Monthly Archives: February 2015

Effort: Action’s Sweet Messiness

plate 5A stone’s throw from the turn into my narrow dirt driveway, a hand-painted sign announces the presence of Paradise Pottery with the following down-to-earth description:  Real Pots. For Real People.  Made in a Real Place.

When I first arrived at my new home with exactly one ceramic cup, a matching cookie plate, and a graceful soup bowl to fill my kitchen cupboards, I didn’t wait long to visit Jim Wallace, the Paradise Pottery potter and proprietor, and his wife Shannon.  We sorted through bowls, compared nuances in glazes and studied variations in the spirals swirling through a collection of plates that had caught my eye.

No two pieces appeared exactly the same.  As I held up two paired but not identical mugs, it did not escape me that I was touching art crafted with perfect imperfection by human hands through a messy, wet, fiery process, and that I was doing so less then 45 miles from WalMart headquarters, a standardized world away in Bentonville, Arkansas.  How refreshing that was!  Almost rebellious.

Sometimes I find that our increasingly virtual, ideological, mistake-phobic, homogenized culture squeezes authentic action and its creative chaos to the fringes. Yet, the willingness and daring to physically act in accordance with the Heart’s aims is what births dreams and materializes our inherent gifts and passion-fueled inspirations.

This month I’ve been gathering courage and clarity to act on three heart-appealing invitations, which have come my way. One is a local community project called the Heart of Many Ways; another is joining with my business partners to transfigure our technology services and delivery.   Today I stand on the edge of action, a relatively safe and tidy place. Come March 2nd, I’ll be in the thick of it . . . in the thick of testing and stretching my creative and relational capacity. In the sweet messiness of exposing my skill gaps, finding solutions with others, and creating new products and authentic experiences that will hopefully benefit real people, in real places.

What potential actions are on your Heart’s plate?

Effort: Forgiveness Liberates

winter jasmineIn the late summer of 2014, as my old spiritual community life and relationships feel apart, I swung in and out of grief and bitterness.   The grief I welcomed as natural.  The bitterness troubled me.  It sapped my passion for life and for giving.   During that period I had taken to practicing karate katas under the stars, as a way of centering my energy and calming my nerves.  One night, as I felt the bitterness temporarily dissipate, my attention caught on the kata closing phrase:  “I ask for forgiveness.”   In that moment, I knew that forgiveness was my next step forward.  I just didn’t know in what way or how to begin.

When I returned to my room, I googled “Desmond Tutu Forgiveness”, as I recalled the archbishop’s revolutionary truth, reconciliation and forgiveness work in South Africa.  What I discovered was the 30 Day Forgiveness Challenge.

When I began the challenge (which took me more than 30 days to complete), I had no idea how emotionally difficult, liberating and beautiful it would be. I learned that forgiveness isn’t about white washing or denying deep wounds.  Forgiveness supports honesty.  It reclaims stolen beauty and innocence.   Forgiveness frees energy to live more gracefully with the past and passionately with present Heart aims.

These days, as Winter Jasmine flashes her sunny color in my woodland garden, while spring whispers faintly and erratically on the Ozark Winds, my bitterness has faded.  My life is sprouting new opportunities for giving and cooperatively creating.  I feel emotionally fit and ready to give them my all.

I still have limited interactions with and news of individuals in my former life which occasionally frustrate me.   But like the confident Winter Jasmine, the training I received in the 30 Day Challenge eventually rises vibrantly within the chaos.  And then the choice is mine: to recommit to emotional fitness.  To be compassionate, healthy, enthusiastic and free.

What is your experience with Forgiveness?

Effort: Get Your Head into the Heart’s Game

angel 1“I can’t help you if you don’t have your head in the game.” That was the message my karate teacher gave to a fellow student last week.

