An Unutterable Tenderness

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A softness that defies language.
An unutterable tenderness.
To touch it requires complete and generous receptivity,
an awareness that is feather-light.

I’m beginning to know this place within,
this place that opens with the
touch of Grace and my
willingness to be loved.

Completely undressed I sit,
In silence I wait with
open heart and a willingness
to let my longing be known.

In this subtlest of subtle places,
I hear the whispers of this woman’s heart.
To do so requires me to leave everything I know
at the threshold into this world.

I am nobody special here,
in fact quite the opposite.
I am ordinary, undressed, and open
simply waiting to return home.

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Fearlessness & Work as Offering

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Stuckness

I’ve been a little stuck lately – wanting to step out more fully into the world, fully embodying the Work I am here to do, yet meandering in a place of trying to figure the Work thing out. Business is really good right now, and…

I can see snippets of what that Work is. Although my work with people, mostly women, to help them move toward their vision has found great success already, there’s a place where I have felt somewhat stuck.

Just today, in researching for this post about Margaret Wheatley (who will be speaking in Oakland this Saturday), I came across words she wrote some time ago that seem to directly speak to the place inside of me where a sense of stuckness has been living.

“What if we could offer our work as a gift so lightly, and with so much love, that that’s really the source of fearlessness? We don’t need it to be accepted in any one way. We don’t need it to create any certain outcome. We don’t need it to be any one thing. It is in the way we offer it, that the work transforms us. It is in the way we offer our work as a gift to those we love, to those we care about, to the issues we care about. It is in the way we offer the work that we find fearlessness. Beyond hope and fear, I think, is the possibility of love.”

I usually see insights…meaning, I see images that show me something I’ve not known. In these images that have come to me, I see myself offering this work in love, from a deep place of love that is far beyond me or anything my rational mind could conjure up.

Work as Offering

Perhaps like you, I’ve been taught and conditioned to look for results, to see success in my work as something results-oriented. In our current paradigm, that’s how success is measured. Even streams of thought that teach us that success is not based on dollar figures still hold a sense that success is about a certain outcome.

When I read Margaret’s words, “We don’t need it to be any one thing. It is in the way we offer it, that the work transforms us.”, my mind relaxes. I can feel how its been caught up in ‘understanding’ what the ‘one thing’ is that my work must be.

When I read, “It is in the way we offer our work as a gift…”, “It is in the way we offer the work that we find fearlessness.”, I can see my focus has been on the how, on what I am getting done (or not), rather than on the way I offer it and how I hold the work itself.

I sense the how comes out of the offering, the next step comes when I am let go into the love that is there for “those I love, to those I care about, to the issues I care about…”

A love so vast

In the short video on fearlessness I’ve shared with you below, Margaret shares this quote:

“Fearlessness is not being afraid of who you are.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa

When I heard these words, I saw that being tied to the ‘what’ of my Work keeps me stuck.

When I feel the love I have for those I am here to serve, I feel a letting go happen on its own.

Simply offering what is here without any attachment is having to ‘be with’, really ‘be with’ the vast unknown that is at the heart of this love.

It’s a vastness that is terrifying yet in some strange way reassuring because it is the only thing that never changes. It is that which has always been here, unchanging, yet from which change seems to be born from.

I have a sense that who I really am is a love so vast that it scares the begeebus out of me. I’ve had glimpses of this love and I literally can’t hold the glimpse, can’t stay with it because it is too much contain.

Latent Powers

I have to laugh at these words as they appear on the page. Of course I can’t contain it. The small “I” seems to think it can do this. This small “I” sees it all as impossible, because the small “I” is not the power behind one’s life-task…

“Our proper life-task must necessarily appear impossible to us, for only then can we be certain that all our latent powers will be brought into play.” ~ C. G. Jung, Letters vol. 1, p. 94

I can see that what I sense lies ahead appears impossible, and reading Jung’s words helps me have a sense of why that is. These latent powers within us can come forth when we get out of our own way, in a sense a kind of ‘bowing down’ to the real you that you are, the one you are afraid of. In my experience, it doesn’t have anything to do with the small “I”, or me, that is attached to the outcomes, does want success, or longs to have it be seen or received in a certain way.

That part will always try to control, and it is this control that is creating a sense of stuckness within.

