of our hearts. Because when we do, we bring balance into the world. We can help create a nation where we see less and less of these acts from our leaders.
In 2015 we can acknowledge the ways we have used logic to rationalize those things that do not align with our hearts, everything from taking native lands from indigenous people, to the simple choices we make each day without considering the state of our heart. With this awareness, we can see how the Eagle and Condor prophecy offers guidance and a promise of a world where we use our great minds to communicate, research and innovate in support of the wisdom contained within that place that is more than a pump. As we make the choices each day to place our mind in service to our heart, we bring humanity forward in our potential. It really is up to you and me.