Tag Archives: choices

One Time I Was Killed In The Woods

Many years ago I found myself in the middle of the forest on Mount Hood well past midnight. By myself, I had nothing but a wind up flashlight and an active imagination. I also had an ear infection, effectively plugging my left ear so that no sound could be accurately tracked to its origin.

The ear infection was a huge boon to my imagination and the four of us, me, the dim flashlight, my ear infection and my imagination had a hell of an adventure dodging all the criminally mentally ill escapees roaming about that night.

I had been asked to play the part of a pioneer woman for a youth group and with my escorts un-well, I’d opted to go it alone rather than abort my mission. I was perhaps only a quarter of a mile up the trail when I heard an unidentified thump just behind me.

I whirled around, certain I was about come face to face with the man with the hook of scary campfire fame. And there was nothing. Nothing but my wildly beating heart.

Possibly it is my memory romanticizing the moment, but it seems to me now, that just then the clouds parted and I looked up to the most beautiful, bright moon I had ever seen, crowned by the tall and imperial trees. Though I am no scriptorian by anyone’s standards, just then a comforting scripture popped in my fear enflamed mind, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

I have thought about that foolhardy night many times in the years that have past. I’ve thought about how silly and afraid I was. But most of all I’ve thought about being still. Being still and listening.

For much of my life I’ve tried to run to the next answer, do the next required thing and push away any feelings that weren’t “worthy” or “helpful”. Though I have thought of that night and that moment many times, I’ve rarely practiced what the scripture counseled.

How rarely we are still. How typical is it that we make our way with too little light and diminished senses. How often do we fill in the blanks of what we do not know with the most outlandish and improbable answers simply so we can say we know what the answers are?

Maybe the reason I’ve thought of that night so many times is that I need the message just as much now as I did then. It’s time to add it in to the practice.

Being still, how hard can it be? Right?

Like, share, comment, tweet and listen to the silence.

Far Better Things Ahead

It is said that if we are depressed we are living in the past and if we are anxious we are living in the future. Or maybe we’re depressed because we’re living in a future in which we have no faith. I don’t know. I don’t know who said it and further, I don’t know if there was any credibility to it.

But it sounds right…

Most of the time I am living in the present and it is here they say one finds peace. Or was it peaches? Depending on the season.

It is definitely not living in the past I’m experiencing, but I admit I have lots of anxiety about the future. This future I am imagining, it’s full of new things I’ve never done before and many of which I’ve never even dreamed before. As such, you can imagine it’s pretty scary sometimes, what with new baby dreams running around making a ruckus in my mind.

Because I don’t know what I’m doing I spend quite a lot of mental energy trying to figure it all out. Well, at least I try to figure out the next few steps. And from all these mental acrobats, I think I have a few, just a few things, I do know for sure.

What I know for sure is that our plates are only so big. Once we’ve filled up the metaphorical plates of our lives, if we want to add in something else, we’ve got to clear something off that plate. Historically I probably would have tried to eat it, but experience has shown us this will only result in a stomachache and regret.

If we want something new in our lives something old has to go. What I’m finding is that the person I want to become wouldn’t have room for some of the Old Michelle things. Things like time wasters, keeping up appearances and empty relationships.

If we want to live lives we’ve never lived, we have to make choices we’ve never made and think thoughts we’ve never yet entertained.

Recently there have been days that have worn me out so thoroughly, I long for the comforts of the past. And then I remember living there would be depressing. There are times I am so perplexed by how I am to do the things I plan to do that I become anxious and sometimes overwhelmed.

But when I live right here in this moment and I remember to do what I can with what I have and start exactly where I am, it is then I can imagine living a life that simply astonishes me.

And you have to ask yourself, Why not?

Like, share, comment, tweet and dare to be the best you imaginable.

michelle & mary on stage

A Flood Is Good For Perspective

Years ago when my husband was out of town, as it seemed he often was when things went awry, there was a terrible flood at one of our projects and I was left to deal with it alone.

We were renovating a house and someone had turned the water to the home back on without checking first to see if the plumbing fixtures had been replaced. They hadn’t.

Late that afternoon I received a call telling me our contractor was out of town and the house would sustain serious damage without immediate intervention. Translation, put on your wading boots, sister, and take care of business.

After buying a shop vac I headed over to the property and with not a small amount of sweat and tears, the flood waters were cleared enough that the floors could dry and damage was averted.

It wasn’t my favorite project, that’s for sure, but I was pretty proud of myself that evening when I regaled my husband with stories of my heroism. It’s likely I drew the stories out, telling him the details of vacuuming, carrying the water down the stairs and outside to the lawn only to trudge back up the stairs again and begin the process all over.

