Monthly Archives: October 2018

The Gift of All Saints’ Day

On November 1st, with Halloween behind us and the holiday season looming on the horizon, I think All Saints’ Day is the perfect day to pause and reflect. It’s like a reset button for your soul – if you choose to use it.

Recently, I’ve felt a growing urgency to push that button. To reset. To step back. To breathe… To simply hit the ginormous pause button in the sky. (Is there one?)

Pause in the Sky

When we’re on overload – physically, mentally, and emotionally – it also affects us spiritually, whether we’re aware of it or not. And, to me, a day that’s named for all the saints that have come before us is the perfect time to raise our awareness and take a measurement of our wellbeing.

As I was researching All Saints’ Day I came across so many different traditions and celebrations around the world, it lifted my spirit. It’s a testament to the fact that we don’t have to do things in exactly the same way in order to celebrate something universal:connection. We don’t need to believe the same things in order to embrace our faith and spirituality. All Saints’ Day is the perfect example of what it means to remember and connect – and it manifests differently throughout cultures, countries, and communities. How wonderful!

Whether it’s leaving lit candles by the front door in the Philippines or bringing gifts to the graveside for Día de Muertos in Mexico… each tradition has a unique way of reconnecting with their ancestors and remembering those who came before them. It’s this connection, I believe, that gives us the thread we need to live lives outside bubbles of fear and isolation. It’s this thread of connection to the past that allows us to be better creators of our future.

Personally, I found the celebration in Poland to be especially moving. This image I found online (below) truly gave me pause for its glowing beauty – and in that moment of curiosity and reflection, I found myself breathing more deeply again. I found the pause button in the sky from half a world away. Thankfully.

All Saints Day in Gniezno, Poland by Diego Delso; flowers and candles placed to honor deceased relatives (2017)

So, as the season of gratitude and giving is upon us, what better way to welcome it into our lives and hearts than by taking pause and remembering where we come from… who we are in the long line of thread that weaves throughout our individual and collective ancestry.

And, no matter which tradition you embrace, I wish you all a peaceful All Saints’ Day – however you choose to spend it.

 

Where do you belong?

The other day I was thinking about belonging. I had worked with a client who said to me, “I don’t know where I fit in…” To which I replied:

“The question is not where do you fit in… The question is where do you belong.”

It’s so important to feel a sense of belonging. Ideally, we feel like we belong to our families as we are growing up – but I know that’s not true for a lot of people. Then there’s the fellowship of community: neighborhoods, religious institutions, school groups, sports, activities. All of these create opportunities for us to belong to something. To be a part of something. But even then it can be difficult to feel a sense of belonging.

As we go through our adolescent and young adult years, the hope is that we have found a place to belong, at least temporarily, as we figure ourselves out. Unfortunately, I’ve often seen that backfire. Because we don’t figure ourselves out… we figure out where we can fit in, instead.

We take the square peg that we are and over time (or fear) we shave off our corners to try and fit in the round hole. And we’re never whole as long as we do that.

We do our best to “fit in” because we crave belonging. We’re hard-wired to belong to something. It’s in our nature.

Humans are tribal by nature. We have to be – it’s how we survived. We learned to rely on each other and protect the tribe as its own entity. Different members of the tribe learned different skills in order to support the tribe. This is not new to human evolution, nor is it something we grow out of, in my opinion.

Instead, it’s something we’ve worked to overcome, by replacing belonging with “fitting in.” And we’re worse off for it.

So, again, the question is not (and never was): “Where do I fit in?”

The question is (and will always be): “Where do I belong?”

Only when we endeavor to answer that question will we start to heal our trimmed edges and begin to feel at peace within ourselves.

Resiliency and Stability

If you want to know how resilient you truly are… live through a major home renovation.

Ok, I’m kidding… sort of.

I know I’m resilient. I’ve been through a lot worse emotionally, but living at home with no kitchen and no bedroom – my mattress in the floor in another room, and my clothes scattered between a couple drawers, hangers, and bags – has been surprisingly difficult.

Before it all began, I thought “What’s the big deal?” We moved a microwave and refrigerator into the living room and bought a hot plate. I thought it would be easy. Or at least easier. First world problems, I know.

Turns out, it’s not easy for me to live without the stability of routine. And that’s what it all came down to: routine.

Without my bedroom, my entire daily routine has been non-existent. Morning alarms, 3am bathroom runs from drinking too much water too late, and simply where to put my slippers all had to be reconfigured. My routine which allowed me to move through life with some sense of flow was all but obliterated, and I had to create something new – knowing it would be temporary. Yikes!

And then there’s no kitchen. As it turns out, a hot plate is fine, if you have a working sink nearby to clean everything. Otherwise, you run the risk of clogging up the bathroom sink, which is too small and shallow to actually wash dishes. So, there have been a lot of boiled eggs.

I’m not complaining actually, even though I’ve definitely had my moments. It’s more a fascination with just how attached I had become to a certain rhythm to my day. And, interestingly, how important that rhythm is to my life.

I have friends who can pick up and travel at a moments notice with only a backpack. I’ve always admired them and wondered if I could do the same. But, secretly, I knew I could not. While I love to travel, I like to do it with a knowing of how I will be spending my nights, and moving through my days.

When I took my first river cruise a few years ago, I loved it. It’s only now that I truly realize why:

All the basic elements I need were provided for. There was stability that underscored everything. This, in turn, gave me freedom. I enjoyed wandering more, because I knew where and when I’d be returning to “home” – and more importantly, how that “home” would be when I returned.

Perhaps not everyone is like me, but this is why I feel it’s so important to know your own barometers – those measurements in life that are unique to you. For me, it’s clear that I need stability and some bit of routine in order to fly and thrive. For you, that might feel uncomfortable and limiting.

What’s great is that while it may seem easy to say that makes us less resilient, it’s simply not true. Knowing what makes you thrive is empowering, not weakening.

So, in a few weeks (hopefully) I’ll be back in my bedroom with a working kitchen. Which means, in a few weeks I’ll be even more appreciative of the stability I need to soar, and will have an opportunity to be even more deliberate about how I reinforce it.

I’d say that’s worth the sleepless nights and random discomfort. How about you?