Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.” – Orison Swett Marden

The other night Mr. D came up and asked me for the rock in my pocket. It’s a small rock that has “believe” etched into it. As a little man of patterns, he wanted to put it with the others in the collection – a beautiful group of rocks selected for me by a friend. The other ones say things like “love,” “leap,” “hope,” and “grateful.”

I can’t really explain why I carry a rock in my pocket. There are times in life, now being one of them, when things are just a little bit more of a grind. I get a little bit of flow when I reach in and feel the etching with my fingertips. It’s moments and months like I’m going through now where I’m scrambling to get all that’s on my plate done, a little too busy and discombobulated to discern direction so I need a little extra “belief.” And there are periods when I feel a little disconnected from my faith so I’m missing the extra charge for my spirit and I make up for it with a little physical memento.

On my third round of IVF, I got pregnant with Mr. D. At the 10-week ultrasound, the milestone in which I miscarried a baby a year earlier, the fertility clinic gave me a stone in which “BELIEVE” was etched. I thought it was an odd gift for a medical/science based institution but because I was so nervous given my previous miscarriage, I was delightfully reassured. The stone from the clinic was a little too big for my pocket but I put it under my pillow for the duration of my pregnancy so I could feel the coolness on the nights I was uncomfortable or worried.

One of the benefits I’ve gleaned from yoga and meditation is a feel for the body-mind-spirit connection. When I can’t find quiet in my mind, I can still my body instead, and the sooner or later my mind receives the benefit. In the moments when my spirit needs more foundation, rubbing my finger along an etching shores it up in an indescribable way.

So I’ve stopped worrying if it’s silly and just drop the “believe” rock into my pocket on days I need extra “umpf.” Mr. D is right though – when I’m in balance, it does belong with the group of other words that all work together to hold the goodness of life.

For more of my woo-woo words and a bit of humor, check out my post on the Heart of the Matter, It’s In The Cards

Peace is Free

Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.” – John Lennon

The other night I made the mistake of working on my taxes before bed. After a night of tossing a turning, mulling over finances, I blearily made my way down to the family room to meditate. As I lit the candles before settling down on the cushion, I thought “At least you have enough money to buy candles.

None of this is new – not the worrying about money in January which I’ve done every year for the more than 20 years I’ve been in business so I know from the pattern that it all works out but still worry anyway. And not the thought “At least you have enough money to buy candles.”

However, this was the first time I realized the fuller meaning of that phrase. I have always assumed that it was a reflex reminding me how much I have. But I marveled on the morning in question that what my inner voice was also telling me that my path to find peace, meaning and joy is free. It doesn’t cost me anything to stop and meditate at any or every moment.

And it was telling me that I can do that anywhere or everywhere. I can still find the calm within when the life circumstances are hard. As the quote from John Lennon reminds me, it isn’t just wishing that creates peace but it is powerful and transferable sense worth working for.

It brings to mind an Oprah Soul Sunday podcast I heard where she talked about whispers (here it is on a video of Oprah’s lifeclass). That she’s found that God, the Universe, a Higher Power talks to us in whispers. And it’s only when we don’t listen, the voice gets more insistent, a pebble upside the head and then a brick, in Oprah parlance.

So for twenty years I’ve been sweating through January as I handle the not-so-fun tasks of getting my customers to pay their invoices and to nail down commitments for the next year. This is the first where I really listened to that inner voice and was able to find my internal peace while doing so.

I’m hopeful that I’ll remember that the price of peace is free next year. And also, not to do my taxes before bedtime.

Unlearning My Way Back

A child can teach an adult three things: To be happy for no reason, To always be busy with something, and To know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” – Paulo Coehlo

My sister-in-law recounted a conversation she had this week with my daughter, 7-year-old Miss O while holding hands and walking through an outdoor shopping center near our house.

Miss O said, “I love this place. Fun stores, good food, no BS”

My sister-in-law paused for a beat, wondering if she should ask, hoping Miss O didn’t know what it meant, and then asked, “Do you know what BS is?”

Miss O replied brightly, “Of course! Bad Service!”

After I stopped laughing, I wondered why it is that we think it’s bad for 7-year-olds to know swear words. Other than the fact that their executive brain function isn’t fully developed and they might deploy them inappropriately, indiscriminately or both. I landed on the fact that it feels like a loss of innocence.

I heard an interview once with singer and songwriter Billy Bragg where he posited that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt – but cynicism. If I think of Miss O using bad language, it feels cynical as if some beliefs of childhood would have had to have suffer in the process.