“I must have gone up and down those stairs dozens of times,” I bragged to him.

We’ve been married a lot of years and the man is no dummy. He generously praised me for the work I’d done and the thousands of dollars I’d saved our family in water destruction costs. The praise was gratifying even if the work hadn’t been.

Dear, sweet, Mr Dreamboat must have waited at least a week to ask me the question that changed my perspective on everything.

“Why didn’t you dump the full buckets into the bathtub and save yourself the trips up and down those stairs,” he asked, not unkindly?

I don’t think I verbally responded right away though my face rushed a brilliant red and even the tips of my ears burned.

All I could say was, “Why, indeed?”

Every week I work with coaching clients on building dreams and living better lives. It’s seriously gratifying work, better than flood cleanup. And every week we work on shifting perspectives and looking at the world a little differently.

That day as I vacuumed up water and “saved the day” for my family, I bit of a shift in focus would have saved me a lot of energy and a lot of time if only I’d shifted my gaze just a few degrees and seen that for every problem there is a solution, and for every solution, there may very well be a better one if we simply shift the way we see things.

Further still, and this is a story I have to tell myself from time to time, for every mistake we make, whether it’s large or small, there will always be a corresponding lesson, reminding us that no matter what, there’s something to be gained from it all.

When I Grow Up I Want To Be Roger Bannister Or The Mad Hatter

While I don’t think Sir Roger Bannister’s name is automatically associated with awesomeness, I submit to you that it should be. Not everyone is a runner and certainly only a small percentage of us are British, but Sir Roger Bannister is so much more than the sum of his parts.

What presently inspires me about the man is that he shattered an illusion. The first man to run the four minute mile, in the 50 years since, many athletes have broken the time. But only because Roger did it first. Someone had to.

Because we see barriers where there are none, we are in essence creating them. We entertain so many limiting ideas, thoughts and words that accompany us through our every day interactions and our far too pedestrian thought patterns.

carrol-quote1Reality is a construct. Truth is a perspective. Don’t believe me? Ask Roger.

In Sir Bannister’s day, the four minute mile was a human impossibility. Everyone believed that our species was limited by our physicality, and that was the truth.

Only Rog, I don’t think he’d mind if I call him Rog, he thought differently. And so he did differently. And so we do differently. And the human species has since cut time off his best. But let us be clear, someone had to change the truth. It took only 46 days for his record to be broken. So much for the truth.

It is our obligation to be the very best that we can be. Perhaps it is not just important, but imperative that we at least try to see things bigger, better and possible, by looking to those brave souls who have blasted limiting thinking and broken previous concepts.

We are creatures of infinite worth. We are brave souls with limitless possibilities and with just one go-round for this life, there’s no reason to pad, pamper or ponder. There is every reason to throw caution to the wind, believe the unbelievable and be exactly who you are. No, be exactly who you can be. No apologies and no worries about that pesky truth.

The only truth to worry about is being true to who you are and to the possibilities before you. Someone has to.

We owe it to one another to break the barriers. Just like Roger Bannister. And the Mad Hatter too.

Like, share, comment, tweet and find your limit. And then surpass it.

God Is Not A Water Balloon ~ Michelle Church

Sometimes I think too small. If I’m being completely transparent, most of the time I start out thinking small. This does not serve me. In my dream version of Michelle I start out with big dreams, but it’s just not my way. I build up. I think some good thoughts, little ones, and when those work out, I build a few bigger thoughts.

Sadly, for me, this is how spirituality and God have worked as well. Did I mention that sometimes the whole “building” process is a very slow one?

For years God has been, what I like to think of as, a water balloon. Metaphorically speaking of course.

This Idea had specific attributes, tangible and understandable. Fluid, lifegiving and knowable. A sort of comfortingly understandable concept. Tidy even.

Here I find myself in my 47th year and in my mind I am standing with an orange water balloon in my hands. It is warm and cozy. ocean blue At the edge of the ocean I watch as the waves crash conversationally. I can see the vastness, the depth and the breadth of something beyond my understanding.

I can see it, and yet I know It cannot be fully understood. It is massive. It is life, and not even the most brilliant of scientists know everything about it.

So I pop the water balloon, and it releases into the sand, into the earth and ultimately it will become a part of the deep.

It makes a lot of sense that I’ve made the idea of God/The Universe into something understandable and finite, but I don’t think I was doing myself any favors by stopping there. And while certainly the water balloon might come from and be a part of the ocean, the differences are seemingly infinite as well.

I am standing at the edge of the ocean without my water balloon. And I feel a little like a child who grew fond of a toy now broken. I am disappointed and a little sad.

But oh! The discoveries that lie ahead.

