Cissy Brady-Rogers
Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers

Tag: listen

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In:Women, Work and the Will to Lead is stirring some controversy. Some feel that Sandberg is speaking  from a fantasy world and out of touch with the reality most women live with. They suggest that her perspective puts unhelpful pressure on women to keep pressing against the glass ceiling while having a family.

I look forward to reading some excerpts of the book and deciding if it’s worth my time and effort to read the rest. I’ll decide for myself if I think she puts undue pressure on women to try to balance motherhood and career advancement. And, that is just the point I take away from this: it is my decision.

Decision making about what “I” believe is where many of the women I work with get stuck.  They don’t know how to make major decisions because they’ve been socialized to listen to everyone else’s perspective. Often, when asked what do you think, feel, believe–about their own lives or cultural issues–they hold back, stumble and aren’t sure what to say.

Self-doubt and disconnection from what “I” think, feel, want, need, begins when girls aren’t taken seriously. One young adult woman I worked with on reclaiming her voice told me flat out: “Nobody takes teenage girls seriously.”

Solid decision making in adult life begins with adults taking girls and teenagers seriously. We have a great privilege to listen to them, ask questions, value their ideas–even when we think they are strange or wrong. And, rather then telling them they are wrong, we can offer our perspective, or a different perspective, and encourage them to consider other views.

Ultimately each of us is responsible for our own lives. Sheryl Sandberg and her detractors have their perspectives. I will have mine.

Be it in matters of eating and exercise or career choices, each one of us gets to discover and listen to our own wisdom, not just follow someone else’s plan for our lives. That work begins with our girls–taking them seriously and listening to them.

I do love what Sandberg said in her CNN interview: “I want every little girl who is told that she’s bossy to hear that she has leadership skills.”  Amen to that. As a little girl and adult woman who has been accused of being bossy, I appreciate the re-frame. Bossy girls can grow up to be remarkable women!

mindful awareness is good for your health

A growing body of research indicates that mindfulness supports health in many spheres of life. Regular practice of being “here now”–aware of thoughts, feelings, and sensations–increases our capacity for focused attention and stress management, along with improving mental & emotional well being, relationships, and job performance.

Mindful awareness is a key component of many spiritual practices, including yoga. Often my theme for a class revolves around being here now, paying attention to your experience, and letting go of self-judgment. One week after class a student excitedly told me about a mindfulness training she’d had at work that day and handed me this desk plate: Be Here Now. “I’ve got two of them. I think one must be for you!”

Now it sits on my desk or my prayer altar (as in photo) to remind me to practice what I teach. And, it’s a much needed and welcomed reminder–especially when I’m working and falling into old patterns of trying to multitask even though I know it’s ineffective and stressful.

Noticing and being with our experience in any given moment increases our ability to make conscious choices and take conscious action.

What arena of your work or home life, relationships or self-care might benefit from increased mindful awareness?

My pastor Chris spoke yesterday on slowing down as a spiritual practice for Lent.  It reminded me of my Great Uncle Solanus Casey who lived in a way that reflected what spiritual writer Evelyn Underhill referred to as the “leisure of eternity.” I aspire to follow my great uncle’s example, but I am easily distracted, often rush, and don’t like driving in the slow lane–despite knowing it is good for me.

My Great Uncle Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM

Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest who died in 1957,  is the first American born male declared “Venerable”by the Catholic Church–the first of three steps to canonization which confirms official declaration of sainthood.

When Solanus died in 1957, over 20,000 attended his funeral mass in Detroit where much of his ministry took place. In addition to an extensive ministry of prayer and counsel to people with physical, emotional and spiritual ailments, during the depression he helped start a soup kitchen which continues to serve the hungry today.

In spite of a potentially exhausting schedule–sometimes working up to eighteen hours a day–he never exhibited impatience, even when occasions warranted it. People said he was never in a hurry but lived in what he referred to as “faithfulness to the present moment” with himself and others.

At the height of his ministry of prayer and spiritual counsel, people would patiently wait for hours to meet with Solanus.  Apparently, he wasn’t distracted by the dozens of people waiting, but offered his undivided attention to whomever he was sitting with. His patient presence spread to those waiting  who reported that it was easier to wait knowing they too would receive his full attention.

The image of Solanus in his simple brown robe and glasses, praying with hurting people, feeding the hungry, consoling the suffering, never in a hurry, inspires me to practice being faithful to the present moment like he did. Specifically, at least for the rest of Lent, that means no attempts at multitasking (it’s really neurologically impossible despite my fantasy that it works), no listening to media or phone calls while driving. That last one will be especially challenging. But a recent dinner conversation with a friend whose nephew was killed in a car crash due to distracted driving keeps coming to mind every time I get on my phone.

How about you?

Where in your life do you go so fast that you aren’t fully present with yourself and others?

What would slowing down and living with the leisure of eternity look like in your life?

What one small change could you make to practice being fully present?

Eating in loving alignment with my body includes being free from the rules and regulations of supposed “authorities” and “experts” who want to tell me how to eat and how to live.  And, it’s also about not rigidly clinging to my own “rules”. Love does not demand its’ own way.

Last month I ate pork and bread sandwiches at my neighbor’s fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration.  I was hungry, so I ate what was served.

At a party with people eating pork, I am free to eat pork.  If no veggies are available, I am free to go with the flow. And, as soon as possible, balance out those choices with foods more aligned with what I know provides optimal nutrition and energy for my body.

To whatever degree I can, I want to be free to sacrifice my preferred way of eating in order to be “at one” with my neighbors.

