The Importance Of Integration

It’s been a while. I am back from Croatia and have been quite busy with work and other things here in Montana. I realized over the weekend that since my Dad’s 90th birthday, I have been traveling: I spent the month of May on Gabriola leading the Phase; got back for a day or so and was then off to Croatia; came home from that and headed into class for a couple days; took a trip to Columbus, Ohio to work with a client; and then over the weekend drove to and from Spokane to visit with my cousin from South Carolina for a few hours. Everything has been great but with so many significant events happening I have had very little time to integrate, write, or fully absorb any one of these events. The good news is that I believe I was pretty present, so I know I let things in and believe there is still time for needed integration.

Last night I went with some friends to hear Susan Gipson, a singer and songwriter, play at an outdoor pavilion just outside of Whitefish. Gipson wrote the Dixie Chicks’ song Wide Open Spaces—one of my favorites. She was awesome, a great storyteller and songwriter. Her songs are clearly like my blogs, a path for her to integrate life events and share them with the world.

With so much happening I feel like I haven’t been doing the sharing part. For instance, I missed writing about the wonderful Croatian guides we had on our trip, Marko and Matej, who were sort of opposites in personality but together they delivered such a rich passion, history and love for their country that I came away wanting to tell others about the people and the place. Then there’s the World Cup, what an amazing event. It’s not just about soccer. My favorite side story was about the grandmother’s South Africa soccer league. These woman started playing when many couldn’t walk and they definitely were not supposed to be out in shorts and sneakers. People laughed at them. But this league changed the lives and health of many of the women. I love stories like that.

Here’s hoping I can find the time to integrate recent events and write some blogs that let me share some of the special times. I am not always good at slowing down. Especially with so many exciting things to do. But listening to Susan Gipson last night reminded me of the value of finding a path to share the story—not just live it!

Turning 50!!

Today I am 50. I woke up feeling an amazing amount of grateful for my life. It helps that I am in Croatia on an awesome bike touring experience with the love of my life, good friends and some great new friends. The joyful experience of testing myself on the rolling hills here on the islands, and seeing breathtaking views while flying downhill, probably has something to do with a very high gratitude meter.

Today has been perfect. The first part of the day was beautiful and the ride relatively easy and fun. Then three of us added an additional challenge by taking the long way back, basically over the mountain. It was awesome. By the end of the day I had ridden every kilometer possible for my touring experience. I definitely felt like I lived up to my muchness. Indeed life is good. Now we have a few extra days to unwind in Hvar.

Though I am fortunate to be here in this place, I also know my gratitude meter is high because I do believe I am living my best life. I have a relationship that excites me, challenges me, provides me the opportunity to support, and is filled with aliveness and learning. I live in a beautiful place, in a home that is surrounded by color, with animals that are friendly and fill the place with life. I get to work with my partner and I do believe we change the world sometimes with what we do. I have great friends and family to dialogue with and share in awesome experiences. Yes, there is so much to be grateful for on this day. I don’t feel old, I feel fulfilled and ready for more. Yes, it is worth celebrating life!

Celebrating Life: Muchness Vs. Shouldness

Jim and Renee arrived yesterday to join us on our big adventure. In honor of my birthday they created wonderful riding shirts for each of us. They had planned these shirts with my birthday in, mind but instead of simply focusing on me, the shirts broadcast celebrating life. I personally think everyone else on the trip will want one. They are great.

As always when we get together, we started chatting about everything and my latest blog on muchness came up. The concept was one that we all agreed was important especially in relationship to our trip and celebrating life. As we talked we realized life can as easily become about shouldness as well as muchness and that the real challenge is to recognize it when it occurs and to do something about it.

Most of us lose our muchness when we get to caught up in the shoulds and the obligations of life. It is easy to do. Whether it is a passion that becomes a job and suddenly instead of taking risks and learning the job, it becomes routine and lifeless. Or a relationship that slowly becomes more about doing what’s predictable and safe rather than what is desired, which thereby causes conflict or tension. We all make these small decisions and choices and though they may not seem that serious over time, the result is a loss of our muchness in exchange for shouldness.

It is what I like about being with friends like Jim and Renee. Together we talk about these things and confront each other about our patterns. Sure sometimes it can be uncomfortable. That is the problem with living with muchness, it can create anxiety and tension. Instead of being predictable, I am in the moment and may not do what everyone expects and thinks is ‘right’. When each of us is living that way, there is more potential for differences and conflicts. However, there is also more newness and possibility. So if I am willing to stay in that uncertainty and tension there is an aliveness and freshness to life that is definitely worth celebrating!

As we travel together for these next few days, I look forward to discovering where am I living my shouldness and how can I recapture my muchness and celebrate life by more fully engaging. This is a wonderful opportunity to discover and commit to the next part of my journey and be clear that it is not the shoulds that my life reflects but instead all the possibilities, i.e. my muchness.

Tapping Into My Muchness

I love the part of the new Alice in Wonderland when the Hatter says to Alice that she has lost her muchness. Ever since I saw the show, that has stuck with me. When I have been a touch fearful or anxious I remind myself to sink into my muchness.

Today I am off on my great 50th birthday adventure. The planning started for this many months ago when I shared with CrisMarie that’d love to go on a European bike tour for my birthday. A good friend had once recommended doing something special for the major birthdays and 50 seemed like a big one. From there the travel planning took on a life of it’s own with various recommendations and numerous chats with our friends Jim and Renee who will be traveling with us. We finally decided on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and Vermont Biking Tours.

Now I am sitting on the plane heading to Frankfurt watching Alice in Wonderland. How perfect! I feel a bit like Alice, off on my great adventure. Now I just want to stay in touch with my own muchness.

I would really like to enjoy and relax into this trip. The challenge is that after spending so much time planning and imagining, it is easy to have lots of expectations. I think the voyage is a great dream, imagining and scripting what I want. However, there’s also the important part of letting go of those expectations once the moment arrives, being fully present.

Now the trip is here and I want to live it fully! I want to tap into my muchness and have a blast!