Tonsillar Regrowth

A note from Tara: This post was originally a writing prompt I issued to participants in my September 2017 30 Day Writing Challenge. It was so breakthrough-inducing for those folks I had to share it here.

Tonsillar Regrowth

I invite you to join us in November for the next 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders and Creators. Space is limited; register now: taranicholle.com/30-day-writing-challenge.

A little while back, I had to see a head and neck doctor for something or other. While he was in there, I remembered something weird I’d seen during my own DIY doctor stints in the mirror.

I asked him to please look at these weird little bumps I’d seen growing in my throat. I’d asked my own GP about them, and he had no idea what they were but said they looked like “healthy” tissue so not to mind them.

This specialist took one look, stepped back and asked: “When did you have your tonsils out?”

About 30 years ago, I replied.

“Well, what you have here is a pretty rare case of tonsillar regrowth,” he diagnosed. Tonsillar regrowth, I’d learn, is a completely harmless but completely bizarre phenomenon in which one’s tonsils can make little efforts to grow back after you’ve had them out. Physicians think this only happens when the original tonsil tissue was somehow not completely removed.

They don’t grow back all the way to full size; in fact, we’ve been calling my tonsil spots “tonsil buds” or “tonsil nubbins.” But think about this. Something that was natural and innate in my body was cut out (with good reason, at the time). And that thing so insistently demanded to have its rightful spot in my body that it is growing back, fresh and healthy, over three decades later.

Takeaway #1: Aren’t our bodies miraculous? Marvelous? Wondrous? Like, actual, literal wonder? We focus so often on our aches and pains and cellulite. But ever since that day last year, I cannot stop thinking of my body as this marvelous contraption that is so self-correcting in favor of its own well-being, of its own healing, that it will try to grow back what’s been cut out.

Takeaway #2: What is inborn in you, the innate gifts, talents, callings and destiny with which you came here, cannot be totally cut out. Not by failures, not by age, not by even discouragement, or doubt or fear, unless you allow that to happen. Not by a bad childhood. You might think you are too old or too traumatized or too something to do the dream that’s in your heart, but I ask you to please just humor me and try on the belief that these things have all been preparation.

They have honed you, burnished you and thicken your skin. They have tenderized your heart, but also strengthened it. They have helped you get clear. They have helped you become more wise. More loving. More you.

Now, the world needs you. You feel it. I know you do, or you wouldn’t be here.

POD #17: Tonsillar regrowth 

Do you have a dream or a calling that has been dormant, or has just not been an area of focus, for any reason?

What is it? Name it. Detail it. Describe who you would need to be in order to let it regrow, to give it fresh life.

Conditions for Happiness

A note from Tara: This post was originally a writing prompt I issued to participants in my September 2017 30 Day Writing Challenge. It was so breakthrough-inducing for those folks I had to share it here.

Conditions for Happiness

I invite you to join us in November for the next 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders and Creators. Space is limited; register now: taranicholle.com/30-day-writing-challenge.

Hey, y’all:

About four or 12 lifetimes ago, I worked in real estate, selling homes. And I would never have had to work again if I only had a dollar for every home buyer who saw a gorgeous home in a struggling neighborhood and said:

“If only I could pick this house up and put it back down somewhere else. Then, it’d be *perfect*.”

Right. Except then, it would cost a million dollars more than this one. And except that in the neighborhood you love, the lots are half the size of this one. And the houses are twice the age. And have all manner of other things you don’t like.

Oh yeah: and except for the part about how that’s not possible.

POD #12: Conditions for happiness

Scan your world. Is there any relationship or project or area of your life in which you have been imposing impossible conditions on your happiness?

Is there any place in your life where you are telling yourself the story that you would be totally happy if only everyone else did exactly what you wanted them to do and everything turned out exactly the way you would do it?

Are these conditions even possible? Is it an impossible demand to expect the whole entire world and everyone in it to comply with your desires? Are you conditioning your happiness on the impossible?

