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Loving What Is: Wabi Sabi, Byron Katie & the Serenity Prayer

Ugly yellow door.  I drove by my parent’s old house this week as I hadn’t been there in years. In 2016, Dad and I kept meaning to go and knock on the current owner’s door and ask if we could see the place. We kept waiting for him to feel better but he passed away in January 2017 and we never went.

I was shocked to see so many changes.  The roof looked weird – they put some kind of metal on it instead of shingles. There was a pile of rocks in the front yard. It wasn’t any artful display. It was just a pile of big gravel rocks. 

The worst to me was the front door. Mom and Dad had chosen really gorgeous wooden double-doors for the front entranceway. They had really cool squares carved into them.  When I drove by the house this week, one door was missing and there was plywood where it used to be.  The other door was painted yellow.

 

It was ugly to me.

 

Later, I looked at a website my friend Anne shared with me. It involves the term “wabi-sabi”. There’s a really good restaurant in Petersburg called Wabi Sabi and when we first went to eat there, I looked up the term. It described finding the beauty in the imperfect.  But this website dug deeper into the meaning.  I’ll share some of it, and the link. The author of the articleshared a picture of a sake cup which is quite attractive but does have a noticeable crack:

“This first one is a common example. You'll see hundreds of sake cups made in a wabi-sabi-esque style. The cup in this photo is one of mine. I chose it because it exemplifies certain aspects of the aesthetic.

First, note the finish. The glaze is patchy and absent at the bottom on the outside. The colors are speckled. Inside you can see further specks of off-white. In short, it is imperfect. The decoration is simple. It relies strongly on texture and material, rather than detailed painting or color.

This is not to say the maker was sloppy (wabi-sabi isn't an excuse for poor craftsmanship), but conditions conspired to make the color and finish "imperfect." The fact it was made in a rustic style doesn't make perfection any less attainable, but it does draw attention to the imperfections and the natural process of its creation.

But arguably more important is the crack on the lip. This happened, despite my best efforts, on the plane trip home to England. It is unavoidable damage, and a visible part of the cup's "story." The dust that once occupied the crack is scattered all over the possessions that were also in my suitcase, and from there has been spread further and further.

Are they still part of the cup? Is the cup the same without them? Wabi-sabi draws attention to these questions as part of the beauty of the object. I was once shown by an antiques collector that it is traditional to fill in such cracks with gold (a technique called kintsugi 金継(きんつ)ぎ), which draws attention to the history of the object as something to be celebrated rather than hidden or repaired.” https://www.tofugu.com/japan/wabi-sabi/

This was interesting to me, but especially in light of seeing my parent’s old house.  Because I knew the original story, I was unhappy at seeing the changes.  I remembered my parents picking out the style of house, called a Deck House, and traveling to Massachusetts so they could buy the floorplans. I remember helping my Dad as we wired the house. I remember my Mom choosing the furniture and drapes. I remember that the really tall tree in the yard was once our Christmas tree one year because Mom bought it with the root ball and we planted it together after Christmas.

 

And the pile of rocks and yellow door weren’t part of that.

 

But I only knew part of the story of the house. When Mom and Dad moved out of it and into a smaller condo to downsize, the house started a new chapter. After changing hands several times, several new chapters have been added to the story. Just because I wasn’t a part of it doesn’t mean the house didn’t continue on.

I’ve been taking life coach training and we studied The Work of Byron Katie. (http://thework.com/en) At the crux of The Work is the question, “Who would you be without your story? The Work is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all your suffering.” The thing that is amazing about The Work is that it teaches you to think differently, to examine and ultimately defeat limiting beliefs because they are caused by our own thoughts.

Byron Katie’s The Work can also be described as “loving what is.” And yes, this can be just as difficult as it sounds.  In fact, I joke around often with my fellow cadets in life coach training about it.  “I’m stuck in traffic, but I’M LOVING WHAT IS, DAMNIT!” 

