I found a meaningful quote on a Ten Thousand Villages blog post, written by a woman who has found a way to make her life work even within a challenging economic and sociopolitical system.

It was a great reminder for me.  I love sharing my journey on this blog.  I have always been motivated by trying to help others, as well as by sharing my frustrations, joys and learnings.  I have to always remember, however, that my way is not THE way.  It is not the one, the only and/or the RIGHT way.  It’s my journey.  Yours is your own.

If these posts help you to think, wonderful.  If they help you to learn, fabulous.  If they keep you in touch with who I am becoming, super.  If they inform your development, cool.  If they make you think I’ve lost my marbles, that’s okay too.  It’s all good.

Journey on, my dear SWOG friends!

 

 

 


Sometimes when I read a passage I find myself saying, “Huh?” Having no idea what the author just said, I scratch my head, read it again, and if I still don’t get it–I move on.  Maybe I’m just not meant to get it yet.  Maybe I haven’t reached that level of discernment, enlightenment or whatever other “ment” I’m meant to reach at that particular moment.

I’ve decided, however, it shouldn’t keep me from trying.

Cynthia Bourgeault is one of those authors who I can sometimes “get” and sometimes I scratch my head.  She’s been a guest writer in Rohr’s blog over the course of the last couple months.  She is so deep that I often lose her on the way down into the cave mountain she’s trying to take me.

So, when her post today made sense to me…it was a moment of excitement, encouragement, and wonderment.  In other words, the “ment’s” were working to form a great big “Ah.  Ah Ha” today.

What does it say to you–even if it is bemusement?

 

The Opposition Is Never the Problem
Sunday, March 19, 2017

This week Cynthia Bourgeault, one of CAC’s core faculty members, continues exploring how the Law of Three can be put into action to facilitate positive change in the world.

We’ve been exploring the Law of Three in a theoretical way, getting acquainted with its major precepts and a few of its peculiarities. But what do some concrete examples of Law of Three in action look like? Consider the following Law of Three triads:

seed/moist earth/sun = sprout
flour/water/fire = bread
plaintiff/defendant/judge = resolution
sails/keel/helmsperson = course made good

But these are only textbook examples, while the Law of Three is all about action. It is one thing to recognize a Law of Three configuration in a theoretical exploration; it is another thing altogether to recognize it in actual life and be able to work with it confidently and skillfully.

The single most liberating insight to come out of my work with the Law of Three was the realization that what appears to be the resisting or opposing force is never actually the problem to be overcome. Second force, or holy denying, is a legitimate and essential component in every new arising: no resistance, no new arising!

That realization in and of itself radically rearranges the playing field, shifting the focus away from trying to eliminate the opposition and toward working collaboratively for a more spacious solution. According to the Law of Three, once an impasse is reached, it can never be solved by going backward but only forward, into that new arising that honors all the players and brings them into a new relationship. (Einstein seems to have been on to this insight in his famous dictum that a problem can never be solved at the level at which it is created.) The three forces are like three strands in a braid; all three are required for the weaving.

One woman in a group I was working with was almost instantly able to turn around a very difficult standoff with an ultraconservative bishop when she realized that his resistance was not the problem to be solved but a given to be worked with. With an almost visceral “Aha!” she relaxed her sense of polarization and was stunned to learn the next day that he had miraculously softened his stance. While it was not clear to her who had actually been the broker of third force here, it was clear to her that the two relaxations were not unrelated.

One can only imagine how greatly the political and religious culture wars of our era could be eased by this simple courtesy of the Law of Three: (1) the enemy is never the problem but the opportunity; (2) the problem will never be solved through eliminating or silencing the opposition but by learning to hold the tension of the opposites and launch them in a new direction. Imagine what a different world it would be if these two simple precepts were internalized and enacted.

Ah.  Ah Ha.


