Unravel Her

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That poem wants you to catch it by its tail

by the secret string

inside the honeysuckle

to find that succulent drop

you swear there are powers inside

’cause it’s real honey

skate away in your blue suede orange wheels

purple satin visor

born to roll

that yellow comb sticking out of your Sergios

if you can read this, you’re too close

people say your switchin’ but it’s just the way you walk

you’re always Kelly when Charlie calls

or Diana, daughter of Hippolyta

that girl knew so much

she comes back

when you stir your breath

eleven minutes on the kitchen timer

unravel her

before the sun

Squash it – 3 Surprising Human Relationship Tips

ImageYa-huh!

Na-uh!

Ya-huh!

Na-uh!

When was the last time you took a stand and would not even consider the idea of the other person being right? Even just a little? Remember when you were a child and disagreements spiraled into the dialogue above? Here’s an idea, to consider sometimes:

1. Give up being right.

“But what if I am right?”

So what if you are right. Is it possible for you to consider that other person’s perception as their reality, which might be different from your reality? If you find yourself butting heads with someone in your life, at work, at home, on the bus, at the gym, stop for a moment and consider what would happen if you changed your reaction. Let go. Watch the other person’s reaction change. You are doing a dance of conflict, where you are spending energy making the other person wrong. You know the steps. Try changing them.

Here’s something else surprising from a woman who was raised to speak her mind:

2. Keep your mouth shut.

Wait, keep reading. This comes from my Uncle John, when I asked how he and my Aunt Joan have stayed married for so long. He told me that communication is key and to keep faith at our center. Then he said to his very outspoken goddaughter, “You know, Becca, sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut.” I have field-tested this advice at work and at home, and it works. If there is something truly problematic, please know that I am not suggesting that you endure undue pain. However, the adage about “choosing your battles” truly does apply. I have trained myself to silently ask, “is it worth it?” for some of those little things or even to bookmark it. For example, if you know that there is an important issue which you and a loved one or co-worker need to discuss, yet perhaps that moment isn’t the right time because you are in traffic, or someone is tired and just not ready for a healthy discussion, then write it down. You can use paper, a receipt in your wallet or even your smartphone. If I have nothing to write with, I tell my muse and higher power, “Okay, I trust that you will help me to remember to raise this at the right time.”

Some of the reasons humans are not ready for constructive discussions are because they are rushed, stressed or “grungry.”

3. Ask yourself, “Am I grungry?”

Grungry is a term that has saved my marriage. Did that get your attention? Actually, my marriage didn’t need saving in the big picture, however, when my husband and I first started dating, we had some communications breakdowns around listening. What we have found is that when we are hungry, we are grumpy (thus “grungry” was born).  In this state, we are less likely to listen to each other. This is a verbal cue which we use on the phone and in person. So for example, I may come home from work and still be in, “let’s get it done mode” and start in on tasks: homework, laundry, dishes and more. And let’s just say that my mode of delivery is not great, he just asks, “Are you grungry?” There are times when I want to snap and say, “No! We have lots to do!” Then, I employ the two tips above, keep my mouth shut (even for ten full seconds of reflection and I mean counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…”). I think, he is right, I am grungry. So I practice some good old-fashioned self-care. I eat a pre-dinner snack and drink water, usually an ice cold “La Croix” bubble water, breathe, and slow down.

Try these tips  for squashing conflict over the weekend. It’s a way to lead a peaceful life. You will still resolve situations. You just may find that with reflection and time, they have a different look and taste.

Honeycomb It: Getting to Your Core

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After seeing the majestic artistic vision of Mt. Rushmore, I keep coming back to the image of “honeycombed” rock. This was a process of drilling holes in the outside of the rock to weaken a layer and then knock it off to get to the smoother more carvable granite. It made me think about the process of discovery as an artist and as a human being.

What lies underneath? What amazing sculpture is lurking inside of you? You can take this on the physical level and look at your body. I can tell you that I was not one of those Hollywood stars who shed their baby fat after giving birth. I finally joined Weight Watchers when my son was five years old and am happy to say that I am 25 lbs. lighter as a result. That has definitely given me more energy.

