E-Squared Principle #2: “The Volkswagen Jetta Principle”

“The Volkswagen Jetta Principal” in Pam Grout’s book E-Squared is an experiment concerning whether our “beliefs and expectations” have an impact on the Field of Infinite Possibilities.

Grout chose the “Volkswagen Jetta Principle” as the title of this chapter because probably all of us have experienced having a new type of car come into our awareness – and then we see it seemingly everywhere.

So the first part of this experiment was to look for a certain color of car in a 24-hour period.  She suggested a “sunset-beige” car.  But since I’m not sure what color that actually is, I chose to look for blue cars.  Because I thought there weren’t many of them.

Salzburger Landing Day, St. Patrick's in Savannah, Biltmore 111

I even found a blue car in my photos, too. This one was in Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2009.

Okay, I was really wrong about there not being many blue cars!  There are lots.  I saw lots of blue cars.

When I remembered to look for them . . . .

This time I had a much harder time being aware, paying attention.

I didn’t notice any blue cars when I first left the house.  But when I finally remembered to look, there were many.  I even met several in a row on my drive into Chattanooga.

This experiment also has a second part.  Grout said to look for butterflies or purple feathers during the next 24-hour time period of this 48-hour experiment.

I chose purple feathers.  Because I thought there’d be fewer of them.  (Notice a pattern here?  I try to make things harder.  You think that might be a reflection of how I make my life?  Harder than necessary?  Yeah, I think so, too.  Point taken.)

Now if I’d chosen butterflies, I’d have found lots and lots.  Immediately.  Because my daily journal is covered in butterflies.

But no, I didn’t choose butterflies.

I chose purple feathers.

And I saw nary a one during the 24-hour period.

But during that 24 hours, I told a friend about the experiment.  And she looked at me kind of surprised and said, “I swept up a purple feather at the lake house yesterday.”

What are the odds???

I think that was my purple feather.  Via a friend’s attention and experience.  Do you agree?  Do you think that counts?

So, those of you who are playing along, please share your experiences in the comments below.

And if you just started and want to share your experiences of Experiment #1, “The Dude Abides.” just click here, and share your comment on that blog post.

And finally, I want to share an interesting coincidence.

Several years ago, while I was still teaching high school, I woke in the middle of the night with this statement in my head:  “We forge our own chains.”  I wrote it in my journal.  But I didn’t need to do that, because it rang so clearly of Truth that is has stayed with me ever since.

In the chapter on Principle #2, Grout includes this quote:

“You will not break loose until you realize that you yourself forge the chains that bind you.”

- Arten in The Disappearance of the Universe, by Gary Renard

I haven’t read that book.

But maybe I should, eh?!

Until next week and my sharing of Experiment #3, Happy Experimenting to you!

Labor Day 09 Savannah, Salzburgers, Biltmore 134

A butterfly in my photos. This one is 2009 as well.

E-Squared Principle #1: “The Dude Abides”

Okay, so today I report the result of my first E-Squared experiment (from Pam Grout’s book E-Squared ).

Last Sunday, I asked that you join me in these experiments to form a community of people who are trying the series of 48-hour experiments and sharing their results.

Grout calls the first experiment “The Dude Abides.”  The Dude to which she alludes is from The Big Lebowski.  You don’t need to have seen the movie to perform this experiment.  (But since I hadn’t, I watched it last week).

Grout posits that there is a Field of Infinite Possibilities and that we each have access to it. Not only do we have access to it, but we can tap into it “at any time by paying attention.”

I started my 48-hour experiment three weeks ago by doing as Grout instructed in the directions.  To ask for a blessing in 48 hours.  And then pay attention.

I wrote the principle, theory, and hypothesis in my journal.  And I expected a gift in 48 hours.

I was truly excited as I started the 48 hours.

I tried not to have expectations but to be open to what is – and what wanted to be.

But I found that I have a hard time with letting go of expectations – and fears.  Yes, fears!  I was surprised to feel a worry emerge, a concern.  What if something bad happened?

I was intrigued at that emergence.  What is the source?  Do I truly believe that with each positive potential there is a negative one?  I’ve been kind of pondering that since the first experiment.  I don’t have an answer . . .  but since this post isn’t about my neuroticism, I’ll continue to the results, to what happened during the 48 hours.

