I thought I should quit doing The Work, until I questioned loving what is

Have you ever had the thought it’d be better to just quit and walk away?

Of course you have.

It’s a common human thought. People have this about friendships, family, primary love relationships, and their jobs, career, money, ideas, travel plans, business, classes, activities we’re involved in.

Something appears to not be working, you try different approaches, but the way of it simply doesn’t appear to change for the better (certainly not on the timing you want).

It should be different! 

Or, perhaps you learn something brand new and completely unexpected and this information becomes a deal-breaker, as they say.

It should be different!

Or, what if you begin to question something you thought was helpful, but now you’re not so sure….like the treatment plan for your physical injury, or the vitamins you’ve been taking, or the cell phone service you’re signed up for.

It should be different!

What if….it’s The Work itself you begin to question?

You might start to think you’re not so clear where it’s going if you keep questioning everything (and this is alarming), you’re not sure you agree with “loving what is” all the time, or you hear about someone else using The Work who’s acting delusional, or passive, or confusing.

It should be different!

The thing is, there’s no problem at all with deciding to take a different path, turn left, or turn right, or stop and camp out in one place for awhile, or take an airplane to another continent altogether. Ever.

How could that be a problem? Change appears to be the way of life.

But we can question that something should be different, and discover many fascinating things about this idea, and even find how it should be just as it is (and it never means we should accept something we don’t accept).

The most interesting thing for me, hearing all these ideas lately of how things, situations, relationships, places, weather or money should be different….was when I heard The Work itself should be different.

From time to time, people bump up against The Work in this way: it’s fostering passivity.

The Work is saying I should “love” all the terrible things in the world, like war, cancer, death, disease, climate change, politicians, law suits, violence, childhood abuse.

Right?

But that’s B.S! I don’t, I won’t, I can’t love those things!

Some time ago, someone wrote on facebook a statement with this sentiment (I am only remembering, not quoting): ‘You mean you’re going to tell a child they should love what is when they are trafficked for sexual favors? Or abused? Really?’

Uh oh.

The assumption is that The Work is telling us what to do. That it’s telling us we *should* do something called LOVE.

We think we know what love looks like.

Here’s what I used to think LOVE looks like:

It looks like staying quiet, saying something’s OK, feeling light, saying whatever’s been said is no problem for us, agreeing with someone, listening closely, sharing, saying “yes”, having everyone be happy (or close), saying I am fine with what they did, connecting, reaching out, hugging, praising, voting for, touching, adopting the same approach, complying, changing my mind, inviting someone in, spending more time with someone, getting together, being sexual, getting closer through more communication, not opposing, not disagreeing, condoning behavior or words or actions, being funny, smiling.

But is that really what love is?

Are you sure?

I thought I knew what *love* looked like when I came to The Work (or it came to me).

I thought it looked like ease, support, safety, and joy.

Well, it does.

But I thought so very much that it shouldn’t look like the opposite: hardship, abandonment, danger, cancer, violence.

Those things and experiences were definitely NOT love.

Love couldn’t possibly feel frightening.

Somehow, I kept doing The Work even when I was totally confused. I kept finding nuggets of gold when I questioned my thoughts. I kept realizing over and over, I might not have the whole story here–in my personal stories of pain and suffering.

One day about two years into doing The Work I was at an event with Byron Katie, and I wrote a worksheet on the same man in my life that I had written probably 20 times or more.

He’s a horrible person. I want him to change. He should be different. He shouldn’t be a sex addict. He shouldn’t abuse his employees. I need his support. I need his love. He is an ass, a jerk, and mentally ill. I hate him. I don’t ever want to be treated with such verbal violence again. I don’t ever want to take someone to the mental emergency room again.

I felt so much pain writing the very same worksheet practically over and over again. I would get new evidence. I’d see once again how twisted he was. He would frighten me. I’d feel so disappointed.

I raised my hand to talk with Katie about this repetitive dilemma, feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere with The Work, like it was asking me to accept my experiences with this man.

After some discussion, Katie asked me; “How do you know you’re supposed to be angry? YOU ARE!!!”

Huh?

But.

I thought The Work had a goal. To feel happy and free. To NOT be angry or afraid. To question a thought and arrive at lightness and sunny days.  To LOVE what is.

I was wrong.

My definition of loving what is was to pound myself with ideas about changing my thinking about this man (and about life) so completely, that I would want to marry the guy. I’d want to merge forever, and have zero problems for the rest of my life (and probably beyond). To be totally happy with whatever he said, did, felt, acted like in every moment.

I had the very same ideas about LIFE. That’s what love would look like. Me being totally compliant with what happened at all times, in all ways, for all times forever and ever.

Wow, what a crazed idea I had for myself about what love looked like. It had looked like NOT listening to what was true for me. It looked like forcing myself to do The Work endlessly on this relationship and wishing it would change. It looked like being constantly disappointed and trying to make it, or me, change. It looked like not giving myself any other options than what I secretly wanted love to look like.

What love really looked like was breaking up with that man and never talking with him again, as it’s turned out.

I didn’t plan it.

It just went that way.

I didn’t really want to live with him, or spend more time with the actual man–I was only dreaming of a pretend different man I preferred, but who didn’t even exist.

It caused all of us to suffer immensely.

I am so grateful for that man. I think of him and I really do smile. I chuckle. He was brilliantly smart, funny as heck, and so much fun to talk with. I had a ball doing things with him.

What I learned from the experience of doing The Work on that incredibly life-changing relationship (that I’m honestly so grateful for) was it showed me what loving what is really looks like in that situation: quitting and walking away.

I know now what saying “no” looks like without resentment, hatred, suffering or severe disappointment.

Saying “no” looked like crystal clear clarity. It involved no more words, and no more being in each others’ company.

Loving, it appears, includes death and endings and events being over. 

My experience of The Work is all it is, is four questions.

It’s not really The Work if you’re trying to get somewhere peaceful if you aren’t peaceful, or you think “love” is saying “yes” or being nice, or wanting to spend time together, or if you’re chiding or berating yourself for being wrong or stupid, or if you’d rather be dead than experience what you’ve experienced, or if you think you’re supposed to feel happiness with what happened to you.

Love, it seems, is sometimes very, very hard.

Byron Katie says “let love kill you”.

Kill you?

It’s not exactly a friendly word in our regular fairy tale world of sweetness and light and incredibly happy endings (or the dream of them).

Love can be the death of your dreams. Love can be the alternative you never wanted to happen. Love can be the closed door, where you have to stop trying to get inside, and you go a different, unexpected way. Love can feel like your future is over, and your heart is broken, and the way is dark and uncomfortable.

