Deep in the middle of last night, I am awakened by two promptings. One urges me to blow my stuffed up nose, and the other - to pay attention.
I know these middle of the night invitations well, especially the ones that come hours before my birthdays. One in particular, thirteen years ago, fed me the exact starter kit for a whole big course, and even though Décennie took another decade to fully hatch, I vividly remember the feeling of being “dictated to,” as if my only task was to deeply, intently listen.
Last night, having cleared my breathing, I laid my head back down on my pillow and got ready to do just that. And boy did it flow. Part of it in images, part of it in thoughts, part of it in pieces that made me want to grab my keyboard to capture them. But I knew better. I knew that even though I would not remember every detail, I would most likely remember what mattered the most. If I just kept on listening.
What showed up was the play of my life, exactly ten years ago. The set, the characters, the plots, the intrigues, the heartaches, the joys. As I was transported back to just two handfuls of years ago, I got to see how real and important it had all seemed at the time. As I laid with my eyes closed, I could feel it all again. My kids small, my art everywhere, my heart fragile, my body strong, our dog wild with youth, our cat a tiny kitten, my bank account feeble, and no sense of this capsule in time being just that: a capsule in time. Instead, everything felt solid and permanent. As though this was life, and life was not scheduled to change.
With the grace of middle of the night super powers, I was able to truly feel all of it, and at the same time, realize that so much of it had long gone. Several characters from that play, some of whom had taken an immense amount of bandwidth, now barely held my attention at all. Worries that had had me make lists and counter lists, had somehow resolved themselves, with or without my help. Some of the people I had loved were no longer part of my life, and some were still here, strongly anchored.
Then, there was me. I was able to simultaneously feel the me of ten years ago, and the me of December 2016. And because even in the middle of the night I am tediously human, the tough game of Compare and Contrast began. I could almost physically sense the places where my body had gotten softer, and the places where my wisdom had grown firmer. I could celebrate the gains, I could grieve the losses. I could even tell myself that I would go about the business of regaining some of the losses, as soon as morning came. And I could see the me that’s my core, the essential me that never goes away,
Then, a funny thing happened. Well, two funny things.
The first thing is that I began to feel a delicious release from the importance of “what is.” Suddenly, some things that had seemed unmovable in my current life just seemed easy to let go of. I could magically see them from my-eyes-of-a-few-years-from-now, and from there, they mattered little. They were feather-light and lovely in their airiness.
The other was that through another magical middle of the night sleight of hand, I was gifted an overview of many of the acts and chapters that bridged that ten year old play - and today. Between that shore and today’s shore, there had been many, many islands. Many beautiful stops, some of them the most important of my life. I had loved deeply, learned fiercely, grown boldly. I had created so much, let go of so much, taken risks, finally met my line in the sand, too. So much, in just ten years.
Because really, ten years is not that much, when we look back. Especially when we look back in the middle of the night, at a time when our hearts and intuition are often more awake than our minds.
So, as we all get ready to turn another big page, I hope to take a little bit of this night of mine, and share its gifts with you. I hope to give you a sprinkle of the goodness that it left with me.
1) “it” is not permanent. What is now so solid may be completely different, in the future. Some of that can give us a sense of fear, and some of that can also give us sense of courage
2) What / who seems so important today may become just a memory as time passes.
3) There is so much stuff right around the corner, waiting for us to accompany us on a great ride. Little islands, the ones between now and ten years from now. They have so many colors, so many sounds, so many flavors and names. So many characters whom we don’t even know exist, yet. So many skills that we have not yet learned. I love that part.
4) The core of who we are, the Essence of us, remains.
and finally in Tony Robbins’ words, which I have seen to be true:
5) “Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year - and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”
I wish you a gentle, authentic and powerful transition into this new year.
May your resolutions, if you make any, be kind to you.
PS: later in the week, I will send you an article I think you will like about Essence-Based Resolutions.
A decade or so ago, I was gifted a pre-Chritsmas gift, when I asked my kids to sit down
and write their Christmas list.
“What should I get him?”
“I have no idea what to buy her.”
I think that if we could see people’s thoughts, bobbing over their (our) heads, this week, there would be a whole lot of these sentences.
Yes, there are so many choices and yet, what if we mess up? What if we totally miss the mark and disappoint someone - while wasting money?
Yesterday, I heard someone close to me pretty much express how much he wished to bypass the whole darn thing and wake up when it’s over.
Which I get. And yet... yet. What about the lights? The music? The trees? The food? And what about ... the love? Are we going to shrink all of this away because we are afraid to mess up on gift buying?
Come on. We can do better.
As I myself ponder the universal questions, I am reminded of a great little tool that will make the whole thing much easier. And I am excited to share it with you, as I think it may help you, too.
The trick is to switch from Form to Essence. Then to flip back to Form.
I know it’s not the usual way to do things, but man oh man does it work...
If you have not taken my Essence vs Form class, this may sound like a crazy jumble - which is something you don’t need right now. Please stick with me. I am going to make it super simple.
You see, we are used to thinking in Form, especially when it comes to gift buying. A Form is something which we can touch, or purchase. So, a car is a Form. So is a necklace and so is a book.
An Essence usually comes in “feeling words.” For instance: Adventure, Calm, Growth, Pleasure, Play, Discovery...
For today, that’s all you need to know about this.
Now, here comes the process:
Think about what Essence you would like to lavish upon someone. Specifically, ask yourself this question: How does this person like to feel? Then let the Essences show up. Do they like to feel Playful? Do they like to feel surrounded by Beauty? Do they like to feel a sense of Growth? Comfort? The list is endless (and if you need inspiration, you can order a deck of my Essence Cards) and it is actually quite fun to explore.
Do this for several people, and jot down their Essences, next to their names.
Now, we are going to do something called :”Flipping the Essence.”
Look at the Essences you have listed and think about several Forms that would make a good fit for each one, for each person - and for your budget. There will be many Forms available for each Essence. Some of them will work and some will not, which is fun.
Name Essence Form
Suzie Beauty a print
a monthly flower subscription
Peter Adventure a gift certificate to REI
a memoire of an adventurer
a subscription to a targeted magazine
Jane Comfort a throw
a selection of teas
a lavender rice bag
You get the idea.
For me, this shifts the process from overwhelm to a form of intimacy. By honing in on the Essence of the people whom I want to gift, I am already involved in the loveliness of getting closer to them - which is a gift for me. Next, I get to pick the Forms that work, which is much more like an intentional treasure hunt than a chore.
So, that’s what I’ll be doing these next few days.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
My new book