As 2015 draws to a close, Kristine and I send all of you our crazy-deep thanks for walking the planet with us.  Our Matters That Matter work continues, and we love it as much as ever.  We are also each finding work that fills our individual souls…  please, oh please, visit Kristine’s website to see what she is up to… Bean Pole Pottery  Every piece she makes takes one’s breath away!
Molly is about to launch her new business – Trailhead Coaching and Consulting.  In anticipation for her website going “live” (mid-January) here is a final post to end 2015 well, and step into 2016.

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It’s almost here.  

A new year.

As I sit at my desk writing this post, outside my window, it’s winter.  3ft of snow, icicles hanging from the roof, the sun moving across the sky while never clearing the tree line, and the world seems to be holding its breath, quietly waiting for…. something.  

 

Just back from visiting friends and family, having spent time with some of those we love most, it seems that there is a theme afoot among those we spend time with.  That theme?  Anticipation. Every single conversation over the holiday season shed a different speck of the same light on the year ahead. No one knows for sure what is coming, what exactly lies ahead, or what specifically is over the next rise.  But one thing they do know for damn sure, is that “it” is coming their way. They are anticipating its arrival, not expecting it.  They are preparing for it, not planning for it. They are listening for it, not talking to it.  They are holding it lightly, not gripping it tightly.  

Expectation is enclosed, signaling a kind of certainty, and like a practical-minded project leader, it is focused on what should happen.  Anticipation has an openness to it, a sense of wonder and childlike delight, giddy about what could happen.   

Expectation is a  spotlight.  Anticipation is a sparkler.

Expectation seems cramped, a wee bit suffocating and expects you to color inside the lines.  Anticipation feels spacious, with room to breathe and room to roam.

Expectation is certain.  Anticipation is curious.

Expectation likes information.  Anticipation loves imagination.

Expectation favors control.  Anticipation is fond of courage.

Expectation is an expedition.  Anticipation is an adventure.

It might be easy to think that they are the same thing, but as we head into a new year, I suggest they are not.  We aren’t just haggling over semantics here.  Expectation casts the future in concrete, setting us up for disappointment and disillusion, since life rarely works out exactly as planned.  Anticipation on the other hand, opens the door to new possibilities, leading us on an adventure of discovery and delight, as life unfolds in new and unexpected ways.    

 Expectation or Anticipation?  

Each is a mindset.  

Each is a choice.

2016: A Year of Expectation or Anticipation?

Your choice. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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This and That

April 15, 2015

by Molly Davis

“This is what we have” she says, holding up her left hand, palm up and slightly cupped, as if cradling something fragile and precious. Pausing, she lets her words and the image settle in.

“This is what we want” she continues, holding up her right hand in a similar fashion.  There is a gap between her two cupped hands.

“Our pain and frustration, suffering and discomfort come from comparing what we have with what we want.  She bangs her two hands together, over and over, demonstrating the inner turmoil and outer frenzy of living in the gap between what we have and what we want.

This is what I have…. That is what I want.

This is how it is….That is how I wish it was.

This is where I am… That where I want to be. 

This is when it is….That is when I want it to be.  

She stops banging her hands together, and slowly, gently, deliberately… because it is hard to loosen our grip on what we hold so tightly…. she lowers her right hand.  Suddenly, the banging stops, and there is no struggle between This and That.  

I will never forget the moment when she first held up her hands, giving me a picture that returns again and again, to help me step squarely into what I have, how it is, where I am, and when it is.  Held in my left hand is what is true.  Depending on the year, the day, the moment, my reality is filled with the good, the bad or the ugly.  And more likely, some messy mixture of all three. Savoring the good, healing the bad and transforming the ugly can only happen from the trailhead of This.

Try this right now.  Really.  Just do it.

Hold up your left hand, filling it with what is true right now.  Everything. The good, the bad and the ugly.  Look at your cupped hand.  Feel what it holds.  Take in what is there.  Hold it as if cradling something fragile and precious and sacred.  Because you are.  Held in your left hand is your life and your world, as it is today.

