Listening to what is

shakespeare sunflower“I would give just about anything to hear Mom’s voice again. I would even settle for a text message from her.” These were just a couple of the thoughts rummaging through my brain during a recent walk. I decided towards the end of the walk to turn the music off, pull the earplugs out and listen. Maybe I would hear a message from Mom. Or God. Surely if I just listened hard enough I could hear her. If only I had more faith, or prayed more or louder or better a message would come.

Instead of a voice or a message I heard wheat rustling in the wind, the ripe heads scraping against each other with an organic percussive rhythm. I heard birds. Lots of birds. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them. I discovered they were gathered in the sunflower stalks singing simply because there were songs to be sung. I heard grass swaying and swishing and sashaying in the breeze. More wind. More wheat. More birds. More grass.

Maybe there’s a message here, I thought. Maybe Mom’s there in the wheat. She loved harvest season. Maybe she’s in the birds’ songs. The sunflowers’ blooms. But that didn’t feel quite right, either. It felt forced. Made up to make myself feel better. Except that I didn’t feel better…

Until I decided simply to listen only to what is. Not for what I wish for. or hope for. or demand. Simply listen to what is. Then I heard with new ears the symphony surrounding me. And I chose gratitude. And for that brief moment, there was peace and comfort and hope and healing.

I like the sound of that.

Jeanye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shine anyway.

life is messy tagFor the past few years, I’ve chosen a word as an inspiration. A focus. A mantra. This is not an original idea. Several of the gals whose facebook pages and blogs I follow had the idea way before I did. I’m grateful for their inspiration.

I choose the word mostly for fun. I enjoy discovering what the word comes to mean to me throughout a given year. But I also choose to believe in the power of positively focusing my thoughts. If we’re going to think anyway, why not make it count? This year’s word is SHINE! I chose the word in early December, I think. And then, as you know, life got messy. And shining seemed nigh on to impossible.

But life continues and we shine anyway – because the source of the light is greater than any mess we can make or that life can throw our way. I am eternally grateful for the true light of pure love made available to us all through the Grace of God. Grace keeps our lamps lit, our lanterns burning brightly and our hearts glowing even through the darkest nights. What a gift. Thank you, Grace.

Life is messy. Shine anyway.

Jeanye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Mom

mom and me selfie

I’ve been thinking I would wait to write a post about Mom until I could do it without feeling sad. Then I realized that if I waited until then, that would be entirely too long to wait. And there’s the outside chance that writing about Mom might, in fact, offer a measure of peace. Thank you, in advance, for allowing me to share this painful story.

My Mom died on Christmas Day. That thought and those words come time and time again, bringing with them a deep, empty ache. Here’s the rest of the story… About 30 years ago Mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. It was treated with radiation and chemotherapy, and she was healed. End of story; so I thought. I had no idea that the treatment she received, most especially the radiation, had damaged her heart. We began to understand that a couple of years ago when she had surgery on a carotid artery. The type of blockage that she had was specifically caused by radiation. It was during the pre-op procedures that the surgeon discovered damage to a heart valve. The determination was made to monitor the heart, but to expect valve replacement surgery at some point in the future.

In the following year, it was discovered that Mom had kidney cancer. She traveled to the DFW area (home is Oklahoma) for surgery to remove the diseased kidney. She bounced back from that surgery with very little pain and no noticeable ill effects. That is, until the heart valve replacement surgery which occurred on July 9, 2013. The single kidney could not keep up with the strain of the added fluid build-up caused by both the surgery and the more extensive than anticipated damage to her heart. She struggled to recover. She would seem to turn a corner in the recovery process, only to face additional complications. Even her own brand of eternal optimism was challenged by the ugly realities of the disabling condition.

Yet we all still believed that she would recover – eventually. I kept believing that the following holiday season we would all be rejoicing over her return to health and remembering how far she had come. But that was not to be. She collapsed at home on Christmas Day, was rushed to the hospital where they were able to recover a heartbeat and place her on life support long enough for the family to gather. We came together with sustaining love and unity of spirit – to support my Dad, each other, and our Mom and Granna.

