Monday, March 29, 2010

Hello, My Name is...

For my money, The Princess Bride has got to be one of the most quotable movies ever made. Honestly, just throw out the name of the movie and immediately people start quoting phrases and sentences that have stuck with them, and have now become cultural semi-icons.

Probably because so much of my life is immersed in helping people find out who they are and why they are on the planet, one of my very favorites is, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I know it's sort of a negative identity, but it has kept the man alive for years, honing his fencing skills to a fine point, no pun intended (oh, OK, yes it was). Anyway, at the end of the movie, Inigo has discovered whom he has been hunting all of his life and that man seems about to do Inigo in, too. But at his weakest moment, Inigo whispers, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." And in that moment he becomes a little stronger. So he says it again. Again a little stronger. Finally, he is saying it with such conviction that his father's killer and his attacker becomes unnerved at the ferocity of the claim. In the end, Inigo gets his revenge.

I have to admit, I've been feeling a little lost in life lately. Perhaps it's that I turn 51 this weekend. Perhaps it's that I've taken on other people's fears about things. Perhaps it's that I don't truly believe that I can make a contribution and a living at what I do, both at the same time. But I've been feeling lost.

So I'm reading a wonderful book called "I Know I'm in There Somewhere" by Helene G. Brenner. Dr. Brenner encourages me to listen to and act on my inner voice. She believes I do know what I'm all about if I'll be courageous enough to truly listen and live into the call deep inside. She's seen it happen before. And, even though she doesn't know me, she believes in me.

Yesterday, when I was making coffee, the truth erupted out of me so exuberantly that I said it right out loud because I couldn't help it. "I am a writer." I know that my Divine Assignment is to Stimulate Wisdom, and writing is the best way for me to carry out my mission, as I understand it. It's what I love to do. It's where I lose myself in the process. It holds the moments of my best contributions. I'm scared about the money making in it. But maybe that's my tormentor, my assailant, the being that killed something important to me earlier.

Hello, my name is Robin Chaddock. I am a writer. Prepare to read.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sun's Arc

This morning as I was finishing my meditation time, I glanced over my right shoulder to look out the back window of my dining room. The sun was just coming up in its fullness, ready to make its effortless arc over my home throughout the day and set again in the west, as it does every day.

It made me think of all the things in nature today that will do exactly what they were created to do, without stress, without effort, and without my help or management of them. Nothing in nature today needs my help to do what they will do.

If I were to live as naturally as the sun's arc, what would that look like? If I were to travel my destined course each day, being true to the purity of the created me, what would that look like? If I were to follow my path as the sun follows its path, what would that look like? If I lived into my true created nature, what would that look like?

Then I started thinking of the invitation, "Be still and know that I am God." And I started thinking about the beautiful circular nature of that invitation. Relax, cease striving, calm down ~ and when we do, we will have time and space in our now-calmed craziness to really understand the true nature of God. And the more we understand the true nature of God, the more we will relax, cease striving, calm down and be still.

I like the way this day started.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Power of Community

My friend Claudia turned 50 last week. I wouldn't even dare to report it except that I turn 51 in a month so I'm not casting any aspersions!

I had the honor of attending her birthday party, hosted by two of her most beloved and long-time (I don't say "old" anymore!) friends. These women love her. And she was surrounded by a dozen other women who love her deeply.

We got to do an activity in which we wrote down on lovely cards 50 Things We Love About Claudia. We didn't each write 50, but all of us together made a serious dent in that number.

After dinner, the cards were handed out to each of us at random and we read them to Claudia. It was a very moving experience. It was sort of like the fabulous tribute to the woman of wisdom at the end of the Book of Proverbs.

As moving as it was, the moment that will always stay in my mind and in my heart was Claudia telling all of us what friendship means to her. She has faced some very challenging situations in the past 50 years. Her faith in God and the friendships that she has lovingly and carefully cultivated, along with the love of her kids, has sustained her and allowed her to keep her optimistic outlook and nurturing attitude toward all those around her. It was beautiful.

It is a scientifically substantiated reality that allowing ourselves to give and receive support in a community it excellent for our health on every level. I suspect Claudia will be around for another 50, given what she has by way of friendships and love.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No More Paranoia!

A consistent question comes up when I'm out leading weekend retreats and seminars ~ "How do I know if the voice I "hear" is God or is me?

Lots and lots of damage has been done, and lots of lots of good good things gone undone because somewhere along the line in American Christianity, we have been taught not to trust ANYTHING we might think because we are so very corrupted and ugly in spirit. But that completely begs the question "How can we then EVER trust anything we think, any inklings or intuitions we have, and thoughts that lead us to any behaviors and attitudes, whether we deem them to be good or bad?

I think it's time to relinquish our religious paranoia and trust that the Holy Spirit can and does speak to us. And the promptings may not be ultra religious, and are often not even self-sacrificing. What if we just rested in the notion that we are loved? What if we just trusted that, as we are truly desiring to be God's partner and friend, we will be moved in the healthiest direction possible? What if we stopped second guessing ourselves and just shot for being one with the one 1 John describes as Life, Light, and Love?

