Musings

Saying, 'Yes'

God Says Yes to Me


I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
what if I cavort with squawking saints
forage with a crowd of long legged water angels
sail with a regatta of white pelicans
sing glory hallelujah with the cormorants
drying their wings over the water
and she said Baby I made you for this
cavort as you wish
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

 

Poem by Kaylin Haught

Praise Song for the New Year

Click on this image to hear a recording of Praise Song for the Day

Click on this image to hear a recording of Praise Song for the Day

Praise Song for the Day                                                             

Each day we go about our business,

walking past each other, catching each other’s

eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each

one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning

a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,

repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky.

A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words

spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,

words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark

the will of some one and then others, who said

I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.

We need to find a place where we are safe.

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built

brick by brick the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,

the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,

others by first do no harm or take no more

than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,

love that casts a widening pool of light,

love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

any thing can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

 praise song for walking forward in that light.

                                                     by Elizabeth Alexander

Exploring Habits

I’ve noticed that when people think about habits they are usually focusing on what they perceive as bad habits and looking to break them.

Good habits / Bad habits, either way they structure our lives.

Habits are activities that have connected to our autonomic nervous system and have quietly transformed what we do into routine. Habits are structural in the way that they impact our lives. And the beauty of that is that we don’t have to expend energy deciding over and over again. I don’t have to decide whether to have my first cup of coffee in the morning, or whether to give my daughter a hug and a quick kiss before she gets on the school bus, or whether to review and update my list of tasks for tomorrow at the end of my work day.

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Gretchen Rubin speak about her new book on making and breaking habits.  One thing she said really stuck with me, “What we do everyday matters more than what we do once in a while.” I got a subtle and significant perspective shift when I went from thinking about habits to thinking about what we do everyday, and my practice design “elf” awakened.

So, if daily habits are the architecture that structure our lives then the practice of tracking and appreciating what we do on a daily basis for a week could be very illuminating. Tracking something puts your attention on it and attention is a form of currency. (This is what I call a Noticing Practice.)

Start a list of your daily habits. Add to it every day for a week. Then at the end of a week give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to reflect on your list.  A few key questions might then be:

What abilities am I maintaining and even building with my habits of doing?

What neural pathways am I maintaining and building with my habits of thinking?

What are the things that I’m doing every day that presence* what matters most to me?

Then pick a few new habits to invite into the daily-ness of life.

And if, during your noticing practice you trip upon a few habits that you want to break, Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Framework is a great resource.

If you’d like support with venturing further into inviting new habits into your daily life, or breaking a few, you can contact me by clicking here.

*Note: I’m using presence as a verb here, meaning to be able to sense and bring into the present. See Otto Scharmer’s Presencing Institute

Great Questions

Great questions spring from the mouths of babes. . .

One afternoon, way back when I was a young mother, I was busy putting groceries away and thinking about making dinner when my 7 year old daughter, Sara, burst into the kitchen with a burning question, “Hey Mom! What I want to know is, how come God doesn’t talk to me the way he talked to Noah?”  I knew it was a burning question because of her wide stance and the way she had her hands on her hips. I found out later that her teacher had just read Noah's Ark to the class in school that day.

My first response was internal, ‘Damn, he never talks to me the way he talked to Noah, either!’ Then I managed to slow down and stop bustling around in the kitchen. We had a talk about the Bible's booming voice of God and I started to articulate for her, and for myself, the many ways that God "speaks" to us.  Sara’s question has reverberated in my life for years. I’m so grateful that she asked it and that I stopped long enough to listen. For the life of me I can’t remember what I cooked for dinner that night.

Initially, Sara’s question roused me to examine the masculine voice of God that so often prevails my western Judeo-Christian lineage. Her question was what prodded me into discovering the feminine face of God. It led me to wondering, ‘How is it that we just Know? What senses inform me? How accurate is my interpretation of what I intuit? How can I tell? How could I have missed that? From where do I feel enough certainty to act?’ Since that day you could say I’ve been on a quest to “listen” (active mode) and to “hear” (receptive mode) more, better.

