Monthly Archives: August 2014

Brené Brown: “The Power of Vulnerability _ The One-Many (OM) Project

I’ve decided to continue posting, when I come across them, the words and work of others who, like myself, are committed to living and articulating the interdependence of life, and how and why we should live by, among, because of, and even sometimes for each other. If you know of anyone doing related work, let me know and I’ll include them! This is my passion: not only what I am learning from my spiritual companions, but what I’m writing my dissertation on. I’m calling this, in honor of my own experiences, and yes in order to keep my inner word nerd happy, the One-Many or OM Project. We are all one among many, but never separate from each other.

No one walks alone, so I am including the words of those gone before, who walk their journey with me.

The Message From My Ancient Kin:
“Child, the way has not been clear, but Change is always in the making. Even now, each voice that hides inside, could burst at any moment, and from the heart of every silence, rend from it the truth it yearns to cry. This silent cry, breaking in waves upon the world, floods the landscape in its pleading, still aching to begin, speaking wordlessly within. Be that voice, speak your truth, embody that spirit that is all that you are. For our world is starving for love, is yearning for meaning, to hear the song of every life. And our children need us to live life fully: how else can we leave them their beginnings, or guide them to live by the wonder shining out through their eyes even once they’re old? We have always belonged. We need to remember. Our lives are but a single thread. This is love that holds us, even if it can’t be heard or seen. Our raw moments of connection are the knots tying us together, and it’s from the strands of our own song that we spin the story we become into something beautiful and strong, part of the fabric pattern of the world.”

And now here is another OM person and an inspiring TED Talk which she gave in 2010.

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Listen to the talk or read the transcript here:

In Brené’s words:

Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. … (W)hat we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is … how we’re wired

If I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness … a strong sense of love and belonging … and folks who struggle for it, … who are always wondering if they’re good enough … . There was only one variable that separated (them.) …(T)he people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.

These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness.

What they had in common was a sense of courage. … It’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

And the last was they had connection, … as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were

They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.
They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating… They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees…

Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect…” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” … Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and … say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

In Difficult Moments: Learning to Let Myself Be Seen

I would speak for you,
I would call the colors, help you name the sadness in your eyes.
I would sing the sky’s song to you,
And hold the space for you that has no words.

But right now, peering through the dark stained glass,
Full of the mists of weariness,
I wish that silence would blow across the marshes of my memory,
Seep into conversation, drowning out my own sadness.

Sometimes there is only inky confusion
Lapping at the shores of my life,
As if a wave could slip onto sand indecisively,
Curling up upon itself just before its journey’s over.

Shame and its isolation wash over,
Conveniently masked by grey tears I wish no one knew about.
We have all asked, but I just don’t know why.
Shifting tides, interrupted flight patterns of birds,

An afternoon of lingering loneliness,
Longing for laughter,
And I’m trembling against sharing the seeds of such sorrow,
That never lets itself be named.

It’s tempting to frame it for you in pretty packaging,
Hoping, halfheartedly, that this time the tenebrous tendrils, fog of forgetfulness
Will snatch the melancholy from my mind,
Before you notice what’s there.

But the icy wind blows fiercely through,
Tossing untried possibilities across the vacant field
Of this directionless day.
And I am haunted by the changes I did not make fast enough, well enough.

Why can I not look inside
And recognize this nameless grief as mine?
Defeated I stare across the divide to where I thought I’d be by now .
Me—–you; place-where-I’m-standing—–place-of-my- longing.

The season is coming to an end,
And I fear I have harvested nothing.
I return empty handed, it seems, but for the tears pooled in my palms
Settling into the lifelines on my skin.

Perhaps, in this way, I can still water my dreams,
While the silent cry, breaking in waves upon the world,
Floods the landscape in its pleading,
Still aching to begin, speaking wordlessly within.

So I stop constructing paper cranes out of my pain,
And unfold the creases, between us its map and the indecipherable key,
The empty spaces for which I have no words.
And we wander the pathways there that I have yet to tread,

Because this is how we remember,
Our lives are but a single thread.
Because this is love that holds us, even if it can’t be heard.
Our raw moments of connection are the knots tying us together,

And it takes everything I have, to step across, reach out,
But when I do, the illusions shatter
And I’m amazed to find that you understand, that the shadows are familiar,
That you too struggle to name them, to share the origins of tears.

I would speak for me:
I feel undone, discouraged, , alone.
Could you surround me in your present, quiet light,
Until the fog clears, until I’m assured once more we’re home?

Please, help me gather these broken pieces
On the edge of this unknown,
Where there is nothing left to hide:
And for a moment keep them safe for me, carry them with your own.