A Call to Fearlessness

I have dined on Margaret Wheatley’s wisdom many times in my life. I first saw her speak in person in 2005 at one of the Thought Leaders Gathering in the Bay Area. Her wisdom, as she shares in this short video, always opens something new in me…

This Saturday, October 22nd, along with the wise and multi-talented Barbara McAffee, Margaret Wheatley will speak to a community of change-agents in a day-long event titled, A Call to Fearlessness: Discovering Your True Leadership Voice to Create Community and Joy.

Hosted by Bay Area Coaches, this is going to be an event to open your heart to doing work in the world in an entirely different way. Even if you don’t live in the Bay Area, you can still attend via simulcast.

And, if you buy one ticket to attend in person, you can purchase a second ticket for a friend at half price – either in person or via simulcast.

Take a moment right now to taste more of Margaret Wheatley’s wisdom in this article on Eight Fearless Questions. I promise, you’ll come away with an entirely new take on what it means to be fearless.

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What Do You Love To Do?

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Wonder and Beauty

Have you ever wondered what you are here to do? Perhaps a tell-tale sign of this is what brings you alive…

Last night, while I was writing, I peeked outside and saw the most beautiful clouds. They dotted the sky like a million pillows.

Clouds and Attics

Something about the sky drew me outside, like a call to my soul. I feel that sometimes. I feel the call from the wild world, the real world that’s always waiting for me to snap out of the day-to-day sameness within which the conditioned mind likes to confine itself. So I answered the call. I stepped outside.

The wind was billowing. The sky was filled with a zillion colors. The evening sky had a magical quality to it. As I so often do when I’m reveling in the mysterious unfoldment of life, I took pictures. I love the experience of capturing a moment in life that speaks to me. When life presents such beauty, I meet it willingly with open arms and an open shutter.

This picture, Clouds and Attics, captured the magic of yesterday’s evening sky as it poured itself over the place I live.

A friend of mine, Rachael Maddox, recently commented on one of my Instagram photos, “I love your love for beauty.” Her words resonated deeply. I become intoxicated with something hard to put into words when I witness beauty. I suppose that ‘something’ is love, the divine, the no-word-for experience of witnessing the magic of ordinary life.

When I read Rachael’s words, something opened inside me. A remembering. A knowing. A recognition of what is true for this woman’s soul. I’ve often chuckled at myself, because I take so many  close-ups of flowers. And I never grow tired of doing so.

Even if they all look alike to an eye that only sees the word and concept ‘flower’ when seeing a flower, when I really see a flower, it is wholly unique and in seeing that uniqueness wonder seems to simply appear.

Do What You Love

Currently, I am teaching two courses, Creativity and Leadership, and The Whole Woman, both based on a course originally taught at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

In my courses, we talk about purpose as more of a quality of essence we each bring to life, a unique expression of the divine.

To discover purpose, each student lists what they love to do and what they hate to do, and then looks for the qualities inherent in the love-to-do list, and missing in the hate-to-do list. This process is always eye-opening for people.

We are most happy when we are bringing these qualities of essence to everything we do. For me, qualities of wonder, mystery and beauty are must-haves in what I do. They immediately bring me present to the wonder of life as it is, right now, not as I would like it to be. They light up a quiet joy within me, a thick peace that permeates everything.

I find these qualities a must-have for coaching. When I bring them to client calls, I find myself in wonder about my client, always remembering they are a mystery unfolding before my eyes.

To me, that is such a gift. It’s a constant reminder to me to be in the state of not-knowing who this person is, to listen deeply to what is being said, in order to hear them rather than my own mind-chatter about who I imagine them to be.

And, you?

What do you love to do? What are the qualities of your essence, that when brought to everything you do, bring you fully alive?

Take some time to wonder and discover. And really question what it is you think you love. Move past what you’ve been told you should love, and listen to your body instead. It will let you know beyond any doubt about what you truly love.

If you want to discover more about who you really are, drop me a line at julie at gmail (dot) com, or sign-up to receive my posts by email by completing the box at the top right of this page.

This is at the heart of what I do in the world…

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For Longing

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A friend shared this poem, and I cried tears…

Tears for the beauty of these words.

Tears for the beauty that was this soul, this soul named John O’Donhoue.

Tears for the longing of the soul.

Tears for the beginnings of a glimmer of this knowing: “May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.”

His books, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, are gorgeous works. I’ve read them, and re-read them, and still I can tell I will read them again. While the words are gorgeous and full, there is something that weaves between the words that lights me up in a way nothing else does. Light moves through his words, through the pages into my own soul.