Now: what would it take for you to decide to be happy in that situation regardless of the conditions? Does thinking about this spark any level of fear? Who would you be if you dropped the conditions and decided to be happy, regardless? How would your conversations change? Your relationships?

Can you envision happiness without conditions? What would that be like, to live? Can you feel it, even for a minute?

Alternatively, have you already figured out how to be happy without conditions, even occasionally or intermittently? If so, describe a situation in which you are happy and satisfied even though someone is not doing what you want them to do, or the circumstances aren’t exactly what you’d pick. How’d you get there?

Use Your Words

A note from Tara: This post was originally a writing prompt I issued to participants in my September 2017 30 Day Writing Challenge. It was so breakthrough-inducing for those folks I had to share it here.

Use Your Words

I invite you to join us in November for the next 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders and Creators. Space is limited; register now: taranicholle.com/30-day-writing-challenge.

Friends:

We tell kids this all the time, don’t we? Don’t hit. Don’t fuss. And whatever you do, use your words.

But we’re much less clear with them about precisely how to use their words. So human children model the words of those around them, creating mental storylines and ways of wielding our words, both toward others and toward ourselves, that last a lifetime.

Some of these are helpful and healthful, these ways we wield our words. But often times, they are totally unintentional. This is troubling, as words and the energy behind them are the most powerful instruments we have, as humans.

We *think* there’s no instruction manual for how to use our words. But in fact, there are a number of systems and sources of wisdom on this exact topic, from very different sources.

Examples:

  1. Non-Violent Communication: I walked into the house the other day and found my sweetheart having a deep conversation with my little black pug, Sumiko. “Sumiko, he said, looking her straight in the eye, “When you howl like that, I feel sad. I feel like I’m not taking care of you. And I need you to stop howling, because I really try very hard to make you feel cared for.” Scott was modeling Non-Violent Communication, a sort of philosophy and set of conversational templates for using your words to express yourself, have hard conversations and resolve conflict while minimizing defensive and unintended hurt feelings on the other side. NVC has an undercurrent I like, of requiring each speaker to own responsibility for their own happiness.
  2. Ancient spiritual authorities: One of the Bible verses I personally reference the most is Psalm 18:21, which I grew up on as “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” But I personally love the specific phrasing of The Message version, which goes like this: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”

I also like the fleshing out of this principle in Dwight Goddard’s translations of some Buddhist sutras: “As to purity by words. There are five pairs of words that cause much disturbance in the world:

  • words that are suitable on some occasions and wrong on other occasions
  • words that fit certain facts and that do not fit other facts
  • some words are quiet, some are wild
  • some words are beneficial, some harmful
  • some words are sympathetic, some are hateful.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them, for good or ill. If our minds are filled with sympathy and compassion, they will be resistant to the evil words we hear, and we must not let wild words pass our lips lest they arouse feelings of anger and hatred. The words we speak must always be words of sympathy and wisdom.”

3. The First of The Four Agreements. Those of you who know me know I am micro-obsessed with The Four Agreements, a set of principles laid down by don Miguel Ruiz for accessing incredible levels of freedom and energy. The First of the Four is to “be impeccable with your words,” which does not just mean to do what you say you’ll do. It means two things:

a) To understand the power of your words to bless or curse yourself and those around you, and

b) To only use your words in favor of love and light, both toward yourself and toward others.

dMR says this single Agreement, practiced consistently, creates a life that comes close to heaven right here on Earth.

POD #10: Use Your Words

Here’s the actual prompt. Use your ever-powerful words to speak, weave and write TWO blessings. The first one is a blessing I want you to write and speak over yourself, your life and/or your future. The second is a blessing you’ll write over/about someone else. The someone else might be your dog, your mate, your kidlets or your bestie. It might be our nation or our world.

Extra credit if you can toss in a bonus blessing over someone you don’t particularly ummmmmmm like.

Write a bit about how it feels to be the bestower of blessings.

What’s Your Game of Thrones Name? [The Most Powerful Writing Prompt I’ve Ever Created]

A note from Tara: This post was originally a writing prompt I issued to participants in my September 2017 30 Day Writing Challenge. It was so breakthrough-inducing for those folks I had to share it here.

