Monday, July 18, 2016
I begin with a deeeeep s i g h h h h.
A couple of deep in and out breaths.
So here we are. And, like most of you I am feeling the heaviness. The weight of the messed up world on our shoulders and in our hearts. Like the quote I saw scroll through my newsfeed this morning:
JE SUIS SICK OF THIS SHIT!
With all that has been happening at what seems to be an acceleration of hate and violence around the globe, I have been turning inward on my own journey of growth and transformation these days, seeking ways to calm my own spirit and make sense of it if that is possible.
This past weekend I spent a day in Brisbane listening to Rob Bell speak on the ideas from his book - How to Be Here. I have been on a Rob Bell kick lately. His podcasts (The Robcast), are my constant companions while I cook or busy myself around the house. I read this latest book in preparation for the weekend. Devoured may be a better word than read, as I cannot seem to get enough of his wisdom lately.
His Australian tour could not have come at a better time for me. There are periods in my life that seem to come when I find myself needing to gorge on some soul food. Now is one of those seasons. He did not disappoint. Many people I talk to do not know who Rob Bell is and I find myself having to explain a bit about him. He is a motivational speaker, former pastor and author and was touted as one of the top 100 influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2011. He has toured with Oprah and Deepak Chopra and is a member of the Compassion Collective, a group of 5 authors including Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle Melton, Brene Brown and Cheryl Strayed. The group was formed to raise money for Syrian refugees and continues to fundraise for various causes.
This group is like the Brat Pack of Conscious Living. They are so on fire right now, it is hard to imagine their flame getting extinguished. With any luck, it will just continue to spread and keep raising awareness and dollars for those in need. The world needs their energy and insight more than ever and I for one have jumped on their introspective bandwagon on my own spiritual journey with renewed fervor. Since 2007 and the release of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, slowly but surely, my own life has steadily transformed. Next came Brene Brown's epic Daring Greatly showing us how vulnerability and the courage to allow it in our lives could be a game-changer. That pushed me up another stair. Around the same time, Wild author Cheryl Strayed shared her story of her solo journey of over 1,000 miles on the Pacific Coast Trail that took bravery and courage to a whole new level of what it takes to heal for some. In so many ways these three women accompanied me on my own trail of transformation and now, more recently, I have discovered Glennon Doyle Melton and her blog - Momastery and found her story compelling and inspiring. She gives hope to anyone who has ever faced addictions. And now, as I embrace the wisdom of Rob Bell, I find myself elevated to an entirely new level of growth.
He has helped me make sense of the journey. Until now, it never felt like the big questions had answers. Why am I here? What is the meaning of it all? What is the point? I watched Rob Bell's video called Everything is Spiritual 2016 and it was like a lifetime of seeking and searching had finally hit pay dirt. So I started to dig deeper and read more of his books and listened to more of his podcasts and I am so happy to have found some teachings and conversations that address the big questions that combine science and spirituality, allowing them to co-exist in a way that makes logical sense to me, without the attached dogma of organized religion.
There is a great story that Rob Bell tells that also gives me a way to explain to people who he is better than I can, if that makes sense. Hear me out.
He went to his mailbox one day to collect his mail and found a small painting inside. It was done by an artist who lived in his neighbourhood. He was familiar with this dude's work as he had seen it in a gallery. The guy does paintings on sandpaper of all things. The painting he made for Rob was of a hand emerging from the earth holding a bunch of strings. The strings were attached to clouds like a bunch of helium filled balloons hovering up in the sky. Rob asked the artist what the painting meant. The artist told him that he wondered who Rob was and what he did. So, in order to find out, he attended one of Rob's events. After the event, he created the painting to give to him. He told Rob that after hearing him speak, he now understood what exactly it was he did for a living. He told him that he tied up the clouds for people. He took all those thought bubbles we have floating around up in our heads and pulled them together.
