Tag Archives: trust

Patience and Fortitude: Living in the Present

On my walks through the city, I often pass the main branch of the New York Public Library at 5th and 42nd.  Its entrance is guarded by two lions, named Patience and Fortitude by Mayor LaGuardia during the Great Depression to inspire New Yorkers.

Enduring hardships does require both patience and fortitude–whether something we want to pass (illness), or something we want to happen (starting a family).  Our peace lies in trusting the unknowns; our power lies in pursuing the knowable, taking steps to find out what information we can, and making choices that are in line with our greatest good.

This week, my neighbor and friend passed away over a long illness.  I was moved by how his courage and faith sustained him in difficult times.  They seemingly enabled him to immerse himself in the moment, whether that moment was ordinary or out of the ordinary…  playing with his 1 1/2 year old, watching a movie with friends from church, or taking a trip to Hawaii with his wife, where they had lived for several years.

In the midst of what must have been tremendous sorrow,  my friend was also filled with gratitude and hope.  I witnessed his openness to the grace of joyful moments that only come from living in the present.  He had a service mentality of looking for ways that he could help others and was mindful of what his legacy would be.

I was moved by his wife, as well, by her practice of living a day at a time.  Yet, she made plans.  She and her husband had planned for him to work as long as possible, while she cared for their baby, until he no longer could, at which time she returned to work.  She arranged for extra help.

She–and they–looked ahead to the extent that it was possible, from a place that was both heart-centered and practical.  With that in place, she lived in the present.  I’m sure she felt sadness and fear in ways I can’t imagine–yet what amazed me is that she also truly counted her blessings, and made time to express her care and concern for others.

As someone who can be impatient, I am inspired by both of their lives that I have witnessed.  I have been doing a lot of work around changing the things that I can in my life, and surrendering the future, which can’t be known or controlled.  We often have more power than we realize, both by changing our perspective, but also by taking concrete actions on our own behalf to improve our lives, follow our passions, and connect with others.

It’s a practice where I often stumble and grope in the dark through unfamiliar territory.  I’m tempted by the illusion of control–but in fact, I am led by as much light as I have today.  Tomorrow, I will be led by as much light as I need at that time.

Everything that I need is provided.  When I do the necessary footwork around what is within my power and trust that the rest will go exactly as it’s meant to, I feel more serene.  When I focus on what’s in front of me and the difference that I can make–in work, love, or any other area–my life and my faith grow bigger.

I’m deeply saddened by my friend’s passing, and for his family’s loss.  I’m also extremely grateful to have known such a shining soul, and to have witnessed his family’s path in a difficult time, living in a place of openness to love and grace.

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Freedom: Envisioning the Life You Want

In my first post on this blog, “Living Joyfully,” I shared that each year I choose a word to set an intention for my year ahead, and that in 2013 it was “joy.”  What I didn’t share was that in addition to the word I choose for myself, a dear friend and mentor also gives me a word; her word to me was “faith.”  I have been practicing these a day at a time, perfectly imperfectly.

In 2014, my word for myself is “compassion,” both for myself and for others.  I can only be as compassionate with other people as I’m being with myself.  If I’m hard on myself, telling myself that I’m not progressing fast enough on my goals, and using negative self-talk, guess what?  I’m usually hard on others, too.  Whether or not I say so, I can start thinking as if I know what they should be doing, which is always a dangerous place to go.

On the other hand, when I’m gentle with myself, I’m able to be more loving and accepting of others.  Sometimes that means using self-talk as if I were an 8-year-old girl.  If I forget to bring or do something, if my first thought is, “of course you forgot,” I’ll tell myself, “re-do,” as bravery coach Kate Courageous blogs about.  Then I literally tell myself, “it’s okay, sweetie, here we go…”  As ridiculous as it might feel at first to talk to yourself as if you were 8 years old, it’s even more ridiculous to address yourself in a way that’s shaming.  (Brené Brown has written powerfully and prolifically on the impact of shaming language.)

My mentor’s word for me in the coming year is “freedom.”  I probably wouldn’t have chosen this word for myself, which is why she’s my mentor.  We hear a lot about freedom in this country.  The Bill of Rights enumerates several freedoms we possess:  speech, religion, press, assembly, and others.  When I drive on the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) or take the Staten Island Ferry, I enjoy seeing the Statue of Liberty, that iconic gift of the French to Americans.  We take these political rights for granted today; of course I can write a letter to a newspaper; of course I can go to any church to worship.

Yet what else can freedom represent in my life?  How can I move toward greater freedom, to come more fully into the person I was made to be, so that I can have an amazing life, and be of greater service to others?  What limiting beliefs are stopping me from embracing an even more amazing, truly free life?

In the disciplines of psychology and coaching, much is said of the limiting belief of scarcity:  not having enough, and not being enough.  It seems part of the human condition that these fears rear their ugly heads subconsciously at least some of the time for most of us.  As Brené Brown  identifies, the simple act of articulating our fears or feelings we’re ashamed of having, and particularly sharing them with someone we trust, weakens them.

Once I identified “I won’t have enough” as an under-the-surface limiting belief, I was able to construct a positive belief to replace it:  “everything I need will be provided.”  This lets me choose to focus on a positive, rather than a negative, belief.

There is always presence and absence in our lives.  Our perspectives are simply the result of a decision of where to place our attention.  When we focus on absence, we experience more absence.  If we focus on what is present in our lives, we attract even more abundance and life keeps getting bigger.

What’s a limiting belief that’s holding you back?  How would it feel to counter it with a positive belief?  Please comment and share!