But Byron Katie’s The Work works because you simply cannot argue with reality. For example, if I get angry about people who don’t recycle, I will stay one pissed off individual.  Because just because I don’t like the fact that people don’t recycle doesn’t change the fact that some people just flat won’t recycle. You have to “love what is” or you could make yourself insane over whatever it is that ticks you off.

One quote of hers is “Thoughts aren’t personal. They just appear, like raindrops. Would you argue with a raindrop?” How can you argue with reality, in other words.  Or "It is what it is."

So to me The Work and wabi sabi are kindred ways of looking at the world. With Byron Katie, once you examine the thoughts that hold you back, you can be a calmer and more peaceful person.  With wabi sabi, once you look at the imperfections as part of the story rather than a defect or imperfection, you can also be a calmer and more peaceful person.

But just leaving it there doesn’t work for me. People have challenged Byron Katie and asked, “But if you just accept what is, doesn’t that mean you don’t have any thoughts.”  And that’s not completely true…Katie asks people to drop the negative thoughts.  That still leaves me feeling antsy, like "I gotta do something."

I’ve come to peace with The Work and with wabi sabi by also embracing something I knew about long before I heard of the other two, and that is the Serenity Prayer. Well, at least the well-know start of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Whatever your definition of a higher power can fit here. It can be the Source or the Universe.  I call it my Big Amigo. Even if you don't believe in a higher power, you can drop the God part and it still works. 

I like to apply this along with The Work.  I have a negative thought and I deal with it.  But if my reality isn’t how I like it, can’t I make some changes?  I mean, I can’t change the world but I can change things locally.  For example, I can pull a can or bottle out of the trash at work and put it into recycling.  (My co-workers can attest to this! LOL)  I accept that I cannot change everyone in the world. But I can change things around me.

I can change my thoughts about my parents’ old house. Yes, it does not look like the house I remember from my Mom and Dad’s story. It has been through changes.  I did not originally like the yellow door. But could the yellow door be similar to the gold poured into the crack of the broken sake cup?  (Is it a coincidence that it is yellow?  I laughed when I had that thought.) What story led to its being painted?

I have decided that the house is continuing its own story. But some things will not change. My parents designed and built the house. It was filled with memories and love with the Wells family until the year that Mom and Dad moved out.  I can’t change the yellow door. I am wise enough to know I shouldn’t change it (or the current owner might have issues with me – LOL). I accept that the house is beautifully imperfect and exactly how it should be.  And I’m loving what is.

 

 

 

 

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Abundance, Gratitude and Fear

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Abundance, Gratitude and Fear

SO MANY BOOKS!  Every time I walk into a bookstore or browse on Amazon, I am gobsmacked by the sheer number of books that are available!  As a reader, the feeling this generates is similar to a candy lover being catapulted into Willy Wonka's factory!  As a writer, however, the feeling this can generate is FEAR! My lizard brain starts cranking up the fear mode and I think thoughts like:

"Everything interesting has already been written."

"I wanted to write about that topic but there are already 20 books on that topic from better known writers!"

"Why bother? It will take me forever to write it and then I don't know if it is good enough."

OH LIZARD BRAIN!  You are the worst!  Does this happen to you, too?  How do you tackle the lizard?

By recognizing an abundance mentality and experiencing gratitude.

Abundance mentality shakes off the fear.  Well, you can't shake off fear altogether, but you can move it out of the way so it is not an obstacle and is more like an annoying gnat. I recently read "You Are a Badass at Making Money" by Jen Sincero. She gives lots of great examples of people who are successful. One of these people, Sandra, says about becoming successful "I got up and did the work. Thoughts and beliefs are key...I love and approve of myself, I am open to all the good and abundance of the Universe, I know what I'm doing, I deserve success and respect and awards and money and the best the world has to offer, there is plenty of money and prolific prosperity for everyone...especially me..."

