“I don’t like Fear,” I once told a friend, “It scares me!” That had been my relationship with Fear until seven years ago when I attended a workshop called “Beyond Fear”. I secretly hoped it would give me a workaround for Fear — how to avoid it altogether. But no, the idea was to create a rapport with Fear, feel it, then move beyond it. Not get stuck in it. Not run from it. (Have you noticed that when you run from Fear, it chases you?) The workshop was life changing. I discovered that when I’m afraid and refuse to feel it, I attempt to control.
Control Doesn’t Work.
“News flash” right? Sometimes I forget and reach for control anyway. Which is exactly what I did with my mother last week. She had gone to the ER and released with a nonspecific diagnoses. Under the guise of concern, I told her she shouldn’t drive until she sees her doctor. While that might be good advice, my mother is a capable, adult woman who has managed to make her own decisions for longer than I have been alive. The conversation didn’t go well. She was offended (rightly so) and I was righteous (wrongly so).
Righteous Yields to What’s Right.
Days passed. I was uneasy about the conversation but convinced I was right. Then, while shuffling papers on my desk, my eyes landed on a random note: “Attempts to control always fail. Control, no matter the origin, comes down to fear.” Hmmmm. In my refusal to feel fear, I had reached for control which hadn’t worked, of course.
I called my mother and started a new conversation: ”I’m sorry for trying to control you by telling you not to drive. The truth is, I was/am scared…” We then had a beautiful, easy conversation about what really matters and about how challenging it can be to stay in the present moment when we are afraid. I noticed how close I felt to her and how surprisingly grateful I was for my Fear. When I simply let myself feel it, it led me to my heart and brought me closer to a precious relationship with my mother.
Last night I completed facilitating an 8 week pilot of The Joy Factor with a group of recovering drug addicts at a local residential recovery center. It was an amazing couple of months. Even though one of the participants told me that when the program first started, he thought I was right off of the koo-koo train, he grew to love and learn from my passion and commitment to living a life we love. He gifted me with this poem and I now share it with you. My soul resonates with most of it, I hope yours does as well.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
Whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labours and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
This was the guy that volunteered to help families in Africa, taught autistic children, cheerfully did dishes and stirred the soup when he was over for dinner. He was naturally polite, kind and funny. I used to joke that he was so wonderful that when he smiled we had to protect our eyes from the sparkling reflection. We knew something fun was going to happen when he bounded through the door. He organized the night that a bunch of kids, including my daughter, slept in a car piled on top of each other like puppies waiting for the annual REI sale to begin. They stocked up on the gear they needed to go out there and experience nature at its finest.
Once, when she was describing him to me my daughter said, “Mom, he was “that” guy for me.” He was the guy who showed her what it was like to be in a truly safe relationship. He held her hand gently, opened her car door, brushed the hair from her eyes and looked at her with such kindness and respect that I will always be grateful to him as a mother. He set the bar high.
In April, he passed away in a rock climbing accident. It is months later and we are still trying to make sense of it. He had a beautiful relationship with God and this comforts us all.
He embraced life with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm and joy. The life he lived reminds me to be present and enjoy the simple stuff. I appreciate the opportunity to laugh loud, sing badly and contemplate the clouds in the sky. My daughter, who is slowly healing, feels the same way. She has made changes in her life so that she is really doing what she loves most and not wasting a single second. She has said that she wants to live her life in a way that will make him proud. Once again, I am grateful.
Thank you, Josh. We miss you very much.
This post is the continuation of A Moment of Grace, describing my journey from despair to breakthrough.
Since that breakthrough, my thoughts and attitudes towards my body have radically changed. The mean-spiritedness and disgust that pervaded my relationship with my body are virtually gone. Of course, sometimes I still think some of the old thoughts (i.e., “You need to loose 10 pounds by tomorrow!”); but I can’t take them seriously. Only a crazy person would.
Another wonderful thing happened: buried in the rubble of my past relationship with my body, I found a positive memory and experience that is fueling my new life.