Hold up your right hand.  What does it hold that you want, wish, hope, imagine to be true?  Less pain, more joy, a flatter stomach, more money, less stress, more freedom, fewer expectations, a different job, more peace?  Held in that hand are your visions and goals, hopes and dreams, desires and callings.  Whatever is there, take it in.  Now, look at what you have and compare it to what you want and bang your hands together. Over and over and over until you can feel the stinging sensation brought on in the comparison between the two.

Now stop.

Drop your right hand.

This is what you have.

What we do with what we have, how it is, where we are, and in this moment is how we make our way from This to That. 

The only way.

This post is dedicated to, and with deep love and 022_21A_0001gratitude for Kristine Van Raden, my dearest friend and partner in crime .

No Present Like The Time

March 19, 2015

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When I was a little girl, my family and I spent two weeks every summer at the Oregon coast.  Two. Whole. Weeks.   All year long I counted down the days until we could load up the car and head down to the beach.  I counted up my pennies so that I could go for an hour long horse back ride on the beach every day.  For Two.  Whole.  Weeks.

14 days

336  hours

20160 minutes

As soon as we drove down the driveway to the little cottage tucked into the hillside, overlooking Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, I started counting down. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gifts of Boredom.

February 27, 2015

“Do you ever get bored?”

That was the question posed earlier this week by our naturopath.  My husband and I had scheduled a joint visit to talk to her about our shared sleep issues.  Getting a full night of rest is essential.  A necessity which was eluding us on a regular basis, resulting in lowered spirits, less focus, and lack of energy.

Tom jumped right in, answering enthusiastically, “I NEVER get bored.”

Wrong answer.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Gift of Un-Certaintly

February 20, 2015

Yesterday, the first day of Lent, I gave up the Fear of Uncertainty.  It is a fear with which I am familiar, having taken up precious space in the suitcase I carry with me on my trek. My suitcase is most definitely of the carry-on sort, as it comes with me wherever I go.  There is only so much room allotted, so tending to the contents is essential.  Anything I carry that is not useful (like my angst over the unpredictable nature of life) prevents me from packing something else.  Every item that holds me back, gets in my way, makes me less rather than more, complicates rather than simplifies, is excess baggage.  The weight of carrying all that useless stuff that I stuff into my stuff sack?  It weighs me down, wastes precious time and wears me out.

On this second day of Lent and first full day of traveling without it, it dawned on me that with the fear of uncertainty no longer taking up real estate in my bag, something new could take its place.  What to pack instead?  And then it hit me.   Could I find the courage to pack Un-Certainty?

Certainty means I know it all. (Been there.)

Uncertainty means I don’t have a clue. (Done that.)

But Un-Certainty?  Oh… I like the sound of that.

Un-Certainty gives me the choice to toggle between the known and the unknown, and not get stuck-in-the mud of either.

Un-Certainty allows me to navigate off the map and into the mystery.

Un-Certainty pushes me to explore and experiment, expand and experience.

Un-Certainty  leads me to wonder and wander and wrestle and wrangle.

Un-Certainty makes me humble and open to receiving the new.

Un-Certainty helps me seek forgiveness and extend grace.

Un-Certainty transforms fear into faith, which seems like the perfect traveling companion during Lent.  Or any other time for that matter.

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The Doorway of Lent

February 18, 2015

IMG_0467Lent begins today and is traditionally a time for fasting and reflection and “giving up stuff”.  It takes place over the 40 days leading up to Easter, and those who practice this spiritual tradition often ask one another, “What are you giving up for Lent this year?” For me, when I have actually chosen to enter into Lent, it usually means giving something up that I would really, really, really, really miss.  A guilty pleasure.  Wine.  Coffee.  Binge-watching my latest series.   Read the rest of this entry »

Your Vote Counts

November 8, 2014

The mid-term elections are over.

Yes, I voted.

No, I wasn’t happy with the results.