Let these words of his pour over you, filling the cells of your being with the love that is in every cell of existence. This is our inheritance. To know love like this. To know that God is longing for us with urgency. All stories fall away in the power of this knowing.

::

For Longing by John O’Donohue

Blessed be the longing that brought you here

And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire

That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease

To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–

Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which
your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

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For Tori

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She died, today.
Somehow, I just never thought she would.

It makes me wonder.
Why.

And, in the wonder, I see something
I’ll never know.

I know that I don’t know.
I know that I can’t know.

Underneath the wonder
Is an unending blackness.

A deep, unbound, freefall into,
“I don’t know.”

I fall as I stand.

Beauty.
Goodness.

There is no knowing. Why.
She died, today.

[ For Tori ]

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The Realm of the Broken-Open Heart

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Image from I Dare You video by The Girl Effect

Awareness.

Becoming conscious of.

Turning to look within.

Opening the Heart.

The heart breaking open.

Connection.

Oneness.

Same, Same.

This post is part of the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign, started by Tara Sophia Mohr last year.

During that first campaign, I wrote Girls Are Not Little Women and Same, Same.

In Same, Same, I entered into the very real awareness that I, in some way, am complicit with the injustices of the world, even if it is simply because of my privilege and silence. This video caused my heart to break…open.

Each face looks at me directly, while the words ask me to look, really look with eyes and a heart that want to see, not eyes and a mind that think they already know.

It’s as if the narrator really knows how unconscious human beings can be, how easy it is for our minds to scan images and take stock of them in a split second, coming away with quick assumptions that satisfy us so we can move on.

Can I really watch these images, with an open heart that is willing to feel whatever arises as these eyes stare back, not asking for pity, but asking instead to truly be seen as an intelligent being with capabilities not recognized, with the desire to be a part of the answer rather than simply an object, a commodity or a problem to be solved?

Can I ask myself, “How do I contribute to the current situation?” and can I sit with myself and be with the truth of the answer?

Today, almost one year later, I wonder how I can go through all these months and not consider what is happening in these girls’ lives. Where does my mind go instead? Yes, I am busy with life. And, how easy it is to become complacent and turn away.

Privilege

In this privileged life, it is so easy to not have to concern myself with those with less privilege.

I wrote a series of posts in the early part of this year on Privilege, Silence and Oppression. It was a difficult series to write, as you can probably guess by the title.

One thing that has stayed with me since I wrote the series is a comment that came from a friend and colleague. This friend is hearing impaired and is very conscious of how privilege causes us to not have to be aware of others’ situations.

From my perspective, privilege is the freedom from having to think about your impact on another. Before I lost my hearing, I never really considered how important acoustic accessibility is to those who are hard of hearing. I didn’t have to think about it because it didn’t affect me. Now, however, it’s in the forefront of my consciousness all of the time. When I can extend my empathy and compassion to others who experience the world differently than I do, when I imagine how it might be for them and take action to rectify the inequity that I am causing people, the world will start to look a lot different to me and to those people known and unknown to me with whom I’m in constant relationship. ~ Judith Cohen

To me, Judith’s words are brilliant. They cause me to pause, to put my attention on others that normally I don’t have to consider or think about. And, they take me back to my own words from last year:

Can I ask myself, “How do I contribute to the current situation?” and can I sit with myself and be with the truth of the answer?

I’ve wondered about the seeming incongruousness of our world that is easy for a human mind to justify, but so hard for the heart to hold.

The incongruousness of a world we’ve created where some have so much more than they could ever, ever need, and others are dying from lack of clean water, food, or love.

Yes, this is the world we humans have created, the world based on our ideas of how things should be.

I feel girls are a part of the solution. And, we are all, women, boys and men, part of the solution.

When we put our attention on the problem, if we are willing to see our complicity and our very generous ability to be creative and resourceful, we have what we need to change things.

At the heart of the matter is the heart.

My heart. Your heart. And, compassion. For ourselves, for others, for the human predicament.

Being human is a very vulnerable proposition.

We can’t, and don’t, always do it right. We are human. And, this humanness is really at the heart of the matter. We can turn out attention to places that feel to hard to look, and when we do, perhaps we become beautiful people…

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Privilege also causes suffering. It hurts the heart to turn away from others, to not have to consider others.

It also hurts the heart to turn away from our sisters and brothers who are not, in one way or another, free to be fully expressed souls, free to live a life that is a reflection of the sacredness of the soul.

There is a very real benefit to all of us, and to all of life, for each of us to enter the realm of the broken-open heart.