What’s Your Game of Thrones Name? The Most Powerful Writing Prompt I’ve Ever Created

I invite you to join us in November for the next 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders and Creators. Space is limited; register now: taranicholle.com/30-day-writing-challenge.

Crew:

It’s go-time. The 30 Day Writing Challenge starts, right here and right now. By which I mean to say: Party. 👏🏿 Over. 👏🏿 Here. 👏🏿

First, a few logistics. If you haven’t already, please do the following:

  1. Make sure you have added me to your contacts, especially if you use gmail. In this email, click the arrow next to Reply, then scroll down and select Add Tara-Nicholle Nelson to your contacts. This makes sure you get all your prompts from me.

  2. Please click this link and join our Private Facebook Group. Introduce yourself briefly when you’re in.

  3. Open up a new folder in Google Drive or Word, and start a new document dated for today. Many people do this Challenge in a fresh notebook, if you like longhand.

  4. Then write away! You’re welcome to free-write, brain-dump style, or to work on a project you have in mind. I’ve also included a writing prompt for you below, if you’re wanting to work on the Transcend and Transition theme of this Challenge.

  5. Goals many people find helpful are to aim for 750 words, 30 minutes or 3 pages longhand. But here’s lesson #1 in how to work this Challenge: YOU DO YOU. If all you have time to write is a sentence, and you write that sentence you win. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for people to get into the flow and write 3,000 words. They win, too.

  6. If you want to keep track of your cumulative progress or writing streaks during this Challenge, start an account now at 750words.com and copy/paste your Google Docs writing into today’s entry. It is very soul-soaring, to see the total word counts and streaks you rack up over the course of this thing, if you do decide to use 750words.com.

  7. Come back to the Facebook Group at some point today and let us know how today’s writing goes! Bragging is welcome.

OK. Enough logistics. Let’s get straight to the Prompt.

I was one of the longest-ever holdouts from watching Game of Thrones (GoT). But this last season, my cuteface sweetheart convinced me to join him in what has somehow become one of our nation’s most unifying pastimes.

For context and for those who don’t watch, the heroine of the show is a young lady, a Queen, named Daenerys Targaryen. She comes from a long line of rulers, but her ancestors were not well-loved. Her own dad was, in fact, a murderous tyrant. Daenerys is on a mission to break that cycle; to still walk in her regal ancestry, but to be a Queen that liberates instead of imprisoning, and rules with freedom vs. fear.

So she does that. She frees these folks over here, that tribe of eunuchs over there. And every time she does some great feat and wins the hearts of a nation or tribe, she integrates that win, that truth about herself, into her identity. I mean this literally: she introduces herself with her name followed a long list of clauses that detail her feats and describe who she is and wants others to know she is, at her essence.

Somewhere in her title, when she states it, she always adds these words: the First of Her Name.

I find that last bit especially fascinating, because she’s actually not the first ruler with the Targaryen name. But by declaring that she is the first of her name, she reclaims and redefines her identity. She is putting the world on notice that she will not be another one like those who shared her name and came before.

Her name goes like this: “Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons”.

Inspired by Dany (when you have a 271 character name, a 4 character nickname is helpful), I came up with my own GoT name.

It goes a little something like this:

I am Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Sexy Black Church Lady, Lover of God and People, Swinger of Kettlebells, Disseminator of Sparkles, Delighter in French Fried Potato Items, Conscious Creator, Transformational Leader, Relentless Reframer, Spiritual Contrarian, Mother of Pugs, The First of Her Name.

POD #1: What’s your GoT name?

Here’s your writing prompt for Day 1. Whether you watch the show or not, write about this: if you could create your own Game of Thrones name, what would it be? What are the descriptors that would capture the essential qualities of you: the you you are in the process of becoming, not the you you have been in the past, or the you your family has always told you you are.

What would your name be, what would your essence be, if you could sum up who you are becoming without referencing your old limitations, traumas or even current circumstances?

