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Inked. Day 13 | Godin, Linchpin, Tribes, V is for Vulnerable

I’m not sure how I encountered Seth Godin. I think it was something to do with his book, Tribes. I do know Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?arrived in March 2010, and I spent the next two months digesting his brilliant guidance. Godin, “writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.”

13 Seth GodinIn 2010 I was telecommuting from home, working as an independent contractor with Spiritual Directors International, and a freelancing editor, retreat leader, speaker, and spiritual guide, offering spiritual direction in person and via telephone. I also assisted with our family lodge business. Godins’s book affirmed everything I believed about art, collaboration, connection, and gift in business, and he provided a framework that resonated profoundly with me.

A year later, I was single, with a pile of debt from my divorce, and financially needed to open myself to a new expression of work in the world. Within a month I faced deliberate discernment with five choices: continue what I was doing, accept a position at a local church, or as a communication specialist for a K-12 school district, or manage our family lodge business, or move to Bellevue, Washington to work in the home office of Spiritual Directors International. What choices! Of all the insights in Linchpin, one phrase in particular guided me, and is still sticky. I promised myself I would not do this.

“If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature just to keep that job” (79).

Godin inspires and guides me daily with a short, pithy email from his blog that lands in my inbox. It’s one of the few subscriptions that I read daily. His brilliance shows up through his perspective and insight that consistently invites a choice, or pokes new awareness not only in business, but all of life. He reminds, “amplify little thoughts” (148), and … “Most of all, art involves labor. Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk, and extending yourself” (86). “Linchpins don’t need authority. It’s not part of the deal. Authority only matters in the factory, not in your world. … Real change happens when someone who cares steps up and takes what feels like a risk. People follow because they want to, not because you can order them to” (201). His book, V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone stands up, propped open on a shelf in my office at the school district. It reminds me about authenticity, and that 2011 promise to myself.

Next on my list, and already in my book stack, is The Icarus Deception, in which Godin, “argues that we’ve been brainwashed by industrial propaganda, and pushes us to stand out, not to fit in.”

Check out Seth Godin’s books, blog, free downloads, and perspective. I’m curious, what is evoked in you? Whatcha gonna do with your ducks?

Savor Lent, Savor Life, 2013 daily life retreat

For the next forty days I promise to do my best to post a daily meditation for the purpose of pause and ponder, meaning and significance, and becoming brave, more authentic, compassionate, and wildly human.

Fat Tuesday, 2013
I believe Lent, which means spring, is a time to deepen our inner aliveness—even in the midst of busy, demanding, productive lives. When I think back over the past twenty-five years, I remember a variety of years, times and places, what nourished me, how I needed challenge, or comfort.

I’d tossed this idea of an online retreat around in my thoughts, intended to offer something very structured, modeled after a book, Savor Lent, Savor Life, that I’ve not yet finished writing. Instead, it is Fat Tuesday, I’m home late from work, and received a Facebook private message from a special lady, a former student, asking where she could find my 2013 Lenten meditations I hinted at, online. And so, in spite of my resistance, more aptly described as asking myself with no small amount of incredulity, “are you nuts?” I say yes., I will. Do this. Small. Thing: A. Daily. Reflective. Post. For. Lent.

I dedicate these forthcoming reflections, however meaningful or meaningless, to her, and to everyone else that finds their way to this field of care and laughter. I’ll meet you here. Let’s journey together.

–Pegge, February 12, 2013, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Tip: Each daily post is located at my blog, eNewFields site. Please connect with the daily posts there.

Links
Savor Lent, Savor Life daily reflections
Ash Wednesday
Pray, Fast, Serve
Week One: “Take”
Desire for God ~ Day 6
Stillness ~ Day 7
Listen ~ Day 8
Being Present ~ Day 9
Free Will ~ Day 10
Savor ~ Day 11

12 lessons from my hibernation years, 2009-2012

I’m celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, thinking about present time, and made a list of 12 practical life learnings–gifts–gleaned from what I’m calling my silent years, 2009-2012.

Why the list? I moved to Alaska in 2007, and with the assistance of the sturdy and wild landscape, hibernated. I am sorry for the times I was not available or present to the suffering and celebration of dear friends, former students, acquaintances, readers. Please forgive me, and my silent absence. This inner hibernation was necessary to heal and become hopeful, energized, and juiced with life once again. It is good to feast and feel quirky and alive, anew. In 2013, I anticipate mutual partnerships, service, and being available to contribute to healing and wholeness, passion and laughter in our world. Cheers!