Love is noticing, it never is over. You’re alive. You made it. You survived. You’re here.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~ Tao Te Ching

Mostly, what I see when I do The Work, even in the midst of the terrible things that happen in the world….is that love is slowing down and noticing what I do NOT know is true.

It’s a big giant question mark.

It’s noticing everyone, even the abusers, have been doing the best they can, and I have no idea what incredible things are possible from here on out.

“The best thing about the past? It’s over.” ~ Byron Katie

I am breathing quietly, here, now.

I am alive. I can believe that’s a bad thing, or a good thing.

Love is having that choice.

Much love,

Grace

Celebrating Janus with The Work of Byron Katie

I know 800,000 people and their uncle (as my grandma used to say) are reflecting at this End-of-the-Year on the Gregorian calendar.

Here in the inner world of The Work and self-inquiry it may not appear to matter so much what the calendar reads, in the big scheme of things. In some parts of the world, this is not even the fullest “new” year by tradition.

But ahhh the Romans. So much influence on our language, history, calendar….and beliefs.

Now is the time of year to celebrate Janus, the God of Gateways and Beginnings.

I love calendars and have since I was a little girl. I used to make them for gifts. I loved lining up the squares, drawing the numbers, labeling the months and holidays and significant birthdays.

Here it is about to become the year 2018 according to humans, who love recording and storing data, and who have brilliant, intelligent minds. Even the non-linear human brains hold memories and unforgettable images.

So amazing!!

And each new year, each new day, each new situation….an opportunity to inquire and question what’s so, question what we’re afraid of, question the meaning we’ve placed on an incident or experience.

We may be questioning a belief or a thought that many of our forebears held, and passed forward innocently. We might be questioning a thought that’s not really “ours”. In fact, how could it be? Did you invent your thought?

We may be the gatekeeper, through our inquiry, for ending a long line of suffering and trauma and fear.

You never know what sitting down with a painful moment, with the intention to understand it and question it, will do.

It’s no small thing to question stressful thinking.

So today, I thank you for being on this stunning journey with me.

Which has changed in the past several months, at least in this format known as Grace Notes so dearly named by an early client who came to do The Work on money.

“I love reading your inquiry, it helps me so. You should call them Grace Notes. Keep ’em coming.”

Well, they’re still coming, but you may have noticed–not daily.

(Some of you are thinking ‘Thank GOD! Slow down already!’ and if you’re one of these people, you are a gem to still be here).

So what happened with fewer Grace Notes dropping into Inboxes each week?

Two primary things:

1) My thumb joints on both hands got carpel tunnel. Seriously. You might be whispering; “I’m not surprised”.

2) My schedule got surprisingly full to the max and has continued to stay that way. That only took….years. (I’ve worked full time as a Certified Facilitator since December 2013, welcoming in 2014 as my first entirely independent self-employed year by quitting my part-time job, but I began with clients here and there in 2007).

Things continue to shift.

It’s the way of it, isn’t it?

Now, I’m imagining cooking up fun things starting soon in 2018 like a facebook live show, and thinking about reviving the podcast (we’ll see). The Eating Peace Process filled up with so many intriguing, smart, wonderful people and for the first time we’re working for five months not 12 weeks, and the Year of Inquiry continues to be absolutely fabulous with all the folks sharing a new topic every month and partnering and practicing The Work with each other.

What a brilliant community.

So here’s something I’d like to ask you, it’s been so much fun and so fascinating to ask in previous new years and gather your responses:

What are your top three thoughts you’d love to forget, never think again, eliminate, stop re-igniting, wipe clean from the slate of your memory banks….if you could? What thoughts do you find annoyingly recycling in your life?

They might be simple underlying repetitive beliefs like this:

  • there’s never enough time to finish….
  • I can’t succeed at…..
  • I need more…..

Or more specific beliefs about tough situations like:

  • she betrayed me
  • he should stop talking
  • cancer’s destroying my life
I’ll write about the thoughts you share, so worth examining and investigating.

 

And for today, for this moment you’re reading this, what do you notice is wrong with “now” (if anything)?

 

What’s missing? What is there too much of? What is there not enough of? Who should be here, who isn’t? Who shouldn’t be here, who is? Who shouldn’t be the way they are? What’s wrong with you?

 

Isn’t it funny how easily we can argue with what is, and find fault with something?

 

Who would I be without my story that there’s something wrong, even just a wee tiny bit, with this moment, right now?

 

As I pause and ponder this question, my fingers tap. I write. And then, I feel a flicker of laughter.

 

Something is kind of astonishing about that question…do you feel it?

 

Who would you be without the thought there’s something wrong, or off, with this moment?

 

All those images of what’s wrong–who would you be without the belief they’re true?
Wowser. Almost exciting.

 

Turning this thought around:

 

There’s nothing wrong with this moment.
There’s nothing missing.
There isn’t more than you can handle.
There’s not too much.

 

Shhhhhh.

 

What does it feel like to give a little bow to all those images and thank them for coming–but not take them seriously, or believe they’re real, present, or True?

 

Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’~ Eckhart Tolle

Turn the thought around again: My thinking is opposed to this moment. I am at war with my thinking about this moment, not the actual moment.

So if this “I” stops fighting my thoughts, or caring about them in such a big way….

….I may notice how extremely well and beautiful and supportive this moment is, right here. The floor is supporting my feet, the table, this chair I sit in. The air is flowing in and through the entire atmosphere everywhere. The silence is incredible. The wind chimes are sweet on the front porch in the distance through a closed door to keep out the cold weather. Everything can relax. Nothing is required.

So quiet. So very quiet.

“Sometimes I ask people, What survives your not thinking about it? Just be as quiet as you can and notice silence for five seconds. What survives? All the thoughts, ideas, opinions, judgments, the past, even defining yourself as a man or a woman or a son or a daughter–all that may have a relative reality to it. But you see that it doesn’t exist when you’re just being quiet. How real can it all be?” ~ Adyashanti

Loving you in this moment.

With much love and deep gratitude,

Grace

P.S. Hit reply and let me know your top three most undesirable thoughts or situations. Also let me know YES/NO on reviving the Peace Talk podcast.

Is your inquiry process fast enough, deep enough, clear enough for you?

The first time I ever tried doing The Work was in the middle of reading my new copy of Loving What Is by Byron Katie in 2004.

Something seemed different; more hands-on, less about philosophy or psychology, more practical and simple. I was a fairly new mental health counselor, having received my master’s degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Bastyr University a few years before. I had begun seeing clients one night a week.