On the following Saturday, which was the day we had planned to be together to celebrate Christmas, we celebrated and honored Mom’s life. All four of the grandkids spoke at the service, each sharing their unique perspective and bond with their beloved Granna. I also was privileged to speak and was held up by the spirit of Comfort shown through the gathering of so many who loved and were loved by my Mom.

Our heartbreak continues; but so does life. We continue to honor and mourn her in our own unique ways, sometimes simply struggling to make it through the day. Yet other days lifting our eyes to discover the unending joy and Hope that continue to surround and sustain us.

I am forever grateful for the privilege of having been first a daughter, and then a treasured friend to my beloved Mom. I miss her physical presence deeply. How I long to share my joys and struggles with her once again. To hear her say she loves me and is proud of me and my family. Yet I hold her spirit in my heart and soul. And see her unconditional love anew in the eyes and smile of our precious Ellie Jaclyn. Life goes on. And so we go on until we see her again.

We’ll see you in a little while, Mom.

With Hope,

Jeanye

Be Seen.

DW_HeavyQuoteImages5I have a great day job. As an elementary school counselor, I create and facilitate lessons for 600+ kiddos on subjects of character, kindness, respect… The good stuff. We sing together, we read books, we draw and color and cut, and always, always have fun. The process is as important – if not more so – than the content. I am acutely aware that I have opportunity after opportunity to model what I am attempting to teach, and that the experience of being respected, heard, and seen by a loving adult is an all too uncommon occurrence for some of my students.

My favorite part of every lesson is what we call “practicing our manners.” I make my way around the room – usually passing out something fun to draw, color, and cut. I stop at each student, give them my undivided attention, have him/her look in my eyes and say “thank you,” and then look back into his/her eyes and say, “You’re welcome.” The kids love it. All the kids – kinder through 4th grade. We make it a big deal. A ritual of sorts. I love it.

I also have a great part-time job/passion/hobby/adventure facilitating small groups through a curriculum called The Daring Way™ created by Brené Brown. There are many similarities to this group process and my guidance lessons. We use music, stories, metaphor, and art to see ourselves in a new way, and to allow ourselves to be seen. Truly. Deeply Seen. And we have fun!

There’s a growing tribe of folks passionate about embracing our imperfections, realizing we are enough, letting go of crazy-busy, cultivating gratitude and  joy and so much more! (Oprah’s even on the bandwagon, hosting an art journaling ecourse with Brené.) Exploring and experiencing these ideas with others can be scary and fun and exhilarating and frightening and painful, yet healing all at the same time. Courage is being scared and showing up anyway!

Here’s what a couple of previous participants have said about the process: “The experience allows you to process the hard issues in life while being completely loved on. The environment  is full of grace, hope and forgiveness. I learned valuable tools to become truly at ease with who I am now and always.” and “I want to thank you for providing an open and loving atmosphere for your small group experience. Your thoughtful words have created a cradle of gentleness where I can lay down my tender heart. With your guidance, I am becoming the person I have always dreamed of being. I love you, and I thank you.”

The next opportunity to grow and play and learn is during our Wholehearted Weekend – January 24-26. Consider giving yourself the gift of discovering how big your brave really is! I would be honored to make the journey with you. I look forward to connecting.

Wholeheartedly,

Jeanye

Wholehearted Weekend

 

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Great news! For the past 16 months I’ve been training through Brené Brown’s organization, The Daring Way™, to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator. The experience has been a grand learning adventure that began in August 2012 with a 3 day intensive conference in San Antonio. It was one of those rare slivers of time in which I felt I had been led to exactly the right place at exactly the right time – although I had no idea for what purpose. I was so proud of myself for listening to the nudges, taking a chance, and making the trip happen.

