I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
I take reading seriously, which is why I like to read things that make me laugh. So, I offer you a list of what has made me laugh–all awesome, some laugh-sad, others bittersweet-happy–all heart-filled and real.
If you need to one thing about me, it would be this: I love to read.
My love started with a couldn’t. I have distinct memories of my p’s, q’s, b’s, and d’s dancing, spinning, moving, and I couldn’t pin them down. I could not decipher words, and I felt like I was less–stupid, missing a piece, not good enough. I had a teacher tell me so, which was not helpful to my developing mind and heart…
Eventually, I learned that I was dyslexic, and the healing began. I remember going to summer school, and the letters stopped moving.
I began to read, and I have never stopped. I read books, door signs, letters, retail hours, my boys’ homework, texts, the occasional magazine, restaurant signs, emails, pop-up ads, instructions, closed caption words (even when I don’t have to), YA literature, modern fiction, non-fiction, meditation guides, contemplative living, self-help, life coaching material, websites, lists…. I can get so wrapped up in reading a sign, especially if it is poorly written, that I can forget where I am.
Words hold great power. I learn about myself, God, the world, faith, grace, and love. I get perspective. I am transformed, challenged, called–all through someone’s words on a page. Climbing into a book is safe. As a child I would lose myself hours over hours on end in the pages of a book. Reading is safe, if I’ve chosen wisely.
Martha Beck has an impressive professional background before she stepped out and into her own successful life coaching practice. She understands the demands of professional life as well as the interesting nature of human sociology and spirituality, which she applies to the principles in her book, Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live.
Beck starts by discussing the two parts of the human psyche involved with decision making: the essential self and the social self. The essential self is essentially who you are, “your characteristic desires, preferences, and emotional reactions, bound together by an overall sense of identity… it’s the basic you”; whereas, your social self is “the part of you that developed in response to pressures from the people around you.”
As you can imagine, over time a disconnection occurs where your social self takes over and makes decisions based on external factors, feedback, and opinions; while your essential self grows quieter and switches over to other methods of communication. “The essential self usually ‘speaks’ through parts of your being that aren’t under conscious control.” Your essential self finds alternative ways to remind you about who you are and what you need to be doing with your life.
For example, you may notice that your energy lags during certain activities, or experience forgetfulness due to your brain refusing to recall information that doesn’t resonate, you might make silly mistakes in certain situations, or become socially awkward in others or with certain people, you may experience extreme moodiness or an inability to rest completely. Some of these symptoms may sound like aging, depression, or just being a human, but your essential self will conspire to let you know that “I am not happy where I am, and I need you to notice so we can make a change.”
Finding Your Own North Star offers checklists, helpful anecdotes, writing prompts, and exercises where you can sit down and dive in to getting to know your essential self better; how your body, mind, spirit, and Source are conspiring to get you to where you need to be. Beck recognizes that making change in your life requires bravery, self-care, and a support network, because often under our pain is the most useful information to get headed in the right direction. Lastly, she breaks down change into a process of four elements along with practical advice to survive any change and to view it as a means for transformation, so you can claim the life you were meant to live.
She extends a call to listen and to notice those tiny bits of stardust that settle on the things that fill you with joy, happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. Those bits of cosmic signage are all around, and you are so busy getting through your day that you need a little bit of guidance to tune into the clues your heart has been telling you for years. This book is the guide to strip life down into its most basic form, so you can finally hear what you need to know to move forward—happily and in wholeness.
I know there were moments when I audibly uttered a “Yes!” as I read. I felt as though there was some other force at work—and there was. Me—my essential self, and in my view—God’s Spirit living in and through me opening up my eyes so I could finally hear what I needed to hear: “Heidi, you are on the right path, but you may need to see your therapist soon.” I have landed more firmly in my heartspace because of this book. Beck’s wisdom and clarity offered me practical tools to navigate through change and to clearly see my North Star—the star that has been with me all along—I just needed some clarity to see it.
If you are interested in reading this book and discussing it, I offer two opportunities to process this text: the Pages to Pathways Women’s Circle or P2P Individual Transformational Life Coaching sessions. A new Pages to Pathways Circle will be forming in November of 2014 in Athens, Georgia, so do let me know if you are interested in joining us as we read Finding Your Own North Star to claim the life you were meant to live.