Like, share, comment, tweet and embrace the metaphor as weird as it may be…

A Clenched Fist Instead Of A Heart

I knew when the whole jail thing was going down that it was, and would turn out to be, a good story. It would have been ridiculous not to see that possibility. What I could not have known, even when I was being Princess Pollyanna, was the generous gift that it was.

It was all just too traumatic to see and feel the gift. In retrospect I should have been saying, “Thank you,” every day. Possibly through the tears. But saying it nonetheless.

Today, the things that might have, at one time, put me completely off my game, I can see them more clearly as the favors and opportunities that they are.

But in that painful time, I remember quite distinctly driving down the road on a cool spring morning and feeling so distraught inside I thought my heart was a fist clenched so intensely it might turn to dust.

Though I was wound pretty tightly, I had the wherewithal to evaluate the “truth” of my circumstances. I was safe, my family was safe, we had resources, we were fine. Not great. But you can’t always be great. That’s just a fact.

clenched fistAs I progressed along the drive the clenched fist that had replaced my heart loosened just a little bit and I knew in that moment that we were all going to be okay.

The wisdom of the situation had not yet been fully absorbed ~ I don’t know that it has yet ~ and so I couldn’t know that we wouldn’t just be fine. We were, and would be, greatly blessed.

Every day I reap the rewards for having my heart stomped on, painfully, publicly. Every day I look at my life and though I might feel uncomfortable or concerned about this child or that condition, deep down I have been given the gift of knowing. When we know we are capable, when we know life is simply an experiment and an opportunity, fear takes a back seat and so much more can be had.

No matter what the situation is, I know we will be okay. And on the good days, we will outstrip okay, and there are times we venture into the land of flourishing and abundance. And we do this not despite our setbacks and the grief we have known, but because of them.

Like share, comment, tweet and know that it’s just the same for you as it is for me. Let us venture into abundance together.

Take This Test To See How Well You Know Yourself

My friend once asked me what my favorite food was. It was a reciprocated question. I’d asked her because I was trying to plan something special for her birthday and unexpectedly the tables were turned.

“What’s your favorite food,” she asked? And I didn’t know what to say. I mean, really. My face got all red and I stumbled about for a bit until I finally made something up on the spot so I didn’t have to feel so uncomfortable.

That’s how far away I’d gone from knowing myself.

It’s not uncommon, you know. You may find that particular scenario drop dead easy, but what about when I ask you what you would LOVE in your life. What dreams do you have and do you allow them a part of your daily activities?

Nine times out of ten when I ask people this question, they get red in the face and stumble about like, well, like I just asked them what their favorite food is, and they just don’t know anymore.

If it were my very last meal on earth, I know what I’d have. I’ve given it some thought and I’m certain of what it would be. A black and bleu burger with bacon and sweet potato fries from a little restaurant in Idaho Falls, Idaho called The Snakebite.
dream builder
What about you? What’s your favorite food and more importantly, what do you dream about? What love is missing, what new heights do you wish to achieve?

It is in our very DNA to grow and expand. More life, more love, more energy and knowledge. And if we are not growing then surely we are dying.

The February group coaching session is getting ready to start and I’d love to have you be a part of it. Because it’s February, and I LOVE what I do, I am gifting Discovery sessions, (free to you and normally a $195 cost).

Send me a message requesting a 30 minute, online Discovery session. We’ll see if we’re a good fit for each other and quite possibly embark on your next great adventure. You can find me on this site as well as Michelle At Play on Facebook or michelleatplay@gmail.com.

We might even discover your favorite food.

Feel free to share with friends and lovers, this could be the best Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever given.

Living Outside The Box ~ Michelle Church

On Friday morning, bright and early, I drove the many, many miles inherent in an event that is away from the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary. I don’t mind the drive that much anymore since Deepak is my co-pilot via the audio books that keep me going every bit as much as the low gasoline prices do.

This was the first class since the end of October for me and I was glad to get back to my Friday ritual and pleased to be in the company of artists I both admire and like.

There in the chill morning air or the Northwest we settled into our folding chairs and we began to draw an antique fire truck on display at the Lake Oswego Fire Department.

I love art and I like to draw. That appreciation notwithstanding, I admit I was totally rusty. A craft of any sort requires consistent effort and it is not surprising to me that even though it’s been just a few weeks since I practiced, I felt awkward and the lines were tight. Without grace.

I wasn’t the only one. As each of us sat studying the intricacies of an automobile nearly 100 years old, we struggled and strained to capture the reality in a way that was beautiful even if only subjectively.

There are specific rituals my art teacher recommends. She likes us to draw with pens rather than pencils, she

mind = blown
mind = blown

recommends three or four rough sketches before any attempt at one’s main drawing or painting, and without exception, one must remember the four most important lines.