Using metaphor, story-telling, and experiential exercises, Daring Way™ Certified Facilitators (like me!) work with clients to examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding us back and work to identify the new choices and practices that will move us toward more authentic and wholehearted living. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! I know, I know. It also sounds a little scary. As Wholehearted livers (I’m pretty sure there was one of those in the Thanksgiving turkey giblet bag!)  we can be scared and brave all at the same time! – All it takes is the willingness to Show Up. Be Seen. and Live Brave.™

I’m very excited to let you know I will be facilitating a Wholehearted Weekend Workshop using The Daring Way™ curriculum, January 24-26. Here are the details! It is sure to be a weekend filled with courage, compassion and connection — with loads of fun in the mix!

I look forward to hearing from those of you who are interested in attending!

Wholeheartedly,

Jeanye

Wholehearted Holidays

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Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. Denis Waitley

Holidays! Some of us love them. Some of us would vote they come around much less often. I vote for every 4 years –  like the Olympics! Just kidding! Sort of.
It’s the commercialism that gets to me. As much as I would like to convince myself that I don’t buy into the buying frenzy, the truth of the matter is I spend WAY too much time worrying about having enough, giving enough, celebrating enough, visiting enough… I lovingly refer to this time of year as the season of unmet expectations.
I’ve learned a new word for those feelings – scarcity. When I make myself nutso over whether or not everyone’s stockings will be filled evenly. Or if the gift wrap coordinates with the tags. Or if all the poor children have a gift. (Trust me, I could go on and on!) When I focus on not enough – or the flip side of that coin – way too much, I’m viewing the world through the lens of scarcity. Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money writes: “For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep. The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack… This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.”
I must admit that the mind-set of scarcity lives at the very heart of my irrational, yet very real struggle with the holiday season.
I’ve also learned that the opposite of scarcity is not abundance, but simply sufficiency.  Lynne Twist defines it like this: “By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.” Gratitude, thankfulness, a realization of all that we have and are simply because we are – those are the lights on the path to sufficiency.
This year I vow to turn over a new leaf. (I found a great heart shaped leaf while Phillip and I were hiking yesterday. Maybe I’ll use that one.) This year when I find myself harried and hurried and bothered and worried, I vow to start again in that very moment with a prayer of gratitude. A breath of contentment. A self-compassionate reminder that the Grace of which I so often speak is abundantly sufficient. I am enough. Even in December.
Wholeheartedly,
Jeanye

I Heart Words

wholehearted sunflowerI’ve always enjoyed words. I can remember learning the words ‘spontaneous’ and ‘perpetual’ in the 3rd grade and thinking an entirely new world had opened up to me. I was mesmerized with the sound and feel of words, and energized by the beauty of expression. I was that kid in school who loved vocabulary assignments! More words? YES!

I was also the kid that spent her summer in the public library reading every biography I could get my hands on. I read about presidents and inventors and scientists. I felt at home with those folks – as if I had known them all along.

Undoubtedly my love affair with words was kindled by my Dad’s preaching and writing. As I have written in earlier posts, he is a wordsmith. Some of my favorite memories as a kid – and many of my most poignant moments throughout life feature the soundtrack of Daddy’s words.

So it should come as no surprise that I continue to be drawn to certain words and phrases and concepts. I enjoy quotes. I like art that incorporates meaningful words and phrases. And I enjoy sharing those ideas with others.

Currently one of my favorite words is ‘wholehearted.’ In describing what it means to live a wholehearted life, Brené Brown writes, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

I want that! I want to be brave and wholehearted! I visited my own therapist last week for the first time in a long while. As we talked, I laughed and said to her, “The more I like myself, the more I seem to like everyone else around me.” I fought it long and hard, but I’ve come to discover if I want to enjoy the gift of life, I must begin with enjoying the gift of who I am. I have to love me with my whole heart before I can truly love others deeply – and before I can allow myself to be loved.

Unfortunately if we’re not paying close attention, life gets in the way. There are messages virtually everywhere that want us to believe we are not good enough. It doesn’t take long at all for those messages to soak in and become the messages we tell ourselves.