Top 12 List

12.  “Carry many colored pens. Good ink flows smooth.”  #writer

11.  “Photo inspirations appear everywhere.”  #iPhone

10.  “Dog – An angel cloaked in fur, wielding a tail.”  #Kenai

9. 
“Wear ice cleats outdoors at 36F and below.”  #prudent #PreventFallOw

8. 
“Snow-blowing trumps vacuuming.” #chores

7. 
“Great book clubs issue EOs [Emergency Orders] to convene. No reading required.”  #SourDoes #friendship

6.
  “Our energy biofield is mysterious, practical and compelling.”  #HealingTouch #Reiki #Qigong #physics

5. 
“Ask a friend to accompany you to divorce court, for a biopsy appointment, or these such things.”  #Don’tDoItAlone

4.
  “Fish barefoot, in a suit, at dawn, dusk or dark, in a boat, on a bank, a shore, any time. When someone hands you a rod, take it.” #Alaska

3.
  “Fifty surprised me.”  #5October #TakeMySweetTime

2. 
“Romance happens at a fire.”  #sparks

1.
  “Flow like a river.”  #attitude

Bonus: “Wear your love like heaven.” #2013

I will share short posts in coming weeks to illuminate these 12, together with additional learnings from my time of hibernation. And, I’m curious, what would your list include?

May your 2013 be exceptionally brilliant and intentional. Please, be brave, believe.

Happy New Year.

Love, Pegge and Kenai (the dog)

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Listen: Become Available

Become Available

My smartphone chimed, indicating a new text message. I read four words, “How was your day?” Pausing, the simple sentence evoked a multitude of emotions, sensations, and thoughts. I stood still, surprised. Primary was the realization that it has been a very long time since I’d been the recipient of this gentle question, a genuine invitation to reflect and share, four simple words conveying interest and care.

Our conversations and communication with each other are often functional, relaying data and details: I’ll meet you at …., When is …?, I need …., How about …?, Where is …?, and so forth. The text, How was your day? queried me, posed a reflective question, evoked my response, and began a mutual conversation and exchange that held potential to grow intimacy and friendship. When we communicate and interact with each other, a flow of energy and presence brings forth expansion or contraction.

I had a choice in my response to that text message—I could share about the productivity or pleasures of the day, or my concerns and fatigue, or a dozen other details. My desire was to be utterly available to my best self, and to the person asking the question. To become available means to be able to avail ourselves on behalf of someone, or something. It is a choice that involves intention, willpower, and decision. Sometimes to be available involves risk and takes courage. Being available generates connection and ultimately involves both giving and receiving.

In the beginning of Aleph, a provocative new novel by author Paulo Coelho, the main character prepares to make a journey, and visits a chapel. Coelho writes, “There I asked Our Lady to guide me with her love and help me identify the signs that will lead me back to myself. I know that I am in all the people surrounding me, and that they are in me. Together we write the Book of Life, our every encounter determined by fate and our hands joined in the belief that we can make a difference in this world. Everyone contributes a word, a sentence, an image, but in the end it all makes sense: the happiness of one becomes the joy of all” (21).

When we pause, on behalf of our own soul stirrings, on behalf of another person, or when stirred by empathy, compassion, or injustice, we evoke the inner spaciousness to become available. To be available allows healing, wholeness, connection, and joy to birth in the cosmos. I imagine a world where every day we make the time to pause and ask, How was your day? or How are you? to someone dear to us, or to a complete stranger. And then show up, and listen.

A spiritual companion might ask these kinds of questions during spiritual direction, opening a pathway of conversation, and allowing a listening presence to flow within and between both the listener and the speaker. When asked with sincerity, these genuine, evocative questions heal, and lead each of us to our authentic self, mystery, and ultimately write the book of our life.

– Pegge Erkeneff

Reprinted from Listen: A Seeker’s Resource for Spiritual Direction, 6.4 page 1 (Spiritual Directors International © 2012). Reprinted with permission of Spiritual Directors International. To order copies or a subscription of Listen, call 1-425-455-1565 or go to http://www.sdiworld.org.

Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

Mentors teach and guide us. I know this to be true: when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Perhaps you do too. Who are the important people who have arrived in your life at distinctive times and places? At this time—are you seeking to learn, know, or experience something specific that you can identify and name? Do you wrestle with an inner restlessness that may want to reveal something to you about your life, work, a relationship, action of service, creative endeavor, or spiritual inquiry? Have you experienced a person approaching you for mentoring or guidance?

A mentor can be a valuable person who illuminates life lessons and insights. Mentors appear in many forms, and often surprise or challenge us. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, a thirteenth century Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic wrote, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”

Central to our human existence and evolution is the capacity to listen. In order to listen deeply, many find it helpful to make  a commitment to a spiritual practice. A spiritual practice allows us to participate in dynamic stillness—a moment of strength when we think we cannot go on, a rootedness in the present moment. A regular spiritual practice develops the necessary courage and resiliency to reconcile dissonance and polarity.

