Abundance and Availability

I love this time of year, for one reason, because of the tomato harvest from my backyard garden. They just keep coming as the later summer and early fall sun offers ripening each day. The littlest that look like cherry tomatoes are actually “Roma.” Noticeably packed with flavor and great for snacking.

I also love this poem below, by David Whyte, and shared recently by a Fire & Water Participant. The poem speaks to me of an orientation in life, of availability and abundance.

Just like my backyard tomatoes do.



Everything Is Waiting for You
David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.


The Simple and Complex of Gathering People Not Used to Gathering

I’m in a rather impromptu conversation with three people. Quanita Roberson, co-host and co-convenor with me of our upcoming Fire & Water Leadership Cohort — she knows stuff, lots of it. And Brad Wise and Joey Taylor of BeSpokenLive — each of the handful of times I’ve been with these two I feel deeply inspired. I think of all of us as colleagues and friends, friends and colleagues — frolleagues.

The conversation is about submitting a grant application to hold a series of community connection gatherings. They are about convening diversity. They are about creating connection. They are about learning. They are about being together. This is a think out loud time. I’m just offering a few thoughts to weave into what they are already thinking and will carry forward.

In the impromptuness of it, I get an intuitive hit that rises from my belly. I love that feeling. I know these people well enough to say it out loud without needing to wordsmith it. It’s good when people can be imperfect together. Or rather, without fear of not having it all figured out.

I offered this:

  • The work (including gatherings like this) is simultaneously about the simple and the complex.
  • The simple part is bringing participants into questions and stories with one another. It just works a pile better to connect people in what they care about through their personal experience.
  • The complex part is, as Joey named, creating belonging (a fair hunk of this comes from a container in which to share stories / experiences).
  • The complex part is also about interrupting patterns of isolation (or reactive posturing, or polarized defensiveness).
  • The gatherings will come alive with a spirit of celebration, of possibility, of recalling childhood stories.
  • The magic and the complex grows from the simple.

Quanita framed it really well. Thinking of the people that might come to such a gathering, and the community restoring that can so powerfully occur, she said, “We meet ourselves by meeting each other.”

Yah, that’s good, right. We think we are just meeting each other, which is rather monumental in itself. And in so doing, we are coming to meet more of ourselves. With aha. With tenderness. Sometimes with fire. With kindness. With clarity that only comes from connection.

Well, it was only an impromptu meeting and invitation to offer some perspective. I kind of felt like in meeting each other (just a regular old Monday) that I met more of myself.

Glad for insights. And friends. And colleagues. And frolleagues on a Monday. Thinking about gathering people that aren’t used to gathering.

Sorrow Filled — It Comes With The Times

This morning has been sorrow-filled for me. No particular incident. Perhaps several smaller things that have grown. But, perhaps just a mystery wave that has felt gigantic. I continue to learn about feeling those waves. Just because. And not particularly connected to this picture above (but I like the blatantness of these trees fallen — life and death are natural in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains).

The American Psychotherapist and Soul Activist Francis Weller talks about how all of us must develop an “apprenticeship with sorrow.” My brain can hear that. Makes sense. For all of us and the varied experiences of sorrow that are part of being human. My heart can hear that too. Except when I feel that I’m drowning in the sorrow. Again, mystery.

Quanita Roberson and I encountered each other as participants at a writing workshop. That was 2013. We’ve grown a friendship and a colleagueship over these last six years. We’ve grown a body of work that is soulful. Soulful enough to go to places of deep sorrow. In ourselves and with others.

I’m grateful for the insight that shows up regularly with Quanita. She’s a smart cookie. And I’m grateful for the added smart cookieing that we are together. Stuff shows up. It’s field. It’s openness. It’s attention to what is emerging. It’s rooted in the orientation that we humans are figuring a few things out as we go. Like sorrow.

Today, on a mystery sorrow-filled morning, I’m glad for a bit of wisdom and kindness with Quanita that points to all of us needing to become more skillful at sorrow / grief. It’s wisdom that normalizes the experience (I would say calls it out as a natural and needed growing for the times within which we live). It’s wisdom that says, don’t swim alone in the ocean that sorrow can be (ain’t no way that I’d swim alone, but I tend to take on sorrow alone).

Quanita and I will continue our offerings — they are with increasing frequency to help the people who are helping people. It’s not too late for Fire & Water, where I have the hunch, that the pod of participants and us will figure a bunch out together. Like sorrow. And waves. And inner world connected to outer world. Like wisdom. And community. And how fear impacts us. And hope too.

Fire & Water — Some Special Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a friend, colleague, and participant of the upcoming Fire and Water Leadership Cohort. It was thoughtful. In the way that I so often like it, we were naming some of what was at the core of this program. It’s naming essence. And special sauce.

Here’s some of what we came up with, scribbled onto the back of a piece of paper:

Wander — I’m no stranger to advocating a sense of wander together. Neither is my friend. For some, wander has a negative connotation. Like, wander because of “being lost.” Or wander because “there isn’t purpose.” That’s a different wander. This wander is more like, be willing (and courageous) enough to go into the unknown. How about that — the ability to wander as core competency in leadership. The ability to help create conditions to encounter emergence.

Radical Honesty — I don’t think that many in today’s varied organizational contexts are blatantly lying. Although, lying can become a habit such that it’s not even recognizable. I’m talking about the lies of what we are up to. Of over imposing a narrow narrative. Of speaking as certainty of what is really inherently known. There’s stuff in the journey, for all of us, that I would suggest is inherently scary and unknowable. So much of contemporary society has taught us to “fake it till you make it.” Yah, good, um, er, except when it isn’t, which is often. What if, we dared to be radically honest together, growing that familiarity so as to give us just a bit more chance of getting to the transformational? Honest with self. Honest with other. Developing a literacy of awareness.

Wildness — I love this one. It was my friend that named it as a question, encouragement, and concern. Will this be wild enough? Will it not be tucked into something overly reductive, neat, and tidy? My friend’s question about wildness was also naming an inherent wildness in us. I would suggest that we humans, seek a wildness and aliveness and life vitality. Individually and with one another. Most of us seek a relationship with wildness, a “not just tamedness.” Being willing to get messy — that’s got something to do with leadership these days also..

Navigating Complexity — Yup. Most of us identify with rather complex lives. Most of us are patterned into numbing ourselves as primary mode for coping with all of that complexity. I know this in so many ways in myself. Yet, I’m the kind of human that believes we are at a time when we must transcend (which often comes from rather painful descent) who we are and how we are together as human beings. This means leaning further in to the complexity, not away. This means daring to break patterns of isolation so that me might lean in as community. You can see how this connects to each of the above, right — wander, radical honesty, and wildness. Oy!

Don’t Know Where We Are Headed — This too is woven into the above. When I’m a follower (let me be so simple for a moment), I can be OK with not knowing where we are headed. Often, that okness is soothed by an assumption that surely the leader knows, or that someone knows. Hmm…, hold that thought. When I’m a leader, or cohost, or consultant, or some other position of perceived knowing, to not know can be scary as hell. And shameful. You can see the edge of a new culture bumping into the tight holding of an old culture.

I’m grateful for what became alive with my friend in our conversations. That lead to such scribblings. That lead to such a palpable feeling of “now we are getting somewhere.”

Excited, and a bit scared, to do this soon with our Fire & Water cohort. Get to a transformed core. And hold it together. Some spaces available. Apply if you feel the shimmer of called. Special sauce.