During the first 24 hours, I was very aware of potential gifts.

In a store, I had a nice conversation with a couple of moms and a cute toddler named Willow.  Was this my gift?  It could be. . . but it wasn’t in “neon,” as Grout emphasized in the “asking” directions.

I lost some focus in the second 24 hours, quit paying attention so carefully.

So, of course, that’s when the gift came.

I didn’t recognize it at first.

A knock on my front door around four in the afternoon (not very common – that should have been a clue).

There stood my neighbor from up the hill, a teenaged boy who had helped me with some yard work early in January.

Did I want him to finish filling up the holes in my front yard?

I told him I didn’t have any more soil to put in them, that I’d not remembered to get any yet.

No problem.  He’d been working in his yard and had a pile of dirt.  He’d bring some down in his wheelbarrow.

I still didn’t realize this was my dude-abiding gift.

So, to help me out, the Field of Potential made it more clear.

My neighbor brought a puppy down in the wheelbarrow with him.  I played with the puppy while he filled in the holes.  I commented on how cute the puppy was.  It played all around us and even tumbled into one of the holes.

And then . . . . my neighbor offered me the puppy!

Do you know how unusual that is?  That someone would be working in my yard, doing some work for me out of the blue, and then offer me a puppy??!

And you know what else?

I still didn’t realize that that, the help and the offer, was the gift!!

Maybe it was because I didn’t take the puppy.  I felt that if this boy could work it out to keep the puppy, she was supposed to be his.  He’s not sure he can keep her, so I told him not to give her away without checking with me first.  I’m not sure how she’d do with my four yard cats, but we’ll figure that out if we need to.  But I really didn’t and don’t want to separate a boy and his dog.

After the holes were filled and my neighbor headed back up the hill with the puppy in his wheelbarrow, I finally realized that I had indeed received a gift.

That this had not been a usual occurrence.

That the Field had come through for me.

That I had received a gift.

And that it was pretty much in neon!

That all I had to do was ask . . . . and then abide.


That was my first 48-hour experiment.

I hope you’ll share yours in the comments below.  Because I’m interested in seeing the various ways in which our intentions and expectations can influence The Field.

Next Sunday, I’ll share my experiences with Experiment #2, “The Volkswagen Jetta Principle.”

Until then, let’s pay attention.

And ask.

And be open to receiving.

Join me in an E-Squared Community

Calling all experimenters – energy experimenters, thought experimenters – even skeptics, perhaps even especially skeptics.

Join me in an online community of sharing.  One that shares the results of some energy experiments to see if our thoughts really do create our reality.

Does that speak to you?  Are you up for nine energy experiments that deal with your thoughts?

If so, get this book, E-Squared by Pam Grout, and join me in doing the experiments. You can get the book in paper form or in energy form (that spoke to me for a book about energy!) from your favorite bookseller.  Right now, it’s $4.99 on Kindle and iTunes.


What I’d like you to do is to perform the experiments and share your results.

I’m going to post about each of the nine experiments and share my results.  And I’d like you to join in and form a community, an online energy community, and share your results, too.  It will be so much more fun for us to see what others find in their experimentation.

Will we have similar results?  Or very different ones?

Who knows?

But I’d love to find out!

You can do the experiments at your pace.  No hurry, no timeline.  Just do them as they speak to you.

Because one of the cool things about a blog is that it will be here when you want to add your comments.  It won’t go away.  It doesn’t hold you to finishing at a certain time on a certain day.

Just follow your energy as you’re called to do each experiment.  And pay attention. And share your results.

It will be fun to see how energy flows with each of us.  How it connects with each of our lives in its own way.

And maybe it will even flow among us!

I’ve already done the first handful of experiments.  But I’ll wait to share my results.

I’ll post each Sunday – one experiment and my results – for nine Sundays.

I hope you’ll add your results in the comments.  Whenever it suits you.  No hurry, no pressure.

We’ll have an online community of energy experimenters.

One that I hope will include you!


We’re All Connected: A Magical Day

Sometimes everything comes together to show us something significant.  At least that’s what I believe.

Friday was a day that showed me how much I’m connected with others – past and present, near and far.  It’s as if the Universe conspired to give me several examples in one short day.


