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.
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.
April 14, 2015
by Molly Davis
My cell phone rang as Kristine and I walked back to the conference center to facilitate another workshop at the retreat. Gathered at a beautiful resort in Woodstock, NY, the woods ablaze with fall colors, it had already been two days of connection and inspiration, new friends and new ideas. The workshop was one of our favorite topics, a best seller with clients, always a crowd pleaser, resulting in powerful insights for all. Starting of course, with us. Since as everybody knows…”You teach what you need.”
With a few minutes to spare, and seeing that the call was from a client, I decided to answer. “Hey Molly. We’re in a big bind. The person who was going to facilitate the Leadership Experience can’t make it. Would you be able to do it? It starts the day after tomorrow.” Immediately I knew the answer to that question….
A vehement “No!”
Not on your life!
That kind of No.
While certified to facilitate the experience, I had yet to actually do so. Not only that, it was going to be with a senior global team, and the facilitator they had really wanted was obviously not me. He had more experience, and was clearly their first choice. Stepping into a big arena, trying to fill big shoes, coming in at the last minute, with people who expected someone else, felt like a recipe for disaster all around. Besides that, getting an earlier flight out would be almost impossible due to our commitment to the current retreat. There was one other tiny little detail. I was terrified. Afraid that I couldn’t do it, wouldn’t meet the high bar set by the group, and couldn’t measure up to their expectations, I respectfully declined, politely thanked him for thinking of me, wished him the best of luck, and hung up the phone, filled with relief. Except the relief kept getting pushed down to make room for something else.
My reasons for saying no were logical. It made perfect sense. Still, I had the sense that I had just let myself down. Imperfect as my facilitation might be, was it possible that I was the perfect person for the job, and it the perfect job for me?
It was time for the retreat workshop to begin. Stepping up to kick it off, I couldn’t get that phone call out of my mind. Thankfully, Kristine stepped in and masterfully led the group through the first exercise, allowing me to clear my head of my swirling thoughts. In saying No to the request, I was saying Yes to my fear. In answering No to a big challenge, I was opting for a Yes to playing it safe. Just then I heard Kristine as she continued leading the participants through the exercise, asking them to complete the statement: “If I had the courage, I would………
Oh, did I forget to mention that the topic of our workshop was COURAGE? Oops.
Heads bent over their journals, the participants began to write down as many ideas for completing that sentence as they could. As they finished writing, I stepped back in front to lead them through some reflection on what they had just discovered. Looking into their faces and seeing their courage, they led me back to my own.
As soon as our workshop was over, I called the client back. “Yes. I’ll be there. To be clear, this will be the first time I’ve actually facilitated it, and I won’t have time to review any of the materials. If flying by the seat of my pants is ok with you, I’ll change my flight and be there.” It was a powerful Yes that began as an overwhelming No. Rather than disaster all around, it turned into a blessing for all concerned. Starting of course, with me. Instead of a miserable failure, it was a mighty success. Starting of course, with me.
Now when I experience a knee-jerk “No!” and want to run the other direction, I pull up my boot straps and start walking the scary trail toward Yes.
When our first response is No, can we find the courage to search for the deeper Yes?
When desperate to scream No, can we find the strength to whisper Yes?
When it feels safer to say No, can we brave the waves to Yes?
Yes. We can.
No. it isn’t easy.
And Yes. That means we are on the right track.
April 8, 2015
by Molly Davis
Looking out the window of our SUV, we could see a few remnants of possible life. A harrow from an old plow used to till up the rocky, dry soil before planting season, an old wagon wheel, and scattered bits of this and that, all suggesting that at one time there might have been a home or barn here. “I think this must be where it was.” my husband Tom said. We had been driving for over an hour, in search of the old homestead built by my great-grand parents in eastern Washington. I had heard of ‘Rattlesnake Ranch’ in the stories my dad told of growing up during the depression in Waterville, a small rural town where making a living was tough in the best of times. He spent many summer days on that homestead, helping his grandmother gather eggs, poking sticks into nests in the hen-house to scare out any rattlers that had slithered in to get their breakfast, and drawing water from the backyard well. His stories evoked visions of a childhood that was both happy and lonely, hard and adventurous. I’d always longed to go there with him, share a bit of his past, and get a glimpse of what life in that rustic, hand-hewn cabin must have been like. I wanted to see with my own eyes what I had only been able to imagine through his.