I knew a lot about stress. Supposedly.

The very first step, I read, was I needed to find a situation or relationship I felt uncomfortable about. Somewhere I felt betrayed. Someone I couldn’t forgive. Someone who frightened me, confused me, angered me, or saddened me.

I sat on my couch, and honestly….you’re hardly going to believe this…I couldn’t think of anyone.

I had done a LOT of inner personal analysis, therapy and healing arts work. I had studied it academically. I had been in multitudes of programs. I had loads of information and read clinical studies. No one really bugged me anymore. I don’t have a problem with people or my past! I’m so done with all that!

The worksheet in the book that I was invited to fill out said at the top: Judge Your Neighbor.

As I sat on my couch in my living room, knowing I had exactly 30 minutes before my kindergartner and 4th grader would be coming home from school. It occurred to me suddenly, “Hmmm. My neighbor, come to think of it, IS pretty annoying!”

I had a toe-hold of an idea that there was at least ONE human being I could admit had some irritating qualities. My actual neighbor! She came by too often. She called too much. She borrowed things to frequently. I wished she wouldn’t stop by, ever again.

Bam. I filled in the worksheet.

I look back on that time and Thank God, Universe, Reality I wrote that one superficial worksheet and didn’t dismiss the whole thing.

It just goes to show you….you don’t have to identify something bitter, horrifying, traumatic, desperate or completely heart-breaking to experience an exciting self-inquiry examination.

It can be something you don’t even think you care about that much.

Because that little entry to The Work led me to the next breadcrumb of trying the four questions, to the next, to the next.

No wrong way to do it. All unfolding on the perfect timing, just right for you.

At least, when I look back at it all, it’s been just right for me.

“What I see about The Work is that it allows you to go inside and find your own happiness, to experience what already exists within you, unchanging, immovable, ever-present, ever-waiting. No teacher is necessary. You are the teacher you’ve been waiting for. You are the one who can end your own suffering.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Who would we be if we even let it go just the way it’s gone. No speedier recovery required. No faster realization. No agenda.

Wow.

Much love,

Grace

If you feel lame, it’s OK to have hope (+ Eating Peace new eBook)

Lately I’m doing a ton mega-work on looking at eating and compulsion (or really any addiction of any kind) issues. 

My favorite!

(Haha, not really….well, OK, maybe now that I’ve investigated stories and beliefs, it really kinda is my favorite, but in the thick of it, not so much).

One thing I’ve realized in the experience of whatever addiction actually is…..it’s never hopeless.

Never, ever.

(News flash: if you’re interested in Eating Peace, you can download the new eating peace ebooklet with a seven-day-practice guide to daily steps to inquiry and peace: HERE.)

Once I had a young man come to work with me who felt excruciatingly fearful about avoiding drugs when he felt drawn to them, but also living his life each day in a new location where he didn’t know anyone, and no family was around.

He felt utterly hopeless one morning. Like he couldn’t leave his apartment. HOPELESS.

And yet, when we took at look at what actually happened, he left. He didn’t THINK he could leave, but he did. He called for help.

Something happened, then something else. Change unfolded.

It wasn’t entirely completely absolutely hopeless, even though he THOUGHT it was for awhile. (And I remember having this same kind of thought myself).

If you think it is hopeless, you can question this belief. It’s just a belief, an idea, thrown out by the mind.

Is it true?

I could never, even in the worst nightmare of addiction, find that it was absolutely true, without any doubt at all.

I lived.

Even if my mind was churning out devastated, furious, vicious thoughts about life, it was never true.

Thoughts like: you are all alone, you are a piece of shi*t, you are unloveable, the world is a terrible place, you’re a failure.

I mean, that thing can get nasty, right?

But who are you, without the belief you your situation is hopeless?

Your addictive pattern, your income, your location, your life…who would you be without the bitter thought that it’s hopeless?

Huh.

Without the thought?

I don’t even know what to say.

But it does make me pause a moment. Whatever “me” is. And whatever “pausing” is. And whatever “hope” is.

I can wonder….who would I be?

Sometimes this Question Four: who would you be without your story….is a strange act of imagination.

When you’re in the thick of fear and dread, you have no idea of the answer. And yet the mind can STILL WONDER who you’d be?

You might come up with possibilities, ideas, you might even be able to paint a picture of what Someone (not you) would be like without that dreadful story.

That’s YOUR mind, able to imagine and come up with answers.

You’re good at the opposite, dark, haunting, violent, horror imagined stories….why not use your imagination for a little of the opposite for once?

Just saying.

Turning the thought around: it’s hopeful. It’s not hopeless.

Whatever “hope” is, is not actually required (the biggest turnaround). My thinking is hopeless….not me, not the world, not everything in my life. Hope is not a “thing” and not even important.

Oooh.

That’s true.

Can you find examples, no matter how small, of how things are rather hopeful around here? Or how whatever they are, hope isn’t needed?

Yes.

Autumn late afternoon sun beaming on fresh green wet grass. Wild bunnies racing down the road to escape the car. Traffic sounds from rush hour people driving from work. Silence in the evening air.

People I worked with today feeling different than they felt last week when we met. Two days from now, all the people coming for retreat here in Seattle–everyone coming to join with me (amazing) to question thoughts, and change our world.

I took a tour of the retreat house I’ll be teaching at two evenings from now. I was so grateful for the beauty of the place, how gorgeous it’s set up. The location is stunning, and it supports the process of inquiry. Almost no profit for this retreat, due to expenses.

But hopeful?

Why not. And right now, what’s true is quiet tapping of fingers on keyboard. No retreat in sight. Beautiful kitchen table. Friendly laptop. Pretty pink phone. Calendar open to November since that’s the next time I can make any client appointments.

This moment, glorious.

“Hope means intentionally using the idea of a future to keep you from experiencing the present. It’s a crutch, but if you feel lame, use it.” ~ Byron Katie

Hope is not required for happiness right now, I notice. Strange, but true.

And, I can open up to hope, if I feel lame, like I’m limping, like I’m not making it, like I keep dropping into my addictions, like I fall in the hole 50 times a day.

Then maybe the future looks better. But right now? Maybe it’s not as bad as you think. No, really.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Last minute thought to join retreat? You’d be welcome. Reply to this Grace Note. Join us–4 days in The Work.

P.P.S. If you have special interest in ending eating battles of any kind–obsessing about food, body, weight, exercise–then download this guide and let me know if it’s helpful. I’d really love to know. Download it HERE. Share it with others who you think would benefit.

Here’s the bottom line

Countdown to Year of Inquiry starting next week with Orientation, and the following week with live calls. We’re very close to full.

