Stirred

stirred-sm“I’m stirred,” I said to Jeanie recently.  Not that that is unusual.  I frequently say I am stirred.  Why? Because I am frequently stirred.

Am I alone?  Are you stirred?  Do you ever feel a little emotional flip in your belly?  It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, just a tiny little flip will do.  If so, you too have been stirred.

Stirred [adjective] Being excited or provoked to the expression of an emotion

Imagine a jar of water.  The water is clear, but there is sediment on the bottom.  The jar is me (or you), the clear water is a lack of emotion.  The sediment is the stuff we remember from our past… some of it good some of it bad.  It is made up of memories and beliefs attached to the memories that were emotionally embedded.  Haven’t you ever been reminiscing about something with a friend and say, “Remember when we…?” and the friend doesn’t know what you are talking about. She has no memory of it whatsoever.  Chances are, it was emotionally embedded for you, but not for her.

Our jars get stirred when anything bumps up against our expectations and beliefs.  Sometimes we feel that little emotional flip.  Sometimes we are paralyzed with anxiety.  Our tendency is to ignore the little flips and avoid the big ones until the emotion dies down and it seemingly takes care of itself.  Getting stirred can be incredibly uncomfortable and even embarrassing.  If we just hold the jar still long enough, the feeling will go away.  I think that’s what they mean when they say, “time heals all wounds.”  It doesn’t, but the feeling gets smaller over time.  It becomes more sediment in the jar to be stirred up later.

The feelings are what embeds the memory and with the memories are embedded beliefs.  Some are true, but many are lies.  The value in the stirring is that we can feel and in the process examine those beliefs.  I won’t tell you that is easy.  In fact it is incredibly difficult to examine carefully and to be honest about those beliefs.  As far as I know, the only alternatives are to a) ignore the stirring and hope it will go away soon or b) point fingers at other people or circumstances.  Neither is worth the pain in the long run.

stirred-sm2The thing is, stirring the jar is the only way I know of to un-embed those feelings and beliefs.  As uncomfortable as it is, it is valuable.  Kind of like removing a splinter.  The first time you get a splinter, getting it out with the tweezers hurts like crazy.  The second time, just the sight of the tweezers is enough to hurt even worse than it did before.  There’s a fear embedded with the memory.  The problem is that to leave the splinter is to invite infection.  So we feel the fear and let the tweezers do their work anyway.  Soon it is all forgotten.

I am afraid of being stirred.  Just the same, I want to be stirred.  When I feel the flip, I want to keep asking myself what it is about.  What do I believe?  Is it true?

What about you?

I Can’t Do It

rainbow-jimA few days ago, I decided to do an experiment in posting to my blog every day for 30 days.  By missing yesterday’s post, I answered the question… I can’t do it.

So what?  Now what? At this point, I can choose to end the experiment as a failure or examine what went wrong (if anything) and learn a little more about me and what I really want.

My friend, Curtis plays the guitar.  He has recently picked it back up in earnest and is writing songs for people as gifts.  My birthday present this year was a rewrite of “Yesterday” by the Beatles (lyrics below).  There’s no way I can express how much that meant to me.  Knowing that he thought enough of me to plan it in advance, to think about what song to do and then writing lyrics that fit me (not to mention knowing me well enough to be able to write for and about me).  It was a gift I will always treasure!

I mention Curtis and the guitar because I always wanted to play the guitar.  I like to say to say now, “I would give anything to play the guitar… ANYTHING!… except practice.”  And it’s true.  I could do it.  I already understand the music.  It’s just another instrument.  I just don’t want to do it badly enough to “pay my dues”.  Is writing like that?  Am I willing to give up what I would need to, in order to finish a book?

Yesterday was filled with wonderful activities with people I love.  I wouldn’t have given up any of them.  They were all very important to me.  On some level, I believe that a good writer writes first and then organizes whatever is left of his life around that.  I don’t think I can do that.  One of the things I value most in life is variety.  I love recording life using photos, videos and words, but I never want to stop “living life” in order to do it.