Thankfully I didn’t have to add insult to injury with the guilt I would have felt if I hadn’t sent in my ballot. From my first experience going to the polls and filling out my ballot in the privacy of a voting booth, Read the rest of this entry »

Margins

September 13, 2014

The Need For Space by Molly Davis

Imagine a book in which the pages have no margins, or a photo where the image fills the frame with no space in which to sit.  The empty space is as important as the rest.  For it is the emptiness in which the words fill the page, the art the canvas, the photo the wall.  Without it the power of the words and beauty of the image is lost. Or at best, diminished. In order to be fully there, they have need of some  space.  So do we. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eyes Ahead by Molly Davis

Recently I was talking to a younger woman on the phone.  She is at a cross-roads.  One of many she will  encounter, and that is giving her pause to consider questions most of us will recognize.  

What do I want my life to look like? 

What is my work?

How can I craft a life that allows me to work at something I love, pays me well and makes a difference in the world that is within my grasp?

As I listened to her sift through her thoughts and feelings, I was struck by the language she  used to articulate her desires and vision for her life.  Most sentences began with what she DIDN’T want. Read the rest of this entry »

It seems that lately, I just can’t stop crying.  Pain is everywhere.  Sadness abounds, and grief is abundant. It just seems to be a very, very, very real part of life.  In fact there are days, weeks, months where it seems to be the central character in my story.  It isn’t that I have a sad life, or even that I have experienced an abundance of personal tragedy.  But there is, no doubt about it, a very deep well filled with heartache.

The funny thing is, I don’t think that this is a bad thing.  Not that I love to cry until I can’t see or breathe, nor do I look forward to the days that pain and sorrow fill my heart till I think I might actually die.  But I have come to believe that pain has a purpose.  It can, if I let it, become the doorway to compassion and kindness, love and tenderness.  As I sit with the hurt, and just let it wash over me, I am able to understand that this is part of what makes each of us human, and, that it is part of the richness of life. It makes it possible for me to see, understand and connect to the hurt in those around me.  And hopefully it helps me to sit with them in the midst of their pain.

There have been times when I have done everything I could to avoid the hurt.  I have tried to buy my way out of it, redecorate it, medicate it, sleep it way, sweat it out, and just plain pretend that it wasn’t there.  But it is.  The truth is, I live with a hole in my heart. I think we all do.  It comes from past regrets, choices that we would give anything to take back, unexpected loss, wounds inflicted by others, and the shadowy glimpses of what is no longer possible.  Some days the other part of my heart, that part that is whole, and strong beats louder.  And other days,the sound gets sucked into that hole, and I follow it right down into the depths.  I’ve quit trying to hide from it, because it is all part of the heart that is mine.  Trying to have one without the other is like trying to separate the waves from the ocean.

I am absolutely not a poet.  Never have been, and most likely never will be.  But years ago, sitting in my college dorm room, lonely, homesick and heartbroken, the one and only poem I have ever written came spilling out.  It seems that even back then, at some level far, far below my consciousness, I understood that pain was important.  Here is what I wrote;

Pain and love go hand in hand

One often leading the other

But the led need not struggle against the leader

For they both travel to the same place

They go to the clear, bittersweet pool of human experience

Where each may drink freely from one cup

Having once looked into such waters

one will never again settle for the cloudy, shallow pools of comfort,

which do not reflect, but simply swallow the reflection

When you seek love

look also for pain

and welcome it

that you too may drink deeply.

 

I live at the base of a mountain.  Not just any mountain either.  This is a glorious, grand, majestic, dramatic mountain. It is perfectly framed in my living room windows.  You can’t miss it.  It is a show stopper. Their first time here, people often say, “It’s almost as if you planned the house so that the mountain would sit dead-center in those windows.”  The fact is, we did.  Of course we planned it that way.  We wanted the killer view, the picture perfect view.  The kind of view that you only see in magazines.

But you see, the thing is, while some days she is out in all of her glory, other days, often days on end, she is shrouded in clouds and fog.  Other days, the only thing visible is the very top, or the sloping base.  There are days when the clouds come and go, and of course therefore, so does the mountain.  The truth of the matter is that whether we can see the mountain or not, it is always, Always, ALWAYS there.

I think there is a deeper, more subtle reason that we look out at this breathtaking peak.  It serves as a reminder, and as a great teacher of things far more important and moving than a great view.