I love beginning the new year in September. It’s probably conditioning from schooling my entire childhood. It begins to feel like fall, with more orange sun, longer shadows, slightly shorter days. And my hands are clapping to think of sitting in self-inquiry with all the wonderful people showing up to share a year together.

There are 3 final spots open for the FULL program (receiving ITW credit for the equivalent of a School for The Work plus 80 more partnering credits plus a few more for a total of 166).

Two people asked about receiving credit inside ITW even if they’ve already completed two Schools for The Work. The answer is YES, you’d get credit in ITW for this Year of Inquiry program if you complete it in full, even if you’ve got two schools or more already on your certification resume.

So if you are interested in really diving in to full blown training and moving towards certification in The Work, being in your own investigation of what has stressed you in your life, and being a part of a group doing this together for a year….join us in this deep way to practice and sink into The Work as a way of living.

If you have questions about the full program, I’m happy to talk (press reply and we’ll set up a time). The fee for the FULL program earning all credits in the Institute for The Work is $3200 (or you can have the option of paying monthly). You’ll come to two retreats in Seattle (October and May) and partner with someone in the group once a month (you’ll receive a partner assignment, you don’t have to choose a partner yourself).

To join sign up here (you’ll see links at the bottom for your program choice): JOIN NOW.

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How do we know something’s stressful?

We feel it. Anger, rage, horror, terror, anxiety, shock, worry, sadness.

When feelings are really big….they can’t be missed.

But what about less obvious emotions? What if you feel just a slight irritation, or annoyance, or boredom?

Sometimes, when a feeling isn’t so crushing (and sometimes even when it is)….we humans can tend to move with speed towards the first instinctual order of business: Stop the feeling!! I want to get off!! 

Think about what it’s like when you take care of an upset baby.

We begin to try to figure out why the baby is crying, angry, fearful, distressed. If all basics are handled (hungry, thirsty, tired, diaper changed) then we often move to cheer the baby up. We shake shiny things, sing songs, make goofy noises, snap our fingers, bounce.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that….it’s often what works beautifully for babies.

As adults, however, there may be more than survival-level disturbances or needs. We are fed, clothed, watered and awake. Needs are met in the physical world.

Yet, instead of inquiring, writing, and studying more deeply what might be bothering us, we automatically want to shake shiny things. Eat, drink, smoke, nap, sneak, watch netflix, internet, clean, text, date, buy, spend, work.

Make the distress stop! 

If the stress stems from a disturbance in the mind, however, based on believing what you think as the Truth….

….no shiny thing will ever really work to end the suffering.

(I tried it with food, and it wasn’t pretty).

It may be interesting for awhile, but then, if you’re like me, you might feel haunted by ghosts from the past, or images of what terrible thing might happen in the future.

It goes unresolved until you inquire into the nature of what you fear, or of what you find most heart-breaking.

The good news?

Sitting with the pain and difficulty, and the feelings–whether big or small–winds up being the easier way.

It’s weird, I know. Am I saying the harder way is the easier way?

Yeah, I basically AM saying the “harder” way (feeling strongly, looking at the suffering directly) is easier.

The best way I know how to do this….and it involves listening to the mind and including it as a companion, not an enemy….

….is The Work.

Even if you never join Year of Inquiry or any other group program, you can do The Work. You can do it for free.

First, sit down and think of ONE thing only that’s bothering you. Maybe in the back of your mind. One person who betrayed you, or hurt you, or who you haven’t forgiven.

Remembering that person, see the situation that disturbs you most, and write it down using a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.

Be so very honest on this worksheet. Furious, desperate, vengeful, grief-stricken.

It might be really, really uncomfortable….but you’ve got four questions. The secret sauce to transformation. The end of having to keep talking about that problem endlessly.

You can do this!

“Here’s the bottom line: suffering is optional. If you prefer to suffer, go on believing your stressful thoughts. But if you’d rather be happy, question them.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself

Much love,
Grace

P.S. Here’s the latest Peace Talk podcast on boredom stress. Enjoy and let me know what you think. Leave a review on itunes if you’re able to figure out how to leave reviews (LOL).

Must be doing something right–the astonishing generosity of humans

One beautifully striking notion from Byron Katie that I’ve so loved and learned from, has been the idea that what’s happening, the words you hear or read, your encounters, the sounds, sights, voices, behaviors, events and places you find yourself in….

….are all for you.

For your awareness, reflection, learning, challenge, enlightenment.

How do you know it’s supposed to happen?

It does.

This takes us to sometimes very intense places and memories. Questions arise. But that hurt! I didn’t like it! I’m not OK now!

The Work usually begins by voyaging into these churning waters, maybe even going into a big storm that’s been very frightening to navigate for most of your life. We start by visiting what we do NOT like in the world, most of the time. Perhaps it’s even a trip to hell.

Yikes! It takes courage to begin The Work. It really does.

But one time, in the midst of a big audience with Byron Katie on the stage, I heard Katie speak to this idea of loving what is another way.

The flip side.

A woman standing with the microphone was frightened. Her voice was shivering, her hair gray, her eyes bright with many years of experience behind them. She was well along in years, her adult daughter sitting next to her, as well as other members of her extended family.

She was talking with Katie about her suspicion that people didn’t really love her, even if they said so. That she had a hard time taking in attention, care, or kindness. She brushed it off. Something about it was sort of….embarrassing, or worrisome.

What if, when you encounter something wonderful, when you hear beautiful words you love, when someone expresses appreciation, when you witness love in action, when something happens you enjoy….

….isn’t this also happening because it’s supposed to happen?

How do you know you’re supposed to hear it, read it, see it, feel it?

You do!

Could there be underlying thoughts buried within that prevent goodness, gentleness, or kindness from being noticed, or trusted, even when it looks favorable?

The elderly woman seemed to understand, more and more, that she may have been mistaken, as she and Katie spoke about love and receiving and trusting reality in every situation.

She realized if she had trouble with compliments and taking it all in, that this was not really personal, and she could question what she was believing about it, just the way difficult things happening in the world were also not personal.

And she could trust, if she questioned her thinking, that she was hearing what she needed to hear in that moment. Including “I love you” and “thank you so much” and “I’m very grateful to you” and “I’m glad you’re around.”

Some good questions to ask yourself, if you find you have some discomfort with attention, or gratitude, is to wonder….what do I think it means, that I’m hearing this? Do I believe I’m supposed to do something, or owe something? What’s uncomfortable about celebrating and receiving the love someone’s expressing? Or sharing how much I love someone or something?

Can you simply be with this joy?

