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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Under Construction

March 23, 2015

The words you speak become the house you live in.  Hafiz

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The house we built started out on a napkin in the bar at Paradise Lodge in the shadow of Mt. Rainier.  We were on our way back from dropping the last daughter off at college, and I needed a distraction to keep from thinking about our nest that was now empty.  Over a glass of wine my husband and I began to imagine a new nest.  A rustic home that we imagined would become a gathering place for those we loved.  Eight years later, what we imagined on a napkin now sits firmly grounded in  the shadow of Mt. Adams, gathering those we love as often as we can all manage.  What we imagined began as thoughts, the thoughts became the words that found our builder, who ordered the supplies that became our home.  One board at a time, nail by nail, our house was built, upon the foundation of our thoughts, imagination and words.

Read the rest of this entry »

Teachers All Around

March 13, 2015

 Christmas 06- July 07 223

Photo by Tom Pierson


What if there are teachers all around us?

Everyday?

Ann Lamott reminds us that perhaps for the time we have here, we are enrolled in what she refers to as ” Earth School”.

Everyday.

Perhaps some teachers are more apparent than others, but I am wondering if that has more to do with my awareness and willingness to notice rather than the teacher’s willingness to appear. Read the rest of this entry »

Living a FULL Life

March 6, 2015

I believe that we are meant to live fully. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Plugging Away

October 28, 2014

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.” – Ann Lamott (Bird By Bird)

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It is so easy to get derailed.

One day it seems that I know what I want, where I’m going and how to get there. Finish that manuscript. Knock on the door that is beckoning. Make that scary phone call. Take a deep breath. Trust that voice within that ALWAYS knows what to do next. Read the rest of this entry »

She Said…

December 19, 2011

She said she couldn’t do it. She said that she would rather die than leave her home. She said that she was so lonely she just couldn’t imagine facing another day. She said that if we took her car away she would just buy a new one. She said that, that dent in the front of her car was not her fault because she didn’t remember hitting anything. She said that she was not as old as all the old people in the dining room. She said that she was afraid she couldn’t keep up. She said she didn’t want to live like this. She said she wanted to see my father one last time. She said she hadn’t slept in nights. She said she slept like a baby. She said she still couldn’t find the bathroom. She said she learned to Wii bowl. She said she missed her own kitchen. She said the food was really good. She said the Girl Scouts who came to carol were adorable. She said she couldn’t wait for baby Eloise to come visit. She said she made a new friend. She said she thought this might turn out all right. She said thank you.

Tempest

September 6, 2011

Your breath flows through me

breaking every bone,

ending every sentence…

I’m falling up now, as through water.

Head, then shoulders

collar bones filled with sand;

Tiny stones splitting my skin.

and I’m sinking

sinking, sinking upward.

What a perfect manner in which to stow away an epic;

deep into a dusty corner on your lowest shelf,

along with all your classics.

The sea echoes in my chest

slow, undulating waves wash away the land.

Somewhere in the lazy, hazy days of summer

my ‘self’ slipped from me.

It was replaced with the callouses on your hands

with your humming in the shower,

your furrowed brow reading the morning news;

your favorite ice cream, your fears, your sleep talking

you, you, you.

and gone, myself, whom I’ve traded to have you

http://katevanraden.wordpress.com/


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

www.katevanraden.wordpress.com

Can’t Help But Think…We’ve Done This

by Kate Van Raden

http://scriptical.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/cant-help-but-think-weve-done-this/

As I spend the last 17 hours watching reports of the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunamis all over the globe, I can’t help but ask myself…have we done this?!

My immediate response to any emotion-filled situation, comes out best in verse:

3.11.11

We dance the way we’d like to think the world will turn,

Our shoulders sway above our hips, convictions burn

Our soles pound out the earth and shake the plates

Our spirits light bonfires underneath our fates

The mountains quiver, grasping tightly to their roots

The rabbits shudder coldly in their boots

Serpents coil down beneath the cracks

We nomads lash our legacies upon our backs

Grizzlies cower sheepish in their caves

The earth is weeping now in hurricanes and waves

The ocean tucks its skirts and heads for land

So the darkness now descends upon the son of man



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

Raise your hand if you are a giver? One who gives out of your abundance, or from your lack thereof? Doesn’t matter, you give and give and give some more. You cheat your self when there is not enough food to go around; you drink the cheap wine so everybody else can have the good stuff; you give your new clothes to your daughter before they reach the hanger or have the tags removed; give up the front seat; give up time and resources, energy and peace of mind so that those around you are more comfortable…happier…content…safe and sound. Not really a big deal; not really a choice, just a lifestyle.

Well I say BRAVO…you are in good company with most of the females on the planet…

The other day I needed help…not lots, just a skosh….a ride, a snack, an open door. Could I ask…NO NO NO.

Fortunately I was in the company of my surest of SURES; truest of Trues, safest of Safes!

“if you don’t ask me, then I can’t ask you..and If I don’t ask  you , you will go stark raving mad. Here is a chance to save your own sanity.”

Okay, I need a ride.

Better?

Ask.