Fortunately we are at choice! We absolutely choose our beliefs. We choose our actions. We choose our behaviors. We choose our moods. Our thoughts. Our outcomes. We choose what we watch and read and listen to. We choose our perspective. We don’t always get to choose our circumstances. Life definitely happens. What we do with what happens to us – who we choose to be as life happens – and the words we choose to describe those happenings – make all the difference in the world.

Choose wisely. Choose wholeheartedly. Choose.

With my whole heart,

Jeanye

 

 

 

A Grand Plan

ellie on a string

A few weeks back I noticed an elderly gentleman walking with a substantial limp. One leg remained straight instead of bending at the knee. Following close behind him was his grandson, matching his stride as closely as possible. Left knee bent, right leg straight. Left knee bent, right let straight.

A few days later I watched a similar scene unfold. A grandmother was walking a bit slowly down the sidewalk. Her grandson who was happy to be with her but could easily have walked much faster, slowed down and met her stride for stride sticking close by her side. What I loved about this particular scene was that his own pace took him past his grandmother for a split second before he instinctively settled in to her rhythm. No need to rush. Just be with.

In anticipation of our first grandchild, many have told Phillip and me that there is nothing greater in all the world. I have to admit that it’s hard for me to imagine loving Ellie even more deeply than I love her Daddy and her Aunt Jenna. In fact, just the thought of a love that grand brings joyful tears but a tiny bit of trepidation as well. Can my heart hold that much love?

Perhaps it’s not that the depth or breadth or intensity of the love of a grandparent is more or less than that of a parent. Maybe it’s more about the pace and space of that love. I remember when my kids were young and would visit my parents during the summer. My mom would spend hours with them planting flowers or choosing beads for a creative project. Tyler spent two summers working with my Dad and spent every lunch break hearing countless stories of the family’s history. Many stories I had never heard myself. Poppy and Granna are never too busy to spend time with the grand-kids. Quality time. Immeasurable blessings. Honor and respect flowing between and among and through hearts full of boundless love, connecting generation to generation.

My family has a special gift. The gift of faith in a creator who continuously showers us with love and mercy. It is His love that shines through us all and unites us as one. It is His love that will continue to strengthen us as we honor the precious spirit of our new arrival. Thank you, God, for Ellie Jaclyn. Thank you for your grace which fills our hearts and souls and spirits with all the love we will ever need.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

With my Whole Heart,

Jeanye aka Manna

 

Spit Happens

 

One of the more glamorous aspects of my current position as a school counselor is being a member of a team of individuals trained to handle crisis situations involving students who have lost control of their behavior. During one such event last week I was the recipient of a well-timed and expertly aimed shower of spittle. In my face.

In the moment all I could do was take care of the job I was there to do; and then a bit later I was able to wipe my face clean and continue. (My cohorts also needed clean-up after the event ended. I had not being singled out for special treatment.)

As you might imagine, that was a memorable event – one that has been the topic of a few conversations and ponderings the last few days. Our Crisis Prevention and Intervention training teaches us to stay rationally detached from any outpouring of colorful comments (and/or precipitation) that might come our way while dealing with an AOP – Acting Out Person. This particular kiddo is one I have grown quite fond of in a short period of time. He’s only seven yet he has experienced more challenges in that time than most of us will ever even imagine. It was not difficult to stay detached in this situation. It was not about me.

Having said that, if the same situation had happened earlier in my career the outcome may not have been as positive. When I first began teaching I had no idea I would encounter students in such dire straits. I was as naive and sheltered as they come! Given the same scenario I would have at best cried through the whole thing, and it’s quite possible I would have voiced my disapproval at the behavior and demanded retribution. I could have lost my composure  and focus during the episode and become more of a hindrance than a help.