When someone first sent me a donation about eight years ago, I received it in an envelope in the mail. $10. I checked my calendar. Did I miss something? This must be a mistake. I don’t think this was an outstanding bill. Then I saw an email sent separately, and it said simply “thank you for the work you do.”

A few months went by, and I received a paypal donation. $300. What is this? I looked around in my calendar again and wondered if I forgot about an invoice or something. The donor added a note “I love your writing, it makes such a difference to me.”

What I wrote wasn’t even called Grace Notes yet. Although someone shortly after that who was in one of my teleclasses said “send these examples of The Work that you write about out to the world and call them Grace Notes!”

OK. They were named. I didn’t name them myself.

Then a little time went by, and someone sent $20, a few more weeks or months, another person sent $10, then someone sent $100. Then someone sent $600! People I never met before in my life, sending little notes of appreciation and sums of money from time to time. Sometimes a long while in between, then here comes something again.

Last week I received two donations in one week, both in the old-fashioned regular mail.

One was from a woman who took the money teleclass this past year. She sent me a map of her hike with the trail highlighted in sparkly orange and fine purple pens, and a fabulous note written all around the edges and two crisp $20 bills.

“The world in front of me is only ever kind….I am enjoying your Grace Notes while on the trail.”

The other was an absolutely beautiful card with a check for $50 and such kind, thoughtful words.

You have no idea how much it means to me to receive these personal notes, this expression of appreciation (and I love how that word appreciation is used in financial terms, too). Sometimes, people have sent gorgeous sharing of their stories and appreciation without money and this is also brilliantly beautiful.

Somehow, it continues to show me where to move and how to move. Without readers, there would be nothing here, and I suppose that would be OK too.

Yet I see we share in all this together, and I am so deeply moved by your generosity, so thank you for being here. In whatever form you’re doing it. Seriously.

You are awesome.

I give you a deep bow, to your precious unique life, and the One Mind life we all seem to have that loves getting on board the peace train, together.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Although it does cost money and involve time and energy and “work”, Year of Inquiry is a deep investment in freedom for your mind and questioning stressful thoughts of so many kinds. Last year, several people in YOI suggested they’d like to create a scholarship fund to help current YOI members travel who had only signed up for the teleclasses but couldn’t get all the way to Seattle for the fall and spring retreats because of the expense. It was so generous. It is indeed an opportunity to receive, share, get connected, and watch the world as it supports you. I love the people who join. And by the way, two men are already signed up (these programs tend to be well attended by women). Join us! (Deadline to sign up is August 31st). Read about it here.

Thinking of quitting? It’s probably not up to you. Drop the probably.

The other afternoon, a thought popped into my head. It wasn’t exactly peaceful.

“You should just quit.”

The thought was about working. Running my business, doing The Work for a living.

Right in the middle of an afternoon.

  • this will go on forever
  • I’ll never have any savings (or enough of ‘x’)
  • you haven’t amounted to much
  • so what (referring to just about anything)
  • I can’t retire like other people
I thought about canceling my noon yoga class, and the plan to work on the chapter I’m writing for an upcoming book on The Work, and definitely let’s not think about another podcast.
Who cares! 
The funny thing was, it was probably my brain trying to get me to take a break, go outside, relax. Or it was just a random suggestion. I love how the mind will recommend quitting when things seem a little bit hard, or very hard.
I notice these “So What” kinds of thoughts about work and projects come in only when I’m pushing hard, not taking any breaks, skipping meditation, not pausing to do The Work, avoiding rest.
But people, including me, frequently have this thought about quitting when they get upset with someone, feel pushed in between a rock and a hard place, and don’t know another way out. In an extreme way, “quitting” is what people are doing who feel suicidal and imagine exiting life here on planet earth.
Do you have anything you’ve thought about quitting recently?
You should.
Is it true?
No.
How do I react when I have the thought I should quit?
I have pictures of a future where I am no longer doing the thing. No longer in that relationship. No longer going to that location. No longer doing that work.
It is really amazing how powerful the urge to LEAVE is. Cut ’em off! I’m never speaking to her again! Goodbye forever! I quit!
Who would I be without the story of quitting?
Noticing I continue. I stick with the person, situation, circumstance, activity, or not. And it may have little to do with the thought of quitting.
Or nothing at all to do with it.
Turning the thought around: I don’t quit. I quit my thinking. “It” quit me.
All of these options have been true….and now that I think about it and do The Work on this idea of quitting….
….I’m not sure I’ve ever been the one that made quitting happen. I either just knew it was time to stop, or not. Perhaps fatigue and exhaustion caused quitting. Perhaps an awareness the thing wasn’t required resulted in quitting. Perhaps doing The Work caused quitting.
Perhaps there was no quitting whatsoever, even though the idea ran so loudly through my mind.
Here I am writing down the thoughts, sharing them with other people, doing The Work right in front of everyone (as a reader once said to me).
“I follow the way of it, which is always revealed in the moment. It’s God’s will, and it’s always crystal clear. When you no longer have a will of your own, there is no time and space. It all becomes a flow. You don’t decide, you flow from one happening to the next, and everything is decided for you…..This morning I had the thought to shower, and I notice that I stayed with the email. I find that fascinating. Showering was a wonderful idea. Will it move to that, or not? It’s exciting to wait and watch and allow life to move at its own pace as it continues to do what it does.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names for Joy
 
I have the idea to quit. I don’t quit. I have the idea to quit. One day I do.
Is it happening because I’ve decided so?
Never.
There are so many beautiful complexities to the life, the flow, the world. They include this mind, sometimes talking it seems to no one.
The ultimate full-blown complete opposite turnaround: I should just begin. But it’s already happening.
  • this will go on forever YAY!
  • I’ll always have enough of everything I need! WOOHOO!
  • you haven’t amounted to much, which is PERFECT
  • so what (referring to just about anything) HOORAY!
  • I can’t retire like other people. SO LUCKY!
Every new moment, beginning fresh. Looking around at the unknown, the mysterious, the shape of this room, the going for a walk, returning home, writing. Activities did change today. Nothing quit. Life is still here, continuing, never-ending. Always more possibilities, always room for The Work, always life just here, being.

Much love,

Grace

The Work of Byron Katie on Personal Shame. Begin.

Feeling ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, disgusted with yourself is one of the worst feelings ever.

If you’re like me at all, I used to want to hide in a closet and never come out if I felt embarrassed about something I said or did.

I ate. Or smoked. Or went to movies to take my mind off myself doing that embarrassing thing, or acting that dumb way, or making that stupid mistake. I’d call myself an idiot.