Flash back to 1992:
Pregnant, I feel free in my body for the first time. Unconcerned with my weight, I am proud of my growing belly. I eat in alignment with what my body needs by really listening. This is a foreign but welcome practice. I marvel at the cellular and systemic intelligence that it requires no bullying or trickery from me. I feel a truly joyful partnership with my body!
This memory inspires me and leads me to the present-day Joy Diet. One based on partnership and rooted in love. It requires that I slow down enough to really listen to my body (and not my mind’s idea of what my body wants or needs!). I regularly ask, “What will bring me the most joy?”
Sometimes it’s exercise such as biking or walking. Sometimes a nap, or sharing a bowl of ice cream with my husband. This joy diet is powerful and real only when I’m in the present moment — rather than pining for a smaller dress size in my future. The result is a profound sense of happiness.
How humbling and ironic that all those years when I was chasing happiness in a dress size … all along it was patiently waiting for me, right here.
What do you suppose is waiting right here for you? My invitation to you is is this: for the next 30 days ask your body this question and follow its true answer:
What will bring me the most joy?
Enjoy your right to the pursuit of happiness with humor!
Whether by divine purpose or lovely accident, I have recently returned to some activities that brought me great happiness as a wee farm girl. By riding her bike, the lovely Ms. Watkins reminded my how much I loved riding my bike. So I cannon-balled back into cycling by signing up for a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraiser that included a quick 100-mile spin around Lake Tahoe on June 6th of this year. Lucky me, to find myself with that fresh mountain air in my lungs, flying down hills and pumping up the tough climbs just like I did as kid on my blue Huffy. I have a lot more gears now and no banana seat, but what a ride! It was pure, wrapped in sunshine, joy that whole day.
This week, I have been ever so fortunate to travel to Hawaii with my parents and darling sister. It has been decades since I traveled with only my family of origin. Yesterday, we cruised beaches until we found a friendly looking low-riding surf. Then we paddled out to float on our backs and ride the waves with no intention of going anywhere. We just floated. Occasionally, to add interest, we would attempt some mild form of water ballet. It was more big, fat fun for me.
To add to the kid-style delight, early this morning I swam out past the breakers with my sister to snorkel. We laid face down on our bellies and barely flapped our flippers while watching fish after remarkable fish going about their daily chores. It was more ridiculous, happy stuff.
While travel is fabulous, it wasn’t the great locations that made these last few weeks especiallysatisfying. It was reconnecting with that little, barefoot girl who liked riding her bike as fast as she could and tromping around outside with no particular agenda.
Yes, work is awaiting me at the end of this week. There is much to do out there in the world of adult responsibilities and tuition bills. I can promise you that I will make more time for wind-in-my-messy-hair moments from now on. It has been grounding and spirit-filling. It has made me as happy as a mouthful of Jolly Ranchers. So here’s to reconnecting with that thing that floated your plastic, bathtub boat back when the days were long and someone tucked you in at night. May you find it and enjoy it. It’s good stuff, all of it.
Have you heard the story about the woman who makes a roast for dinner twice a month? Every time she cooks this dish, she cuts the ends of the roast off before putting it in the pan. After watching his wife do this for many years, her husband asks, “why do you cut the ends off and throw them away? ” Her response, ”my mom did it that way, so I do it that way. ” He asked, “Why did your mom do it that way?” She asked her mom that very same question and discovered that she cut the ends off because the roast did not fit in the pan that she used!
How many times do you do the same thing, because you have always done it that way – even when it is a waste of time, energy or roast?
Is it time to change your recipe? Here at the Joy Factor, we offer four delightful ingredients that will support you in not having to “cut the ends off of your roast” . Try this new recipe and see what it tastes like:
1 part Connection to Purpose – When you know what is most important to you and you line your life up with that, joy happens!
1 part Authentic Expression – My friend Laura Biering has a wonderful tag on her car, it says, B U Now. You are perfect as you are, share that with the world and your Joy Factor will increase.
1 part Self – Care – Fill your personal fountain with things that will allow you to be the best you can be for yourself and others. What can you do for your self today, that will fill your fountain and spirit?
1 part Strategic Optimism - Having a plan that supports you in choosing joy each day is a powerful structure that empowers you on days that you are less than joyful.