This incident is a nice metaphor for the idea of shame-resilience – a term coined and defined by Brené Brown, researcher and author from The University of Houston.  Brené Brown defines shame as that intensely painful feeling that we are somehow flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. Shame fuels those gremlins inside our head that say “You’re not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, rich enough…” and “Who do you think you are?” Her research shows 1) We all have it; 2) We don’t want to talk about it; and 3) The less we talk about it the more power it has over us. When our shame is triggered (perhaps by being spat upon or having our boss insult our character or having our perfectionism illusion discovered or our parenting style questioned…) our rational thinking can become short circuited by the “fight or flight” mechanism. Because we’re not thinking clearly and are flooded by adrenaline and cortisol, we can find ourselves doing or saying things that we would not do or say otherwise. Unfortunately, these irrational outbursts can lead to more shame and exacerbate the situation. Not fun.

The good news is that we can become resilient to these shame storms. Just as my experience, training and team trust-building led to my being able to participate in the Spit Happens scenario without feeling attacked, resilience allows us to identify what’s really happening, move more quickly through a storm, reach out for help, take steps to lessen our reaction time and intensity, and come out on the other side feeling more courageous, compassionate and connected to those we love.

I am passionate about helping others become more resilient. Not just for the sake of resilience, but for the amazing payoffs of courage, compassion and connection that come when we begin to live from a place of worthiness instead of fear. This work saves marriages.  Supports parents. Creates leaders. Encourages kiddos and teens. It leads to news ways of thinking and acting and most importantly – being. It creates the perfect environment for Wholehearted Living.

Who couldn’t use a little more courage, compassion and connection? If you’re ready to get your brave on, contact me! I would love to connect with you and hold up a lamp to light your way.

With my Whole Heart,

Jeanye

I Struggle

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”              Marianne Williamson

Many moons ago I took an intro to psychology class at Cedar Valley Community College. In that class we learned about two guys, Joe and Harry,  who had a famous window. In psychology this window describes in part the processes of human interaction and personal awareness. The graphic above succinctly shows how we tend to share information about ourselves with others – or not. It also teaches us that we don’t know everything there is to know — about ourselves or anyone else for that matter. Shocker, I know.

The most frightening  pane in the window to me is the piece which indicates our blind spots – What we don’t know about ourselves, but others do. It’s much like the Emperor’s proverbial new clothes. Completely out of our awareness we’re walking around letting it all hang out!

If you have surrounded yourself with loving, kind and compassionate friends and family these blind spots can be revealed, if needed, through loving feedback. (I should mention that it’s generally a good idea to proceed with caution if and when pointing out others’ blind spots. Unless we have been specifically asked for this kind of feedback it can register as harsh criticism and do harm that we did not intend.)  We should likewise be careful who we ask should we desire to become more aware of a blind spot. We should also check our motives. Are we truly wanting feedback because we’re ready to accept this part of ourselves with kindness and non judgment? or do we simply want to add another weapon to our self critic’s arsenal of tactics designed to keep us small?

I’ve heard it said that other people’s opinions of us are none of our business. I would answer with another well known quip, “Consider the source.” Being open and vulnerable to new information about ourselves shared in love and kindness can be a growth opportunity. However, if I seek “feedback” from individuals who have continually hurt me  or criticized me harshly and/or proven time and again that they have anything but my best interest in mind, the information I receive will be erroneous at best, and quite possibly cause irreparable damage to me and to the relationship. Choose wisely.

I have lately found myself struggling in this arena. And I believe I’m struggling with the “other people’s opinions who are none of my business” piece of it all. You might recognize these folks as the “somebodies” out there. In my head the conversation goes something like this, “What if you post that on Facebook and “somebody” doesn’t like it?” “What if you write that post and “somebody” disagrees?” “What if you tell your friends about the workshop you’re facilitating this summer and no one wants to attend?” “What if people think you’re crazy?” “What if you’re not good enough or smart enough or this enough or that enough?” 

And then I have to rest. Because all that what-if-ing wears. me. out. Then I either laugh a little or cry a little and try once again to get over myself. I ask someone who loves me to remind me that I am enough. And on a really good day, I become that somebody who loves me and can tell me, “I am enough.”

With my Whole Heart,

Jeanye