What is dominating your thoughts today?

What we think about grows.

So, I started asking myself this seemingly simple question.

“What is dominating my thoughts today?” 

It’s been helpful, when I’m actually willing to truly listen and then accept the answer.  Sometimes, I don’t want to accept the answer or shift my mindset…that’s the tricky part.  I’m working on it.

what is a broken arrow?

BROKEN ARROW is the code word used for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of weapon.  When I heard this term on the radio yesterday, I linked BROKEN ARROW to the accidental emotional launches that happen in my nuclear family life.

nu·cle·ar/adjective
1.  relating to the nucleus of an atom
2.  BIOLOGY; relating to the nucleus of a cell

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As a 51-year-old woman, married since I was 25, and raising twin 17-year-old girls, a BROKEN ARROW can easily be disarming—hopefully not devastating.

There have been thirty-two BROKEN ARROW incidents since 1950.  I’ve had many more. However, maybe with more awareness I can launch less frequently.  I’m quite certain my nuclear family would appreciate the diplomacy.

BROKEN ARROW: an accidental emotional launch

reference link: ATOMIC ARCHIVE 

three life changing words

Lately I’ve been thinking about my “shitty roommate”.  This is my personal inner voice—she makes me doubt myself all the time.  She puts those snarky thoughts in my head that I’m “not good enough”, “not reaching my potential” or “if only you were more like…”.

Shame is the inner language of self-attack and self-blame AND shame is my shitty roommate’s jam.

Instead of trying to kick her out (which is exhausting and nearly impossible), I’ve decided to get more curious about her…even love her up a bit. Yes, she’s manipulative AND she also has pushed me.  We’re really quite competitive.  When she has my ear, she’s granted me the opportunity to self-correct behavior that doesn’t line up with my values, seek forgiveness from those I’ve wronged or offer myself a little grace.

But now, it’s time to change the rules of engagement using one short sentence. 

true

The more I say it, the more power it has for all sorts of situations in my life.

When I question her language, my shitty roommate just puts her headphones on and leaves me alone until the next time…and there will always be a next time.  She hates those three words, however, we do seem to be getting along a little better lately.

three very good questions…

Today I closed the door for the last time on my much-loved studio of 15+ years.  It’s empty.  My work is now in storage.  This is the end of one era and the start of another.

I keep thinking about something my husband, Jeff told me a few years ago.

What’s working?

What’s not?

What’s next?

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  1. The last painting in my studio.
  2. My paint covered work shirt.
  3. A layered image of me and the empty studio.

Sometimes I need to think…

much smaller.

My thoughts are way too macro right now.

Today, I’m choosing to go micro in my thinking.

I believe my brain will thank me for the respite…even if it’s fleeting.

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Seeking Middle Ground

I think our civilization clearly depends upon finding some middle ground.  I know my own family isn’t talking as much because of the polarized political climate.  We may be reaching a tipping point of sorts, at least that’s what it feels like to me.  I’m hopeful that we can shift course.  I believe in the goodness of our shared humanity.

MIDDLE GROUND; a standpoint or area midway between extreme or opposing positions, options, or objectives (Merriam Webster)

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We are living in unprecedented times.  A time of chaotic polarity in our civic lives. The lack of middle ground is causing stress to the many systems we all operate in; family, community, government and work.  My husband and I are trying to hold some middle ground and manage the stress and anxiety in our home.  We’re listening to our children and trying to offer counterpoints to the dizzying array of sound bites & headlines out there fighting for our attention every minute of every day. 

I don’t think I’ve hidden my politics from anyone, however, my moderation might be surprising.  Labels are easier for all of us than asking questions or being curious about the WHY of someone’s beliefs.  We’re ALL guilty of not asking questions and making too many assumptions about others.

I grew up in a very conservative family in the South Dakota.  I have deep knowledge of how political beliefs are shaped from both sides of the political aisle.  My paternal Grandfather, Louis Lillibridge was an intellectual and a moderate—in my estimation anyway.  Grandpa could consider a lot of competing ideasHe studied other religions and ideologies.  He read constantly.  I adored him for many reasons, but mostly I felt heard by him.  Don’t we all want to be heard even if people don’t agree with us?

We can’t really be heard if we aren’t willing to listen too.

My politics were left leaning before I left conservative Sioux Falls College (now the University of Sioux Falls) in 1988.  For my family it was easier to blame my democratic husband who hailed from Massachusetts than to believe I was an outlier.  My first experience out of college was to move to New Zealand and work at a non-denominational Christian Radio Station (Radio Rhema) http://www.rhema.co.nz/.  My friends were from all over the world and it was fascinating.  I actually met the King of Tonga.  I heard stories from so many unique perspectives and experiences.  This time in my life greatly shaped my personal beliefs.  Travel made the world seem quite small in some ways, completely accessible and ready for exploration.

I consider myself proudly American AND a global citizen.  My early travel opportunites had a big affect on my choices.  It eventually led me to Burlington, Vermont, where I’ve lived since New Year’s Day 1990.  Our community is rich with diversity and I feel it’s been quite an education for myself and my family.

My daughters have friends from all over the world (including Muslim kids, many who spent time in refuge camps).  They’ve heard interesting stories since early elementary school from their classmates.  This is simply our family’s circumstance of living in Burlington, Vermont.  I acknowledge that not having contact with people of various nationalities, who dress, speak, and worship differently can make people more fearful.  I do understand this from growing up in rural South Dakota AND I don’t pretend to understand what other people feel about this issue.  I’m only speaking from my own experience.

When I wrote and asked about the opposite of FEAR last week there were so many thoughtful responses; acceptance, curiosity, love, hope, community and Mark P. wrote; “ACTIONABLE FAITH is the opposite of fear.”   I love the idea of actionable faith and that sounds a lot like curiosity to me.

 

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Right now in American life, it’s seems convenient to align ourselves with our political teams and operate in MOB MENTALITY.  Reciting talking points from the side we’ve taken without listening isn’t real dialogue and won’t ever promote deeper understanding. 

The significantly more challenging and intellectually exhausting space is to take a breath, listen to your own thought and those of others and try to find some middle ground.  It’s really uncomfortable to differentiate ourselves and our views when it puts us at odds with our team or the people we care about.  Uncomfortable, but really necessary.

America, our democracy is calling.

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Let’s get curious about each other.

Oh, Burlington let me count the icy ways…