The theme this week is all about community… and where there are people, there inevitably is drama!
As I’ve mentioned before, I love the fictional “Three Pines” village in Louise Penney’s novels. Why? Because everyone has a place. It makes no difference what credentials you hold, how old or young you are, married with kids, divorced with kids, what you do for work, or who you happen to love. It’s a beautifully imperfect community where everyone has their role to play and gifts to give.
For so long I was searching for my own Three Pines. Putting it on a vision board, writing about it, thinking about it, searching for it. Until it dawned on me that it was actually inside of me and around me all along. The poet Rumi put it perfectly when he wrote, “What you seek is seeking you.”
I love that.
I love it because it highlights how simple life can be and yet how complicated we make it. I love it because life IS magic when we just stop to look, listen, and feel. When we continue to seek, we miss what has arrived waiting patiently at our door.
How often do you let your own opinions, judgements, and “stuff” block the fruition of your own personalized version of Three Pines?
I recently learned a lesson on this thanks to my sister and Sonia Choquette. More about that in a bit but first a quick story.
Last night I was thrown off course by a childhood family friend who sent me a somewhat contentious message one of which I don’t need to share the details. Let’s just say it’s not a good idea to check Facebook Messenger while dozing off! 🙂
Rather than setting it aside to deal with in the morning, I rapidly fired back a text stating my point and hoping to end the discussion. That, however, wouldn’t suffice.
Instead, I jumped out of bed and quietly knocked on my niece’s bedroom door hoping she was still up watching Emily in Paris on Netflix. To my relief she was wide awake and I knew I had a comrade in battle!
Yet that still didn’t quench my thirst for victory. I had to enlist reinforcements…so I called my sister…who was with my other niece. There the four of us sat as we dissected the issue. As the energy built with indignation and self-righteousness, I was about to fire off a response to her response.
Fortunately my sister stepped in with a request for grace.
“Just sleep on it and wait until the morning.”
As much as I wanted to shoot a text back, I followed her advice and let it go for the evening.
Morning arrived and last night’s drama was a distant memory. About to meditate, I happened to open Sonia Choquette’s book Grace, Guidance, and Gifts for a little inspiration.
She recommends rather than reading her book from the beginning to instead open it intuitively to any chapter. This morning I was pleasantly surprised to see I opened to the piece on “grace.”
“Grace gives us the ability to stop and rest after experiencing chaos. Grace brings us relief and the ability to surrender our loud cries of fear into the healing quiet of silence. Grace, God’s personal support in our lives, guides us through the upheavals and chaos of life and gives us the strength to accept rather than fight what is so. Grace allows us to believe that all that unfolds is for the ultimate good of the soul, even though it may be painful, disappointing, disruptive, and even, at times, deathly. Grace makes certain that all that is taken away is refilled with new life, new love. Grace is our refuge. Grace brings the new dawn.”
What perfect timing as “grace” has been my word of the day the past few weeks… AND I clearly failed the test last night!
The thing is, your reaction always equals your reality.
Did it feel good to to be “right” in the text exchange last night?
For a bit.
Was it almost empowering dragging my sister and nieces on board with my need to win?
Until I started thinking about what it really means to LIVE the feelings I want to feel.
If I want to feel full of grace I can’t just be okay with doing so when it’s easy. In order to grow we must have the fortitude and strength to embody our “words of the day” when it’s the most difficult, when we “know” we are right, and when we just want to get the last word in.
I sat down to mediate and last night’s drama came flooding in. My entire outlook on the “situation” changed. When the bell rang signally the end of my quiet time, I immediately stood up and went to my phone to type out a response from the heart…from the space of grace.
Did it feel good in the moment and five hours later?
I chose to step into “Three Pines” where conflict is simply a part of the every day. Where the messiness of life didn’t result in eliminating someone from the scene but offering the understanding we are all doing the best we can and then choosing to let it go.
Growing up in my hometown allowed me to witness the value of speaking your truth, feeling the feelings, and moving on. The thing about a small town is if you write off any friend, neighbor, relative, business owner, or acquaintance, you eventually wake up and realize your sense of community has pretty much evaporated.
There is something to be said for weathering the storms and choosing to remain standing. Just like anything, what tests us can also make us stronger.
Any type of relationship whether it’s between partners, cousins, co-workers, or friends can be tested. Yet isn’t community what we all are really craving at the end of the day? To be part of something, to contribute, to matter?
You can’t have the community and connection without stepping into courage.
