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the trick of living

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"Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun." ~ Clifford Geertz

In an effort to cleanse the space (attempting the Marie Kondo technique in fits and spurts – which is totally not the technique at all, but my adaptation of the technique as it fits with my schedule) I went through tubs that have neatly been stacked in a corner, doing no harm but still taking up energetic space. I found a note someone I deeply love and respect, once wrote to me:

"...the trick is to keep your heart open so you are not even slightly diminished. Only made larger..." 

This woman is part of my “village” and was offering advice as I dealt with the residual affects of someone who operates from a place of perceived scarcity. 

What I appreciate about my friend's wisdom is her innate ability to understand that we have the chance to grow larger in circumstances that threaten to make us feel small. These moments of conflict show us, in no uncertain terms, a direction we do not wish to follow. Behavior we do not wish to emulate. Seeing the negative, we can reframe it and more clearly see the direction we do wish to go, the ways we do wish to be.

...“keep your heart open…” To not shut down or grip or put up a defense, but remain permeable, so things can move through you. So you can hear and feel and sense everything and make the next decision from that place of availability.

It’s not making yourself vulnerable, it’s making yourself available. To be a person you’ve always been, but larger, more you. 

"...the world we live in is not really one made of rocks, trees, and physical objects; it is a world of insults, opportunities, status symbols, betrayals, saints and sinners. All of these are human creations which, though real in their own way, are not real in the way that rocks and trees are real. These human creations are like fairies in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan: They exist only if you believe in them... a consensual hallucination..." ~ Jonathan Haidt

Sadly, the person my friend wrote to me about is still in the periphery of our lives, attempting harm. What I can do is soften my heart when it wants to harden, breathe deeply so ample oxygen gets to my brain and the fight or flight signal quiets, and resolve to hold life more dear by walking in the direction I wish to go.

Today I am deeply grateful. That today, I have enough. Enough love. Enough food. Enough shelter from the spring rains, warm sun, and the occasional hail storm. Enough friendship – in particular that one voice across the country who holds life dear in such a way she chooses only the largeness of joy. 

 always in motion,


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  • Every day this week, I haven’t clicked through to this blog after reading the day’s story. Every day this week, I’ve struggled with keeping my heart open in the face of fear, negativity, insecurity in myself and others, and every day I’ve struggled to articulate these feelings. Yesterday I got close—this morning I finally clicked through—and here it is! All laid out so beautifully and clearly. Your words are so transcendent and so helpful and so lovely. I’m grateful these came to me at exactly the moment I could truly understand them. Both of you are doing such important work in our world—thank you.

    Laurie Pachter on
  • Thank you for your generosity in sharing your experience. This landed perfectly on my heart this morning after a week of struggling against the smallness that threatened to envelope me. I am so grateful. xx

    Kim Johnson on
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of helping me reconnect to my heart… to the goal of never ever closing my heart, no matter what. Mickey Singer taught me to do this so beautifully in his Untethered Soul book and online class. Yet, alas, I’d forgotten over the past few days and weeks. You and Brian and all you share in your daily newsletter and Instagram account are the brightest lights of my online life. Please know what you’re doing makes a difference. Thanks again.

    Kris on
  • I am so grateful for your musings on this particular day in this particular place! I am high up in the Alps in Chamonix—me afraid of heights—on a month long sojourn through France on the lip of my 65th year. I am exploring France as well as sorting out this time in life, my inner landscape and inroads of my heart. Your words are a sign post pointing me in the direction of living large – choosing what feels expansive and stretching. Your wisdom coming to me while I am perched high up above the busy life below is serendipity for certain. Thank you and Brian for all the ways you bless and inspire me daily. May my blessings from this glorious spot in Chamonix land on you in your post-deadline bliss. (I wish I could send you a photo of the view!). Much love, Michele from Cincinnati

    Michele Laumer on
  • Good morning
    I have a number of your prints all over my home a couple of months ago I finally went on line and found you both.
    I look forward every day to your outlook on life.
    I am a chaplain dealing with combat veterans and their struggle with PTSD, mine included, and I share your insight in our group sessions.
    I just want to say thank you

    Michael Schaffer on

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