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“We need to change our seeking into discovery and our drifting into pilgrimage.” — Reverend Lauren Artress, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
A few years ago, I got an email from Grandmother Twylah’s son and daughter-in-law giving me a sneak peak at their new web site. (www.wolfclanteachinglodge.org) As I read the copy, I came across a reference to “Kickin’ But.” Thinking I’d found a type-o, I dashed off an email to Bob and Lee to let them know what I discovered. “In this house,” they replied, “‘Kickin’ But’ and ‘Kickin’ Butt’ are interchangeable, part of Gram’s love of word plays.” Having gotten to know Gram when I interviewed her for IN SWEET COMPANY, knowing what a great sense of humor she had, I realized she’d nailed it, that she’d found a way to keep us aware of our proclivity to derail our best laid plans with a legion of creative excuses.
These days we are all such busy little bees. Family, work, school, community service have always kept women hopping, but thanks to the speed of modern technology and the advent of multitasking as a national pastime it takes more energy than we can muster to keep our best laid plans afloat, let alone do anything above and beyond what’s immediately on our plate.
Over the last few years, there has been an impressive increase in activity among women to use our time, talent and dollars to improve the quality of life — particularly for women and girls. Our nature is to give. Our wisdom is formidable and our desire to help is strong. Opportunities are plentiful: We can listen to the Dali Lama or Jean Shinoda Bolen during our morning commute, attend a virtual conference over lunch, and make an on-line donation to any number of relief efforts in the middle of the night. It’s hard to say “no.” It’s also become harder not to slip beneath the swirl of all our activities — even those that serve the Greater Good. What’s a girl to do?
“Ah, Grasshoppers,” whispers the voice of Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine’s Kung Fu Shaolin alter-ego from my memories of TV past), “Tend first to the rise and expansion of the Greater Good within your own being. Be internally not externally driven. The better you are, the better everyone around you will be.”
This is not an easy to hear, let alone accept and do. Women often measure our self-worth in terms of our ability to take care of others and the number of balls we can keep in the air. Often fragmented, often disconnected from our joy, often depleted, we push beyond the limits of common sense, thinking that pushing ourselves adds to our value. We live from predicament to predicament, from task to task, from errand to errand, from list to list, from “but” to “but.” Our self- talk becomes “But they need me!” “But if I don’t do it, who will?” “But I can’t leave or sleep or take time for myself until I finish what I’m doing.”
However … when we make time for Self care, for Stillness and Silence, when we focus on one thing at a time, we generate energy and stamina. Why? Because we are anchoring our will in our heart. This synthesis of love and will also softens the hard edges of our striving. We enjoy what we are doing rather than simply do what we are doing. People respond to joy. it lifts them, it excites and motivates them. The Greater Good is served because we are who we are.
If we want to kick it out in our lives, we need to give “but” the boot.