How’s that for a warm-up prompt?

How to De-Chaos Your Nervous System

Awhile back, I took my team to an offsite at the Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Lake Tahoe. They had been going super hard in challenging circumstances, so it was very well-deserved. It was also an opportunity to walk my own talk about how rest can interrupt the intense demands we place ourselves, clicking us back into our natural state of flow, creativity and productivity.

How to De-Chaos Your Nervous System

We left straight from the office one afternoon, after an intense group work session. At one point during the session, I’d gone over to the white board to add my thoughts. I turned around, and realized that the rest of the team members’ eyes had grown big, and their brows had furrowed.

They had absolutely zero idea what I’d written. Except for one woman, with whom I had worked for years. She took over, erasing my scrawl and rewriting it legibly, all the while explaining to the group’s laughter that she even has a pet name for my handwriting: “Tara-glyphs”.

Har har.

We got a good laugh out of it, wrapped the session, and trucked up to Tahoe. There were only 3 rules for this offsite:

  1. We had a farm-to-table dinner as a group, and a lunch the following day.
  2. We’d all check in with each other via text throughout the weekend.
  3. The festival is your playground. Get after it.

That’s it. I was more focused on creating a no-pressure two-day cocoon of rest and recharge than on trying to get substantive work done on the trip. The teammate who wanted to do 7 hours of workshops and a hike before dinner could do that. (And she did.) And the one who wanted to lie by the pool for 7 hours before dinner could do that. (And she did, too.)

I myself went to a yoga workshop, a meditation and writing workshop one day. I stopped checking email. I sat down and just talked with my team. We talked about life and love and work and play. And we ate. Then we ate some more. And we slept the sleep of the tired tech team in Tahoe: dark, silent, deep and dreamy. The next day, I went to another two yoga and meditation workshops.

At the end of day two, something really weird happened. I went to sign up for the meditation/yoga workshop leader’s email list. And as I did so, I watched my hand move across the page, almost as though it was someone else’s. Perfectly neat, round, fluid script came off of my fingertips, with no effort to make it so. I watched in amazement. For years, I’d believed that decades of an all-typing, all-the-time lifestyle had simply destroyed my handwriting.

Apparently, I was wrong.

What I realized in that moment was that I’d been missing something, despite my best efforts to manage my body and my mind with quality food, fitness, relationships and recreation. I’d forgotten to down-regulate of my nervous system. And I’d more or less accidentally done this after just 4 or 5 hours of yoga and meditation, an evening of deliciously deep sleep in a place so beautifully dark and quiet, and the company of people I love to work and play with.

As my hand moved with precision and flow, without my conscious bidding, I realized that my ability to create, lead and innovate while living in joy and fun all depend on my nervous system. Our nervous systems need to be deeply tuned-up on occasion—not just worked and wringed out and released.

The entrepreneurial life is a delicious one. But it places intense loads on the nervous system, many beyond what we even realize consciously. We are on all the time – ruthlessly focused. Ruthlessly engaged. We have to make fast, hard decisions and engage in intense, hard conversations, all the time. We have to create, to innovate, to compete. We have to switch contexts constantly, addressing issues from accounting to research to leadership to product design to marketing, all in a day.

Sometimes all in a meeting.

I proceeded to write about 5,000 words in the following few hours. And I wrote maybe 15,000 words in the couple of days thereafter. Down-regulating your nervous system is not optional fun thing to do: it’s necessary, especially if you want to live out to the edges of your possibilities.

Here’s how you can do just that:

  • Practice taking in the good. Psychologist Rick Hanson talks about how our brains are wired to take in the bad, as a matter of evolutionary defense. This can cause us to perceive daily stresses with the same fear as we would life-threatening situations, with the result that we live on high alert. Hanson advises adopting a practice he calls “taking in the good,” intentionally stopping and encoding our bodies and brains with the pleasurable feelings of happy, calm, relaxing moments as they arise in the course of daily life. This practice of taking in the good brings down our resting levels of nervous system arousal and cultivates a mindful, fear-free experience.