When we cultivate and grow peace in our hearts, learn with our bodies and minds, and contribute to our families and communities, an opportunity presents itself: live with integrity and awareness. Every day we have the choice to up-level our communication with others—and our own inner dialogue—agreeing to align and interact with the best parts of ourselves, not the weakest. We can make a promise to be truth-tellers. When our actions generate from this center, we often discover a teacher or mentor arrives to help us grow in ways we may currently name and desire, or perhaps only intuit. When we wake up, tell the truth, and are faithful to our spiritual practice, unforeseen possibility and potential shows up!

Mentors and spiritual guides assist us along the way, until one day, our fidelity to a spiritual practice and listening deeply creates an awareness that that we have become the mentors, examples, and witnesses to a life of authentic engagement and flow, where the breeze at dawn or dusk whispers secrets to our awakened life.

Reflect
Stop everything you are doing, be still. Ask yourself, and then ponder:

  • Who are my mentors?
  • How am I a mentor or witness to others?
  • What is it I truly desire in my life?
  • Dare I believe in possibility?
  • Am I ready to sort things in—and out—to create the time and space for my deepest calling, and heart desires?
  • How might a spiritual director or guide accompany me in my journey?

–Pegge Erkeneff

Excerpted from Listen: A Seekers Guide to Spiritual Direction, July 2012, vol. 6.3, published by Spiritual Directors International, http://www.sdiworld.org.

Cultivating Compassion: Good, Enough

A young person, mid-twenties, whom I accompany as a soul-friend asked, “You’re saying it’s possible I’m good enough just the way I am? That’s hard for me to believe. How come we never hear that message?” That conversation was two years ago during a telephone spiritual guidance exchange. I have not forgotten the question or my response.

Outer, external voices seek to influence and define our inner reality, informing us how we think and feel, what we expect and desire. We receive messages about how to appear through the way we dress and what we say, and even where our social action should—or shouldn’t—be placed. Images, words, and encounters can come from the media, strangers, or people we share a home with. The truth is, most of these words do not ring with accuracy. No one can define our inner reality, our own lived experience. It is a form of abuse when this occurs—a stealing of another person’s unique identity, personality, and a loss of the opportunity to validate dreams, hopes, fears, or life-given purpose and gifts.

Spiritual direction or spiritual guidance is a place and time to validate, explore, and discover the powerful human experience of connection, healing, and love.

That evening on the telephone I encouraged, “Perhaps you are good enough. Just like this, right now. You are, and I am. We all are. No matter the circumstance. Certainly we can always be better, and there is value in striving for more. But, today, right now, maybe you are good, enough.” With this particular seeker, questions about God or the Sacred Other was not part of our conversation. A deep sense of judgment and abandonment had created an angry soul-wound. My role was to put skin on compassion and care.

A few days after the conversation, I recalled “Wild Geese” a favorite poem by Mary Oliver from Dream Works (1994). Her opening lines shocked me. I invite you to tumble Oliver’s insight into your heart and body:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

It is time to announce our place in the world, invite others in out of the cold to break bread, gather at our table, in our communities, at the workplace, in our schools, places of worship, and in our sacred circles. There is enough when we share with love. Let us love what we love, and love one another with welcoming presence. We all belong. This starting place is good, enough.

Reflect

  • Do I give myself permission to love what I love, feel what I feel?
  • Who can I invite in out of the cold to join me at my table?
  • What healing and hope can emerge through my heart of compassion and thanksgiving?
  • Am I good, enough?
  • Do I know when to say, “enough.”

— Pegge Erkeneff,
Excerpted from Listen: A Seekers Guide to Spiritual Direction, April 2012, vol. 6.2, published by Spiritual Directors International, http://www.sdiworld.org.

Hello, it’s about time.

October 6, 2011–I’m not sure why it’s been nearly 6 months since I’ve posted something, anything. My second handwritten journal is full. Snippets of paper and spiral pads on my desk offer data, indicating brain waves at work. Yet, there’s that high jump post from April. It stayed prominent, and needs dusting. Walk on.

I turned the page into my 49th year yesterday. 49 in the 49th state. 7+a little 2. 7 squared. Something significant lurks. Steve Jobs died on my 49 BD. He inspires me. Awes me too. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to unspool a life. Make way for something new and ancient.

This morning I spent three hours with a new teacher to Alaska who is blind–she was sighted until age 21–and her two middle school students, who are also blind. The three of them grab my heart. I need to write a web highlight story for  my work with the school district, and the words seem erased, stuck. My inner SMART board is defecting, and somehow I don’t think a call to the IT department will help. A photograph of one of their faces is my new screensaver–at my not quite so new (since August 1) work with Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She, and each person you or I meet has a story to tell. I’m listening.

My question of the hour, at 49, with a lifetime of memories and experiences, some so sad, others joyous beyond measure:

How do we value time?