The loader puts pine trees into the delimber

I drove that morning from Savannah to my sister’s and my Effingham County land, where we were having pine trees cut.

The timber cutting wasn’t the process I’d expected. I’d thought there’d be a big crew, lots of people involved.

But there were only a handful.  Three machines cut the pines and completed the whole process – from felling the trees to loading them onto pulpwood trucks.

The feller buncher cut the trees and laid them down for the skidder to drag them to the loader which put them into the delimber and then stacked them and loaded them onto the truck.  The operators worked in climate-controlled cabs.  They can work rain or shine, in heat or in cold.

The magical connection part of my morning was that the trees that our parents had had planted 20 years ago now will be sold to Weyerhaeuser to become “fluff” that will be sold to China.  Our Effingham County, Georgia, USA pine trees will be a part of diapers in China.

I was struck with the connections in time and space.

My parents’ planning in 1995 will be touching (literally!) people on the other side of this globe in 2015.  Did they think of that when they decided to have pines for pulpwood planted those 20 years ago?

How often do my decisions today affect the world 20 years from now?  How will those decisions connect up with other humans, perhaps humans on the other side of our earth?

How often do I consider that??


My paternal great-greatparents’ grave

From the timber cutting, I drove the three miles down to the cemetery where my parents are buried.  My sister and I have been looking at our genealogy lately, and the names on the graves in the older part of the cemetery have more meaning now because I realize that there are family connections there, too.

I visited the graves of immediate family members – my parents, several aunts and uncles and cousins, as well as my paternal grandparents and great-grandparents.

I was trying to connect them with me, to feel how they are all a part of me – in ways of which I’m aware and in ways of which I am unaware.

While I was walking around, I noticed a woman come in the front gate.

Of course, on this magical day of connections, she turned out to be someone with whom I’d grown up!

We had gone to church together during our childhood.  I think I even remember when she was born.  And we share a common ancestor, a great-greatgrandfather.

We also share a pretty similar view of the world.

There’s something special about the connection with people from our childhood, those who shared a home church or a school or a sports team.  Those people know us in ways that people in our adult lives never can.

That’s a connection that is unique.

My friend and I had reconnected through Facebook, which gives us a window into each other’s worlds.

But this in-person, coincidental, this synchronous meeting was so perfect, so meaningful, in this magical day of connections.

After walking around the cemetery, sharing family stories, we hugged our goodbyes, and I went across the road to my home church.  The light of this winter afternoon was perfect for some photos.

Georgia Salzburger Society Museum

Georgia Salzburger Society Museum

I had walked back behind the Georgia Salzburger Society Museum to get some photos of the Fail House when I saw a couple looking around.  I knew that neither the church nor the museum was open.

But I’m full of information about the Salzburgers and could share some of the history, so I engaged the couple in conversation, asked where they were from and how they’d found the church.

Since this was a Magical Connection Day, of course we had a commonality!  The woman had relatives in my mother’s hometown of Sardis.  I remembered the name from my mother’s stories.

As I shared some of my Ebenezer Salzburger history, she shared some of her Burke County history.  Burke County is the home of the other half of my lineage, the maternal half.

So here I was in Ebenezer in Effingham County, where I grew up and the home of my father’s family (all the way back to the mid-1700s), talking about Burke County, the county where my mother grew up – with someone who had family history there.

Sometimes days come together in a way that makes me deeply feel that there is something much, much bigger than I am – and with much, much more wisdom than I have.

Something that conspires to make itself known to us in seemingly insignificant ways.

And sometimes in big, can’t-miss-it ways.

Friday was one of those days!

I felt connections from times in the past, generations and generations ago, connections that came all the way through time to Friday, January 9th, 2015.

I felt connections with people, people who knew my parents, people who knew my childhood self, people who had common ancestors and whose family had common friends of my family.

And there was a to-be connection of our pine trees planted 20 years ago with people on the other side of our blue planet in a product that will be a part of families’ lives as they care for infants who arrive on this earth sometime in the future of this year of 2015.

When I got up Friday morning, I had no idea that a magical day was in store.

But it surely was!

I returned to Savannah for the evening, grateful and amazed.

Awestruck, actually.

I’m a part of something vast but something very connected.

We all are.

Because we all are connected, past and present, near and far.