I wanted to leave town and never show my face again.

If someone triggered me into an experience of feeling shame, I might also have thoughts like “that person is so mean, rude, controlling, nasty, immature, etc,” and judge the heck out of them.

They MADE me feel so bad!

Up until a few years ago, if I felt confronted by someone about a thing I said or did that they didn’t like, I might go overboard to fix it, make it so they didn’t think poorly of me, and then hope it was never mentioned again. It was like I couldn’t relax until I knew they liked me.

If I felt like someone had a poor image of me, I stopped answering their phone calls or efforts to get together. Too dangerous.

It’s powerful to look at what you’re thinking, and believing, when you feel ashamed.

I once had a friend say I wasn’t helping out enough around the meal clean up.

Instant shame.

My impulse was to rush to the kitchen and start frantically cleaning everything in sight. I actually DID jump up and move. It never occurred to me for a second to say my back hurt and I was stretching, so I’m opting out.

OMG! I could never say that! (It almost feels weird to write it even now, years later! Who cares about your hurt back, just suck it up and pitch in…..right?!)

What was really going on in the moment someone confronted me, or had a request, or criticized me….were thoughts almost entirely about my ego being bruised, my identity of Good Person being shattered.

  • She should think I’m awesome. At all times.
  • No one should ever be hurt by something I do or say.
  • I must be perceived as caring, thoughtful and kind.
  • People should all love me (and they don’t).
  • It’s not safe to have people dislike you–they can hurt you, cut you off, ditch you, and stab you in the back

One thing I noticed about these underlying fears were….

….they weren’t really about SHAME!

Shame was the reaction. Shame was what happened when I believed someone didn’t like me. Like a weird motivator of violence against myself so I’d fix me.

I was actually terrified out of my skull if someone moved away from me, thought critically of me, didn’t like something I said or did.

I was terrified because I thought I should be perfect and perfect meant never disturbing anyone else, ever. Maybe if they knew everything about me, they WOULD be disturbed. So I have to keep a lid on it.

Now….you can take this even farther by wondering if there’s anyone early in your life who you worried about their view of you?

My parents instantly come to mind, and today, my father.

He was very proper, upstanding, charitable, kind, not at all aggressive, thoughtful, and caring. He only showed anger once a year. He was very faithful in the church, and devoted. He was someone who in my eyes, and in the eyes of many, did the “right” thing. He never put his foot in his mouth, or bothered anyone, it seemed. He was a beloved professor to many students.

But somehow, it was clear that he also had very high standards. He disapproved of quite a few behaviors, and spoke of people he didn’t respect.

Just listening to his words, I vowed to make sure I would never be someone who he could talk about like this. I wanted him to love me all the time, and never be critical.

There’s RIGHT and there’s WRONG. I believed it.

Do you have someone who if they didn’t approve of you, you’d feel absolutely terrible? Has that actually happened?

Even if it hasn’t happened, you can hold that upstanding person in your mind, and notice the fear that enters if you think they MIGHT disapprove of you, or they are disapproving of someone else.

If you’ve done something that if THEY knew you did it, they’d reject you….you can imagine them finding out, and do The Work from this horrifying prospect: someone you care about very much KNOWS what you did, and they disapprove.

Let’s do The Work!

Is it true you need their approval? Is it true that because of the way it went in that situation, you are a bad person? Is it true you must always be perceived as generous, kind, patient, or good in some other way? Is it true you must never, ever, ever hurt anyone’s feelings, and if you do–FIX IT–or hide it forever?

Sigh.

It’s a lot of pressure.

I can’t really know it’s true. It’s hard to be good in everyone’s eyes. It’s hard to TRY to be perfect, to WORK at doing the right thing.

It’s exhausting, actually.

How I react, when I believe I need to be perceived as safe, good, and loving and “work” at it….is I don’t speak the truth, I’m very careful with most humans (especially anyone who reminds me of my dad) and I worry if someone doesn’t express praise, or approval, or doesn’t give me a nod or smile.

Holy Smokes. So stressful.

Who would you be without the belief you have to be good, right, upstanding, clear, loving, and not ever do anything that would disturb someone?

Wait. Really?

Are you sure it’s OK not to work at being the best possible person in the entire world that I could be (and this equals never bothering anyone)?

Yes.

Because it just doesn’t seem natural to have to work, and get all twisted in a pretzel to make sure you look acceptable, and accepting.

Who would you be without this stressful story that you need to be seen as upstanding, positive, healthy, nice, kind…whatever your words are that you worry about NOT being?

Who would you be without the belief you need to be approved of, by THAT person (you know the one)?

How could it be a good thing that someone hasn’t found you ideal, or perfect? How could it be of benefit that someone said “no” or “you did it wrong!”

Whew. I almost have no idea.

I’ve been operating as if this is a given for so many years, I can’t imagine feeling entirely free to be myself, naturally me, without shame or judgment.

And then….

….I feel it. Just a wee bit. Who I’d be, What I’d be, without the thought.

It’s so light. It’s exciting. Magnificent even.

Without the belief I shouldn’t impose on anyone, or be disapproved of, or be perceived as unloving….

….I am very happy suddenly. Like it’s just completely 100% OK to be whatever this is. Responding, being, connecting, disconnecting. Being a human. Not expecting myself to be more, or other than, human.

Turning the underlying thoughts around:

  • She should think I’m human, capable of foibles. At all times.
  • People should be hurt by something I do or say, when they are.
  • I must NOT be perceived as caring, thoughtful and kind.
  • People shouldn’t all love me (and they do–hee hee).
  • It’s not safe to have people like you (how interesting!)–they can hurt you, cut you off, ditch you, and stab you in the back. And, they can heal you, open you up, set you free, wake you up.

These turnarounds feel so much lighter, so much more true than the original stressful thoughts.

They are worth sitting with slowly, deliberately, and finding your own answers one by one.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.”

~ Mary Oliver from the poem Wild Geese

For more sharing on shame and working with this stressful experience, listen to Peace Talk Podcast Episode 133 right HERE.

f you feel shame about something, my number one suggestion?

Pick only one moment where you believe you did it wrong, or you ARE wrong.

Write a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on that moment. Write down all your beliefs (it’s OK to hide it somewhere, so no one can find it and read it). Write down what you think the WORST thing is that could happen if the whole world was aware of this about you.

Then begin to inquire.

“Your separation from God has ripened. 

Now fall like a golden fruit 

Into my hand. 

All your wounds from craving love

Exist because of heroic deeds.

Now trade in those medals;

That courage will help this world.”