Song of the Butterfly

Butterfly you’re trapped,
Inside a hollow stone,
All alone.

Longing to get back
To the rocks and streams,
The forest of your own.

Among the trees and shaded shadows you have grown.
Beyond these hills to sacred hollows return home.
You were meant to sail the wind,
Remember all that you have known,

And fly away, oh fly away,
Find your way,
It’s time to change.

Not knowing who you are,
You take the path to these
Nine hazel trees

And long to stay what wanders far,
To gather all you ever loved
In endless song.

But if ever love is to be near,
You’ll have to set it free.
I let you go not knowing,

Whether you’d come back to me.
And life can only take its shape
Once you let it be.

So fly away, oh fly away,
Find your way,
It’s time to change.

This chrysalis has crystallized around you.
You’re afraid to climb outside,
Find what surrounds you.

Come break free,
No need to hide,
Just spread your wings

And try
This open door.
I promise you will soar.

Fly away, oh fly away,
Find your way,
It’s time to change.

Butterfly you’ve flown,
Dancing across the sky,
No telling where you’ll land.

A shattered crystal stone
Lies still and empty,
In my palm, my open hand.

And just before I turn to leave,
I reflect on what I’ve found.
The rustling trees and running stream
Remain the only sounds.

They whisper in the twilight,
“none have returned here until now.
Don’t you understand?”
Transformed, I’m here again,

And fly away, I fly away,
Find my way,
It’s time to change.

Lost Under Flesh and Bone

This is a poem I wrote a couple years ago after coming home from an ob/gyn appointment. Perhaps I should add that the doctor was actually incredibly kind, but that wasn’t enough to resolve years of trauma I experienced at doctors’ offices generally. I’ve subsequently done a lot of work on myself in healing, but this poem still captures a reality of the past that I remember vividly.

She took my hand
How did she guess
The depths to which I’d be afraid
If a connection were not made?

The landscape is full of craters and lost children
I close my eyes, though I’ve already gone within
She hands to me a prayer strand of beads
And they become a lifeline, from what’s mine to a distant soul, the deepest part of me.

It is the landscape that’s crying
While a substrate of hands are reaching, reaching
To name and to conquer, each sacred knot’s untying

Until I am no longer sure
Whether this is a laying on of hands for healing,
Or whether I am the frontier over which exploration is persisting,
For no boundary’s untouched by her endless insisting.

I lose track of which colonized countries I am mapping to my body,
And through thickets of gnarly briers I crawl,
Tumbling down the treacherous hills I climbed so young,
And though now I am not young, I feel very very small.

To the subterranean spaces, I dig down quickly,
Here I am alone, and no one can touch me.
The cave drips with water
So I let it drizzle echoes of my names.

The murmur at the bottom, is nothing but a river laughing,
I imagine it would not dare to laugh at me,
But giggles like a child,
A place to linger for safe abiding.

I am aware of a room and a distant conversation,
But I am in a salty womb, and have turned the grey tears warm.
Blood still pulses through my veins,
It would turn an angry red at the suggestion of exposure.

And it flashes through my mind, that day they cut the Glastonbury thorn tree down.
At least I will not be torn asunder, but earnestly I wonder
Whether I can demand the equality of silence, if I cannot be safe or sound.
I lie there still, an object for a while, wounded, unwound,

And forget I asked about existence
Or ever lived inside a song,
As the observations, voiced, are cataloged
And the search beneath a beating heart goes on.

I have forgotten that there or windows or that daylight comes in
My hands are fisted my face a warrior’s shield,
My true self, who I am, to this place, in this way,
I refuse to yield.

Reason left me at the door, with only a simple never-giving-in,
While what is happening is filtered through a sieve,
And all I feel is the fear:
Is it real, am I here?

And when I walk away there’ll be nothing to redeem,
No place to replant supplanted pieces,
No earth to catch a whispered scream.

I cannot hide from the person in the mirror,
I cannot hide,
I fill entire buildings with my taking space.
I long, in vain, to hide my face.

But my body is an earthquake and my foundations don’t hold
And that’s when I start to fold,
A tree into its seed.
Into my center I fold and enfold.

Moments march to mantras:
Oh I will not concede,
Oh this mothered child of new and old,
This is much more than just a loop of beads,

It is the acorn of a life I’ve wrapped myself around.
Far from the mountains under siege,
Mold me whole,
Keep me found.

And beneath the city walls
Far below the ground,
I send all those who can defend
The story that never should be told,

The song of myself
Belonging to the sky and land and sea,
The language of the wind,
The light that burns in me.