And some days conspire to show us just that!


The Fail House, built in the 1700s


Front porch of the Fail House


Window of the Fail House


Jerusalem Lutheran Church, Ebenezer, GA, completed in 1769

My Word for 2015 & a Dream Tree

As I step across the threshold into 2015, this liminal time of endings and beginnings, I meditate on the new year and what I might look toward during the next 12 months.

Three years ago, I started using this Abbey of the Arts “Give Me a Word” exercise for a focus:

In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.

Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word –  this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into.  The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.

  • What is your word for the year ahead? A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold in your life?

My word for this year didn’t come right away.  I started thinking of this exercise a few days ago, and several words flitted about.  Integrity. Heart. Love. Responsibility.  

But I decided to wait until today, New Year’s Day, and do a meditation in search of “my” word for 2015.  Those other words once again flitted about, but none felt “right.” I waited until I got a scroll, a rolled up word, and I went to the desert in my meditation to unroll it.

On top of a desert plateau, I carefully unrolled the scroll and looked at what was written on it.

My word was “GROWTH.”

DSCN1590I was surrounded by, covered in, a profusion of green vines and leaves, and I saw the Green Man, the one who looks down in many European cathedrals.

I also saw some strategic pruning, because uncontrolled growth isn’t what my word is leading me toward.

So a current in this New Year, this year of 2015, will be growth.  Green growth.  Abundant growth.

But not uncontrolled growth.

It’s not a verb.  It’s not grow.  Growth is usually a noun.  And every now and then can be an adjective.

It’s a word of flow, of challenge, of hope.

This is a word I can be with for a whole year.

And while I’m pondering the New Year, I’ll share the idea I had today when I looked at my tabletop purple Christmas tree.  Something in me doesn’t want to take it down.  I put it up late, just a few days before Christmas, and I got lights for it after Christmas at a sale.

So somehow, it doesn’t feel quite like a Christmas tree.

But what is it??

A thought popped in to my mind as I was thinking that I’d like to keep it up for a while after Christmas.

The idea was to make it a Dream Tree.  A tree to honor my dreams, night dreams and day dreams.

So I left a few of my favorite Christmas ornaments on it, and I’ll keep lighting it as long as it feels right.

And on it I’ll add some dreams.  Waking dreams and sleeping dreams.  I’ll make “ornaments” that honor those dreams.  I made my first two ornaments today.

The first of these ornaments is my word for 2015.

It is the word “GROWTH” written in green, surrounded by vines and leaves.

The second ornament has an image from an early morning dream I had last week, one with a giant, invisible snow monster who had kind of, sort of . . . accidentally burned an alien.  Oops!

That’s quite an image, eh??

The next ornaments will likely be ones to illustrate some of my waking dreams, my hopes and fears, what I seek and what I run from.

This Dream Tree will help me to remember to honor my dreams, the ones that come while I’m sleeping – as well as the ones that come when I’m awake.

How long will I have a Dream Tree?

As long as it feels right.

Right now, I have a Dream Tree lit up for New Year’s Day, a purple tree that is dressed in colorful lights and a handful of Christmas ornaments, as well as GROWTH and a giant snow monster carrying a burned alien.

What ornament will be next?

I don’t know. But I trust it will be one that is a part of my growth in 2015.

As for you,  I wish you green, growing blessings as well as hope and love for this new year.  And a word for 2015.  And lots and lots of dreams!


Memories: Ebenezer Crossroads Christmases with the cousins

Every year at this time, I think of Christmases when I was little.  A part of me can feel what it was like there at Ebenezer Crossroads so many years ago.

I can feel the excitement of the first glimpse of the presents Santa left us by our Christmas tree in the living room.  I remember the almost overwhelming excitement of looking at each of the Santa gifts with my sister – and then opening the gifts our parents gave us.

Santa didn’t wrap presents.  I guess he didn’t have time to wrap presents for all of the children in the whole world.  But our parents did wrap presents.  That’s how you could tell which were from Santa and which were from Mama and Daddy.

Then we had the exiting, most-fun-of-all day when we crossed the road to Grandma Effie’s.  There gathered our abundance of aunts and uncles and cousins for our typical Christmas Day.  We had dinner at 12:30, the Seckinger-extended-family dinner time for decades.  We opened presents mid afternoon.