The path isn't always clear, but the next step is.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Take on Lent

This being Ash Wednesday and reading lots of posts on my Facebook regarding what people are "giving up", I just had to post a few thoughts on Lent and what it means to me to prepare for the Easter season.

I've decided not to give anything up for Lent. This is why. In the past when I have given something up for Lent, I stay focused on what I've given up, fighting whatever urges I have to give in, feeling like a loser if I give in. Basically it's all me, me, me. I actually don't get better as a person, to be honest.

So this year I'm not giving anything up. I'm going to add something to my life that I think will truly help me become more like Jesus. This year for Lent I'm going to focus on gratitude, appreciation, encouragement, and not worry about keeping a promise to give something up. This year for Lent, I'm going to send a note of gratitude, appreciation, or encouragement to someone in my life each day leading to Easter.

The whole idea of a Lenten practice, as I understand it, is to open my life more fully to God, to become more like Christ. There are few things in my life that connect me to God like a spirit of gratitude. When I realize I'm thankful, I realize there is Someone to whom I am thankful. The essence of Christ's life seems to be to have been love, sheer love. As I engage in my practice, I will be living in love, open to God.

So I'm not giving something up. I'm adding something meaningful to me. I am curious what will happen.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

BLT Strategy

This morning I talked to Jewelers, Hostesses and Guests at a Premier Jewelry Designs Appreciation Brunch. It was very, very nice. Some of the guests asked for the notes from my presentation, so here they are in shortened form.

I talked about the BLT Strategy for self-care, given that women especially seem to be in need of rest, nourishment, love, and a sense of well-being. The beauty of the BLT Strategy is that it encompasses the whole person, knowing that when our spirits are healthy, our minds are more healthy; when our bodies are healthy, our emotions seem to be more healthy. All of our parts support each other.

So here are the three points of well-being:

B ~ Breathe

When God breathed, life came into being. Breath is life. And what we know from physiology and psychology is that breath nourishes our brains and our minds. Good breathing, good brain function. Good breathing, good mind function.

When we get anxious, scared, or angry, our breath gets quick, shallow, and noisy. What we're shooting for is deep, slow, quiet and regular.

I encouraged the guests to take five deep, focused breaths every hour on the hour. In just 30 seconds, we can clear our heads and get re-energized.

L - Laughter

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart is like good medicine." And the ancient Hebrews didn't even know what we know physiologically today. Here's what laughter does for us physically:
  • awakens endorphins
  • eases muscle tension
  • stimulates the heart and respiratory rate
  • increases circulation
  • exercises stomach and chest muscles
  • boosts immune system
  • decreases levels of stress hormones
  • increases interferon-gamma, fighter of viruses and parasites

Zig Ziglar said, "If you can roll with the punches and laugh when you could just as easily get angry, it will be to your advantage 100 percent of the time."

I encouraged the guests to be ready to laugh even if they don't find anything to be funny on a bad day. Just the act of laughter triggers a good response in our body and makes us feel better. So laugh anyway.

T ~ Take a Sensory Break

Our senses are the first five gifts the Creator ever gave us. Psychological research has shown that being in touch with our senses intentionally does indeed increase our sense of well-being by lowering our stress levels.

I asked the guests to take one minute and think about their favorite sensory experiences in each of the five senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, smell. Then I asked them to think about how they could intentionally get more of those favorite experiences into their lives, then do it.

One of the most nourishing aspects of this strategy is that attention to our senses seems to naturally produce appreciation or gratitude. And when we are grateful, we realize there is Someone to thank.

So that's the BLT Strategy. Use it for increased well-being, zestiness, and nourishment of body, mind, and spirit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not So Narrow, Really

When I was young, my church talked about staying on the straight and narrow. It was meant, I think, to be a warning that if I didn't terrible things would happen to me and that I had to be very, very careful to make sure I didn't mess up.

In recent readings of the Book of Proverbs, I've encountered the notion of path again. But I now have a much different, more loving and healthy view of what it means to stay on a narrow path.

Something I've been asking myself the past couple years, because my early experience with the Christian faith was so shrouded in negativity, fear, and anxiety, is this as I'm reading Scripture, "What is the most healthy, loving, wise, nurturing application of this truth?" I'm learning to look at the whole Word of God (not only the Bible) through lenses that believe that God is light, God is love, God is life (1 John).

So the straight and narrow? Instead of provoking anxiety, it actually reduces anxiety, because I know the loving parameters and don't have to wonder about all of the options, all of the rabbit trails, all of the sideshows (as Eugene Peterson puts it). I can be confident as the way is made clear of how my character needs to develop, what is given to me to do based on my interests and talents and opportunities, and how the ground of it all is in light, love, and life. Whatever isn't of those things (and the older I get, the smarter I get about what that really means and how and when I can tell it's happening), is just not on my path.

I stay on the straight and narrow not out of anxiety of what will happen if I don't, but because it's the only way for me to really live in peace as I do. I've experienced enough of what it means to actually be in communion, that I know when I'm not and I don't want to be there. So it can be as narrow as it wants, but that path is really the path to utter freedom to be real and at rest. It is more of a powerful call TO something than a dire warning AWAY from something. And the Caller is all good.