OK, after working at Ten Thousand Villages for almost four weeks now, I have become an absolute Fair Trade convert.  And, of course, I have to put in a plug for Ten Thousand Villages whose founder–Edna Ruth Byler–is recognized as the Fair Trade movement’s originator.

You, too, can be part of the story. View online: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com

Of course, I can’t help but put Edna Ruth’s story in SWOG blog–after all, she sure sounds like a Strong Woman of Grace.  You can read how she got started here:  http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/about-history/

And check out their wonderful blog called “Mosaic,” which can be accessed on their site or at: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/mosaic/categories/fair-trade/

It won’t take you long to see where swog lady is spending her paycheck!!!

Enjoy!


The pursuit of grace.  It’s difficult to put words to what this means.  It likely means different things to each of us.  Part of why the title of this post is “A” Path to Grace is that I sense each of us has to take our own journey to find it.  So much of what I’ve been posting about on “adult stage development” really boils down to finding a way to embody grace in deeper and deeper ways.

Everywhere I’ve turned in the last few years I’ve come into contact with the mindfulness movement.  Whether it’s reading Rohr or Bourgeault, whether it’s in my Georgetown program, whether it’s in BB&T’s Leadership program, whether it’s all the neuroscience research–meditation, consciousness, mindfulness, and being present have become mainstream.

I figured the universe was trying to get my attention by bringing this subject in my path repeatedly (there’s only so many times you can ignore something pulling on your sleeve).  So, I started, stopped, read some more, tried again, gave up, learned some more, and got a tip on a tool from a Georgetown colleague.  The “tool” was Oprah & Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Experience.  I started in November and have been pretty consistent ever since.

After completing the first set of meditations, I went to their website to find other subjects.  Imagine my delight when there was one titled, “Manifesting Grace through Gratitude.”  I purchased that one and one called “Finding Your Flow.”  Onward I went into this brave new world of listening first to Oprah introduce the topic for the day and then to Deepak who took the information deeper.  Then as Oprah always says, “We’ll meditate!” and the session basically concludes with about 10-12 minutes of meditation.    That’s probably the right amount for an antsy gal like me but they do offer an extended session version where the meditation time lasts around 20 minutes.

I have to say all of these meditations have been enlightening and encouraging, but the one on grace has been inspirational.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised–given my resonance with its title.  The following is an excerpt from one:

Living in a state of grace takes gratitude from a feeling to a way of being in the world.  You no longer question the value of trust, love, surrender and faith because you have tested them and made them your own.

Before the state of grace has ripened completely, however, a moment of grace or a feeling of gratitude can be fleeting.  To make it last and become a way of life requires that we establish new habits.  The conditioning from our past that’s based on negativity, struggle and judgment needs to be worked on.

This work, which happens inside, becomes a joy because you can feel that each step brings more happiness and fulfillment.  You feel free as you become who you really are beneath the layers of habit and old conditioning.  All this time grace stands beside you.  It never changes even as we do.

How do we get there?  The only answer I know to this question hit me square between the eyes when I was watching the movie Doctor Strange.  No, really!  I’m not kidding.  When the good doctor was trying to understand the new world he was drawn into he asked his spiritual guide/advisor the question, “How do I get from here to there?”  She returns his question with a question, “How did you become a doctor?”  To which Doctor Strange answers, “Study and practice.”

Study and practice.  It’s probably the only way–at least for me– to let go of old thoughts and habits and adopt new ones.

Sigh.  I was hoping for a magic vitamin.

 

 


Sorry swogbloggers!  My blog was down with technical difficulties (and some, quite frankly, blog-owner error difficulties) so I’m back and have a lot of catching up to do!

So, this post (below) will be a follow-up to my last entry with the video of the gentleman who held the sign and blindfolded himself.  There was a bunch of commenting done outside of the blog that I want to highlight for all readers to follow.

So here we go!!

Changing Our Operating System

The reason I’m writing about this theme is because all the work I’ve been doing over the past 5 years really comes down to this issue at the core.  Unless we change our operating system and how we view the world (issues, decisions, judgments), we can’t move to higher levels of adult stage development.