~ Hafiz, from the Poem Trying To Wear Pants

Much love,

Grace

P.S. My hands are clapping with the inquirers signing up for Year of Inquiry. If there’s any way to explore and dissolve shame, its with steady self-inquiry using The Work in the presence of other people.

I find no other way so helpful. Read about YOI HERE and scroll all the way down for fees, how the program works, and the schedule. People in Institute for The Work receive credit worth one full School for The Work plus 80 credits of one-to-one partnering. Join us. Your courage will help this world. At least, that’s my story.

The stress of trying to get rid of your thoughts….can be deadly

Year of Inquiry is now taking registrations for 2017-2018. Read all about it HERE and scroll down for logistical details like the schedule, fees, and the monthly topics. We begin Sept 5th. It’s OK to think about it a bit. It’s a big commitment, worth pondering. I usually take registrations until August 30th. If it looks like it will fill before then, I’ll let you know.

For the first time ever, Institute for The Work candidates training to be certified in The Work can earn an entire School for The Work plus 80 credits more by completing the YOI Program.

Everyone in Year of Inquiry ends the year with two months of Summer Camp for The Mind, underway right now.

And what a great call just yesterday, where we heard about a situation some might call tragic.

Someone close to us dies, unexpectedly, from a drug overdose.

Death sometimes seems like the worst case scenario–not always, not hands-down The Worst–but often with death or thinking of death, we feel the pain of loss, the finality, the sadness, the quick in-breath.

Our minds start dancing about, running to find whose fault it is or answer the question about why it occurred. Who contributed? Could someone have stopped it? How did this happen?

Recently I’ve received a few email letters from folks who don’t feel like living, who can’t stand living with a mind that’s dark, destructive, violent, or depressive. They just want to get out of the anxiety, get away from thoughts that hurt.

I don’t blame them for a second.

Having a mind that’s yelling at you is very tough. People report feeling almost traumatized by their own mind.

One thing I know that helps, when it comes to inquiry?

Questioning this thought: I hate my mind. It has to stop. I have to shut it down.

These are the kinds of thoughts I used to have all the time that prompted binge-eating, or drinking, or smoking, or obsessing about one problem or topic without being able to put it down, ever.

I imagine it’s what someone was thinking, in part, that would want to use heroin, or a drug to the point of overdosing on it.

So let’s inquire. Because almost everyone has had these kinds of thoughts about disliking their own mental process. They may not decide they want to die, but they still have thoughts like “I’m a mess, I should be different, I hate how I am, how I think.”

Is it true your mind has to stop, you have to shut it down or change it, you need to quit having the thoughts you do?

What? Of course it’s true!

It’s why I’m doing The Work.

Right?

Pause. Wait.

Can you absolutely know it’s true you have to change your thinking, quit thinking that way, get away from your thoughts, shut them down?

Um. It’s weird, but I can’t say “yes, it’s absolutely true.”

I notice people think thoughts that are terrifying, depressing, enraged, desperate, confusing, sad. I’ve thought a lot of them. Probably billions of them.

It seems that in reality, the way of it, people think difficult thoughts.

My difficult thoughts, actually, have been what has pointed to the places I most need to look. The places I felt most traumatized, ashamed of, where my beliefs were the most stressful.

So it can’t be absolutely true that I shouldn’t, or they shouldn’t, think stressful thoughts.

How do you react when you believe you MUST change your thinking, end it, remove it, delete it, get away from it?

The way I reacted is I felt worse. I read books. I signed up for programs to help. I ate. I went to a movie. I felt horrible. I didn’t talk with anyone. I isolated myself. I withdrew from people, not wanting to be around them or connect with them. I drank. I attacked my own mind very viciously, with words. I moved on to the next program. I felt bad. My feelings were wild, intense, frightening, just like my thoughts about how much I hated my thoughts.

So who would I be without this thought that my mind is my enemy, it’s thinking the wrong way, it needs to stop, it needs to change, NOW?

Weird.

But a strange sense of excitement, even a very soft “wow” begins to arise.

You mean, this battling mind so full of dark thoughts and mean, nasty words, and brutal attacks towards itself….wasn’t my enemy?

Didn’t need to be shut down with force?

I notice, without the thought that my thoughts are terrible and need to be changed….

….this present moment suddenly becomes lighter.

Looking at the past, it also seems lighter. Like a long, unusual journey through brambles, storms, dangerous seas….but also sunny weather, lazy days, moving connections, insights.

I don’t need to seek anything that’s missing, or DO something to eliminate or make change….without the thought my mind needs to be fixed, changed, shut down, hated.

Without any thought that I must fight and kill the mind, I don’t actually have any interest in getting in gear for a war.

I might listen to what it’s saying instead.

Oh. Wow.

Turning the concepts around: I love my mind. It has to keep going. I have to open it up. I shouldn’t be different, I accept how I am, how I think.

These feel so much more gentle. Could they be just as true, or truer? What are examples?

Well, the thoughts I have, even if violent and aggravating or scary, are telling me important things about how I’m viewing the world.

They’re telling me I’m upset about a thing or two. They’re reminding me…Re-Minding me…what to look at much more closely, for understanding and awareness. They actually help my mind rejoin itself and come back together.

Sure, it doesn’t feel that great to have a mind full of trauma, pictures, worries, criticism, judgment. But it’s doing what it can do to get my attention!

I want to look and to know. It’s actually pretty amazing to go back, and to look, at events and situations that overwhelmed me and freaked me out, especially to look with inquiry and investigation at a deep level.

I’d rather not bypass, come to think of it. It never worked to eat my head off (I love that phrase, doesn’t it just say the perfect reason for eating I had at the time? Eating my head OFF). It never worked to try to shut the thinking down, or enforce change in my mind, or chant lots of affirmations.

Every time there’s a battle, I lose. Even if I’m at war with my own thoughts.

Byron Katie says from time to time: “We either believe our thoughts, or we question them. There’s no other choice.”

I keep discovering, there isn’t any other choice. Part of me would like there to be (OK, not really). Isn’t there a short cut somewhere? Can’t it just stop? You mean my choices really are A) Believe or B) Question. Can’t I do something else?

No.

I am not in charge.

Not even of this thinking.

I am not in charge of discovering self-inquiry either….I backed into it and kept following it because I noticed when I believed all those swirling wild uncomfortable troubling thoughts, I suffered and wanted to shut down the suffering with force.

When I questioned those troubling thoughts, they seemed to turn into laughter. Trust. Love. Even joy.

The inquiry offered wisdom, and making things very simple: questioning just one concept at a time.

“I don’t let go of my concepts–I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Much love, Grace

When the student is ready…the story will appear. Or so it seems for me, today.

