A Point of Reflection – Mid-Phase

The Living Alive Phase has begun!  I must admit as I was leaving home for the month, I was quite sad and wishing that the timing was different.  CrisMarie’s play, Private Eyes, was opening after my departure, I had just returned from a wonderful writing weekend inspired to write daily.  We also were only part way through our web site design.  So the timing was less than ideal for me.So I was a bit distracted when I arrived.

As the first evening begun, I did wonder how would I get myself fully engaged.  Of course I enjoyed seeing Carole Ames (my co-leader) and connecting with the rest of the leader team, but I still wasn’t ready to say – yes, I am here for the month.  However, as each person in our circle spoke about themselves and how they got to the Phase, I found myself totally transformed.  Their courage, excitement and curiosity about the journey they were imparting on was a call to my heart.  I was reminded of why I love this work.

Now at the half-way point, I find myself settling into a day off.  This post has been left unfinished for well over a week.  My writing has been very limited.  My own story has gone background unless touched by something someone shared.  However, I am quite full from the many stories, emotional moments and connections I have been privileged to witness.  However, those stories are not mine to write or post.

This morning before our break we invited folks to journal about where they started and what they have learned about their patterns and the landscape in which they live.  As always I found myself reflecting on my own journey thus far.  I have noticed I am way more relaxed than I have been at other times in my life.  Sure I can be intense and definitely have fiery moments, however, my shoulders are looser.  I think I laugh more and cry easier.  I find myself more willing to pause and stand in stillness, wait and have faith in the process that is unfolding in front of me.  Of course my desire to participate and engage are far from muted, so I often do jump in.  Though I am far less convinced I have an answer.  Having said that I have also caught myself in my defenses and been humbled as I worked to take back down the walls that can come up so quickly when I have stepped into a righteous place.

I am curious about those who so freely touch and hug.  This is simply not a part of the landscape I move to often.  I like a bit of space between me and another.  I use to fear physical contact – now it is far less about fear and more about a richer connection I find in acknowledging that space, being curious in our differences and how we each wish to build a bridge.  I wonder if others find that clarity in a hug or in touch itself.  It is a question I often ponder about and rarely ask.

I have loved being more at ease and familiar with what is happening in my body.  I’d like to think I am often tracking what I am feeling, but the truth is, I am more frequently engaged through my mind.  I can easily get caught thinking through my life.  However, this work demands that I pay closer attention to more than my thoughts.  So each morning as a breath and settle into my body for the day, I find I am more attuned to the ques coming from a broader spectrum.  Yes, I am thinking, I am feeling and I am spiriting – instead of doubt or asking ‘why’, I am freer in using the all of my resources.

So this is a bit of my world this month.  In a day or so I will be taking myself out of this space and popping into a corporate event.  I imagine it will be quite different.  Yet I am wanting to continue to bring all of me to the moment in front of me.  I am excited to connect with CrisMarie and look forward to us working together for a couple days.  I’ll miss the circle here.  Yet I am confident that the connection will not be lost.  May be that is what is most exciting about my current experience, I feel more connected even when I am far, far away.  What has at times seemed so separate or different – now seems simply unique – yet still part of a whole or a oneness.  I am grateful for this expanded experience of life even though I know that this too will shift and that too is okay.  I have faith – in me, in us, in ALL.




These Boots Were Made For Writing!

“Fearlessly writing down the crazy…”

This has become my new mantra.  I have been at a wonderful writing workshop in Sedona, AR with Betsy Rapoport and Pam Slim.  Wow! I am leaving determined to call myself a writer, and ensure that I put my butt-in-the-seat daily to write something, anything.  That may not sound like a solid clear intention.  But one thing I took from this weekend is that all writing counts – even the sh*t*y first, second, third or fourth drafts!

Yes, I have a story to tell.  I am not that concerned, at this point, if anyone else thinks it is critical for the world of readers. This is really just for me.  I have a very old belief that I am touch crazy and have been fearful of revealing that possibility to the world.  Oddly, my silence and vague drops of information may have made the crazy more of a consideration than simply telling the damn story.  So what the hell?!