We stay stuck in the same way of thinking and processing information.  What’s wrong with that, you ask?  Well, judging by how things are going right now in our political arena, with security in our cities, with civility on social media, with the heroin epidemic, and so on, I think there are many reasons to advocate for a change in our way of thinking.

I’m not so naive to think this can take hold without some kind of major revolution.  There’s not enough people out there teaching this stuff, and our American society was formed on Western Culture values that still hold capitalism, winning at the expense of others, and accumulating wealth higher than most other things.  The interesting thing about that is when we leave this earth, we really can’t take those “things” with us.  We all get to a place of letting go, whether we want to or not.

So, bear with me as I stream other thought leaders on this core issue of changing the way we look at life.  Changing the way we make meaning of life.  Changing the way we make decisions.  Changing the way we communicate with one another.

I realized it was time to do this series after I entered a debate with one of you over my last blog post where I discussed Executive Orders issued recently.  I became so caught up in my argument that I lost touch with listening compassionately and empathetically.  I wanted to present evidence as to why the recent travel restrictions did not make sense and lost touch with the core message of that post.  We can help make America safe AND be careful not to discriminate.  So much in life does not have to be “EITHER/OR” or black and white.  We get so caught up in our polarized position being correct, that we allow no room for compromise.

That is what I think is playing out now in our national scene.  Both sides of this argument (notice dualistic thinking naturally says there are just TWO SIDES) think their position is correct.  So now, no one wants to compromise.  The “ban” is either ON or it’s OFF.  You are either “with me” or “against me.”  You are either on the “right side of this argument” or not.

Is picking one of these polar opposites the best way to proceed?  I don’t know–you must decide for yourself.  And we wonder why we just had a national election where one candidate won the electoral college and the other one won the popular vote.

I ended up only proving–through that stream of emails with one of my dear SMOGs– that I still have work to do.  So thank you–my dear SWOG follower– for getting me off the dime and tackling this core issue!


OK, get out the tissues.  This one was powerful–in many ways.  Because I read slowly, I had trouble reading his whole message while the video was playing.  You might not suffer the same pokiness, but in case you do I’m going to include below, after the video, the exact words written on this gentleman’s sign.  As always, I’m interested in your thoughts!

 

 

Hello.  My name is Karim and I am an Arab-American.  Like many people who are black, brown, women, LGBTQIA, Latinx, Muslim, Jewish, Immigrants and Other, I am very scared.  We are anxious and uneasy in our own country and it’s difficult to see what lies ahead for us.  But I have HOPE that I am SAFE with YOU.  Together we can build a community of caring rather than one of fear.  You can trust me to care for you no matter who you are, what you look like or where you are from.  ?Will you embrace me as willingly as I embrace you?

Will you shake my hand and/or HUG me and/or take a photo with me and post it as a sign that I am safe here with you?

I TRUST YOU.  #youaresafewithme    #safetyinnumbers

 

There is so much to say and do.  Let’s make sure our voices are heard.  Feel free to pass along the video, the post or whatever.  Write your congressmen and women.  We can promote safety and security without promoting racism, hatred and exclusion.  It does not have to be one or the other.  Our policies can protect ALL Americans, no matter what their religious beliefs or skin color, and allow for a reasonable approach to immigration.  It does not have to be dualistic, polarized and all or nothing.  Hatred is not the way, and now is not a good time to be complacent.