We never got the chance to go there together before he died in 2000.
Tom had surprised me, planning this trip on the way home from dropping our last daughter off at college. I was in need of distraction before going home to an empty nest. We had spent the morning in the Douglas County Museum, combing old newspaper clippings, maps, and county records to narrow our search. This was vast country and we wanted to hone in on the most likely location of anything still standing. Maps in hand, we set out, me driving, him navigating. A 4 lane highway gave way to a 2 lane country road, which became a gravel road, dwindling to a dirt one, and finally fading to nothing more than faint wagon tracks. Staring out the car window at the long abandoned detritus of an earlier time, I could feel my spirits sinking down and the tears welling up. My chance at a bucket list visit into my dad’s past was apparently gone. And then for some reason I said out loud, the words that had quietly drifted into my thoughts. “Just one more rise.”
Driving slowly forward to avoid the rocks, ruts and potholes, we crested the next hill. And there it was. Roof falling in, windows broken, the house listing to one side, but still standing. For the next few hours we walked around what was left, wandering the tiny rooms, poking sticks into the hen house nests, and peering down into the well from which my dad pulled up buckets of clear, cold spring water. We took lots of pictures, so that we would be sure to remember what we’d found, all because we had chosen to go over just one more rise.
It would have been so easy to give up. Turn back. Give up the quest. Chalk it up to a good effort.
But we didn’t.
Rattlesnake Ranch now hangs on our wall, framed in wood from one of the old windows we found that day. Lately, when I find myself at what seems to be the end of the trail while in pursuit of a vision or goal, a creative idea or new opportunity, the right words to put onto the page or a door that might open to new possibilities…..whenever it appears that it is time to give up, turn around and head back….I remind myself that what I am looking for might just be over one more rise.
April 3, 2015
by Molly Davis
Now hear this….
NOW. This moment. Right here. This is when we have. What is the right/best/good/courageous/loving/authentic thing to do now?
HERE. This place. Right here. This is where we are. What is the right/best/good/courageous/loving/authentic way to be here now?
THIS. This stuff. Right here. This is what we have. What is the right/best/good/courageous/loving/authentic way to use what is true now?
Then is some other time. There is somewhere else. That is something different.
Now hear this…….. Now. Here. This.
* This post was inspired by the April 2, 2015 On Being podcast. Host Krista Tippett interviewed Father Greg Boyle, who is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit dedicated to helping former and current gang members turn their lives around. Father Boyle shared that he uses “Now. Here. This.” (also the title of an Off-Broadway play) as a mantra, to remind him to be present with who and what is right in front of him.
March 26, 2015
“Be sure and stay ahead of the pain.” Words from the pharmacist years ago as I picked up yet another bottle of addictive pain medication for my 20 year old daughter who had recently had her tonsils removed. Being a “push through the pain” kind of girl, I asked her just what the hell that meant anyway. It seemed to me that having the courage to tough it out was the better approach. One to be proud of and that showed the strong stuff of which I am made. “The body, when faced with the choice of dealing with the pain, or healing the injury, can only focus on one of those and, in the proper order” she replied. ” Resolve the pain. Heal the patient.” In other words healing is hindered when pain is ignored. Heading back home, I resolved to help her heal by helping her resolve her pain.
Our bodies are but a microcosm of the greater whole. Found embodied in our relationships and in the body of the world, pain is everywhere. Close to home and in the farthest reaches of the world. It is within our hearts and our homes, amidst our communities and countries, in the halls of our organizations and schools. Unresolved pain is wracking our planet and threatening our shared futures large and small, and is an indication that there is healing to be done.
Pain hurts. Deeply. Acutely. Sharply. Chronically. Our natural reaction to pain is to avoid it. Afraid of the hurt we react in fear, provoking ancient coping mechanisms. Fight, flight or freeze.
Putting up our dukes and hitting back causes further injury.
Running for cover furthers us from the healing we long for, but can’t see because we are facing the wrong direction.
Hunkering down and refusing to budge drives pain deeper and healing further away.
When it comes to resolving the pain in our lives, none of those lead to the healing that is waiting for us on the other side. Wherever the pain exists, it is calling us to attend to it fully, in order to more fully live. It requires that we dive deeply into the pain in order to get to the bottom of it.
Pain is our call to action in order to heal that which is broken.
Pain is the canary in the mine alerting us that we are running out of air.