So just what are those things?  Faith!  Purpose!

Faith~

I believe in God.  I can’t explain exactly what that means, or exactly how he or she operates in the world.  I just know that there is something far bigger than me, than humanity, than this planet at work in the world.  I find life too full of miracles, creativity, joy, pain, devastation and mystery to be able to be explained away with  reason, a big bang and eons of interactions between energy and matter.  Somehow, I believe that God is involved with us and with our world, and we are meant to be the human face, hands, heart, mind and soul of our Creator.  However, there are many days that I forget that bigger picture and get caught up in my little life.  On those days, I find it hard to put one foot in front of the other for myself, much less even think about how I might serve a greater good to the world that is within my grasp.  And so, my mountain serves to remind me of that greater presence.  When I look out and the sun is shining on the brilliant, snow covered peak, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that something bigger is here, there and everywhere.  But on those days when all I can see is dark, grey clouds, I have the chance to practice living with faith, by reminding myself that just because my life is socked in, that sacred presence is there just the same.

Purpose~

Each one of us adds to the world what no one else can.  Which means, we all have a purpose and a calling, and in the finding and in the following, our gifts can bring good to the world.  When my daughters were small, my purpose was clear. Those were days of clear blue skies and not a cloud in sight. My purpose… to love, nurture, guide and protect.  Everyday, not always perfectly, but always with intention, a huge part of my purpose was to help those precious girls grow up and become strong, wise women in their own rights.  As they grew and changed, so did my purpose.  And to be honest, the skies were less clear, and more often than not, the clouds rolled in, and it was hard to see very far down the road. My role too, became cloudy.  It seemed to be one of being available, but not intrusive, offering counsel but not direction, and opening my ears, and shutting my mouth.  Frankly, sometimes I did this with spectacular success, and other times I failed miserably.  Now I am at a new place.  My daughters are grown and living their lives, managing their choices and navigating their successes and failures on their own.  Not that we aren’t still connected.  We are, and I am grateful.  But is isn’t what it was, and it won’t ever be that again.  I know that.  I appreciate that.  I respect that.  In the midst of it all, I also have good work, meaningful work.  All that said, there are days that I totally and completely lose sight of my purpose.  Somehow it was so much easier to know what that was when that meant making sure that my daughters were safely strapped into their car seats, and we ended every night under the covers with a book.

These days, what often reconnects me to my purpose is the mountain.  It looms large out my window, whether I can see it or not. So does my purpose, and so does yours and yours and yours.  If my experience with the mountain offers any lessons in the matter it is this, even when you can’t see it, it is there.  My hero, Annie Lamott claims that we are all here in Earth School.  Perhaps our greatest lesson is to find our purpose.  To find the work and contribution that is ours, and ours alone to give.  And then, to offer that to the world with all of our might, and all of our mind, and all of our soul.

The mountain out my window helps me keep that in mind.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: From whence shall my help come?”

~Psalm 121

“Climb every mountain….” Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music

written by Molly Davis

Jack, our perfectly fine black dog, lives in the country. He knows no fences so therefore knows all the neighbors, their goats, chickens and various other farm creatures. He is free to roam and yet stays pretty close to home. He has lived this lifestyle his entire life. We are now considering leaving our rural digs for those conveniently located in the heart of Portland. We are ready to trade our endless view, spacious silence and  herds of grazing elk for fuel economy, less yard work and a walk to the local library.

Jack is going to have to get used to Dog Parks and off-leash sites around the city…We visited such a playground today.  As I watched him romp with a dozen strange pooches I felt like I was at the Canine United Nations. I swear that Moammar Gadhafi of the dog world was there, growling and snapping until his owners leashed him and pulled him out of the fray. Once he was removed the tension in the group subsided. There was Sweden, in the body of an old beagle; curious, but ready to give any other dog, who felt so inclined, the lead. Mexico was represented by a couple of happy chihuhuas…France was bounding about trying to get all the guys to play together. Iran and Iraq kept to themselves somewhat, sticking close to the boarders.