She not only seeks, she keeps, she asks,
She takes my hand, and what I was first, and what I am last.
And though I am now safe and sure and tall,
And unclench the fists, hand back a circle of beads,

I can’t imagine reaching out,
Yet do it with a smile.
For a while I don’t measure how far I had to fall.
In fact, for a moment I feel nothing at all.

But if ever I recall,
Each bead comes back to me,
Each a truth I long to cry,
Each a memory of something I lost silently.

Each a part of me,
That in the forgetting of the thing,
I simply left apart, behind.

And I don’t know how long it will take me to return
Back to myself, to the trusting of someone.
I, who am still lost under flesh and bone,
Retracing and reclaiming all I call my own.

For I know all about the duality of hands:
They can hold you, rock you, shape you, break you.
You’re a person or a thing,
Depending on how they treat you.

And they will make ruins of entire worlds,
Or rebuild them grain on grain of sand.
But just because, for a moment, they try to erase you,
It will never, ever, mean you’re theirs.

And some ancient people carved hands upon the stones
To make it clear to others where they dwell,
But I make my way solidly, and to myself I still belong.
And my place: surely it is ever I, the written carvings, and the song.

Stop, Look, Go! _ The TED Talk on Happiness, Gratitude, and Living Consciously

Everywhere I look people are waking up into themselves. They are asking themselves: What kind of life am I actually living, and if I desire to change it, then how might I want to live instead? In every walk of life, we are figuring out, even if it appears to be happening slowly, how to make the world a better place now, and for our children’s children.

Today I’d like to introduce you to the incredible and ground breaking work of David Steindl-Rast. His TED Talk on the power and gift of gratitude, is entitled “Want to be happy? Be grateful.” I believe we are experiencing a profound shift in consciousness that will transform the way we interrelate with ourselves, each other, and our environment until we shatter the illusion of our separateness and come home to our belonging within the pattern of all that is. I am so grateful, every day, to be a part of that change.

His words echo my own, both here on the blog and in my dissertation, but I doubt I can match his eloquence. So, without further ado, enjoy!

“The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar. And happiness,
he suggests, is born from gratitude. An inspiring lesson in slowing down, looking where you’re going, and above all, being grateful.

An excerpt follows:

How can each one of us find a method for living gratefully, not just once in a while being grateful, but moment by moment to be grateful. How can we do it? It’s a very simple method. It’s so simple that it’s actually what we were told as children when we learned to cross the street. Stop. Look. Go. That’s all. But how often do we stop? We rush through life. We don’t stop. We miss the opportunity because we don’t stop. We have to stop. We have to get quiet. And we have to build stop signs into our lives.

And when we open our hearts to the opportunities, the opportunities invite us to do something, and that is the third. Stop, look, and then go, and really do something. And what we can do is whatever life offers to you in that present moment. Mostly it’s the opportunity to enjoy, but sometimes it’s something more difficult.

But whatever it is, if we take this opportunity, we go with it, we are creative, those are the creative people, and that little stop, look, go, is such a potent seed that it can revolutionize our world. Because we need, we are at the present moment in the middle of a change of consciousness, and you will be surprised if you — I am always surprised when I hear how many times this word “gratefulness” and “gratitude” comes up.

people are becoming aware how important this is and how this can change our world. It can change our world in immensely important ways, because if you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live. And it doesn’t make for equality, but it makes for equal respect, and that is the important thing. The future of the world will be a network, not a pyramid, not a pyramid turned upside down. The revolution of which I am speaking is a nonviolent revolution, and it’s so revolutionary that it even revolutionizes the very concept of a revolution, because a normal revolution is one where the power pyramid is turned upside down and those who were on the bottom are now on the top and are doing exactly the same thing that the ones did before. What we need is a networking of smaller groups, smaller and smaller groups who know one another, who interact with one another, and that is a grateful world.

A grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people, and joyful people, the more and more joyful people there are, the more and more we’ll have a joyful world. … People are becoming aware that a grateful world is a happy world, and we all have the opportunity by the simple stop, look, go, to transform the world, to make it a happy place. And that is what I hope for us, and if this has contributed a little to making you want to do the same, stop, look, go.

Listen to the full talk below.

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The Night Watch: Caoilte’s Song for Ailbhe

Hushed the night, all in their sleeping,
Dark, with misty cloak, draws near,
I the silent vigil keeping,
O’er you, and many dreaming here.

With the wonder of a child,
Among the trees these wakeful hours,
I will watch the land born wild,
This wood and all beyond, is ours.