But what about the soul stuff? What about that light burning brightly inside of you? As I write this, a colleague who is a self-proclaimed cynic told me, “We don’t take off the layers.  We just cement and plaster layer after layer.” Is that true for you? Do you have a vision of how you are supposed to be? At different points in my professional career, I felt stifled. Like I had to show up in a certain way, in a role layered with cement, plaster, drywall. I wasn’t eating well or exercising. I felt like I always had to watch my back. What a way to live.  Fear can make us protect ourselves.

What if you poked a few honeycomb holes in that fear? Or in that vision of what or who you are supposed to be according to your boss, your partner, your family? What if some light got in? What if you took a chance, weakened that layer of rock and did an awesome karate kick…and a chunk fell off? What marvelous creation might you uncover?

Go ahead, drill a little hole, then another one and another.  The world needs the YOU under all that rock.

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Yo’ Mama

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Celebrate what you know. You know that your mother carried you for 10 months (9 months is a myth). You may have a big pile of memories to choose to embrace whether she is on this earth or not. Or maybe those memories are from a grandmother or a neighbor.

For those who struggle with today because of a mother who has passed away, a mother who was absent physically or emotionally, or maybe too present controlling your outcomes, or perhaps alcoholic or abusive, I offer you one word: love.  For those who wish or wished to have children and it did not occur.  To you I offer one word: love. You have love in your life. It’s a mother love. From your colleague that invites you to dinner at her house, to the lady who works in the checkout line and tells you stories every time. And to you who may be childless and wanting, think today about all those folks you have mothered, Godmothered, hugged in words and deeds.

Turn this day around into a dance celebrating those mother love moments received and given. Open your eyes and one may even appear today. I’m sending you love right now.  Open your hand, your heart and receive the love in these words, the spiritual heart kindness just for you. Take the river of thoughts that are just thoughts and practice loving them to death. You see: you matter. You matter. You matter. Happy Mother’s Day!

When I grow up, I want to be like M.

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With my heroine, M. in South Dakota

I am fortunate to work with a lot of people who have put in a fair amount of time on this planet. They know way more than I do and they are willing to share their wisdom with me in words and actions.

M. (pictured above) is one of the reasons I want to go to work. We took this picture last night in South Dakota. M. is one of the most active, inspiring and smart volunteers I know. She’s a retired teacher. I have been working with her for over a decade. Here’s a just a glimpse (I’m sure there’s more) of what she does in a typical month:

  1. Plays saxophone in a band – I think two bands – one plays at inaugural and related fancy functions and the other plays at less intense functions.
  2. Organizes musicians to play weekly during a meal and bingo at the senior center.
  3. Volunteers weekly in a kindergarten classroom.
  4. Provides caregiving (with her husband) for two separate sets of family members each of whom live a ways away – she drives 3 ½ hours to get to one of the aging couples.
  5. Recruits volunteers and participates in a backpack-stuffing program for children who don’t have enough food on the weekends.
  6. Serves as a statewide leader in community service which means that she motivates volunteers around the state who give back to their communities. She also collects and tabulates the number of community service hours contributed by these inspiring folks.

She does all of this with a smile on her face. With a constant wonder at life and a sense of gratitude for all that she gets back from the smiles and hugs at the senior center, in the kindergarten classroom and beyond.

And I only learn about this work by asking her. It’s part of who she is and it is in her DNA. And for my part, I am helping her to meditate just ten minutes a day, to make sure that she recharges and gives something different back to herself.

M. is one of the reasons I go to work every day. We don’t talk a lot. It’s mostly by email. Yet knowing that she is literally changing the world for the better and that I have a chance to learn from her and perhaps give her something she could use out here in this gorgeous prairie…I say, thank you for this chance to show up. I say thank you for introducing me to this saxophone-playing, backpack-stuffing, lover of humanity. When I grow up, I want to be like M.

Do you have these role models in your life? They are everywhere. And you can be one too!