❤ I’d love to have you. ❤
I have a truth to share, I have long held my spirituality and my relationship with God as my own; something quiet and tentative at times. It was an attempt to keep my childhood and the rough religiosity I grew up with out of my own household and childrearing–to not allow its face to see my children. I have walked through the valley of shadows, and it looked like fundamental Christianity, but it smelled like death. I no longer walk this path, but it has taken me some time to come out from under its darkness. As Barbara Brown Taylor says, “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
Since my awakening and my realization that instead of being engaged with life I have disengaged, I have found God in a new way. It started when I listened to my need for and the call of silence in my life. I began to unravel and to unfurl, and it was good. I have been on a journey to learn more and to incorporate contemplative prayer into my life. It is becoming so much a part of me that I can’t not share it–I can’t not speak of it and I can’t not breathe it. I am comfortable with my spirituality in a way I never previously experienced, and this is allowing me to share my approach to God with my children. This, my friends, is what grace looks like.
Little do they know that they have been witnessing my spiritual development. Now I am able to speak of it and share my love of God, of silence, of prayer with them in ways I previously could not even dream about.
I started with the book, Journey to the Heart: Centering Prayer for Children, and it has been a wonderful introduction for my eight year old and my eleven year old boys to the world of contemplation through centering prayer alongside me. We can talk about the value of silence and quietude. We can experience being with God inside of a quiet center, and sometimes we emerge with tears of gratitude and peace.
More than anything, I want my sons to have experience meeting God in an authentic, practical, and simple way. This is it for us–for my family. I’d love to share this venture as we progress down the path of spiritual oneness and unity as a family and as people who seek God’s face at every step.
“God is there inside you, in the quiet. Rest within.”
This is where we start:
“Six minutes of silence. A journey to the center of you with God. That is the time the journey will take you.”
❤ ❤ ❤
I have had the honor and the privilege to be a World Book Night giver for the past three years. (World Book Night is one night a year when volunteers hand out free books to light or non-readers to spread the love and joy of reading.) The first year, April 2012, started an interesting trend. A mom friend of mine and I met at the food court at our local mall with our children: four of them, all between eight-ish and five-ish. First, I need to explain that our mall is small and relatively sad. We live in Athens, Georgia, and no one I know goes to the mall. We decided to go to the mall because we figured it was a big enough space to contain our children, it had food, and there were enough people who worked there that we could distribute books to if there were no other souls around. Really, this choice was based out of our experience as mothers. We knew that we wanted to be a part of WBN, and our mall was our only hope with young children.
My mom friend and I figured we’d occupy our children with the fruits of the mall food court and hope that they would remain busy and somewhat contained while we passed out our books. We really didn’t know what to expect, and I was a little concerned my boys would end up running through and under the food court tables. I pictured a big burly security guy holding each one of my sons by the scruff of the neck walking toward me announcing that we had to leave—forever. Fortunately, I have an overactive imagination, and that is not what happened.
We purchased dinner for our offspring, set them up, and began handing out books. The most amazing thing happened. Our children started to gravitate to where we were with our books, which isn’t really amazing on some level. You see, where mom is there is also change for the plethora of candy and game machines sprinkled throughout the food court. At one point, I noticed my oldest son, eight at the time, listening in and following me as I gave out Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. Next, he held a couple of books in his hand and walked over to a group of people and started to talk about the book. Soon both boys were handing out books. Before I knew it, they had completely taken over the book handing-out. My friend and I marveled at these children of ours, and their desire to hand out free books.
They would run back to our table all smiles and would tell us a snippet of a story:
“I just made someone’s day! She said ‘thank you’ like 500 times!”
“That man didn’t have any books at his house, so I gave him one!”
“Do you see that woman over there? She was really happy that I gave her
something free. And she smelled kind of funny.”
All four of them were so bummed when the last book was given away. They couldn’t believe that it was over so quickly. They loved giving books to people because the response was overwhelmingly positive. First of all, these children had an opportunity to talk to strangers (!). Second, they had something free to pass out, which is infectiously exciting. Third, they had an opportunity to stand in adult shoes and be noticed as serious people. Adult-like people.
The second year, April 2013, we went to the same place, and the same thing happened. This time, we handed out The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. My children were so excited that they took over even sooner than the previous year. They were riding high on the joy of giving out free books to people who didn’t own books of their own or who didn’t read very often. It was amazing. Again, they were so sad when we had no more books left. We left the mall riding high on the wings of sharing our love of reading and passing out free books. The boys made plans for the next year:
“So, next time, we need to wear suits so we look more professional.”
“Nah. I think I am going to dress like a clown. I think that will make people more happy.”
“Hey, I know, we need to make some cupcakes and pass them out with our books!”
Don’t worry. All of these things were forgotten over the subsequent twelve months!