I knew what he was talking about. The mind can be a powerful ally or a distracting foe.  When I first moved into my woodland house in November, my thoughts were pocked with worry. My mind was exhausted from intense months of navigating unfriendly seas. Yet, except when I was formally meditating, I couldn’t get my thoughts to rest or release into rejuvenating creativity. The judgments and defensive strategizing just kept on coming.

At that point my mind definitely wasn’t fit for contemplating let alone pursuing my highest Heart aims.   Sacred motivations need a mind that discerns healthy boundaries, but doesn’t degrade with criticism. A joyful mind that sees with compassionate clarity, unafraid of unhealed wounds, personal and planetary. A curious mind that is open to elegant solutions, rather than replaying outworn scenarios. An innocent, playful mind that revels in figuring out how to fulfill the Heart’s desire.

Some say that the mind is like a monkey, swinging and chattering from here to there. I prefer to think of the mind as being like many of the three and four year olds that come into my shop with their parents.   Energized and creative, these kids need something to engage them. For that reason when we expanded our technology business into a new storefront several years ago, one of our top priorities was to create a kids play table.

Directing my mind to beauty is like taking a child to play at the kids’ table. It lifts my thoughts into the creative vibration of my Heart aims (and keeps me out of trouble).   Clarity, discernment, joy, and possibility become my allies. That changes everything.   Relationship questions and everyday circumstances become manageable. Energy is available for the projects and people I care about most.

I’ve relied on touchstones to train my mind away from preoccupation and into the Heart’s service these past many weeks.   Symbols, a song, a scent, a  pleasing object (such as the angel poised outside my kitchen window) aid through their beauty.  Their elegant harmony reveals, via contrast, draining thoughts and draws the mind back into the Heart’s game where it belongs.

How do you keep your mind primed for your cherished aims and Heart motivations?

Heart: Uniting for the Homeland

swepco signAround April Fools’ Day 2013, some of my Eureka Springs friends and neighbors opened their mailboxes to letters informing them of SWEPCO’s (Southwestern Electric Power Company) intention to construct an energy superhighway through the heart of the Arkansas Ozarks. Word quickly spread that this 345kV line was to run approximately 48 miles, claiming a 100 foot wide swath through forest, river valleys, national treasures (Thorncrown Chapel and the Trail of Tears) and agricultural lands with promises of herbicide spraying in perpetuity, possibly from helicopters.   Time to object: 30 days.

This news devastated individual home owners, some of whom would have the powerline pass within feet of their homes. It shook business people dependent on the nature-based tourist economy, angered local lovers of Ozark caves, waterways and trees, troubled naturalists who understood the vulnerability of the area’s unique karst terrain, piqued historians, and distressed anyone dependent on clean drinking water to survive.

Eureka Springs is my first experience with a small town (population about 2000, with the entire county coming in under 30,000). Sometimes the intense public dissension injected into seemingly simple issues like parking meters and walking trails surprises me.   But SWEPCO’s threat called forth a different response, a unified response largely catalyzed by a dogged, procedurally savvy, quickly formed group called Save the Ozarks.

SWEPCO had proposed multiple routes for consideration by the Arkansas Public Service Commission for its project.   A perfect plan for dividing and conquering the opposition. But the Heart can’t be divided. The founders of Save the Ozarks (STO) understood the revolutionary value of standing together beyond personalities and proposed routes. And so the message from our local lips became: “We oppose all routes.”

The uncertain road was trying and long, particularly for those at the center of STO, but on December 30, 2014 SWEPCO finally withdrew its application, citing a lack of need (which STO’s experts had pointed out from the beginning). Across the Ozarks, most everyone, perhaps even the Ozark Big-Eared bats, breathed a sigh of joyful relief and gratitude to Save the Ozarks and all who contributed to the defense of our Ozark homeland.

Sometimes things are just too important to let personal agendas and annoyances get in the way.   The Heart transcends boundaries and differences. It gives the wisdom and the will to act together to defend and heal what matters, whether that is the homeland of one’s family, beloved countryside, or the planet.

What experience do you have with united, heart-full action?