At their age, Miss O and Mr D believe that:

They are loved beyond measure and worthy of love

If you pray, those prayers will be answered

There is magic in the air so that sometimes fortunes found in fortune cookies will reveal the next fun thing

Potential new friends are everywhere

If you cry and show your vulnerability, you will be taken care of

Looking through this list I’ve typed, I think that I need to unlearn my way back to those beliefs. Because my cynical self might have been feeding me a lot of BS instead – and by that I mean bad service, of course. 😉

My Book Baby

The inner life of any great thing will be incomprehensible to me until I develop and deepen an inner life of my own.” – Parker J. Palmer

The death of my dad and the birth of my daughter are forever tied together in my mind. The day that I finished all the plans and paperwork to try to get pregnant via IVF, I sat at my desk and thought, “Wow, my world is about to change.” And the next day my dad suddenly died in a bike accident and I thought, “No, not like that!”

Then I spent 9 months taking the recordings I’d made of my dad and the effort I’d begun to write about his life and creating a book about him. On a night in August, at the end of the day I’d finished the very last line edits for the book, I went into labor with Miss O.

The birth of my baby right after I’d put my metaphorical book baby, Finding My Father’s Faith, to bed has meant that I haven’t thought much about the book in the last seven years. Until someone like the wonderful and insightful Vicki Atkinson of the Victoria Ponders blog comes along and reminds me of my book baby and I revisit the delight in the midst of grief of writing that for my dear dad.

Oops – I buried the lede – a podcast episode about my book

And I recently talked about the book, being a pastor’s daughter and the value of recording our loved ones with Troy Headrick in this Wise & Shine podcast. Here’s a link if you want to listen: Wynne Leon on Finding My Father’s Faith.

Pushing the Wrong Buttons

If what you believe in does not impact how you behave then what you believe in is not important.” – Shaykh Yassir Fazaga

My friend, Eric, told me that his 87-year-old mom has been leaving him really long voice mail messages. She records her message and then thinks she has hung up but the voice mail then records her going about her business.

So he was on the phone with her the other day and told her that she hasn’t been hanging up. “Well” she replied, “I hit the button.” After they finished talking, he stayed on the line and sure enough, heard her puttering around.

He got her attention by yelling her name into the phone and when she put it to her ear he asked, “WHAT button have you been pushing?” She replied something that made him realize she’d been pushing a volume button instead of the power button.

After we finished laughing about that, I mused about all the times I’ve pushed the wrong button. It reminded me of the old tech support joke when one tech asked another how he fixed the user’s problem, and the tech replied, “The On/Off selector was in the wrong position.”

I think of the time I was giving my friend, Jill, a compliment on her pants and said, “Those are so cute. My mom has a pair.” Turns out I offended her greatly because who wants to look like someone’s mom? Oops, wrong button.

But mostly it makes me think of all the times I’ve tried to do something without plugging into the Source and feeling the surge of power in my solar plexus. Like the tech joke, I have often tried things with the on/off selector in the wrong position, and without the power of belief, just relegated myself to futilely tapping at the keyboard with no results.

From rock climbs to bids for work in my professional field, there has been a huge difference between doing it with the power on or off, with my beliefs and values intact or lost somewhere in the dimness. Sometimes when I plug in to a Higher Power, I realize that I’m pursuing the wrong things but I find out the course correction is much easier with the power on.

Of course, like Eric’s mom, I continue to push the wrong buttons at times. Sooner or later, I find my way back to the small insistent God voice at my core asking, “WHAT button have you been pushing?”

(featured photo from Pexels)

Freestanding and In Charge — Or Not

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

I often think of myself as freestanding and in charge – only to repeatedly learn I’m not. I say that even as I know my best decisions, like the ones to have my beautiful children as a single person, came from a calling that was far beyond me. I read an amazing piece on that subject this week from Mark Nepo that I am posting here in case anyone else needs to hear the same thing.

Teachers Are Everywhere

Teachers arise from somewhere within me that is beyond me, the way the dark soil that is not the root holds the root and feeds the flower.

So often we think of ourselves as freestanding and in charge, because we have the simple blessing of being able to go where we want. But we are as rooted as shrubs and trees and flowers, in an unseeable soil that is everywhere. It’s just that our roots move.

Certainly, we make our own decisions, dozens every day, but we are nourished in those decisions by the very ground we walk, by the quiet teachers we encounter everywhere. Yes, in our pride and confusion, in our self-centeredness and fear, we often miss the teachers and feel burdened and alone.