Please remember, as I know my dear SWOGs and SMOGs you do, that we are ALL descended from immigrants (unless you are 100% Native American).  Irish, English, German, French, Spanish, Greek, African, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese, Iranian, Israeli, Saudi’s, Russian, Eastern European, Scandinavian, and the list goes on and on and on.  We are a melting pot of people.  Our heritage is rich and deep.  And, as one of our greatest Presidents (a Republican, I might add) reminded us in a very famous speech a long time ago:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers bought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.  And that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.      ~Abraham Lincoln

One man OR woman should not have the ability to put actions in place that are essential unconstitutional.  And, I know there are friends of mine reading this blog who struggled through the Obama Presidency for the same reason.  So, clearly something has to change with the way Executive Orders work, because it seems to me that EO’s have become a way for one individual to circumvent the Constitution and the principles by which we were founded.  In addition and most importantly, those same EO’s should not give that President’s followers the right or rationale to spew hatred toward our fellow men and women.  THAT is actually the most disturbing part of all of this.

OK, that’s enough politics for this week.  It’s not my intention for this blog to become a voice for one political party over another.  In my heart, I’m an independent anyway.  I subscribe to ideologies from both major political parties.  I was just struck by this video which I actually received via email a few days ago on my Georgetown listserv.  Then came the events of this weekend, and I just had to vocalize my deep concern over what I see happening in a frenzied pace.

 

 

 

 

 


A funny thing happened to me yesterday on the way to trying to live life wholeheartedly.

But, let me first digress.  Wholeheartedly?  What in the world are you talking about SWOG-blogging lady?

About a month ago I started listening to Brené Brown’s book, The Power of Vulnerability.  Thanks to a fellow SWOG (you know who you are–DGK), I latched onto Brené a few years ago when her book, The Gifts of Imperfection was recommended to me.  She’s a qualitative researcher that does work on topics like shame and vulnerability.  If you haven’t read any of her work, try watching her out on YouTube in one of her many TED Talks that she’s done over the years.

Anyway, one of the things she’s discovered through interviewing thousands of people during her career is there is this small percentage of people who have found a way to embrace vulnerability and live in a very, what she refers to as, “wholehearted” way.  As I listened to The Power of Vulnerability I found myself thinking–Eureka!  That’s it!!!  This is kind of all over the strength with grace thing.  I need to get me some more of this wholehearted stuff!

The way she describes “wholehearted” is by referring to ten sort of principles or ways these people choose to live their lives.  I do pick the word “choose” intentionally, by the way.  My Georgetown mentor told me, “We are always at choice.  We can choose for ourselves different ways of thinking and behaving.”  So these wholehearted people, Brené found, do something interesting.  They cultivate certain things on one hand and they let go of certain things on the other.  So instead of striving for more, more, more they do what makes more sense.  They do more of something and less of something else.  They do more of the good wholehearted things and less of things that get in the way of living a peace-filled and joyful life.  I’ll be laying out more about these ten principles in my blog over the next few weeks/months.

So, I did as I so often do…jumped straight into the deep end of the pool.  I went out three days ago and bought myself one of those wee little pocket journals–the size and nature that could literally fit in a man’s dress shirt breast pocket.  And I took every one of of the ten principles and I wrote on the left side of one spread of two pages the things I needed to “cultivate” and on the right side, the things I needed to “let go of.”  I made a vow that I would get up every morning– before I did anything else–and I would read one of the ten principles, in successive order of course, and I would practice cultivating and letting go of those particular things on that day.  I would do this everyday and maybe by 60 to 90 to 120 days, I would have wholehearted living absolutely figured out.

You just KNOW where this is going, don’t you??!!

So, Day 1 I get up and read my little journal and the notes that went along with the first principle.  It was about authenticity.  I was all over it.  This is cool!  I did a fairly good job of keeping the lessons in the forefront of my mind all day long.  I really felt good and like I was onto something important.

Day 2 comes–which was yesterday– and I bound out of bed.  I had a ton to do…I had a bunch of phone appointments.  I had company coming for dinner and staying to help me with genealogy research I was doing on my extended family (you know who you are SWOG-lady and thank you DS!).  I had some pre-work I wanted to do for that meeting ahead of time.  I had about three potential SWOG posts competing in my brain cells for wanting to be posted next.  I had some clean-up work to do.  I wanted to fit in a work-out.  You get the picture.  I was off and running to what promised to be a very busy day.