I ponder these questions too: What orientates our lives? Dare we dream of possibility? In this life, we must be brave, very brave. Each of us has own inner struggles, and vision. We need good guides, and to trust ourselves. This prayer ripples in me tonight, “Oh God, teach me to see.”

How do you see? What–and who–helps you navigate darkness?

Telling time, Braille watch

Choose Life–Do Not Be Afraid

I wonder what Jesus experienced when he died, and then showed back up, on earth, alive. I wonder about his graciousness in allowing people to recognize him in their own timing. He shows up, again, again, again.

I wonder what it is inside of me, and you, that offers us the spaciousness and courage to let go, and experience our own dying–of  hopes, beloved friends and family members,  cherished dreams, our ego and compulsions, and one day, of our own body breath.

What keeps us showing up, choosing life, again, and again?

Standing at the top of this hill in Southern Colorado, a more than life-size “Resurrection” sculpture in front of me, I pondered that question. The summer sun beat hot. Thunderstorms brewed. Listening to my iPod, the song, “Walk On” by U2 began to play. An eagle flew into sight, circling overhead. Two additional eagles arrived.

Later, a friend described this sculpture as “high-jump Jesus.” It fits for me. I spent hours watching my son practice and compete in track and field high-jumps. He was grace in motion, and many times, didn’t clear the bar. Yet, he got up, dusted himself off, took a breath, and with precision steps, leaped again. This image of Jesus leaping off the cross, reaching toward new life helps heal and transform me. Earth, family, friends, and even strangers offer support.

We are not alone, not ever. It only feels that way sometimes. The knowledge and experience of God’s presence helps me choose life, and to be brave.

“Do not be afraid.”
–Matthew 28:5b

What–and who–fuels life anew in you?

“Resurrection” by sculptor Huberto Maestas | San Luis, Colorado

Pause. Photographs Capture Time, Light, a Moment

My favorite description of contemplation is a “long, loving look at the real.” I heard this first from William McNamara, OCD, a teacher who inspired me to live with intention, purpose, vigor, and passion.

National Geographic posted a photograph tip on Facebook tonight:

Photo Tip: Adventure photography leads to lots of thrilling images. But remember to also watch for those moments of contemplation that can happen when the adventurer pauses to reflect on his extraordinary experience.

The moments of pause … time when I breathe deeply and see, taking a “long loving look at the real” are the times when I grow (and groan) in appreciation, connection, empathy. When do these types of moments occur for you?

Photography intrigues me. I once dated a photo-journalist, and seeing the world through his eyes helped me understand ways we communicate and perceive. My horizons were opened to different perspectives.

I’m saving for a better digital camera now, and want to snap the details of the landscape where I live–there is wildness and hidden beauty in Alaska. It is a contemplative practice for me to see through the eyes of my camera.

Join me, and glimpse light, time, wonder, moments, and composition–the world–through these photographs from National Geographic. Treat yourself. Each  can be a contemplative pause. Delight. Notice what is evoked in you!

Simply Beautiful Photographs by Annie Griffiths

Super Moon, Season Change, and Silent Vows

Super moon: St Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor, Somerset (This photo from England conveys similiar shadow & moon contrast visible in Alaska.)

Visiting friends on Friday night, the nearly full moon hovered in a pink tinged sky, rising over iced, frozen chunks of the Kenai River, Alaska. In contrast, Saturday night was already shadowless dark as  I waited for the Super moon to shine. I gasped when the entire horizon of Kenai Mountain peaks became a silhouette, and Super moon hugged the landscape luminous.

There are a hundred things I could write about–wanted to write about–on the eve of the Vernal Equinox. Alaska gains five to six minutes of light, every day. My mind was like a gumball machine. However, tears had blanketed my face earlier, as had laughter when I saw my true reflection in the mirror. I had no more words, and simply desired to lean into the liquid silence of the night, beauty unfolding peace in a time of fierce change, for me personally, and throughout our planet.

Super moon rose so gracefully as earth orbited in dance. The rhythm of David Whyte’s poetry from earlier that day breathed in me. Gazing through tall windows into the wintry landscape, I spontaneously slipped out of my sheepskin slippers, moving into flowing Qigong practice, facing darkness, within and without, illuminated by moonlight. My silence became a prayer of sorts.

Thank you Super moon, and thank you David Whyte–your poems evoke a fierce conversation within me. I welcome the season of Lent–Vernal Equinox–spring, and all the true vows. Amen.

ALL THE TRUE VOWS

All the true vows
are secret vows.
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made,
nor the work they have chosen,

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood,
in the shadows,
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

Remember,
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

– David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected PoemsHouse of Belonging, and the CD of poems and music, Return

Have you experienced poetry or nature teaching and guiding you … communicating that for which you may have no words, yet?
Do you have a favorite poem or poet? A place in nature where you come home to yourself in your own skin?