In trying to hear those quiet teachers, I am reminded of the great poet Stanley Kunitz, who as a young man struggling darkly with how to proceed with his life, heard geese cross a night sky and somehow he knew what he had to do. Or how a man I know was slowly extinguishing himself, sorely depressed, when, finally exhausted of his endless considerations, he heard small birds in snow in unexpected song. He realized he was a musician who needed to find and learn the instrument he was supposed to play.

From the logic of being freestanding and in charge, experiences of this sort seem crazy-making and untrustworthy. But the soil of life in which we grow speaks a different language than we are taught in school. In actuality, truth and love and the spirit of eternity are rarely foreseeable, and clarity of being seldom comes through words.

In my brief time on Earth, I have felt the light of ageless spirit fill me unexpectedly when I thought I would die, and as water pumps its way up a slim root making that plant leaf out toward the light, I have found myself, against all fear and will, flushed with possibility in the direction of dreams I had hardly imagined.

Whether through birds in snow, or geese honking in the dark, the brilliant wet leaf that hits your face the moment you are questioning your worth, the quiet teachers are everywhere. When we think we are in charge, their lessons dissolve as accidents or coincidence. But when brave enough to listen, the glass that breaks across the room is offering us direction that can only be heard in the roots of how we feel and think.

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

The Big Questions

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.” – Rainier Maria Rilke

I have a friend who is going through a hard break-up. Sitting with my friend as they process makes me think of all the questions I’ve wanted to know when going through hard times: When will I feel better?How will I survive this? What meaning is going to come from this? What is my purpose here?

Wanting the answer to big questions is the topic of my post for Pointless Overthinking this week: Waiting for the Big Answers.

(featured photo from Pexels)

Wired to Yearn

One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art in conducting oneself in lower regions by memory of what one has seen higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” – Rene Daumal

U2 released the song I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For in 1987 just as I was graduating from high school. The song filled me with a longing that seemed perfectly appropriate for a young woman in the summer before she headed off to college.

In this summer 35 years later, I’ve heard the song probably as many times in close repetition as I did in 1987 because my kids are crazy about the movie Sing 2 in which I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For figures prominently.

And the song hits me just as deeply, filling me with yearning. Which might be chalked up to nostalgia for those carefree days of youth. But it also strikes me that our capacity to yearn is also something that is uniquely human. Our thirst for depth, purpose and God surfaces in some sort of repetition as we traverse our days, and it drives us to look for more or dares us to try to dismiss it.

I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
No I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2

The poetry of the first verse reminds me that I have experienced much that my young self never saw coming including climbing to the tops of mountains. And indeed, I started climbing because of that deep yearning inside, a God whisper that I told me I needed to look.

When I first heard the song, I thought I would have it all figured out by the time I was 53 years old. Heck, I thought I would have it all figured out by 23. My young idealism and optimism would never have predicted that yearning can last a lifetime through the highs when I’ve wondered, “Is this all?” and the lows when I’ve groveled, “Please let there be more.”

In the moments when I experience the Oneness of all, the yearning quiets. And then the next moment I stub my toe or spill the milk and the desire to restore that unity returns with vigor. I’ve found much of my purpose in the busy and joyful days full with my two precious children and still want more. I get up early in order to find the stillness in which I can hear. I stop the car at the top of the hill to take a picture because the sky speaks to me. I write in order to keep pulling and finding the thread of awe, wonder and Divinity.

All this leaves me saying to my 18-year-old self, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” but I have figured out that I’m not meant to because the yearning itself has meaning. I have moments of enlightenment and feel peace. I hear echoes of Universal truth and I know it’s real. Now I know it’ll keep opening my eyes to look for Divine beauty all the way til the very end.

(He will lift you higher and higher)
(He’ll pick you up when you fall) I believe
(He’ll be your shelter from the storm)
I believe in a kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by songwriters: Clayton Adam, Evans David, Mullen Laurence, Hewson Paul David

(featured photo is sunrise on Mt. Adams)

Are you a U2 fan or have you seen the movie Sing 2? Have you found what you are looking for?

On Our High Horse

Life is like dreaming with your feet.” – unknown

My kids and I went to a wedding out of town this weekend. Staying in a room with side-by-side queen beds, we didn’t get much sleep and I caught a stomach bug but it was an adventure. In a post this spring, I wrote about lantern awareness, the idea from professor Alison Gopnik that kids’ brains have an awareness that is like a light held up high in the dark and illuminates everything around whereas adult brains tend to have spotlight awareness that focuses in on what we need to get done.

I found that traveling with my kids to someplace completely new to them is like being completely immersed in a treasure trove provided by their lantern awareness.

So we found a lot of treasures and I wrote about one for the Pointless Overthinking blog in a post called Cookie Cutter Faith.