To take in the good, Hanson says we must do these 3 steps:

1.  “Look for good facts, and turn them into good experiences” – look for at least 6 positive facts or experiences a day, either on the fly, as they come about or during reflection, like right before bed.

2.  “Really enjoy the experience” – sit with the sensation that each of these 6 good experiences is filling up your body, for at least 20 or 30 seconds in a row.

3.  “Intend and sense that the good experience is sinking into you” – Hanson provides a few vivid visuals to imagine, like the feeling of the good experience is spreading through your chest like the warmth of a cup of cocoa, as you drink it.

  • Wrap the uncomfortable areas of your life in a cashmere blankie. This is my way of explaining why I invest so much of my time and money in restorative experiences. When I’m working, I go very very hard, and am constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. So I stack my precious spare time with long walks and fun workouts, beautiful dinners with friends, cozy movie nights at home, spa days, wellness and writing retreats, and trips to gorgeous places. My home is very comfortable, and I choose clothes and shoes that are both beautiful and very comfortable. Cashmere ranks high. I need to be comfortable with productive, expansive discomfort at work. So I stack the rest of my life in comfort, where possible.
  • Create a restorative morning and evening routine. Get intentional about how you start and end your day. Learn about the practices that other creative people and great role models of productivity found helpful, and experiment with a routine that works for you. Don’t fight it because you want to stay in bed or you feel powerless against the pull of checking your Facebook feed at 2 am. Accept the reality that screen-staring is damaging to your sleep and your energy.

Personally, I wake up early, read something powerful, pray and meditate, then walk my dogs and do Morning Pages, a daily free-writing practice. It takes time, definitely. But by 9 am my most-prized tool (my brain) is primed and ready. I’ve already used my writing as an emotional windshield wiper, and I’m eager to start the day.

  • Explore therapy or coaching. We all have old emotional wounds, triggers, ancient wrongs and blocks we could stand to work through and let go of. It’s amazing how much these things collectively contribute to a high-running state of arousal, even when we’re at rest. Investing in therapy made me a better person and a better mate, but it was extraordinary the level of unintended impact it had on my work life. I’m a substantially calmer, more conscious leader, and the fun I have in every single area of my life is way up.
  • Deal with your substance abuse issues. I’m talking about caffeine. Some people can drink coffee all day and night, with no problem. I am not one of those people. At one point, my nervous system had a real-talk intervention with m. Every day, I was 6 shots of espresso in, on fire, full of ideas and in love with life, by 10 am. Then around 1 pm, I was curled in the fetal position under my standing desk.

So I stopped coffee. I lost that faux spike of energy, but now I’m good to go all day. And I do drink the easier-to-handle caffeine in green tea. I also have found adaptogens like Chaga mushroom extract and MCT oil to help support a creative, high-energy brain in a more sustainable, less crashy way.

If you have this same reaction to coffee, don’t fight it. Dare to be different. Give it up, if it’s not working for you.

  • Eliminate the frictions of unnecessary decisions and “switching costs”. This is why Steve Jobs wore a uniform: even the tiniest decisions you make “cost”, in the form of a little energy drain, a little friction on the nervous system. If you can eliminate the need to make small or inconsequential decisions, you’ll add energy back into the system. I have my own version of a work uniform: A-line dress, cashmere cardigan, metallic sandals. Period.

My friend Heather Fernandez, Founder of Solv. Health and Board Member at Atlassian, used to have a practice of asking any team member who was heading out to lunch to bring something back for her. And here’s the kicker: she was always happy, no matter what they brought back.

  • Seek out places where you can create margin, every day. In his book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson meticulously makes the case that most of us run on empty, most of our lives. He advises getting intentional about creating margins of un-obligated resources in our calendars and bank accounts.

No matter how impossible you think this is, it is not. It is excruciatingly powerful. I’ve gotten ‘religious’ about Sundays off for church and family, and about holding certain days meeting-free, just to allow for the nervous system unfurling and resulting creativity that happens in the margins.