Before dinner, after dinner, and after opening presents, we children played.

Christmas was the best day of the year for playing. We all wore outfits we got for Christmas – cowboy and cowgirl outfits, football uniforms, turtlenecks, plaid bell bottom pants.  We wore our new clothes, and we played with our new toys.  Even in the new clothes, we ran wherever we went . . .  until one of the adults yelled at us to stop running!

We played inside if it was cold or rainy, outside if it wasn’t.  We played nicely sometimes.  We fought some, too.

It was a glorious day of toys and games and exuberance that had been building for a whole year.

But the main thing I remember is that we were together.  I remember very few presents I received, though I know I received many.  I remember little about the food we had (well, except for ambrosia, made of oranges with some banana and coconut and pecan, a concoction that Daddy loved so much).

Mostly I remember the people.  I remember us all gathering in the living room, Grandma in a chair surrounded by stacks of presents and her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Aunt Madge would be next to her, with a stack of presents just as big.  The rest of us filled the living room – on the sofa and in the living room chairs plus chairs brought in from the dining room, with most of us younger ones sitting on the floor.

We drew names (all but Grandma and Aunt Madge did), so each of us got a gift.  Two or three of the aunts or uncles or older cousins distributed the gifts.  We had to wait until each one of us had his or her gift in hand – then we tore into them.  What a cacophony of shredding paper and shrieks of excitement!

And after seeing what we’d gotten and saying “thank you” to the giver, the younger ones of us would throw the torn wrapping paper into the fire in the fireplace to watch the paper burn in lovely colors – red and blue and green flames.

I don’t remember the end of Christmas Day at Grandma’s, the leaving, the saying goodbye.  I know we must have done just that, but I don’t remember it.

So in some wonderful way, those Christmases still go on for me.

It’s as if I never actually left.

Even now, all of these decades later, as I sit in front of my laptop in a house on a hill outside Chickamauga, a part of me will always be at Grandma’s house at Ebenezer Crossroads on Christmas Day in a house full of relatives and good food and big stacks of presents.

A full house that was even more full of unspoken love.

That’s where a part of my heart is each Christmas Day.

And so it will continue to be until I join Grandma Effie, Aunt Madge, Mama and Daddy, all but one of my aunts and uncles, and a few cousins on the other side.

Here in my memories, we all are.

And we all are together.


With my daddy and my little sister on Christmas morning 1964

Cousins visit our house on Christmas Day 1964

Cousins visit our house on Christmas Day 1964


The children’s tables at Grandma’s, Christmas 1964


About to open presents at Grandma’s, Christmas 1970.  


Aunt Madge opens her presents with Grandma’s assistance, Christmas 1970

Somewhat under the weather

Being somewhat under the weather gives me some time to catch up.  What a month it has been, of going and coming, with family and friends.  A funeral.  Thanksgiving.  My birthday.  My sister’s visit to celebrate both her and my birthday.

But first, where does “under the weather” come from?  I know I can do an internet search, but I’ll just say for now that the rain and my headache and sore throat cover it enough for my need to know in this moment.  “Under” lets me catch up, not having blogged in a whole month.

A whole month!  What a busy one it has been.  With work and my aunt’s death, which meant an earlier-than-planned trip to Savannah for her funeral in Effingham County.  And seeing my sister then, a couple of weeks before her planned visit here. And seeing cousins I’ve not seen in months or years – and even perhaps a decade – at visitation (or viewing, as some call it) and at the funeral.

And researching genealogy with my sister.  As well as our trying to figure out who built our grandmother’s old farm house.

And Thanksgiving with cousins in Effingham, joined by a friend from here.

And my birthday, another somewhat-under-the-weather day, a quiet-by-myself day with lots of Facebook birthday greetings to remind me that I’m a part of a much larger world – even when I’m under the weather.

And my sister’s visit, several days of walks and meals and poking about . .  and more genealogy.  Lovely sister time.

And intertwined among it all my job, working in schools, meeting new people, helping them with retirement plans.

And now a headache, sore throat, a tired day of rest and reflection.

Probably my photos tell almost as much of my past month as my words can.  And since I don’t feel up to writing and pondering, I’ll follow “under” with photos.

