How You Do One Thing...

"How you do one thing is how you do everything..."

This famous Zen quote is everywhere. I've heard it at least four times in the last week. I've had this phrase directed at me in coaching to highlight the pervasive nature of my faults and, I am certain I've used it in coaching sessions to the same effect. (If I used it on you in a session, I hope you'll accept my apology.)

This statement is a lie (sorry Zen lovers) 

It's a blanket statement that cannot possibly be true. I would go so far as to say the way this statement is currently used in personal development is the antithesis of Zen. This phrase decreases people's awareness and appreciation of who they are in different situations and how they respond in each and every moment. Instead it implies the worst, "Gosh, you must have real issues if you are struggling with this one area... because how you do this one thing is how you do everything."   

Frankly, I'd like to see this phrase eradicated from the lexicon of spirituality and personal development. This phrase, in my experience, is used in a way that evokes shame and supports the continuation of people beating themselves with the stick of perfection. I've never heard it used to help people see their strengths, only weaknesses. 

How you do one thing is how you do that one thing.

That is not sexy (or judgmental) - but it's actually true. 

And how you do other things is how you do other things. We all have quirks. We are all human with incredible strengths as well as foibles. Which is what makes life interesting and beautiful. 

For instance, I (like many women I know) can be extremely hard on myself about my body. Hypercritical, sometimes my inner voice can even be cruel pointing out all the ways I'm not taking care of myself as well as I "should" to be healthier. 

If I were to look at all of this and say, "How I do one thing is how I do everything."  then the conclusion I would draw (and have beat myself with in the past) is that the way I take care of my body is a reflection of my capacity to be a good mother, to be a great coach and teacher, to be a friend, to have a great partnership with my husband. Because if I can't take care of my body 'perfectly', then I'm broken and the success or health of every other area of my life is suspect. 

But here is the truth: there is limited time in the day.

My priorities are my daughter, my husband and my work. I give zero fucks about eating "clean" or any such bullshit and I like to move my body in ways that are deeply pleasurable for me, not punishing. None of this reflects on other parts of my life. 

How I "do" my work is that I show up, I create, I serve and I love it. Sometimes I get caught up in being busy and overwork, whether it's from having too much fun or distracting myself from my husband's absence and then I get tired and need a break. 

How I "do" my family is that they are the most important part of my day. I schedule time in the middle of each day to talk to my husband via Skype and I stop work when I pick my daughter up from school to spend time with her. Sometimes both of those things annoy me, which doesn't mean anything about the overarching state of my family or my patience or love for them. 

How I "do" my friendships is that I set dates to talk with and play with my friends on a regular basis. As an introvert, I cherish the friends who will go deep and not be offended when I need space or say no to party invitations over and over. 

How I "do" my food is I'm relearning how to eat intuitively so I'm kind of all over the place right now with what I'm eating. Which doesn't mean anything about my business, my spiritual practices, my family or my organizational skills.

How I "do" moving my body right now is I do what feels good in my body each and every day be it hiking, yoga, dancing or nothing. I try not to sit too much because it hurts my bum. Otherwise I would unapologetically sit all day long.   

How I "do" my iPhone is a bit addictively. I get a little nervous when it's not close by or in my hand. 

So on and so forth. You get the point. There may be patterns worth observing, stories I tell myself, ways of being that are unique to me that I would love to shift. But under no circumstances is it helpful to believe that how I do one thing is how I do everything. To do so with either positive or negative qualities is delusional.

How you do one thing is how you do that thing. 

This bears repeating. No matter what "thing" you or I are doing, the only way we know how we are doing it and if it's aligned with our values and our deepest desires right now is by paying attention to how we do that one thing. Which isn't a representation of everything and it's also subject to change in any moment. 

Looking at anything as if it's static - especially human behavior and circumstance - is crazy. Yes, we humans definitely get into habits but blanket statements are an excuse to go to sleep and not pay attention to your experience, today. 

Compassion, not cruelty. 

My one desire is that I want to do everything I say "yes" to in my life is with as much presence and engagement as I can muster. I want to turn toward myself and my experience on any given day with compassion, not cruelty. Curiosity, not assumptions. I want to enjoy who I am and the life that I'm living without casting a shadow of judgment over my humanity. I want to celebrate the divine imperfection of who I am because how I do everything is as myself. Period.

Let's stop the judgment.

You are far more complex than your worst, or your best, behaviors, sister. My deepest wish is that you will cast aside any believe that your perceived flaws somehow indict you in All the Ways. That you will turn toward yourself with open arms and acceptance because that, not punishment or perfection, is the path to freedom. 

How you do everything is as you, beautiful sister. Celebrate all of it. 

xoxo.nona


Is it your time?

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Posted on September 9, 2016 and filed under Body Breath Soul, Being Present, Being Intentional, intention, Must-Read.

May You Be Resilient

Dear Clara, 

This morning, I dropped you off at middle school. Your first day of 6th grade. This is a big moment - middle school is so different from elementary school. The stakes are higher, the perils and the promise are greater. I hope that your excitement and enthusiasm is met by wonderful teachers and delightful new friendships. 

I notice that when you enter a new grade, a new stage of your life, I am nearly always taken into a state of reflection on my experience at your age. As always - just in the living of your beautiful life - you are my teacher as much as I am your mother. 

"May you be shown kindness," was my prayer.

After I dropped you off, I went for a hike. Admittedly, I cried the first half of the hike. I asked (desperately) that you would be shown kindness in the new world you are entering - kindness that I did not experience.