7 Days of Writing Prompts to Unlock Your Untapped Potential

In the inaugural 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders, there were a handful of writing prompts that got the most vocal, most visceral responses from participants. What you’ll find below are a week’s worth of the most breakthrough-inducing prompts, the ones that most helped people detect and release their limiting factors.

7 Days of Writing Prompts to Unlock Your Untapped Potential

If you’re ready to unlock your own untapped potential and step more fully into who you were called to be, I believe these prompts will meet you right where you’re at. Try writing to one of these prompts each day for 7 days, ideally in order. Let me know how it goes!

Yours,
~T

 

Prompt of the Day [POD] #1: The Struggle Is Real. Maybe. Wait a minute. . .

Is the struggle actually real? Is that saying really true? Write about how you know it is or is not, using an example of a struggle you’ve experienced in your own life.

 

Prompt of the Day [POD] #2: Resistance is futile. And sometimes fatal.

In his truly life-changing book War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about the mortal enemy of dreams and creative beings everywhere: Resistance.

His concept of Resistance is a negative energy that arises when we take “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.” He says the activities that most commonly spark Resistance are:

  1. “The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional”
  2. Entrepreneurial ventures
  3. Diet and health regimens
  4. “Any program of spiritual advancement”
  5. “Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals”
  6. “Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction”
  7. Education
  8. Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves,”

and the list goes on.

All of these things trigger Resistance. And what does Resistance look like? Pressfield says that Resistance includes any/all of the following:

Prompt: When was the last time you tried to do something that triggered Resistance? What did that look like? How does it feel to acknowledge this? To feel Resistance captured in words?

 

POD #3: Our Unlived Lives

Hey, guys – here’s a provocative thought from Dr. Jung:

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.

—Carl Gustav Jung

In War of Art, Pressfield says:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Is he right? Do you have an unlived life within you? What is it? What does that look like?

Do you feel like your unlived life influences your children? Did your parents’ unlived lives influence yours?

Whew.! I know that one was deep. But it’s also important. I promise to go a little lighter tomorrow. Just a little.

 

POD #4: The Lies We Tell (Ourselves)

I was out with a friend the other day, and she said “I’ve done so many spontaneous things in the last week. That’s crazy, because I’m never spontaneous.”

Couple days later I was out with another friend, who was talking about running. Another woman in the conversation asked whether my friend was a runner. She said, “I wouldn’t say that, but I run.” I said, “I think the definition of a runner is someone who runs.” And she went, “Hmm. Then I guess I’m a runner!”

These are pretty innocuous examples, but they surface some interesting questions you can take as lightly or as deeply as you’d like:

What are you telling yourself, about yourself, that’s just not true?

What aren’t you giving yourself credit for?

What do you think you want to be or do or have—physically, spiritually or even emotionally—that you in fact already are, already do, or already have?

 

Prompt of the Day [POD] #5: Untether it!

If you know me, you know that one of my absolute most treasured life guidebooks of all time is Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul. I own multiple copies, and keep them lent out in rotation all the time.

There’s a principle in The Untethered Soul that I think is very worth catching, if it resonates for you. If it does nothing but ignite a spark of interest in reading the book, I’ll feel like the mission has been accomplished. Here’s an excerpt, which starts with Singer talking about what he calls “a basic human tendency”:

“When something painful touches your body, you tend to pull away instinctively. You even do this with unpleasant smells and tastes. The fact is, your psyche does the same thing. If something disturbing touches it, its tendency is to withdraw, pull back and to protect itself. It does this with insecurity, jealousy, and any of the other vibrations we’ve been discussing. In essence, you “close,” which is simply an attempt to put a shield around your inner energy.

. . .

Sometimes you will go through deep experiences that bring up intense pain inside of you. If it is in there, it is going to come up. If you have any wisdom, you will leave it alone and not try to change your life to avoid it. You will just relax and give it the space it needs to release and burn through you. To feel great love and freedom, to find the presence of God within you, all of this stored pain must go.

. . .