There were different personalities, with different values, beliefs and needs, yet the group got along. There was a bit of struggling for position, some fear to overcome…but all in all there was respect, tolerance and a bit of grace.

I think Jack is going to do just fine. All he wants is to be friends with anybody who will have him. He doesn’t know how to discriminate.

Not a bad way to go through life.

THEY say that if you pay attention, your children will teach you as much or more than you can possibly teach them. I was reminded of this last night while watching various acceptance speeches during the Oscar’s…One gentleman, fighting back tears, thanked his wife and infant daughter…”who will surely teach me more than I could ever possibility teach her.”

My children are grown. They are living independent lives of their own creation. Naturally as a parent, I had ideas of just exactly what their lives should look like. While I am anything but disappointed, their lives have turned out differently than I imagined. I realize more and more  that one of the most sacred lessons my children have taught me is to let go: let go of expectations, plans…shoulds, coulds and so many many “have too’s”.  My children have taught me that perfectionism isn’t a measure of happiness or success. They have taught me to care as much about my own needs as the needs of others. They have taught me that the stress and anxiety manifested through out my internal being isn’t a desirable trait or a cherished outcome by those I care about most. They have taught me that perfect for them doesn’t have me a wild wreck trying to get every last detail in order. They have convinced me that my stress, no matter what wonderful thing is the  justification, is never a gift for them. They would rather have a relaxed me, than a perfect scenario.

LETTING GO OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN

BY ARLENE HARDER, MA, MFT

A Perfectionist Mother Trying to Do Things Right:

“When I began motherhood, I was fairly liberal politically but fairly rigid in how I viewed my role as parent. This was partly the result of my temperament and partly the consequence of a childhood in which there were many “shoulds,” “oughts,” “rights,” and “wrongs.” Although I didn’t insist on spotless floors and neatly made beds, being a perfectionist permeated many facets of my parenting.

As a child I never questioned whether I was being asked to be perfect; my siblings were also perfectionists in one way or another. Our parents’ high standards left little room to question the reasons for their rules and values – an attitude typical for that generation. When a child was told to jump, she was expected to say, “How high?” and not, “Why?”

As a recovering perfectionist I can see why perfectionism is a common feature of the human character. After all, perfectionists give the best they have to offer. You can generally count on them to do what they say they’ll do, even if it means giving up their own needs to be sure you’re satisfied. On the other hand, I now realize that the standards of perfectionists are usually those others consider “right,” not necessarily those the perfectionist herself would choose – if she could freely follow the dictates of her own heart.”

While raising our most cherished sons and daughters, we teach them to follow their hearts. One of life’s greatest lessons we as their parents/role models/advocates need to learn, is to follow our own…

Rain Again???

February 21, 2011

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HELL YES!!!

January 20, 2011

The fear that stops you.

You know when you stumble on to a great idea? Or maybe a surge of confidence, or a step in the direction of your god given gifts…and no sooner are you filled to the brim with possibilities than a dark and damp whisper begins at the very bottom of your soul.

“Who do you think you are; you are ridiculous; everyone will laugh at you; you will never make any money; somebody better will do it and make you look foolish; what have you done to deserve something this good!”

Sound familiar?

I have these amazing human beings in my life. Some as close as a good walk; others a plane, train or automobile trip away. They have inspired me, taught me, loved me, saved me. In their presence I know I am in the company of greatness.

And yet they often struggle with their own greatness; find it hard to move, to carry on, to go forth and change the world as they know they are called to do. They give in to the dark damp voice of DOUBT.

If you believe in evil or not…does it make any sense that just when a magnificent human being is about to make a step forward that will make the world a better place, bring light, hope and encouragement to others, that “evil” says, Hell NO and perhaps uses that dark whisper to stop you in your tracks? End of hope…end of light…end of possibilities.

Time to listen to another voice…one that says…”I can be afraid and hold still, do nothing and live with this fear, or I can hear the voice for what it is and say, Hell Yes?

I choose for them and I choose for me and I choose for you…HELL YES!

http://charliephillips.net/videos/theater-3/nick-vujicic.html

THIS LINK WILL HELP YOU DO JUST THAT…