Pain is the lighthouse exposing the rocks which will dash our ship to pieces if we don’t steer with care.
Pain is the warning sign alerting us to dangers ahead.
Pain is the breadcrumb path that leads to wholeness.
Pain is the care package that must be unwrapped in order to receive the gift of healing.
Healing trumps holding on to old hurts.
Healing beats clinging to our stories that keep us stuck in old chapters.
Healing always outlasts winning.
Healing outshines the darkness of resentment.
Healing is a cut above the festering wounds of unforgiveness.
Healing forges wholeness out of the holes in our hearts.
Wherever the pain, it is the doorway through which healing awaits. Pain speaks the truth. The truth sets us free.
March 19, 2015
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.
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 »
March 13, 2015
Photo by Tom Pierson
What if there are teachers all around us?
Ann Lamott reminds us that perhaps for the time we have here, we are enrolled in what she refers to as ” Earth School”.
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 »
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 »
October 30, 2014
We are beginning to engage more in our Matters That Matter work including a couple of writing projects that have us inspired and energized, speaking and scheduling workshops… and we also are beginning to post regularly on our blog (about once a week). Our intent is simply to offer encouragement and support for readers to connect more closely with what and who they care about, and live more closely in synch with their most genuine selves.
If you are like us, there is so much “incoming” – information, blogs, emails, videos, social networking etc etc… so we are working to provide content that will support and encourage, not burden. We would love for you to subscribe to our blog and add to the conversation as you feel led. Together we are better. Share it with others if you find that it will benefit them as well. And if this sounds like one more thing to add to your to-do list… then hit delete asap with our blessings!
Thank you for letting us even ask.
With gratitude and blessings.
Molly & Kristine
September 4, 2014
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 »
February 24, 2011
Being vulnerable can be terrifying. We’ve all presented our vulnerable selves at one time or another and been met with judgment and ridicule. Next time we considered being vulnerable we paused a bit, predicted the outcome. Then maybe chose to withhold…protecting ourselves and sheltering our tenderness.
The ability to be vulnerable again often comes from having held on to too much pain …simply no more room. Or, “we’re mad as hell and we aren’t gonna take it any longer.” Or, the knowledge that we are part of a mighty whole and that sharing our soft spots might help someone else to exercise their strengths.
Today I am so moved by a dear friend who did just that. She used her own unfathomable grief to shed light on the darkness that so many carry. Her vulnerability allowed others to know that they are not alone, that their pain and loss matter. By telling her story she brought gentleness and celebration where there can often be secrets and denial.
A common thread thoughtfully exposed connects us as human beings, therefore connecting us to our own humanity.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO SIT DOWN FOR THIS ONE
April 19, 2010
Long ago, we decided that when we saw beauty in anyone or anything we would notice it and appreciate it. Every time we see a woman with lovely eyes, beautiful skin, a kind heart or gentle spirit shared with the world, we speak our appreciation to that person.
Those few words of goodness can change the course of the day for the waitress serving us breakfast, the grocery clerk packing our bags or the exhausted receptionist checking us in for our doctor’s appointment. We have come to understand that everyone is blessed with their own unique kind of beauty, and once we make the choice to not only see it, but appreciate it, we find ourselves surrounded by the miraculous in the midst of the ordinary. And, the most astounding insight has been that when we choose to extend goodness in the midst of this imperfect world, we receive that goodness back in abundance.
Where might you see beauty in the midst of your day? To whom could you extend goodness, and in the extending, receive in abundance?
April 14, 2010
“When we are mindful, we notice that another person suffers. The other person may be a husband, a wife, or a child. If one person suffers, that person needs to talk to someone in order to get relief. We have to offer our presence, and we have to listen deeply to the other person who is suffering. That is the practice of love–deep listening. But if we are full of anger, irritation, and prejudices, we don’t have the capacity to listen deeply to the people we love. If people we love cannot communicate with us, then they will suffer more. Learning how to listen deeply is our responsibility. We are motivated by the desire to relieve suffering. That is why we listen. We need to listen with all our heart, without intention to judge, condemn, or criticize. And if we listen in that way for one hour, we are practicing true love. We don’t have to say anything; we just need to listen. “The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means literally “to suffer with.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
April 7, 2010
art by lisa kaser, www.lisakaser.com
March 29, 2010
Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry
Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.
His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.
His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!