Yes! That is what he does folks. It is what he has done for me and it feels amazing. I could not have explained it any better than that. It also helps that he is an engaging, funny and captivating speaker. This energetic, enthusiastic man is bringing a positive, forward-thinking interpretation of Christian values into the world that deserve air time. I will attach a few links here for anyone who is interested in taking a look.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Sunday, July 3, 2016
I heard some news yesterday that came as a shock and surprise to me. For the past 24 hrs, it has been weighing on me as I have been processing my feelings around it. It has nothing to do with me personally, so you would think I would just shrug it off and carry on, but it has opened up the whole conversation about relationships and how they ebb and flow and if left to flounder without effort from both sides can lead to extreme pain and heartbreak for everyone concerned.
When I learned yesterday that author, Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband Jose (Felipe in Eat, Pray, Love) were separating, my own heart sunk. No, I thought, not them. Not them. Not them. If they can't make it, what hope is there for the rest of us? For those of you who are not familiar with their story, you might think I am over-reacting in my disappointment. For those of you who do know how carefully she entered her relationship with him after her very painful divorce, with trepidation and eyes wide open, you will likely be as stunned as I was that they were not able to go the distance.
It just speaks to the whole relationship journey and what a difficult road it is for many. No one goes into a marriage thinking it will end. We all dream of happily ever after and growing old together and celebrating loving milestones and having babies, maybe grand children, and creating a long and happy life as a team. I don't know why Liz and Jose are parting. I am sure there are many who are speculating as to why. No one really ever knows what goes on inside an intimate relationship. I know there are marriages that weather many storms and continue to thrive. There are marriages that last that really shouldn't. Some stay together for economic reasons (that's a biggie). There are marriages comprised of what appear to be couples who are more like roommates vs. intimate partners. There are so many marriages that are less than ideal unions. Is a mediocre marriage better than being alone? What are the necessary components of a great marriage? I often marvel at the long marriages. The couples who have been together for 50, 60, 70 years or more and seem happy. Note I said "seem". I am sure some are. But I think just as many of them are perhaps just too old and tired to bother making waves after 50 years. They have mastered the art of putting up and shutting up, or have carved out a sort of separate existence for themselves within the union. Besides, divorce is costly, and what would the kids say?
It is no doubt easier to step away from a spouse when money is not an issue. Like Liz. Perhaps they were not growing and evolving together or they no longer wanted the same lifestyle. Perhaps not having any children together made it easier to walk away. I would like to believe they just grew apart and that neither of them stepped outside the marriage with another, but even if that is what happened, we all know that a marriage is in trouble long before someone has an affair. So I guess what I am struggling with is how did they miss it? How did they miss the early unravelling? After all their past experiences with marriage and their vow to make it work this time, what happened? I think that is the crux of it. Knowing when you are no longer connecting in some area is the key. Recognizing that something is amiss is the first step. Both partners working through it, the second. Making concrete changes to re-connect is the third. Maybe they did all these things but could not reach a compromise.
If it really is true that we all just want to love and be loved, then why is that very love we so long for not enough to keep us together? Is it that we stop making the relationship a priority? I think that is pretty common. One spouse becomes so consumed by a career or cause or some other activity outside the marriage that the neglected partner starves to death. I just spoke to a woman yesterday who ended her marriage of 37 years last year. She told me she ran out of the strength to keep holding it together. In 37 years he had only told her he loved her 6 times. SIX. (she had kept count). Her eyes were glassy with unwept tears as she said that to me. She seemed so fragile and heartbroken I wanted to hug her but I barely know her. She is a friend of a friend, so I don't know their whole story, but what I do know is that she devoted 37 years of her life to a man who was incapable of expressing his love verbally and she was a woman that desperately needed to hear him say those words. Good GAWD! Why do we settle? Why do we keep hoping things will change? Why do we allow ourselves to accept less than we deserve? Is loneliness that bloody frightening? Is the thought of divorce that scary? Are our lives not worthy of more? Is a cake with Happy 50th Anniversary so damn important?
When Elizabeth Gilbert announced her separation yesterday, she was clearly speaking from a place of deep pain and heartache. No doubt her decision to not settle or remain in a marriage that was not making her happy is as painful, or more so, than staying. She said she would be absent from social media for a while as she stepped away to deal with her personal life. She reminded all of us that this was "not a story she was writing, it was a story she was living." She shared a poem with all of her fans that she felt was helping her through the pain. I will re-share it with you here now as it speaks profoundly to the notion that when a marriage ends, it is not necessarily a failure.