This took me into a reflection of my own life in 6th grade:

  • My parents were newly divorced and both newly sober. These two people had no room left to deal with the broken pieces they left scattered around them in the wake of their alcoholism and divorce. In retrospect, I was traumatized - we all were. 
  • Everyone in town seemed to know what had happened - my family was the town disaster. I was shunned by my peers and treated with pity by my church community. 
  • My period started and my mother apologized to me for my female-ness - she was so sorry I had to endure such a horrible thing as having a female body. Then, in her ignorance, insisted that to use tampons, I had to have a note from the pastor of my church. {Insult, meet injury}
  • Sports, which had been such a balm to me {swimming and dancing} seemed completely overwhelming with a blossoming body and the people around me seemed to agree that a female body was not a body that was desirable, let alone strong and athletic. I quit everything.

None of these things, taken singularly or with a support structure of love and kindness, would have been earth-shattering. However, taken together, it was brutal, as school and early years can often be for humans.  

Oh, my heart. Brave girl. 

My heart opened so wide for the 6th grader I was, and with that, I felt gratitude, hope, and excitement for you. I thought about the incredible intelligence and strength of our bodies and minds to seek higher ground - at the end of the day, the experiences I had shaped me profoundly -- mostly for the better. 

From the vantage point of my 45-year old self looking back on my middle school self, I recognize I found my way to healing, eventually, with help. I wouldn't wish my childhood on anyone -- and at the same time, it has made me the woman and the mother that I am today - and I love that woman. 

But the most important part of all of this is that for the love of all that is beautiful and good in this world, your life experience is vastly different than mine. No alcoholism, no abuse, no distorted messages about being female, hell, about deserving to be alive. Parents who love you, and you know it not only through our words, but our actions.

You have every reason to trust yourself and the world. I am grateful for that. Grateful and fiercely committed to your continued wellbeing, sweet girl. And I know whatever you face, you will face will grace and strength. 

As I considered this, my prayer for you changed

May you be resilient, no matter what challenges you face in your life. May you always align with the magnetic north of your inner compass. May you be kind - to others, yes, but also to yourself. May you be courageous in speaking up for what you believe in. May you and your friends celebrate each other with abandon. May you pursue your passions and open your mind and let life be the adventure it most certainly is. 

And may you know, no matter what, that you are forever and always loved, just because you were born to this earth. May you remember that your Dad and I are 100% on your side, cheering wildly for you.

May it be so. May it be so. May it be so. 

Happy first day of middle school, Clara.

I hope it was great. 

xoxo.mom
 

Posted on August 15, 2016 and filed under Being Present, Body Breath Soul, Grit and Gumption, Parenting, Personal.

Offering

"Let's go on an adventure" is what I said.

I am traveling. On the road with my girl through the American West for a whole, luxurious month. Marking a year of separation from my husband, with another year to go I say, "Let's go on an adventure, Clara." As if somehow, life itself isn't adventure enough. But I know that sometimes, too often, most of the time, really -- I need to step away from the day to day machinations of my life to appreciate the beauty, healing and vast abundance that life and nature offers.

Saying, "I love the land." is insufficient.

The earth's bones, her scars, the many types of skin, the contours, the rivers, like the blood of our bodies, the lakes and oceans, like the tides of breath that feed me... the earth, and my relationship to it, fills me with awe. I love it. I drive saying thank you, over and over in my hear, as I chat with my girl or we move through the landscapes in silence.

By this time in the trip (just one week in) I am covered in bug bites. Burnt. A bit tired. The after-glow of making love to life, to the earth herself, who opens her arms and welcomes me into her embrace over and over. In the face of what is happening in the world today, I wonder, is it enough? Is it enough to love? To see and appreciate the beauty of the world?

Does the small offering of my attention matter?

In the midst of our collective waking -- our chaotic, violent, present moment -- there is a sadness nipping at my heels during our travels. The sadness brings a gravitas to the incredible awe and joy and hope that I feel as I travel this country with my daughter - a fervent desire to live in a world where all the people at war with each other could sit next to a pristine river in sovereignty, peace and safety. To hear Aspens shiver in the breeze. To see endless seas of soft, golden grass undulate in the wind, or to taste the salt air of the Pacific Ocean with every breath. 

I remember that the recognition of wholeness, beauty and love in all it's forms heals both individually, and collectively. 

Yes, this offering is enough. 

I open my arms to beauty, to awe, to earth, to my daughter, to this life that is mine.

To my daughter's chagrin, I talk to everyone. I look each of them in the eye. The farmer selling the most beautiful flowers. The man who comes to clean the room. The woman who pumps my gas and amazingly, cleans all the bugs from my windshield. I smile. I say thank you and I really mean it. I feel so tender, so broken open by the vast, gorgeous world. This attention to the beauty of nature reminds me again that we humans, we are nature, too: deeply connected to the earth and one another in ways understood, and in ways that we can scarcely imagine.  This feels like an important remembering in this moment of our history.

May there be a remembering that we are all children of the stars, born of the earth's body - sisters and brothers. In the offering of attention, may we be gifted the bone-deep knowing that we are a small part of something so much larger than our minds can possibly comprehend. May we remember that the most important work is to tend to what is right here, an offering of open-hearted presence to life. 

May it be so. 

xoxo.nona
 

Posted on July 14, 2016 and filed under Being Intentional, Being Present, Body Breath Soul, Must-Read, Personal.