woman in front of wall where wings are painted

March 2024 Quote: Every Great and Difficult Thing Has Required a Strong Sense of Optimism

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For March 2024 my quote was: “Every great and difficult thing has required a strong sense of optimism.”

I was present in March, and yet it’s a blur. When I think about it, it’s like my memories were captured in watercolor, and someone poured water over them. The memories seem muted rather than crisp and define. Everything has a soft edge and is fuzzy – blurred. But I do have the clarity of quotes, lyrics, and phrases that that caught my attention throughout the month to anchor me:

  • The rules of the road are to begin and to continue
  • The real gift of being a daughter of fire is that you remember always the world can be remade in an instant, if you have will enough
  • There are seasons for all things and there will come a time when the pieces that are not you will fall away easily, when you stop holding so tightly
  • Awe enables us to perceive in the world imitations of the divine—to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple
  • You are changing the world whether you like it or not
  • Only when fully in each moment can we draw strength from the oneness of things
  • The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks
  • One thing happened then another, and another
  • She was a supernova of joy
  • Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the weather is clear?
  • Not solving for, just being with
  • Each soul is a gust of God’s breath (unfolding in the great energy that surrounds us like an ever moving stream)
  • What we carry deep within, if we live honestly, with inevitably be worn outwardly
  • But what is grief, if not love persevering?
  • When the morning stars sang together
  • Where is your tender touch required?
  • It’s good to be in community with you
  • There is no end of things in the heart
  • Unwilling to be smaller than she is
  • Step into a soul-led path
  • I believe in kindness; also in mischief
  • Bet on your blaze
  • It is what it is, so let is be is
  • Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is to small for you
  • Now all your questions about heaven end, and all mine begin

I think March was a testament that life goes on and simply by being present – showing up – you get swept forward and move on too. After months living at my parents, supporting mom as dad’s caregiver, and then his death, I returned to “my life.” As if returning would be a reset, the pause button lifted.

I sought to re-establish routines, but they felt like they belonged to someone else. I sought stillness to try to feel, hear, and honor the emotions that churned, and cried every day as my body worked to released all that flooded me. I sought to rest, but the franticness of months of adrenaline surges had short circuited my wiring – full restorative sleep never came. I sought reflection and attended a mindfulness art class in which yellow emerged for me, along with the words: snub winter, vibrant renewal, energetic hope. I sought connection and found conversations of hope, comfort, joy, and understanding. I sought identity … how to be a daddy’s girl and preacher’s kid when the person who made me both was gone. I sought solid ground, to step off the wobbly Jello on which I stood, and feel planted, rooted again.

Seeking moved me forward with sunrise walks with a friend; new restaurants with mom; a different take on Easter in Fort Lauderdale; a soul-filling half-day with an out-of-town friend here for work; an alumni event with my college; a good strong bourbon; a boat ride soaking up sun; Sunday morning chapel; watering my plants, sharing memes with work friends; mailing fun cards to my besties; fresh oysters and a locally made cider; a new pair of boots; donating to good causes; and hugs from my sweetie.

Searching showed me that delight and devastation can go exists; that I can savor the past and dream for the future; and that the next will come.

My exploration – while not done – confirmed that life, specifically living it, heals.

Little girl walks on a paved path

May 2022 Quote: “…Scary Because It’s Unfamiliar, Not Because I’m Incapable”

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me for the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For May 2022 the quote was, “When you’re nervous about stepping outside your comfort zone, remind yourself:  It feels scary because it’s unfamiliar, not because I’m incapable.”

One of the great ironies of my career, is that it centers on storytelling to help people to understand something new and act on it. From advocacy to wear a seatbelt and not drink and drive to large organization transformations and technology implementations. Yet, I love habits. I even wrap my habits up like a gift and call them traditions. I pass on my habits through leadership, management, and mentoring – disguising my idiosyncrasies as “best practice.” It seems that if I’m not championing change for a client, I’m a last adopter.

With a quote about “stepping outside your comfort zone,” here are quotes that caught my attention in May:

  • If you have an opportunity to be quiet and present, take it
  • Wishing you unexpected wonders
  • Receive a person
  • A ton of feathers still weights a ton
  • Intentional
  • I don’t care what you think. I care about what you do and say.
  • Aunty-mom
  • What would you do if you were brave?
  • Radical acceptance of my being
  • Non-promotable task
  • Activation of my curiosity and the subsequent opening of my perspective that allows energy to flow in
  • Every adult can benefit from a thinking partner
  • Make hard decisions
  • The symbolic meaning of eye contact, of putting aside what we are doing to connect, lies in the respect, care, even love it indicates
  • Everybody is who they are
  • Sacred space
  • Memories are deathless and precise
  • What is in your control to do now?
  • Multi-taskers are suckers for irrelevancy
  • Become a witness to your body
  • Never be afraid to try something new – remember, amateurs build the Ark…professionals build the Titanic
  • Sit with it

To me, dropping into COVID lock down was easy because there wasn’t much of a choice. The change was truly life or death. Emerging out of it, is a whole other scenario. All the choices. All the gray space. All the longing. All the ingrained habits driven by two years of fear. All the opportunities. All the desire to bust free.

I feel like I have two change angels on my shoulder. One that whispers, “Stay where you are, be safe, be comfy.” The other, “Don’t miss out. Live large and make up for time and memories lost.” Both feel good. The challenge is when to listen to which one. When do I need to step into the boldness of new? When do I need to move out of a rut? When do I need to challenge my beliefs that limit my potential? When do I need hold tight and move slowly? When do I need to reserve my energy in a safe space?

While catching up with a friend last week, we talked about change and each shared at what age we felt our most empowered. She talked about her 18 year-old self. I mentioned 13. Since our talk, I’ve thought about my answer of 13. Really? All gangly, self-conscious, hormonal? But then I recalled my fierce, stubborn, “do it anyway” streak. I had a brazen energy like molten lava beneath it all. I think that over time some of that lava has cooled… some of the lava is buried farther down as layers of protection built up… sometimes I might even fear what that lava could do to disrupt my safe habits. But, when I “sit with it” (the change I seek or the change I fear), the lava stirs, and I like it.

To keep my lava flowing and position myself to change, I:

  • Have standing chats on my calendar with a handful of women who stir my lava, ask meaningful questions, and inspire me to grow
  • Spend time outside, from a new workspace on my back porch to morning walks
  • Avoid the “all or nothing” trap
  • Read others’ stories and learn new approaches
  • Write down the change to get it out of the “circle of stupid” in my head as a client once called it, and into a format I can more logically think through without the emotional noise
  • Try to avoid comparison … comparison and the emotion of “not enough” are joy killers
  • Pick a few small things to start with, like a warm-up for bigger change
  • Accept there will be setbacks and surprises, and both are OK
  • Get a coach to support the harder work, from a personal trainer to an executive coach
  • End my day with meditation
  • Start over, constantly

I leave you with a tweet from @OliveFSmith: “I always love it when people say, ‘baby steps!’ to imply they’re being tentative, when actually baby steps are a great unbalanced, wholehearted, enthusiastic lurch into the unknown.”

So, take that bold baby step. Because at the end of day, you always have the power to change direction.

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Welcome to Golden Acorns

I believe growth happens between words and actions. That there is a golden space that connects meaning between the lines of our individual story – both our external story and the one that plays in our head – and how we show up in the world. As a preacher’s kid I associate this golden space with faith. A spiritual link that makes us whole. Not just whole individually but whole as a community. 

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