Eventually it led me to my interest in leadership.  In graduate school and subsequent trainings I specialized in the nature of creativity, innovation and emergence and the multifaceted aspects of what constitutes authority. Now the focus has evolved into seeing how Noah’s brilliant response to massive flooding is a story about a leader who innovated because he had a glimpse of the highest future and he managed to act on it. All of this lofty business translates directly into practical application in my daily coaching and facilitation practice. Yes! Now almost thirty years later, I can trace all that back to my little girl’s great question. And I'm still, always, honing my listening skills.

Great questions. They show up in our lives in the darnedest places, when we least expect them. The trick is to recognize them and to open to letting them reverberate and inform us.Tracing the reverberation can reveal the narrative of your life and give you a strong glimpse of what is calling you forward.

What is calling you forward?

What might you need to let go of to move toward that calling?

What action will it require?

What joy will it bring?

When questions like these start to burn in you, contact me.  I can help you cross into the next chapter of your adventure.

Getting More Productive: Tip #2 - Taking pleasure in the doing . . .

Before I close up my week and slip into the long weekend, I want to keep my promise to offer a tip  on productivity. For this one I’m sharing a childhood memory and a poem with you. May these two offerings enhance your celebrations of Labor Day.  I'd like to focus on the beauty of summer and the power of being present in a productive moment.

One of my treasured childhood memories is of working alongside my grandmother at her clothesline on a summer day. Here is a snippet of memoir written back in 1995.

My Nana kept clothespins in a ruffled apron made of blue-green chintz in her laundry room. She’d tie that apron around my waist and then we’d go out together. She’d carry the big basket filled with wet laundry and I’d trundle along behind her, apron pockets loaded with clothespins bumping against my knees.  I followed her out, out through the shade of the Linden trees and down a little hill.

There, behind the barn, was an expanse of yard where she and my Papa had strung multiple cotton lines across a wide span. My job was to hand her clothespins from the deep pockets of the apron.  The sheets would take on the scent of grass and sun as she shook them out in the air.  One by one I’d hand her a clothespin and watch how expertly she worked.

I reveled in standing next to her between layers of wide white sheets.  We stood there together amidst a flutter of white, laughing and talking. I’d watch her every move as she stretched each huge cotton rectangle taut along the line and set the pin carefully in the corner. The order was important: sheets, then pillowcases, then the kitchen towels. 

I loved everything about Nana and her clotheslines, and summer. Working alongside my Nana was like being inside of a hug.

And a poem . . . .

Daily

These shriveled seeds we plant,

corn kernel, dried bean,

poke into loosened soil,

cover over with measured fingertips

These T-shirts we fold into

perfect white squares

These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips

This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl

This bed whose covers I straighten

smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket

and nothing hangs out

This envelope I address

so the name balances like a cloud

in the center of sky

This page I type and retype

This table I dust till the scarred wood shines

This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again

like flags we share, a country so close

no one needs to name it

The days are nouns: touch them

The hands are churches that worship the world

Naomi Shihab Nye

An Ode to Productivity

To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

 I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

 The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

 by Marge Piercy

Getting More Productive: Tip #1 and Four Simple Truths

Do you find yourself longing to be more productive?

Well, you are not alone. This longing is shared by many of us as we navigate the complexity of modern life. There is no one secret to becoming more productive ­­-- I have no formula for success to offer. What I've found is that for each of us the path to being truly productive is an evolving set of practices, an ongoing personal adventure. Alongside developing clarity on the big picture, I help people put their shoulders to the wheel and develop truly productive life habits and structures. Today I'm offering you a high leverage tip that magnetizes productivity, and reminding you of a few habits that you already know are the very foundation of a highly productive life.

The Four Simple Truths: (The ones that you already know)

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Eat well
  3. Exercise often
  4. Contemplate daily

Tip #1 –Determine One Thing That Will Make a Difference

Take a look at your long list of to-dos and ask yourself:

What is the one thing that will make the difference if I get it done today?

Choose one thing that will have an impact, that is feasible to accomplish today.Write that down in bold letters across the top of your list, then orchestrate your day to accomplish that one task and let the rest of your to-dos follow suit --  believe me they will! Drive your day with the one thing that will make a difference, keep putting your time, attention and energy on it. When you get it done shout out, “Yes!”