So here they are, on this under-the-weather post.


Gaston Street, Savannah GA


Forsyth Park Fountain, Savannah GA


Forsyth Park Fountain


Savannah Theatre ready for its Christmas show


Madison Square looking toward St. John’s front door


Print of the brick maker’s hand in the Jerusalem Lutheran Church wall, made in 1768 or 1769, Rincon, GA


Atlantic Ocean from the Tybee Island Pier, GA


On the Savannah River on River Street at sunset, looking at the Talmadge Memorial Bridge


Savannah City Hall at moonrise


Monterey Square at night


The Forsyth Park Fountain


Wedding setup at the Forsyth Park Fountain


Forsyth Park at Gaston and Whitaker


E. Shaver, Booksellers, Savannah


Another Madison Square view


Indiana Monument, Chickamauga Battlefield, GA


My sister on the Riverwalk, Tennessee Riverpark, Chattanooga, TN


Silver tea service and Christmas decorations, Gordon Lee Mansion, Chickamauga, GA


Gordon Lee Mansion at night, Chickamauga, GA


Karla says Cheers! Birthday dinner with my sister


Savannah sunset

More stories: FEAR

What makes you afraid?

What makes your palms sweat, your stomach hurt, your heart seize up?

When I was little, I was afraid of witches, especially the Wicked Witch of the West.  I was afraid of bad grades.  Of going to the dentist.  Of speaking in public.  Of my parents’ deaths.

Now, as an adult, I’ve had many, many dentist visits.  I’ve spoken in public, and I’ve made some bad grades.

I’ve been through the deaths of both my parents.

I’ve been through cancer.

So what scares me now?  When I’ve actually experienced, actually lived through some of my greatest fears, what do I fear now?  What fear stories do I tell myself?

I tell myself stories about the collapse of our society, the destruction of our world. But not often.

I tell myself stories about cancer’s coming back.  But not often.

I tell myself that I won’t be able to earn a living.  But not too often.

I still feel fear.

It sneaks up on me.  I feel a contraction in my stomach.  Or in my heart.

But now, unlike when I was young,  I try to be with the fear, to let myself feel it. And as I feel it, when I don’t run away, it lessens.  And it finally dissipates.

For now.  Because it always comes back.

But what I’m discovering is that fear is not nearly as powerful as it once was.

Why is that?

It’s partially because I’ve lived through many experiences I once feared.  And none were as bad at the stories I told myself about what would happen, what these terribly scary situations would be like, would feel like, how they might destroy me.

I’m more resilient than I thought.

I think we all are.

Beneath fear, beneath vulnerability, is something bigger than either of those.

You could call it courage.

But I’m going to call it another name.


Now, after facing, after going through many of my fears, I realize that beneath them all is something much more powerful.

It’s powerful even though it’s soft.  It allows vulnerability.  It doesn’t judge or criticize (yeah, I know I’m speaking Paul).  It seems weak, but it’s not.

It’s Love.

All of my FEAR stories?

None can stand up to Love.

When I’m soft, when I allow myself and others to be who we are when we are, Love has a chance to seep in.

And then it begins its transformation.

Do I understand it?


But I know it.  And I trust it.

It comes through Grace.

I can’t think it.  I can’t grasp it.  I can’t wield it.

I can only open to it.

Yes, I have to be vulnerable.  I have to feel my fear.

And then I turn it over to Love, the Transformer.

And in that instant, all is okay, all is fine.

Love is my story beneath all stories.  And above them all.  And within them all.  And before and behind.

Love IS.



So who’s AFRAID?

I still am, sometimes.

And I still trust in Love.

Because Love always IS.


View at sunset to the east from my backyard.

Stories we tell ourselves. Truth or fiction?

Sometimes I’m the put-upon.  Sometimes I’m the superior one.  Sometimes I’m the compassionate one.

Sometimes I’m a dismal failure.

Sometimes I’m a huge success.

I tell myself all kinds of stories about myself.

But they’re just that – stories.

I’ve been pondering the subject of this post for weeks now.  I briefly touched on it in my last post.  But today I want to look a little closer.

You see, since that post, I’ve been observing what kinds of stories I tell myself.  I have a running narrative in my head almost all of the time.  Even in meditation.  I do let go of the narrative at times, but typically, I’m talking with myself, interpreting what I’m feeling or seeing or hearing or tasting or smelling or doing.