Love this!  Sandra's thinking with an abundance mentality made her successful with money. This abundance mentality applies to writing too.  Realizing that there is prolific prosperity for everyone makes you realize it is OK if others have written about the same subject that you are. SO WHAT. Each of us has our own unique voice, and each book can have its own unique "voice" too. Love and approve of what you are writing and realize that you have value, you deserve to share your message, and there is abundance so that you can share success with other writers.  

Gratitude is the act of appreciating the abundance all around you. If you think about how amazing the gifts are in your life, and focus on those, and saying THANK YOU to others and to the Universe for these gifts, it puts you in the abundance mentality. And it has so much power!  According to Robin Sharma, "Gratitude is the antidote to fear." 

Chuck the fear!  Add abundance mentality and gratitude.

"Oh wow!  I can't wait to get my message into the world!"

"Thank you Universe for that kickass idea!"

"I will transform my life while writing this book, and lift my voice to share it with others and lift them up, too!"

"I will write SO MANY BOOKS!"

Gratitude is the antidote to fear.
— Robin Sharma

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Why Do People Write?

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Why Do People Write?

Between books, the Internet, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, there is a vast ocean of text around us.

Why create more?

Writing is more than just a record of what we want to say to someone else. Words have power.

I know this from quantum physics studies. I know this from studying the work of Byron Katie. I know this from the Martha Beck Light Writers group.

Words are magical.

You can use words to rile someone up or calm them down. You can share your words and they may outlive you.  They may outlive generations of people. You as a dead writer can get someone all stirred up even if you no longer physically exist.

I write because I string together thoughts in my head that are just screaming to get out and get themselves heard. They are not content just rollerblading around in my brain. They want light. They want to be seen, even if I am the only person who will ever see them.

My writing has saved me and gotten me through really hard times. When my mother was dying, I kept writing her eulogy in my head. I crafted it, turning the words over like wood on a lathe, removing the rough bits and polishing them. I used that eulogy and I was thankful I thought about the words while she was still alive because it was hard to think after she died because of my grief.

My writing has led me to follow my North Star. I had always been told I was a good writer. But I never used it for expressing my emotion. I just saved it for when I had to write a paper. But once I went through layoffs in 2014, I used writing to help me research how to follow my passion. I asked questions, I wrote down the answers, and I analyzed what I learned. I'd never really used writing for myself in that way. It turned into my first book. 

How will you use your magic?

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June 1, 2017 - Reboot

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June 1, 2017 - Reboot

As a fan of movies based on comic books, I love a good reboot! Who will play the lead?  Who are the villains? Familiar stories take on new power as we recreate them. We love the way we know what will happen, or know what to expect, but with a shiny coat of newness!

Welcome to my reboot! Last year, I started my company, KWE Publishing LLC, and wrote and published my first book!  It was AWESOME!  And then....life happened.  I'm an only child who found myself taking care of my Dad as his health declined. The highs and lows were extreme.  I published my book!  Dad landed in the hospital. I submitted the copyright for my book!  Dad fell and landed in the hospital again. I set up my website! Dad fell again.  And yes, over and over, Dad's health got worse.  In September 2016 we moved Dad into a senior living facility, not knowing we'd lose him a short five months later.

Here I stand, a hero on a hero's journey, building a new career, grieving and doubting myself and feeling joy and fear almost simultaneously every day!

Rebooting my life my dedicating myself to following my North Star has led me to:

  • Starting a business as a writing coach
  • Working with awesome clients
  • Feeding my soul with amazing life coach training
  • Becoming a Light Writer
  • Reassessing what's best for me and what I truly love - and just as important - deciding what I don't need and leaving it behind

Rebooting my business means:

  • Posting blogs monthly - regularly and consistently
  • Being active on social media (hello there!)
  • Writing another book! 
  • Attracting more clients who want to fulfill their dreams
  • Loving what I do!

I'll share all of it with you. Being an entrepreneur is not easy but it is exciting and it ignites your passion in a way that "normal" living can't! I welcome your comments.  Sharing enables us to help each other grow and learn. 

Pushing the power button, and rebooting in 3....2....1!!! 

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