I bought these awesome boots before I was heading off to Sedona.  They were not my normal style.  These were red leather, fancy cowboy style boots.  I had my moments of doubt before the final purchase.  Wore them around the house for My Writing Bootsthree days, wondering if I should invest the money or not, fearful I was spending too much and wouldn’t wear them enough.  Well, I finally decided to purchase and of course wore them the next day on the flight to Sedona.

They have now become my writing boots.  I love them.  In one of the many prompts we used for writing, my boots became the metaphor for finding my voice and stepping out of the crazy, quiet zone of fear and doubt.  So the boots have already gotten an awesome ROI.

There are many things I could share about the weekend.  However, I don’t want to reveal others or commit to more than is realistically possible for me to do.  So let me just say, I am writing.  I am a writer.  Stay tuned.  No worries – most of my crazy will never make this page.  However, when I am ready to share those stories, you can count on the fact I will be wearing my red boots!!!

There’s No calling “CUT” in Theater or in Life

CrisMarie is deep into another play, Private Eyes by Steven Dietz produced by Stumptown Players and directed by Scarlett Schindler here in Whitefish, MT. She is playing Lisa, the female lead in a five person cast. (Meet the cast here.)


This is always an exciting time.  I enjoy the energy and aliveness that reverberates around the house, as she becomes her character. First, there’s the initial thrill of getting the part! That generally doesn’t last too long. Because within a few days of the first rehearsal, there is that moment of awakening, when the workload becomes clear and the calling to dive into the part, sort of takes over everything else.  For CrisMarie, that’s usually when she’s getting down her lines.  This involves hours of walking and listening to the ipod with her lines and cues recorded.  Sometimes, it’s me that takes on all the other characters and makes sure each line is perfected.  This can be a very trying experience.  I am not always the best at reading through the script over and over. I tend to get distracted. Plus, I am also not always thrilled to give up hours of our days for her ‘extra’ rehearsal time.  The evenings are already a given. So I like having the daytime for us and our work.  Still, I know it’s the actor’s calling, and she loves it.

The second phase is really the hardest for her.  This is often when she may start to doubt herself or realizes that there is some greater challenge to this part that she may be avoiding while memorizing lines.  In some ways, I like this phase the best because there is the dive she takes into having to face her fears and challenge some part of herself.  Acting simply never seems to just be about lines and becoming a part outside of yourself.  No, I think that good actors always know the work comes from inside.  Discovering how the character is like some aspect of them and demands pulling from a well deep inside.  The vulnerability and courage it takes to not just do that work but also put that out on a stage.  Well, that is awesome. It also very similar to the work of leading a Come Alive or a Phase program, where people are diving deep into themselves and discovering the choices they make and how that impacts their world and their relationships.

Private Eyes Poster

It is why I often end up attending the show night after night.  Because it isn’t the same every night.  The script generally stays the same (though there are almost always a few dropped lines) but the people don’t.  There’s a chemistry that gets set-up with each show.  Not just between the actors but with the people in the audience watching.  It’s magical.  Some nights are awesome and others may be not quite so grand.  With theater there isn’t a safety net. So when it works, it’s amazing, and when it doesn’t, well it’s not like anyone can call “cut”.  No, when the chemistry is off or different, the actors have to dive deep, depend on each other, work together even if the lines are off or the moment gets lost.  That too is very similar to being a part of a month long intensive program where some days the magic isn’t happening but you still have to show up and count on the team and the people around you to hang in.

This time I won’t be here for opening night.  I won’t even be here for one of the shows.  I am heartbroken.  I love seeing CrisMarie on the stage, and I enjoy watching the team effort and commitment that goes into making Community Theater.  This show, Private Eyes, is on while I am up at The Haven leading a Living Alive Phase program.  This time we will each be doing work very close to our hearts but not together on the same stage.  So I am reaching out to all my friends, both here and outside Montana and inviting folks to come and see the show!  It’s a comedy. Based on the fun ride I have been having as CrisMarie preps for her role as Lisa, I have come to enjoy the variety of characters and the interesting twist the storyline takes.  I think it will be a great show, and I know it will be heartfelt and real, because that is simply the nature of Community Theater!!