A week or two ago, I had a specific incident that distinctly showed me three of my go-to narratives.  Someone did something that made me have to redo some paperwork that should have already been taken care of.  And I had to travel and take a good portion of a day to do it.

On my drive back – on a gorgeous fall day with some stunningly brilliant foliage – I found myself so absorbed in my stories that I was blind to what was around me.

I don’t mean that my eyes weren’t working.  They were working perfectly.  But I couldn’t see the vivid blue sky set against the brilliant red and yellow leaves . . . because the stories in my head overrode what my physical eyes were actually seeing at each moment.

These were my narratives.

Narrative #1:  That person made my life harder and is probably out to get me.  The “mistake” was probably intentional.  How in the world am I going to keep this from happening again?  Do I have an ally who can subvert that person?  Can subvert that person?  What do I need to do?  

That is my victim narrative.

Narrative #2:  That person is simply incompetent.  I can’t overcome lack of intelligence.  So what do I need to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

That is my “I’m superior” narrative.

Narrative #3:  That person is going through a hard time and was simply distracted. I should be understanding.  I don’t need to blame or be angry.  But what can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

That is my compassionate narrative.

Notice that every narrative has to do with control.  With trying to do something to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again.

As I was driving through the beautiful scenery, I saw very little of it because these narratives, these stories were running through my mind.  I’d tell myself one of them, realize I was just telling myself stories, detach from it to see the sky and trees. . . .  and then go into another narrative!  I must have let go of my stories 20 or 30 times in this one 45-minute drive.

That’s what’s so weird.  I recognized what my mind was doing, but I could only stop it for a few seconds.  I don’t think I even got up to one minute of simply driving and seeing what was all around me.  The stories were too powerful.

These stories have lots of energy behind them.  You know why?

Because I’ve been telling them to myself for MY WHOLE LIFE!!

Yes, I’ve told myself I’m-the-victim stories,  I’m-superior stories, I’m-compassionate stories MY WHOLE LIFE.

Now here’s the kicker. . .

Are any of them true??

Even though I think that the “I’m compassionate” story is a better choice – for me and everyone I’m around – is it still just a story?

The answer has to be yes.  

Who knows the “real” reason behind the incident?  Doesn’t it depend on who is telling the story?

The fact is that I had to remedy the situation.  No matter which story I told myself, that’s what I needed to do.  And I did.

So why couldn’t I take care of it and drive home and enjoy what my eyes were seeing?

I tried.  Again and again.

Maybe that’s all I can do right now.  Recognize when I’m telling myself a story, let go, and be in the present of what is at that moment.  And when the inevitable story starts, let go and be present again.  And again.  And again.  And again.

Today the moment is a sunny, brisk, fall day.  Vivid, clear blue sky, some brilliant fall leaves – red, orange, yellow, and some lingering green.

So right now I’ll quit telling my blog post story about my internal narrative stories – and get outside and be with what nature is sharing with me today.

Will I be telling myself stories about how I’m enjoying a fall day, about why the leaves are turning so late in the season, about how lucky I am to have time to go out on a beautiful day and be in nature?


But there will also be some no-story gaps when I just am.

Gaps when the stories stop.

Gaps when the moment is.

And when is is enough.

More than enough.

Fall leaves and a tiny bit of snow on Fort Mountain, GA on Sunday

Fall leaves and a tiny bit of snow on Fort Mountain, GA on Sunday

The mysterious wall on Fort Mountain, GA

The mysterious wall on Fort Mountain, GA

When I want worries and deadlines magically to go away

It started when I was in the first grade.

The waiting and the dreading.

I’d take a breath and try to hold it until the whatever-it-was-that-I-dreaded was over.

I think my first deadline worry and held breath had to do with the end of the six-weeks grading period and the issuing of report cards.  I was a good student, but what if, what if I got a bad grade?  What if I didn’t have all “Satisfactories”?  What if I got a “Needs improvement”?  Or worse yet, what if I got an “Unsatisfactory”???  So I held my breath until report cards came out, and I breathed with relief when I got all “S” marks.