Check in with your list at the end of the day and take note of all your accomplishments. Celebrate your wins and let them give you energy. Then determine what the "one thing" is for tomorrow and put that at the top of the list, big and bold,  before you close up the day. Set it up so the “one thing” greets you in the morning when you start your day.Do the "one thing" on a daily basis and keep repeating.The "one thing" will serve as a magnet, attracting your accomplishments with each daily, “Yes!” that you shout out. You will be amazed at the momentum that putting this simple tip into practice will produce.

This simple tip addresses focusing your attention in the midst of distraction and complexity. Your own productivity challenge may call for a different approach. Contact me for a free initial coaching consultation.To learn more about productivity read on.

So, what do I mean when I use the term productivity? Well, I don’t mean just getting things done. Productivity is the result of using your time, energy and attention in concert such that you are sustainably making progress on the things that support your well-being and bring meaning to your life. Productivity is the driver of fulfilling our promise. Being truly productive creates momentum. It gives us juice!

In the weeks to come I’ll offer more tips on working with time, energy and attention more effectively. But now I want to explore the four simple truths.They are the foundation of a sustainably productive life. They are “no brainers” but many of us have trouble maintaining at least one of them and when we get stressed they tend to fall away leaving us depleted, unfocused and moody. A productive life is built on a solid albeit simple foundation. Nothing will get you more productive than getting these four in place. Nothing will challenge their dynamic equilibrium more than success. So, let go of doing it perfectly, be kind to yourself, and enjoy the ride!

Invite yourself to continually work the four simple truths into your life habits:

Get Enough Sleep – Work with your bio-rhythms and make it a priority

  • Refrain from caffeine in the second half of your day
  • Sleep clean -- in a room free of the distractions of TV, tablet, and phone
  • Invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock and charge your phone in another room
  • Take naps if at all possible (10-30 minutes is optimal. Too long and you will wake up groggy)

Eat well – Keep it simple and delicious

  • Eat early and well over the course of the day
  • Include lots of leafy green vegetables in your diet
  • Get enough protein
  • Limit your sugar intake
  • Drink plenty of water

Exercise Regularly- Moderation is key to keeping it daily

  • Greet the day with a quick walk or run (10- 20 minutes)
  • Take a short walk during your lunch break
  • Ride your bike or walk, if possible
  • Build upper body strength somehow – lift weights, stack wood, carry children
  • Take an exercise class or go to the gym regularly

Develop a Contemplative Practice – Build your Jedi brain capacity and reduce the allostatic load of modern life

  • If you already have one: Commit to it and deepen it.
  • If you haven’t established one yet: Investigate a way to “meditate” that is right for you.There are many methods available for busy people with busy minds from many traditions.

My next posts will introduce the productivity triad of Time, Energy, and Attention. I’ll be offering you ways to boost and harmonize these three critical elements to achieve true productivity.In the meantime, try focusing your attention by using Tip #1 to hone in on the one thing that will make the difference, and shore up the very foundation of your productivity by inviting yourself to implement the four simple truths.

If you feel called to action and you want to work closely with me in a program that I design just for you, click here to schedule a free initial consultation.

I hope that you are enjoying these glorious summer days as much as I am!

Warmly, Lyedie Geer

A Brush With Amazement

Rain was steady and penetrating the other other day, so I took my umbrella when I walked over to the post office to check my mail.  The air was heavy and damp under the protection of the dark strutted arc above me as I walked. I arrived at the post office with my mind on the future; the to do list for the day, the client I was preparing for, scanning to be sure to remember everything. I was in a nice flow of busy.

I pulled my umbrella down and looked around for a spot to lean while I popped into the post office. As I placed the umbrella handle against the mailbox my eyes caught on a soft jewel green wing, a pale brown furry antennae. A Luna moth had come in from the rain and found a safe spot on the windowsill behind the blue metal of the USPS Mailbox.

This delicate winged creature lifted me up and out of my focused busy state. Inspired a smile in me, and I slowed down enough to briefly meet the eyes of my neighbors, who were also going about their routines, “Take a look at what is hiding behind the mailbox. It just made my day!”

The Luna reminded me that it was June, that nature was in a raucous rush to procreate and enjoy its purpose. And so, off I went to the next thing in my carefully planned day having been “mothed” into knowing that somehow I had a part in the raucous rush of this June day. Having taken in a brush with amazement.