 

For two days, my primary focus has been sitting with Byron Katie (as she is streamed via video from Switzerland) and a beautiful group of people sharing complete silence together in between all the sessions.

This may sound a little funny….like not that exciting, or perhaps even difficult (I’ve been on very difficult silent retreats before when my mind was very active), or maybe weird that it’s all on video so how could this be “real”.

But oh my.

Am I ever glad I have done this for 3 years in a row, even though this year my venue went away last minute, I had to grab something site-unseen and I thought it wasn’t going to be so nice being in the city center (one of my thoughts) and I thought I was going to “lose” money, blah blah blah.

None of that logistical, financial or detail stuff matters at all, in comparison to the beauty of questioning stressful stories, hearing Katie answer peoples’ questions, hearing the incredible work the people in Switzerland are doing.

Here’s one thing I know.

I would not sit still like this, with 3 hours of silence in between sessions (just like the folks in Switzerland). I wouldn’t take the morning walk in silence where we all intentionally walk together in walking meditation. I wouldn’t write out my own thoughts, taking note, doing The Work with people in between sessions if they’re really upset or confused. I just wouldn’t give myself that (this is also a story, I realize).

The way I’d do it on my own is to watch it in segments, get up, walk away, pause the video, do laundry, answer emails, answer the phone, NOT write worksheets or contemplate the astonishing concepts people bring forward on my own.

People in the retreat in Switzerland have done worksheets on death, extreme violence at the hand of a parent, the meat industry, needing the love of a partner, wanting mother to be different. Their situations are so beautiful, and amazing, and such teaching for those of us who listen.

One of the participants did The Work on life today. What a big wide-open concept. She was worried, actually terrorized, that life was dangerous or something terrible could happen.

Katie asked us all, during a 3 hour silent break, to think about any times in our lives when we were not OK, and to write them down.

When was I not OK?

Part of me was thinking I know I’m OK….I’m completely OK so far.

Yet, I still had visions and pictures of the times appearing in my mind, even though I’ve done The Work on major aspects of these situations.

I had fun writing them anyway.

  • When I lost all my money and couldn’t pay the mortgage
  • When my former husband said he didn’t want to be married anymore
  • When my sister cut me off
  • When one of my best friends betrayed me by reporting me to the Department of Health for a completely false reason
  • When I tore my right hamstring off my right pelvic bone
  • When I learned I had cancer–a sarcoma tumor on my thigh
  • When I learned my dad was dying of leukemia many years ago

The thing is….I’ve found great peace by doing The Work on all these things. I’ve even found that I’d welcome them happening again (almost) because of the learning, the total OK-ness, that resulted.

I wanted to go back further, though.

I wanted to follow Katie’s invitation to write about Father-Mother-Sister-Brother from the distant past. The things that happened where original beliefs were born.

Like the first betrayal, the first awareness that I would die, the first awareness that my mom or dad would die, the first time I hurt myself physically, the first fight with a sister, the first sadness with a best friend.

I just couldn’t get into it.

Too old. Too far away. Not possible. I don’t feel upset, and I can’t even remember it anymore.

Then. Something happened.

I decided to walk during the 3 hour break. I felt a huge draw to move through the neighborhood of this darling house we were calling our Being-With-Byron-Katie-Silent-Retreat house.

I walked past a Open House for sale, only a few blocks from our retreat. I suddenly realized, I’ve been here before. I broke silence for a moment when the real estate agent approached me in the very quiet house. I said I grew up near here and pointed out the window across the water to another neighborhood about a mile away.

She whipped out her phone and looked up my high school sweetheart’s name in association with the houses on the street.

He lived two houses away. This house was one of his friends’ house. My friend Isabel lived 5 houses away. My friend Sarah lived 8 houses away.

I left the Open House and walked twenty feet to the front of my high school sweetheart’s house. I suddenly remembered walking up the hill to visit him. I remembered walking up the same hill to visit my friend Sarah in sixth grade.

I followed my same path I took many times back to the family home I grew up in, and took a photo.

Everything was coming back to me, like a huge early saga of a movie. I felt nostalgic, and sad, and full of longing, and love, and amazement that here I was, my future 56 year old self, visiting from the future….which was the NOW. None of those nostalgic or sad emotions filled me, they were in the background. They weren’t ALL of me, like so many stories have been.

I mostly felt….gratitude.

There’s the house of Mr. Glass who my dad liked so much, there’s the short-cut up from the play field, here’s the little grocery store where it was such a big deal to walk down the street and get an ice cream bar or some kind of treat, here’s the elementary school, here’s the street where I learned to drive and cars can’t even use it anymore–it’s exclusively closed for walking, there’s one of my best friend’s house where I got served pancakes by his kind mom Mrs. Miller who was also super nice when my dad died.

How lucky can one person be?

To be shown this visit, so that I remember some other times I thought I was not OK that were early. Boyfriend breaking up with me. Sarah moving to White Plains, New York. Fighting with my sister and throwing her clothes out of the window. Mom getting breast cancer. My skin color dividing me from others. Feeling fat.

I can go there.

I can do this work.

I can remember, on purpose.

Byron Katie said to us yesterday (I’m paraphrasing so I can’t put quotes around this one): I’m asking you to go to Hell. I know this is not a little thing. But there are four questions you can take with you. Don’t go, in fact, unless you take the four questions. But in Hell, with these questions….peace becomes possible.

Anything is possible.

What I love noticing is, how safe we are right now, as we go in our minds to that hellish place or that terrifying, awful place, or that sad place we remember.

I am so very safe indeed right now. I am so surrounded by abundance, and the support I need right when I need it. I’m almost shocked with the perfection of it all.

And today, because I just happen to be someone who loves the work, and who therefore arranged this retreat, and wound up renting this retreat house, which happened to be near my old neighborhood of my childhood (all of which I could never have planned)….

….I’m ready to do The Work on things that weren’t available to me before. They appear now. Memories. Situations. Hellish times or even just slightly bothersome ones. Rising up for inquiry.

And I love whatever appears to you, in your particular life, is just right for you, too. Whatever bugs you. If it’s present, you can inquire.

“Just to notice what is, is love.” ~ Byron Katie

 

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If you want to join our Being With Byron Katie Retreat for the second two days (Monday 7/10 and Tuesday 7/11) here in Seattle, there are people who have to go to work tomorrow, who won’t be at the retreat house with us–so there is room for you. Email me.

P.P.S. The photo above is right by our retreat house, down the hill, and in my old neighborhood where I grew up. Portage Bay Lilies.