Real ways to make a difference at The Girl Effect:

  1. Learn
  2. Give
  3. Mobilize


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Making Time for You

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Happy Wednesday!

We’re already having stormy weather here in Northern California. The rain pounded so hard against my window last night, I thought it was going to pour through the glass. Very unusual weather for this time.

Making Time for What Matters with Britt Bravo

Today, I have a guest post over at Britt Bravo’s blog, Have Fun, Do Good. I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to write this post on Making Time for What Matters, as part of Britt’s series by the same name. In writing the post, I discovered something really important:

“Writing this post has been an illuminating process. From the outside, it seems like a fairly straightforward idea…how I make time for what matters. But, as I sat with the question of what really matters to me, I realized, over time, that what matters isn’t anything I do, it is who I am being, and how I relate to life when I do whatever it is I do.

Below are qualities of being that bring me peace and a resonance with life as it unfolds.”

Read more:

I’d love to know which qualities of being allow life to unfold with more ease for you.

About Britt:

“I’m a blogger, podcaster, and blog coach for artists, writers, entrepreneurs and do-gooders. I’m also a big vision consultant who loves to help people find and express their calling. When I’m not blogging, I love to cook, collage, write letters, interview big visionaries, and bring groups of people together, online and offline. I offer the Juicy Blogging e-course four times a year. You can learn more my work at www.brittbravo.com, and connect with me on Twitter at @BBravo.”

If you are interested in blogging, or want to get juicier with your blog, check out Britt’s Juicy Blogging e-course.

The Whole Woman

I’m busy preparing to teach the first evening of my new course, The Whole Woman, at The Teahouse Studio in Berkeley tomorrow evening, October 6th. If you live in the Bay Area or know women who do, there’s still time to register and join us.

I’m excited about the course.

  • If you’ve been feeling a nudge to look inside, wondering who you are and what you’re here for, this course is for you.
  • If you have a challenge in front of you, or a big decision to make, then the tools we’ll be covering will help support you in this time.
  • If you know you’re not living your truth, yet don’t know what that truth is, or even how to begin to shift how you’re living, come join us.

Many women are finding themselves being called to let go of who they’ve thought they were, in order to discover the truth of their being. It is time for us all to discover what is real and to live it with love and compassion for ourselves.

You may sense the course is right for you, but may be afraid to dive in – if so, don’t worry, you won’t be alone. We all feel a certain amount of fear about change, especially when we step into it willingly.

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The Rhythm of Life

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Simple

I’ve discovered complexity just doesn’t feel good. Running in circles, worrying about having too much to do, jumping from one task to another, is hard on the body and soul.

I’ve sat with this feeling that comes when I spend too much time on the computer. I feel tight and wound-up. When I feel this way, I long for simplicity, and for doing activities that bring me back to the body, to breath, to life.

Simple moments.

Simple choices.

Simple ways.

Simple.

All I can do is do one thing at a time. Yes, in reality, all any of us can do is one thing at a time, even though we like to believe we are getting more done when we multitask, we aren’t.

Rhythms

I notice when my head starts to swirl with everything I’ve got to do, or everything I must remember, I begin to feel a sense of overwhelm, and a corresponding reaction in my body where my chest tightens and my breath becomes shallow. When I spend too much time using the computer, the same thing happens: the body tightens and I get too little oxygen in my cells.

I know, now, there is no such thing as time. The sun rises and sets. The moon moves from a sliver of translucent white to a fully white orb, and back again. Days come and go. Seasons pass. I grow older. Yet, time is just a construct that we use to get along together in the world.

We’ve made time King, when in reality rhythm is what restores my sanity – the rhythm of my breath, my heartbeat; of sleep and awakeness; of hunger and thirst; of life and death.

The rhythm of the creative process – fallow when fallow, fruitful when fruitful.

Life is about rhythm, not time.

Life itself, is a complex system, and we humans have added a complexity to life, especially here in the west, that is driving us crazy.

The only way I’ve found to be in this complexity and stay somewhat sane is to remember – remember what I love, remember who in my life really matters to me, remember that taking care of this body is a beautiful act, and remember to be aware of what I have to offer to others that might lighten their load. At it’s most basic, this remembrance is of a very basic, yet very real knowing that life itself is sacred.

I am by no means implying I have it all together, but rather, that I’m learning to slow down, to live more simply, to ask for help and to honor the very simple fact that I am alive and this life is precious.

I am learning to live the rhythm of life.

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