Remember, if you close around something, you will be psychologically sensitive about that subject for the rest of your life. Because you stored it inside of you, you will be afraid that it will happen again. But if you relax instead of closing it will work its way through you. If you stay open, the blocked energy inside of you will release naturally, and you will not take on any more.”

Here’s the prompt:

Are there subjects about which the people who know you would say you are psychologically sensitive? Things people avoid bringing up around you? Are there even smells, words, sounds or objects that bring up very painful memories for you?

How intense is the pain? What do you do to avoid triggering it? What would it feel like if you could be free of it? Would you be willing to allow it to come up and burn itself out?

Whew! That one was no joke. Love ya’ll.

 

POD #6: What do you do that no longer serves you?

What do you do that no longer serves you? What are you getting out of doing it? Are you attached to that? What would it take for you to release it?

And who would you be, if you released it?

 

POD #7: Handling Unfinished Business

One of the best gifts I’ve received from therapy and my daily writing practice has been the release from resentment and hurt from the past. Charlotte Kasl writes what I know, from experience is true: “as we feel the lightness that comes from clearing the air with others, we gain the courage to continue.”

I’d even go further and say that once you operate in what I like to call the free-and-clear, you can’t really turn back. You start to realize that unresolved resentments and conflicts take up residence in your body and your spirit, and you get to a place where you literally cannot tolerate unfinished business. The pain of dishonesty or of avoiding the hurt of dealing with unresolved messes becomes much greater than the pain of facing it and working things through.

Kasl writes: “to become aware of unfinished business in your life, ask yourself the following five questions.”

Here’s the prompt:

  1. Who comes to mind when I think of unresolved grief, hurt, or pain?
  2. To whom do I need to apologize?
  3. With whom do I need to talk over conflict and seek some form of resolution?
  4. To whom do I need to send thanks?
  5. What are the conclusions I’ve made about myself that relate to these situations?

Source: If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path, by Charlotte Kasl.

Feels Hard vs. Feels Good: The Surprisingly Wise Decision Rule [30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 29]

My friend Ann and I were chatting a week or so ago about a project she was thinking of doing. Ann is one of the smartest chicks I know – she’s a technical writer and an extremely engaged parent, whose sweet, gleeful children could converse with heads of state and leave the diplomats craving more.

Feels Hard vs. Feels Good: The Surprisingly Wise Decision Rule

Ann has been pretty shell-shocked by the election fallout. She spent the first week assuring her ½ Filipino, ½ white, 100% American kids that they would not be deported. Then, during Week 2, Ann was personally on the receiving end of a racial slur by a neighbor who expressed his pleasure at the prospect that “people like you” (Filipino Moms, apparently) will be “going back” (where? to Manhattan? SMH/shrug/ignorant/whatever, dude). In that same moment, she was on the receiving end of alliance and defense by a bystander.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a mixed bag.

Ann’s been spending a lot of time thinking about how to convert frustration and sadness and anger into thoughtful action. She’s done this in a bunch of ways, being a very proactive participant in school district communications around the election and teaching the Girl Scout troop she leads about tolerance and alliance.

But when we were messaging the other day, she sent me the photo of this sign, told me she was thinking of having her Girl Scouts sell them, and asked for my honest take on whether I would put one front of my house:

My house is elevated off the street level by about 40 stairs, so it’s not the best place to showcase messages if you want anyone else to see them. But I liked the sign and the intention behind it. Even more, I liked where her impulse to do this project came from. I honor and appreciate her internal character and love, the things about her that would even make it occur to her to be involved with such a project. And I wanted to tell her so.

Ann is analytical, so she had run some numbers. Our chat thread went like this:

Ann: If I sell this many signs and donate this much from each to the ACLU, we should be able to donate $200. Does that make sense?

Me: No. It doesn’t make sense that you would spend that much time selling and delivering signs to give $200. You could just write them a check for that.

Ann: I know. I did already. To them, and Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Clinic, and, and, and.

Me: I know you did, girl. What I’m saying is I don’t think it pencils. But I think you should do it anyway. The math doesn’t matter. Whether it makes sense or not is the right decision rule.