Perhaps eating pork and gluten is a way I love my neighbor? It’s not what I choose to eat when given other options.  Not because it’s inherently “bad” but because it doesn’t make me feel my best.

chard in our yard - the bugs like it too

I don’t digest meat and breads as well as I process veggies, legumes and whole grains.  My body notices the difference.  Rich foods feel thick and heavy both in my mouth and digestive tract.  In limited amounts, I do okay.  But I don’t want to feel weighed down like that on a regular basis.  I eat certain foods in limited amounts because I can feel the difference.  My body says “Too much” and I try to listen.

Sometimes our bodies speak very loudly. Gluten makes people with celiac disease very sick with painful and disruptive intestinal problems.

Sometimes our bodies speak more quietly.  For me, a subtle case of  rosacea lead to my discoveries about gluten’s ill effects on my body.

Loving alignment with your body means listening to both the obvious and not so obvious indicators about how food is effecting your overall health. It’s about listening to your body, your life–and eating in a way the optimizes your energy in whatever situation you are in, as best as you can.

Does eating pork make you feel energized, engaged, clear headed, open hearted?

Does your body hum and your soul sing when you eat bread?

What foods feel best the whole way through your digestive experience?

Like any other relationship, we need to make time and space to listen to our bodies in order to have a positive working relationship.

So, the next time you eat, try listening to your body.  You might be surprised at what you discover.

Ask and You Will Receive???

A sincere spiritual seeker once asked a renowned rabbi, “What is the most important prayer in the Jewish tradition?” Expecting the rabbi to state the Shema (Deuteronomy 6.9 – “the Lord our God is one” – the centerpiece of morning and evening prayers), he surprised her by replying, “It is much like the kyrie of the Christian tradition: Lord, have mercy.”

HELP!!!!!!“The most important prayer,” said the rabbi with a sparkle in his eyes, “is HELP!”

My six weeks of recovery from rotator cuff surgery have provided many opportunities to ask for help. I’m actually starting to like it. Last week I asked the acupuncturist who works down the hall if he had an umbrella I could borrow for a few minutes. He seemed delighted to run down to his car to check. When he came back empty handed, he apologized.  He was disappointed that he couldn’t help me!  How about that?!?

The instinct to help is deeply wired into our human nature.  Long before researchers began to study the psychological and evolutionary roots of compassion, Jesus was teaching about it.   In fact, all the great religions teach some form of the golden rule:  love your neighbor as yourself.  We provide our neighbors an opportunity to fulfill an essential part of their humanity when we ask for help. And we deprive them of that opportunity when we refuse to ask for help!

Help is available – both divine and human. Of course, we don’t always get the hoped for outcome. A wisdom teaching regarding prayer says there are three answers to our prayers:

1.) yes

2.) no

3.) I’ve got something better in mind!

When the answer is no, I choose to believe that number three is on the horizon.  In recent days I’m discovering that the outcome of my asking isn’t as important as the bridges of love — of our shared need to both love and be loved — built through asking. My neighbor didn’t give me an umbrella.  He gave me the gift of concern and care, the gift of love.

What kind of help do you need today? Have you risked asking God or your neighbor for help?

If the answer isn’t the one you hope for, trust that something better is on the horizon.  And open your heart to whatever bridge of love wants to meet you in your place of need.

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

The equation of busyness with success behind this and other cliches normalizes working too hard, doing too much and going too fast.  Between social kudos for accomplishments and my tendency for compulsive activity, my energy regulation skills are constantly being tested. Staying well fueled in body, mind and spirit is challenging in a culture that invites us to overwork, overplay, overspend, overeat…over do just about everything.

Energy Regulation

Last week a sinus infection got my attention, inviting me to reflect on how my lifestyle might be contributing to my illness.

– How well am I regulating my energy?
– Am I burning the candle at both ends?
– Am I doing too much?
– What am I doing and how am I doing it that might be burning me out?

I’m not overbooked with appointments or workshops and retreats as in the past.  I don’t have commitments scheduled back to back all day and into the evening.  Hooray! My calendar tells me that I’m doing a great job regulating my energy.

While an assessment of my energy output looks efficient on paper, I had to look more closely at where I was losing steam. In addition to a handful of regularly scheduled appointments and teaching commitments, I spend my work week prepping classes, working on publications, consulting with colleagues, answering emails and phone calls, taking care of my dogs and garden, cooking meals, meeting with people for both social and business meals, working out, practicing yoga and a host of other things.  During my work days I rarely “take a break.” All systems are “go” from early morning until evening.

It isn’t what I’m doing that’s zapping my energy. I’m proud of the changes I’ve made to create a less packed schedule.  But the way I do it that needs some loving attention.

Going Too Fast

There’s a rushing, spinning, going too fast energy that takes a hold of me when I’m not paying attention. Lost in the grip of hurriedness, I don’t use my energy efficiently.  I am more prone to accidents and mishaps in this mode. And, too many days of it often precedes the onset of an illness.

When you’ve lived your whole life in the fast lane, it’s tough to pull over to the right and go with the flow.  It’s even harder to pull into the slow lane and just take it easy.

A More Loving Pace and Place

After a lifetime of rushing to the future and missing the present moment, I’m learning to take the slow lane.   At this pace I am more able to sense the loving presence of God and as a result am a more loving presence in my world.  It is also the place where I’m most apt to hear the wisdom of God.

God moves with what spiritual writer Evelyn Underhill called the leisure of eternity.  No hurry.  No rush.  No urgency.

God’s got all the time in the world.  Why do I live as if I don’t?