My first dread worries were about trips to the dentist.  I usually had cavities, and I hated the shots and the drilling.  My mother always scheduled our dentist visits very near my birthday, which meant I couldn’t look forward to my birthday with happy expectation alone.  It was always mixed with dread of the dental visit.

The worrying and dreading and holding my breath until “it” was over got worse as I progressed in school.  The end of each six weeks meant tests, projects due. . . pressure.  After holding my breath through the deadlines, I’d exhale in relief and breath easy for a little bit after each six-weeks grading period was over.  But always, inevitably, the end of another six weeks would roll around, and the pressure, the dread, the holding-my-breath-until-it-was-over would return.

That continued into junior high and high school, where the six-weeks periods seemed to get shorter and shorter.   Projects and papers came due more and more often.  Six-weeks tests seemed to come every three weeks.  I’d hold my breath, I’d dread, I’d suffer through . . . until I could exhale and breath easy for a few days, maybe a week or two.

And on it continued into college, where the six weeks became quarters, which should have seemed longer – but didn’t.  The quarters had higher stakes of testing and research papers and essays and due dates.  At the end of each quarter, I would feel relief when all tests were taken and all papers were done . . .  until the next quarter, just a few days later, when it started all over again.

And it went on into law school, where the stakes were even higher and more pressure-filled because there was one exam for each course – and some courses lasted the whole year.  The intense pressure would build and build.  I feel sure I held my breath for weeks then, waiting for exams to be over.

Three years of this pressure ended with exams AND the bar exam.  I’m pretty sure I held my breath for several months straight.

And you know what I thought then?

I thought that when my schooling was over that I’d be through with the deadlines and pressures and dread.

I thought that “real life” would be different.  That I wouldn’t live with dread of deadlines, that real life wouldn’t have round after round of holding my breath followed by the exhale of relief for a few seconds before the new pressure began.

What I discovered, though, is that there are always deadlines.  Always expectations. Always dentists visits, doctor visits, things I really don’t want to do but have to do. Things that I dread.  Things hanging over my head.  One thing after the other.  Over and over again.

Over and over.  And over and over.

Throughout my lifetime.

Yeah, I was bummed out when I realized that there would never be some perfect time when all went well, when I felt safe and comfortable, when there was no dread.

Where did I come up with that fairy tale that there was some point at which all of my worries magically went away???

All I have to do is look around to see people under pressure, people with deadlines, people waiting to hear if a biopsy is malignant, people scheduled for surgery, people going through difficult medical treatments, people going through divorces, people dealing with addiction, people holding sick children, people grieving deaths of family members.

People in pain.

There’s always a doctor’s appointment, always a possibility that our economy will collapse, always a chance that there might be a terrorist attack, that ebola will spread, that a shooter might open fire in one of our schools, that a tornado will make its destructive swath right over my head.

There will never be a time on this earth when I have no worries, when I’m completely safe, when I have no responsibility.

Never.  Ever.

But that doesn’t mean I have to hold my breath forever.

Because I realize now that my lesson is to learn to live in the midst of uncertainty as if I were certain.  As if all is well.

Because it is.

Fall is beautiful whether I’m going through chemo treatments (as I was three years ago) or whether I’m in perfect health.

Friends and family still love me whether I have a deadline looming with my job or whether I’m on vacation on another continent.

The sun comes up every day – no matter if I’m worried or content.

So why, why have I, why do I waste this precious time on earth with worry and dread?  Waste the now looking forward to some magical time when I’m worry-free, pressure-free, deadline-free?

A magical time that does not exist.

Or does it?

Maybe all I have to do is tell myself a different story.  A story of magic where each moment is precious, each person precious, each situation precious.  No matter whether the moment is “perfect” or painful or even just mundane.

I can tell myself that this moment is magic, that it has nothing to do with deadlines or pressures or worries or pleasures or relief.  That it’s perfect just as it is.

That’s a fairy tale worth telling.

That’s the story I’m going to tell myself starting right now.

Because on some deeper level, the level under the “real life” I thought I was going to be in, that’s the true story.

One full of magic.  One full of perfect moments.

All I have to do is breathe in and out, be present . . . and appreciate what is.

It’s all magical.

That’s my new story.

And I’m going to keep telling it to myself until I believe it.


Forsyth Park Fountain, Savannah, GA last weekend