You should do it because you feel an urge to, and I think that’s a sign you’re onto something. Do it because it’s just a pure and beautiful thing to do. And because it’s out of love that you’re doing it. And because it’s so powerful and will be such a memorable thing for these little girls, to be a part of this. But also just do it because it’ll make you feel so good, Ann.

But, no it doesn’t make sense. And I think you should do it anyway. And please set two aside for me, thanks.

Ann: *thumbs up

So she did it. She just started doing it a few days ago. And she is really, really onto something.

Within a couple of days, I started to see dozens of Facebook posts from people I know putting these in their yards. Not only had Ann made herself feel good, she’d created this gorgeous upswell of connection and love and conversation and emotion. It’s given families who didn’t feel they had any other way to be heard a way to voice their love, and to connect with each other. People were posting photos, other people in their circles were asking to order signs, and within a few days she had cut the first $400 check to the ACLU. And she’s just getting started.

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Image: Some of Ann’s Signs, in Action NOTE: If you want your own, email inthishouseproject at gmail dot com.

Here’s the principle: the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to feel good about a decision or a project, before I move forward on it. I say this not because I’m selfish, or a hedonist. I say this because once I worked a lot of old outdated triggers out of my system, and my emotions were grounded more often than not, I started to notice that my emotions are an incredible, instant, God-given source of wisdom, clarity and direction.

If I feel bad about something, it’s not the right thing. Even if everyone else thinks it’s a great opportunity or idea. And if I feel great or expansive about something, even something that doesn’t seem like the best use of time or resources, it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

We have this idea that good things must be hard, or that the struggle is real, or that there’s great honor in doing things that we don’t want to do because someone else thinks they are responsible or worthwhile.

But I’ve found that the things I just plain old want to do, love to do and desire to do, are often worthwhile and wildly more fruitful than things I’m doing out of obligation.It is in-built in the human spirit to want to do things that serve something bigger than you. Often even very hard work on these sorts of projects feels easy and energizing to do. I’ve learned basically all of my love-driven activities and decisions elevate my emotional state, and they elevate those around me, though, whether they’re for the Benefit of Humanity or they’re purely for fun.

Allow me to correct the messages you might have received from culture. Joy, love, fun, I just want to, I feel called to: these are all worthy reasons to do something. Let this guide you. On behalf of the world, I beg you, let this guide you.

By the same token, internal turbulence, tightness and discord are a beautiful guidance system. This, I’ve seen and learned over and over again. I’ve seen it so often, in fact, that now I just listen and make the needed adjustments, quick-like and without attachment. Without upset. Most of the time, without complaining. I’ve learned to see it as a treasure when I get these sorts of feelings, because I’m grateful for the guidance and I know it will pass.

And so many beautiful things have come into my attention and focus and life, as a result of making these adjustments.

Let’s take this Inaugural Writing Challenge, for instance. Issuing it was an impulse, which felt so strong and so good that I just followed it. I followed it even though people were like wait: are you charging people for this? Nope. I followed it even though it took probably close to 75 hours of extra time out of this last month or so.

And I would do it all over again, right now, in a heartbeat. It has been one of the most delightful, juicy, free-flowing work experiences I’ve ever had. And it’s been FRUITFUL: I’ve gotten to share in the shifts people have experienced while participating in this, I’ve been able to connect with people around a lot of previously untold bits of my own story, and I’ve had incredible new insights into what I’m being called to do.

Long/short is, your emotions can be a wise divining rod for the projects, decisions and relationships you choose, if you allow them to be, and if you tend to them so that you start from a baseline of grounded-ness, not triggered-ness. Then, when you get a leap in your spirit about something, please follow it. And when you get a gut warning, follow that, too.

P.S.: I issued a 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders a few weeks back, and over 150 brilliant souls signed up! I decided to take the Challenge right along with them, and it’s been a profound journey for many of us. Most people are journaling or free-writing every day, privately. I wrote this post on Day 29 of the Challenge. I’ll be doing another writing Challenge in January; click here to get on the list for the January Challenge.