Again this year, my children, ages eleven and eight, have gotten so excited in anticipation for this night. It is turning into a version of Halloween where they get to share their love of reading with all kinds of different people. They get to pass out something that they love to others. Colors, size, shape, nationality, piercings—none of it matters because we are there to offer the gift of reading to anyone open to talking with us.
What I see develop in my children is breathtaking. One night a year they have the opportunity to share something they love to do with people in such a way that they are forever changed. Through this experience they are more comfortable talking to people and carrying on a conversation without me to interpret for them. They are so excited to share what they have, they learn how to be and what to say, so they are clear with what it is they are offering.
This year I chose, The Bridge to Terabithia. We read it ahead of time together, so they wouldn’t rely on me to recount what the story was about. What I noticed was that this time, April 2014, they had internalized the novel and digested it in such a way that they could honestly share the story and to express how it changed them (without giving away the ending!). I’ve never witnessed my children view literature as something alive and breathing like I did that night.
I hope to always be a WBN giver. I have dreams of handing out books with my boys through the awkwardness of adolescence, through their college years, and even when they become adults themselves. I look forward to them returning home on April 23rd each year, or meeting me at the mall to hand out our shared love of reading.
So, I want to say this: thank you WBN for giving me an opportunity to bond with my children, to share my profound love of reading with my children who are then able to share this same love with others. Our bond of loving words and books expands out into our world that is a gift that gives freely and offers a portal into our very hearts, because words have the capacity to bridge awkwardness, difference, silence, and even food courts at small malls in Georgia.
“It was the moment I realized what music can do to people, how it can make you hurt and feel so good all at once.”
~ Nina LaCour, from Hold Still
So I give you this song by 2Cellos. May your spirit feel light and at ease. May you find what you need to find in the notes.
May you open up your heart at the shore of where your flesh meets your spirit.
“Where intention goes, energy flows,” is just one of the many nuggets of wisdom found in Denise Linn’s book, Soul Coaching: 28 Days to Discover Your Authentic Self. Its purpose is to assist the reader in clearing away both inner and outer debris to uncover connection with yourself and the wisdom of what your soul is telling you. Linn is an expert in feng shui, and she incorporates her over three and a half decades of experience into this book.
Soul Coaching is a practical approach and guide to assist you in clearing your physical and emotional spaces while clarifying your connection with your heart. Linn uses the four elements broken into four weeks, which is based on the belief that the elements have a powerful connection with your psyche. Linn’s book rests on the notion that, “when you are authentic, your soul thrives.” She has observed that society is exhausted, busy, and cluttered, which produces exhaustion and disconnection. But if you can clear away the mental debris (Air, week one), you can connect with your emotional self (Water, week two), then you can clear your spiritual shadows (Fire, week three), and strengthen your physical body (Earth, week four).
Linn starts each section with clear goals and processes for the week along with a discussion on the element and how it factors into this process. Each day has a declaration, affirmation, and description of the three options, or levels, you can choose depending on how deep you want to go each day. She allows the reader to set the pace, but she offers support and shines a light on the path starting with physical space, spiraling inward, and then back out to the physical body. She offers a realistic rhythm to her program, so it does not overwhelm or cause unnecessary struggle to complete.
I found Soul Coaching to be a powerful text to guide me in clearing not only my physical space, but also to truly tap into my soul and to listen to what it was saying. This process allowed me to align where I was with where I wanted to be. I developed writing prompts from this book to help me dive deeper with some of chapters. Overall, I enjoyed her guidance to spiral down and to settle into my sense of self. Linn has a clear approach to clearing a path to locate our souls in a busy world.
I will be offering a six-week Wise Women Read Circle on Soul Coaching. We will walk through the book together and offer support to one another as we clear our inner and outer spaces. Our time together will be focused on offering and holding sacred space as we make our journey into our souls. It will be a time of focus and breathing room as we spiral together into what is most important: going to the next level with authentic awareness.
The registration link will open soon, so you can reserve your spot in this upcoming Circle starting April 8th and going through May 13th, 2014.
Pick up your copy of Soul Coaching from our local Avid Bookshop, and I will see you in Circle!
Post previously published on Womanspace’s blog here.
“Because the psalms were written by humans and humans are a messy, contradictory lot. They grow up very slowly. The reason these psalms still speak to us is because the writers showed us ourselves as we are and yet put it in a larger container. They’re reporting to God what’s going on inside them at the moment. They rage and lament and give thanks and praise for their good fortunes and curse their enemies some more and blame God for abandoning them, but they also write down God’s voice telling them things they need to know, telling them that they are loved and special. It’s a mixed bag, but the point is it’s all in a bag, bigger than they are, called God.”
~ Gail Godwin, from Evensong