Which returns me to Three Pines. If you are feeling isolated, lonely, or bored. Simply reach outside yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, for so long I sought my own “Three Pines.” What I now realize is it’s always been outside (and inside) my front door from day one. My immediate and extended family, childhood friends, new friends, colleagues, acquaintances I see at my local cafe or grocery store. They are all intertwined in my own village.
Three Pines was there as I grew up in my hometown and it’s now in the city I live in. It’s in the building I live with the daily and oftentimes amusing drama and cast of characters, me being one of them. I thank God every day for the people in my life who add it its richness. A simple hello in the hallway from a neighbor, a shared walk with another dog owner, a borrowed egg, an offer to help, a phone call with a friend.
A sense of community and connection doesn’t arrive on your front doorstep tied in a bow. It requires taking chances, putting yourself out there, and always trying to see the good in one another.
As we embark on yet another week full of insights, experiences, and feelings yet to be had, I’d like to share something Brene Brown recently posted on social media.
She posted the acronym BRAVING as it relates to trust. I’d love to share the meaning of each word and offer my own insight into each one as it relates to stepping into grace during times of conflict. These words and how you define them is in essence your way of offering grace inwardly and outwardly.
Let’s dive in…
1. B= BOUNDARIES
This one sometimes is difficult as it’s tempting to make it “all about you” when you feel someone is “blowing you off.” Chances are, if you haven’t heard back from a friend, it’s more about what THEY are going through. It’s easy to fall into the judgement game if they seem unavailable or disinterested in what is going on in your life. The thing is, you have to respect whatever distance they are creating. It doesn’t mean you have to like it. You can feel the hurt and acknowledge the sense of loss… and yet still their business is ultimately their business. Letting go of the struggle to maintain the connection is freeing. Just like the seasons, it has the potential to return and bloom again even stronger. In the meantime, respect the space that one is asking for.
2. R= RELIABILITY
No one likes to be blown off. Period. Be the type of person who shows up. This requires being aware of overcommitting and saying yes to what you truly want to say yes to. If it’s a pure desire, the pull to cancel won’t be there.
Own what you own in the game of life. Let others do the same. Release the allure of perfectionism from yourself or others and instead own your moves, whether positive or negative, with a sense of curiosity followed by forward movement and learning.
I love this one. A friend of mine refers to herself as “a vault” and it’s true! I have never heard her mutter one secret to me about someone else… so I know mine are safe with her. My Dad says, “if you don’t want anyone to know something, don’t tell anyone.” True! And yet, how lucky you are to have a friend where your secrets are safe…and how lucky others are to have that trust in you.
5. I= INTEGRITY
You are the guru of you. You know when something is right and when it’s wrong. Following your gut especially in times like these is not always easy. “Keep it clean” in terms of behaving in a way that leaves your mind and heart light.
6. N= NON-JUDGEMENT
This is not always easy. Judging ourselves oftentimes comes naturally and when that becomes tiresome, it’s easy to point outward to feel better about ourselves. Step into the knowing that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have available to them. Maybe the person you are judging isn’t capable to meet your standards? Maybe you aren’t capable of meeting the standards you have unrealistically set for yourself? As one of my favorite characters Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek says to her husband in a moment of feeling judged by him, “Be careful John, lest you suffer vertigo from the dizzying heights of your moral ground.” Love that one!
Being generous with forgiveness, time, energy, and love is the magic of life. In a world of “me, myself, and I,” it’s refreshing to encounter others who are open to flexibility and service. In order to fully express generosity with others, you must first be generous enough to yourself so you are able to give that much more to the world. Do you hold back your generosity with others? If so, play with stepping back to allow another to shine. Giving everything to others and can’t fathom treating yourself? Practice putting yourself at the front of the line every so often.
Finally, I’ll leave you with the words of Jeff Foster from his book, The Joy Of True Meditation. I cannot even count the times I have gone back to the essence of this passage when I am tempted to step out of my own “work” and into someone else’s business…
“Let’s stop trying to fix or save each other. Let’s love each other instead. Bow to each other. Bless each other. Hold each other. As we are. As we actually, actually, actually are.”
This week, join me in replacing hasty judgements with grace. Even if it’s a 24 hour waiting period, give your soul the chance to speak… and have the courage to listen.
p.s. if your soul is asking you to shift your relationship with the habit of alcohol, think about joining my 30 Day Reset in the “Live More…Drink Less” community.