You get to choose how much of these ingredients to use in your recipe to live your best life. A dash of this, a pinch of that, a cup and a half of this. If you want different results, make different choices!
What will your new recipe be?
One of Coca-Cola’s tag lines, “It’s the real thing”, refers to the original recipe of this popular drink. As we continue to learn about new ingredients to use in your recipe to raise your Joy Factor, I invite you to explore what Authentic Expression is to you. Are you expressing yourself in a way that is in alignment with the real you?
Last week I was watching Ellen - she definitely raises my Joy Factor! One of her guests was Chely Wright. Chely is the first major country artist to come out as gay. Yes, KD Lang came out in 1992, but she had abandoned the country music genre by then. It took courage for her to express herself authentically. By sharing her story, she opens up the door for others to live their authentic life.
It is vulnerable to truly be who you are. There is a lot of external pressure to be like everyone else, or be what other people want you to be. When you live your life with a lack of authenticity, it is not a lot of fun!
You are here to live your best life. Explore what Authentic Expression is for you. Sometimes it is easier to start by looking at what Authentic Expression is not. Once you uncover that that is, you can start making little adjustments towards Authentic Expression. You will soon be living a life that expresses the real you!
I know from experience that this is easier said than done. Worrying about what other people think can get in the way of expressing myself authentically. A wise woman once told me that it is none of my business what other people think. I do my best to remember that advice each and every day.
I know that I am not Coca-Cola, yet my tag line these days is, “what you see is what you get!”
If you had a tag line that spoke to your Authentic Expression, what would it be?
Last week I had the opportunity to speak to 350 amazing people at the Prosperity Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Not only did I have a chance to speak, it was my “coming out party”. This was the first time I shared my story and the Joy Factor concepts with a group–besides all of you.
It was all that I wanted it to be. I was grounded, present; sharing my story and message from my heart. I was connected with the audience. We laughed and cried and I believe I made the impact that I intended to.
My intention was 2 fold. First, was to have them walk away with at least 1 thing that they would do different in their life to increase their Joy Factor. Dozens of people talked to me through the weekend and shared the gifts they received from my presentation. Those conversations made my heart sing and confirmed why I do what I do.
My other intention was to enroll people to join me for my Connect with your Passion workshop that I will be doing in South Florida at the end of January. Guess how many people enrolled? Zero!
As much as I was disappointed that no one chose to come to the workshop, in Wendy fashion, I stepped back and took a look at what my learning was.
In the back of my mind, you know, my subconcious thoughts, I was not thrilled with having to sell from the front of the room. I knew I could do it and felt comfortable sharing the opportunity, yet it really was not me. Yes, I now see that I could have offered a different price and different bonuses that could have been more compelling. What is really clear to me is that our thoughts truly do create our reality.
I invite you take a look at the thoughts that are hanging out in the back of your mind. Notice if they are in alignment with you, your authentic self. If so, think on. If not, shift the thought so you can create more of what you want in your life.
By the way, I am still planning on teaching the workshop in FL. I will now look at sharing it from the Wendy Way, which includes shifting my beliefs and receiving all the best.
Here is to you receiving all the best from your concious, joyous thoughts.
There are times when we think our connection to our purpose has to look or feel a certain way Some days I feel like it has to look very dressy; buttoned-up and prim and proper. Those days feel like they are going less with the flow; days that I feel like I have to make things happen. I am working on my projects and with my clients and it feels like work. The “shoulds” show up and I may do things that I really do not want to do, but feel like I should. No fun, less joy!
Other days, I feel like my connection to my purpose of supporting others in being the best they can be looks more funky and eclectic. Those days, I feel more creative, more juicy, as author Sark would say. Things seem to flow more. Those are the days that my Joy Factor is way up there and amazing things happen.
What is different about those days than the buttoned-up days? Those are the days that I let go of wondering about what other people think. That is one of my personal challenges; I let that get in the way of staying connected to my purpose and my authentic self. On this journey of increasing my Joy Factor, I like wearing my funky clothes and allowing magic to happen, in connection to my purpose. You?