For more details on dates and show times visit: Stumptown’s Online Ticket Sales    It at Kalispell’s historic KM building, which has an intimate charm.  Come to Montana.  Come see the show.

Family Dynamics – the Magnetic Pull

Family dynamics. Just when I think I have grown up and figured out how to be with my family, meaning I know how to show up like a whole person, not simply react and get angry, I find out, I was wrong.  That magnetic pull back into old patterns and old stories comes crashing back as I find myself dealing with my dad’s fading health.

Honestly, I thought I could handle this and that in so many ways we were clear.  When I visited, I stayed more current and primarily interested in my parent’s as people now.  Yet, my father’s declining health and the fact that we as family are being called back together, has me spinning.  I am not as good at staying out of the old stories or patterns.

Last weekend my father, at 92 years old, was admitted to the hospital with chronic heart failure.  It looked like he might not make it through the night.  Now, about a week later he is stable and wants to come home.  The problem is that he isn’t quite that strong, and my mother, though a nurse and quite willing to do all she can to make that happen, isn’t young (she is now 86) and strong enough to do that on her own.  We are all trying in our own way to figure out what is best.  There’s this timing piece of when to come to visit.  There’s fears that coming to visit may imply we are assuming he is dying.  However, not coming may mean not being there if he does die.

Of course, there are a number of difficulties here.  One, I don’t think we do a good job of talking about death and dying.  Honestly, for ten years my father has been going through near-death experiences and my mother has become more responsible for his care.  We don’t really talk about that.  Then there’s our own dynamics that come up.  Personally, I would prefer us all be together – Mom, Penny, Melissa and I – and Dad, if he is up for it, talking about death and dying. Yet, I know, or believe, others prefer to wait until after he dies or right when he is dying.  At that point, I think the conversation is very different. Still, as the youngest, (OMG, is that really still the card I am playing? You see it’s the family magnet!) I don’t say what I want.  I wait.  Oddly, I am not really certain what would happen if I just asked for what I wanted.  I am often the one outside of my family system known for starting the tough conversation, saying what isn’t being said. So it seems the family magnet is at play once again.

It’s all so hard.  Last week, I was saying good-bye to a friend, fifty-four who passed away.  In the past couple years, a number of friends between 55-65 have died.  Now, my father at 92 in so many ways has had an amazing life.  I hear so often how awesome it is that he keeps going.  Yet – I do wonder and feel guilty when I have a moment of wishing he was closer to simply letting go.  Okay, I said that, wrote it and feel horrible seeing it out on the page.  But I am not going to hit delete because I am not trying to be mean.  I just don’t always believe living longer is better.  I am not certain my dad’s holding on doesn’t come at a cost – may be a cost that is too great.

So many of my friends are facing similar situations with aging parents.  I do wonder if anyone else has those moments when they feel as I do or do most people just want their parents to live forever? Last night, I went to a silent auction for a the Tamarack Grief Resource Center here in MT.  There were a number of stories shared about how families deal with the loss of loved ones.  I had bought the ticket a while ago, mainly because a friend asked, and I thought a worthy cause.  Little did I know I would be comforted myself as I listened to the many ways people grieve and the importance of making space for that.

I do hope I can make that space for my family and for myself.  It seems my dad will be riding this wave for a while.  I must find the best way for me to take the ride as well, and we may not always agree on what that looks like.  What I do know is that this is not simply about my dad and his transition. This is really something that is impacting all of us.  That larger impact, I think, can so often be forgotten.  I don’t want to forget that. I also don’t simply want to live at the mercy of the magnet.  Sure the pull is there and may be worth looking at, but I don’t want to get sucked in or totally repelled away.  During this time, I want to stand in my own shoes, with family, family dynamics and all.