In the shadows I am here
Beneath the hearth fires of the sky,
Though creatures creep where nothing’s clear,
I will see they pass us by.

Alone, the night song all about me
Soft spun, woven threads of moon
Rise, as if a tide within me
Spilled over with these thoughts of you.

Soon enough the day’s bright dawning,
Soon to wake the world astir,
And we with sun’s flight take our wandering,
I’ll see you just the way you were.

Swift the days in endless passing,
Uncertainty, our path wound through,
But long since this brief moment’s lasting,
I will ne’er be far from you.

Song for Brighid

I wanted to share the lyrics of a song I wrote last September while preparing for a surgery that would help heal me from a chronic illness. I finished the last verse recently, and hopefully I’ll have a recording at some point to share as well.

Brighid

Learn the language of all that is remembered,
Share the voice inside you that you hid away,
To Those who eat, but hunger still for meaning,
Say the things that love would have you say.

Come bring all you are and stand beside us,
You who know the spirit of this place,
Seek the echoes lingering, to find us,
Keep strong through all the silences you face.

Chorus:
Shine in me,
Give light to me,
May light shine through me though darkness surrounds me.
Shine in me,
Be light to me,
May I find wholeness resides in me.

One too many people gone before you,
Barely can remember what it is to live out loud
But you will learn to do this from your shadow,
How to drink the water in a cloud.

Keeper of the healing fire, the song of life,
Maiden by the well appearing very old
Waiting through each season for a passerby,
To recognize the woman they behold.

Chorus

When in desperation I first found her,
Running place to place to look for where I left myself
I saw within her radiant flame the spark that was my own
The light I almost lost to someone else.

Rekindle what is yours, reshape your world anew,
Between your hands exists the pulse of life,
Forge a new beginning for the one who lives in you,
She told me before vanishing from sight.

Chorus

For many years I wandered as a stranger,
Unable to accept everything I had become,
Giving into fear and doubt and anger
Convinced there’d be no rising of the sun

Then she bid me walk into the water,
And I let go of all that I’d been through,
When I awoke I met the world with laughter,
Returned to the belonging that I knew.

Chorus

One Night At a Berkeley Pub

At the Starry Plow, , a young man sings “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”
It’s the first time I have really listened to the words:
Tales of the ravages of the first world war
Exhausted, I wistfully wish he’d picked a different song tonight.

But when the verses are over and the chorus repeats
Again and again, my attention starts shifting.
To the ten people standing in the isle
Standing in a line, silent as a grave.

I’m the only one to notice them,
Held transfixed by the grief that haunts their tearless eyes
And within such sadness, I lose my bearings,
Their solemn sorrow startles me.

This is not what I expected.
Too many emotions that contradict each other
Course through their bodies, as they let the music move them.
Too much to be present to, but I try.

And then forgetting to make sense out of it all,
I fold my hands and sit still with them until the song is over.
Together, they wrap their Arms around each other,
Holding on tightly, as if bracing themselves against emptiness.

As if, by trying to appear as one,
They could quell the different struggles taking place within them each,
A weary story etched upon their faces,
Between us and the silence, and with the silence it remains.

If I were alone I’d cry for those whose tears cannot fall.
My friend asks me, “Aren’t you going to drink your beer?”
But I am far, so far, far away from here.
Feeling what they’re feeling, I can’t move or speak at all.

The song done, I wish that I could comfort her, my troubled soul sister,
Beside me now, determined to regain composure,
And though I cannot hold her, I can reach out and enfold her,
Never alone, I whisper, a single space is ours together.

Plato’s Cave

Again I’ve stepped from Plato’s cave
Where no idea is self-made,
Surprised how cold thought’s pure embrace,
Beneath eternity’s marble face.

I’ve come before here once or twice,
Its beauty chiseled out of ice,
Such stillness, not a rock exhales,
Pristine, unmoved, things-in-themselves.

A permanent transcendent time,
Is the world of Forms, the Good, Sublime.
Staring out of fixed stone eyes,
A changeless gaze, a semblance of the wise.

But what’s remembered lives, it’s the truth I understand,
And the whispering trees whose spring leaves appear,
In winter shake their branches clear,
Cycles turn time’s circling hands.

Mired in the sticky sap of love,
Gently dry the loss from grief stained eyes,
And the unkempt joy and laughter of
Each person’s full and fragile life.

Such a vibrant, wondrous mystery,
Sacred the shadows, sacred the living light.
What tales can be shared without a history,
Or in the silence of perfection, where no day follows night?

I have no need of any rescuing,
Nor need of wandering the ideal world above,
And it’s in the breaking open, that I fly free,
To soar with laughter, tears, and love.