And, yes, the little diary was TOTALLY forgotten.  Did not give it a moment’s thought.  Did not even think, “Oh, and I need to read my little diary and see what I need to practice today.”

Somewhere around 2:30 pm I remembered it and the conversation in my head went something like this:

GEEZ Louise, Bev.  I CANNOT believe it’s only Day 2 and you’ve ALREADY forgotten what you committed to doing.  What is the MATTER with you?!?  You can’t commit to anything and see it through!

So, I scrambled to find my little diary and opened it to the second principle for wholehearted living.  It is as follows:

Cultivate Self-Compassion and Let Go Of Perfectionism.

I LAUGHED OUT LOUD.  So much so that I doubled over and snorted a few times just for good measure.  And, do we think that was a coincidence?  Naw.  Probably not.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

 

 


Well, my dear SWOG & SMOG’s, we lost a legend yesterday.  Mary Tyler Moore passed away at age 80.

Talk about a trend-setter.  She was the guiding star for strength with grace for my generation and the one before mine.  A beautiful woman with a resilient spirit who took on great causes like juvenile diabetes and equal treatment for women in the workplace.  And she did it all with such charm and grace.

Who can forget the opening to her Mary Tyler Moore show, “She’s going to make it after all?”  Well, our hats are flying off in tribute to you, Mary.  Rest well dear Strong Woman of Grace.

 


Did you ever get onto one of those ideas or thought trails and everywhere you turn, there it is again.  It’s like Chinese water torture desperately trying to get through to your brain (or in this case, my brain).

I opened my new copy of Fast Company magazine and there’s the main Editorial titled “How to Lead in 2017.”  The Editor makes seven major points as I’ve listed immediately below:

  1. True Leadership Requires More Than Just Agility and Quick Thinking
  2. Humility and Curiosity Matter More Than Fame 
  3. Millennials Have Answers and Questions
  4. Cognitive Diversity Can Save the Day
  5. We’re All Responsible
  6. Social Media Isn’t Social Enough
  7. Business Is the Future

And then later in the magazine, there is a two page spread of quotes.  Here are a few of them:

Learning is probably the most important currency you can have as a human.  Companies will continue to hire and to value employees who can transform.                         ~Grad Conn, CMO Microsoft

We’re always on the lookout for candidates who have a “learner” mind-set rather than an “expert” one.  Learners are interested in new ways to solve problems; experts can’t wait to tell you the answer.        ~Tim Jones, Director of Strategy 72andSunny

Engender trust, engender trust, engender trust.  It really has to do with building empathy and vulnerability in yourself and your team.  It is risky to do that, but take the risk.       ~Kate Bednarski, Chief Experience Officer, Live in the Grey

Practice better listening.  It’s not just appearing as though you are paying attention.  And try to embrace the things you don’t want to hear.   ~Joy Howard, CMO, Sonos

You can’t know it all.  We have users in 197 countries, and what is taboo is vastly different.  My challenge is to check my ego about what I know works in the United States and really listen to what locals say is going to work.                ~Jack Harrison-Quintana, Director of Grindr for Equality, Grindr

When you can take away the ego, you learn a lot about yourself and the world around you.     ~Kevin Jonas II  formerly of the Jonas Brothers

All of the above was written last night.  So when I was doing my morning email reading and responding, I stumbled on this LinkedIn article about Deloitte’s first female CEO–Cathy Englebert.  They did an interview with her and this was one of her answers:

I delivered the commencement speech at the University of Southern California’s Leventhal accounting school last year, and I told the seniors “never graduate,” which is sort of counter-intuitive at a graduation. But that’s exactly the point—there’s never a point in time when we can stop learning. So one of the things that set me up for success is to always stay curious and ask questions—never stop learning.

I think the universe is speaking…

 

 

 

 


Follow-ups are important for a number of reasons. Understanding, closure, clarity, answering un-answered questions to name a few. Sometimes (read here–“many times”) we make assumptions about communications that we shouldn’t.