The four most important lines are simply these; before you start your composition, make a box. Then you draw inside the box. It’s amazing what the simple context can do for a drawing, taking it without effort from “meh” to “ooohhh”.

It’s a rule, and it’s a good rule to follow. And…

One of my fellow artists said as our fearless leader entreated us not to forget the box, “I hate the box. I always end up drawing outside of it.”

“That’s what it’s for,” she said, “you’re not supposed to work inside the box, it’s only to give you context, show you what’s important.”

If life is not an artistic event I do not know what is. Life is nuanced and striking and the colors and the elegant lines of it are so beautiful that I am sometimes brought to tears.

And just like in art, we need boxes. Boxes to give us perspective and dimension, boxes to help us know where to put things and when we’re getting too small. But the box isn’t the thing. It simply houses the thing. And it isn’t the point. The box is just to make a point.
By all means, live your life outside the box.

Like, share, comment, tweet and do something that breathes life into your art every day.

I Bet You Did THIS Today

As I write this I am thinking about you. I’m thinking about the friends I know who read these musings on a regular basis, I’m thinking about the “friends” I have never met, yet still find time to wander by my corner of cyber-reality.

bill murray awesomePerhaps I have never seen your face or heard your voice. And even so I want to commend you. While I might not be familiar with your specifics, I know you try. You try to be kind, do the right thing, give and serve and love. To one degree or another, you try.

For every time you’ve said, “Yes!” to life, every time you’ve stepped up to the plate, I want to give you a virtual high five. Whether or not you thought you were successful, whether or not you won the prize, got the promotion or succeeded on that diet, here’s to you.

If you have, indeed, won the prize, soaked in the applause or finally met that one, elusive goal, then I say, “Way to go, pal! Really! That’s totally awesome.”

And if, like most of us on most days, you did what you could, took those painful baby steps and even so can’t tell if you’re closer to that goal or not, give yourself a hard-earned pat on the back. You deserve it.

It isn’t whether or not we reach the top of that mountain that really matters. It doesn’t matter on any particular day that we set out to accomplish what we intended to do. What really matters is that every day we give it another go.

Maybe because when we finally hit that goal there is always someone to give us the “Attaboy” we’ve been longing for, we need one even more when we’re still on the path.

It’s not all Rocky Themes and adrenaline on the road to success. Sometimes we need a cheering section even more for the slow parts.

Today I am thinking of you, I am humming the Rocky Theme and I am impressed as hell that you chose to get out of bed. Again. Go you!

Like, share, comment, tweet and compliment the people you meet for being awesome.

Signs In Your Life You Cannot See

A friend of mine says we teach what we need to learn. While I take exception to this idea, I painfully admit it is true, at least for me.

I teach “play” because I don’t do it naturally. I teach self-acceptance because it is a challenge and I teach no judgment because I judge. I am not proud of these things but I recognize them for what they are.

The holidays are a busy time for all of us. We have expectations and obligations and ideas in our heads of the “should’s” to be done. Of course this year was no different than any of the others.

The Internet is a divine tool for alleviating a bit of that pain and I use the tool. Oh yes, I use it. And Mr Dreamboat shops like a champ and Lucy, themostbrillianthousekeeperintheworld kept my house clean and yet… I was not up to snuff.

I decorated my house, but just a little. I shopped and wrapped and attended my parties but with a mere fraction of the panache it all deserved. I underwhelmed myself.

I felt just like this, only with brown eyes.
I felt just like this, only with brown eyes.

So I wondered if I was depressed. I wondered if the fire of my personality had gone out. And then I judged. I judged my energy level, my Christmas spirit and my ability to get things done. I judged my validity on planet earth and I judged myself for judging.

It can be exhausting living in my head and that is just how I started our holiday trip to the beach. Drained by the obligations and especially the head-trip, I came to what we call “The Great Escape” and I crashed like a beach kite with no wind in its sails.

Ten days we’ve spent at the beach and I will admit for your judging pleasure to never having gotten out of bed before 8 a.m. Sometimes 9. I will admit that it has only been in the last three days that I’ve gotten much work done and only in the last two that I’ve done any painting.

And it finally occurs to me that I am not lazy. The fire hasn’t gone out and I am not depressed. I was sick. I mean literally. The laryngitis was an ignored symptom of some sort of illness and I am at long last feeling better.

And feeling better helps one see things better. And I see I am human and flawed and good on some days and naughty on others. And I am so-bloody-judgmental. Oof! And really, that’s okay too.

Whatever you are, whatever state you find yourself in, today I am preaching curiosity over judgment. Most times when things aren’t going smoothly, there’s something more going on.

Like, share, comment, tweet and prescribe yourself whatever yourself might need.