Maybe I don’t really want to write a book as badly as I think I do. Or maybe writing would be better as a collaborative effort for me.  Some of my favorite books were written by teams of writers.   For now, I will continue the experiment and wrestle a bit more when I fail again.  Molly will be staying with us for a few days starting Tuesday while her mom goes to a Music Therapy conference.  Something tells me that there will be life to be lived and written about.

Yesterday to Legacy (RTI–April 18, 2010)

Yesterday
All my time keeping others an arm’s length away
Didn’t think they’d care ’bout what I had to say
Oh I didn’t believe in me Yesterday . . .

Suddenly
I’m now twice the man I used to be
Friends in my life celebrating over me . . . it’s a
New legacy—God brought to me

Now I clearly see—the Art in me’s for the world to know
I have something to say—want to bring it out more every day so now my

Legacy
Love’s not a game I have to play!
It’s just me being who He made me to be
Oh the weight of my presence—that’s my legacy!
Jim in my life—he’s a gift to me!

Damages

Tonight, damages Jeanie and I went out to dinner as a belated anniversary celebration.  Then we enjoyed a few episodes of Damages. We got the first season on DVD through Netflix.  Oh my goodness!  This is one of the best shows I have seen in a long time.  Glenn Close does an amazing job playing a lawyer named Patty Hewes who is a real bi#$ch!  It is so very intense and you don’t know what is coming next.  Still not sure who are the good guys or the bad guys.  The lyrics to the theme song say, “When I am through with you… there won’t be anything left.”  It really fits the show.  I can hardly wait for the next DVD.  Erin tells me it is online.  We might have to watch it that way so we don’t have to wait.

In case you are wondering, this entry counts.

Listening is expensive

listenIf talk is cheap, listening is expensive.  I love to listen to heartfelt stories especially from people I love.  There’s one whose heart I love hearing above all and that is my sweetie.  Tonight, she needed to vent about some things and she gently let me know was what was coming.  Her setup helped me to listen the way she wanted to be heard.

When we want help, we want the listener to listen for understanding.  We want solutions.  However, when we want to vent, solutions is exactly what we do not want.  We want to be listened to just for understanding.  It’s a subtle difference, but it is the difference between the speaker getting what they want or not.  If the speaker owns the topic and doesn’t get what they want, the whole experience is frustrating and irritating.  When it works though, it is magical.  There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when someone focuses on you and truly listens for understanding.

Listening is expensive because it is hard work (hard emotional work) and because it is rare. One last thought.  If you want me to listen for understanding, do what Jeanie did.  Tell me what you want and, who knows, you might just get it.

Thanks Sweetie.  It is an honor to hear your heart.

Loud Voices

shoutNegative, critical voices from the past can be so loud!  They send hurtful messages.  They drown out rational thought and cause us to misunderstand what others mean.  They cause us to believe things that are not true.  Why do they stick so much more tenaciously than positive messages?

An Experiment

scientistAfter attending my friend, Chia-Li Chien’s book signing this evening, I was mowing my lawn and thinking.  Chia-Li joined our Toastmasters club just a couple of years ago and she has already finished her Advanced Communicator award.  Most never get there.  A year or so ago, she told me that she was thinking of writing a book and she did it!  Tonight was her book signing party.  In Linchpin, Seth Godin says, “Real artists ship!”  Chia-Li is a real artist.

I have had a dream of writing a book myself for some time now.  I have so many other activities in my life that it is hard to take the time to just focus on the writing.  I want to say, “yes” to writing, but I don’t want to say, “No” to other interests.  Chia-Li’s party renewed that desire.

Stirred to write again and yet having been down this road I was ready to give up before even trying again.  As my friend John likes to remind me, it may feel like a familiar place, but it is not the same.  With that thought in mind (and before I hit the off switch), I am going to make a commitment.  I commit to doing an experiment.  For the next 30 days, I will write on this blog once a day.  I will “ship” something daily.  It may not be polished.  It may not even be coherent, but it will be published.

I’m kind of excited to see what I have to say.  See you tomorrow, if I don’t blow up the laboratory.