 

There’s that tricky judgment thing again!!!

 

Below is a follow-up post from Rohr to my last one on the Grace of Humility:

Contemplative Christianity Is the Great Tradition
Thursday, January 19, 2017
I believe the teaching of contemplation is absolutely key to rebuilding Christianity, otherwise our very style of “knowing” is off base and everything that follows is skewed. Our untransformed brains are hardwired to focus on the negative and to dualistically label and divide, it seems. While rational critique and logical judgment are important for practical matters, they can only get us so far. We need nondual consciousness—the mind of Christ—to process the great questions of love, suffering, death, infinity, and divinity and to be unafraid of diversity and welcoming of union at ever higher and more expansive levels.

We will explore contemplation and nondual consciousness more in a few weeks, but for now let me briefly define the practice of contemplative prayer: In a silent posture of self-emptying, we let go of habitual thoughts and sensations and connect with an Inner Witness (Romans 8:16)—God’s presence within—that gazes back at ourselves and out at reality with an Abiding Love. Contemplation is learning how to offer “a long, loving look at the Real.” [1]

Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have a long but intermittent tradition of teaching contemplation. Catholics today may know the word contemplation, but that doesn’t mean we know the actual how or the important why. Instead of teaching silent mindfulness, in recent centuries the church emphasized repetition of rote, wordy prayers, and “attendance” at social prayer. Even most of the great contemplative Orders (Cistercian, Carmelite, Poor Clare, etc.) now recognize that they stopped directly teaching the practice of silent prayer to their own members. Contemplative prayer was largely lost after the dualistic, tribal fights of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. The utter vulnerability of silence did not allow us to “prove” anything and so was no longer attractive. The Protestant tradition does not have a strong history of contemplation beyond a few isolated individuals who discovered it on their own. The Orthodox tradition had it well-documented on paper and in a few monasteries, but it was far too tribal go where contemplation always leads—toward universal compassion, inclusivity, and nonviolence.

So most traditionalists today are not traditional at all! They know so little about the Big Tradition beyond their ethnic version since the last national revolution in their country. That is what happens when you move into a defensive posture against others. You circle the wagons around externals and non-essentials, and the first thing to go is anything interior or as subversive to your own ego as is contemplation. Of course this is precisely what is essential for true transformation. Without it, we have the French and Spanish Catholic hierarchies largely opposing their own needed revolutions and reforms, English and German bishops blessing all their wars, and the majority of Orthodox hierarchies co-operating with communist dictators against their own people. This is the bad fruit of non-contemplative Christianity, which Thomas Merton was one of the first to be public and vocal about in the 1950s.

Christians need to retrieve our own tradition of accessing and living from an alternative consciousness. First we have to know that the Christian contemplative tradition even exists and once flourished. We’re not simply borrowing from Eastern religions and modern neuroscience. It is very clear in the Desert Fathers and Mothers, many of whom fled to the desert in the fourth century so they could practice what they felt was authentic Christianity, unhindered by the priorities of the new imperial religion that was based largely on externals.

The alternative contemplative tradition persisted in Celtic Christianity (outside the Roman Empire); in the Eastern Church’s collection of texts, called the Philokalia; and in the monastic history of all the ancient Orders of the East and West, which only sometimes taught it directly or indirectly (e.g., Dionysius, John Cassian, the monastery of St. Victor in Paris, the Franciscans Bonaventure and Francisco de Osuna, and the final explosion in the Spanish Carmelites). Otherwise, it was more exemplified in highly transformed people who came to it through conscious prayer, love, or suffering. There were anomalies like the Jesuits, Jean Pierre de Caussade and Teilhard de Chardin, and very many women foundresses of communities who show all the fruits of a contemplative life. Women and lay people had more easy access to contemplation precisely because they were not seminary and liturgically trained. Like Julian of Norwich, they learned it on the side and on the sly and often through suffering!

 

Enough said for today.