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A Blessing for Times of Change

Hello friends! I’m back from my August break, and have logged glorious hours biking, swimming, sleeping in, painting, hanging out with friends, and blessedly not listening to any self-help podcasts or reading much news.

And change is in the air. Can you feel it? Though it was eighty degrees in Bellingham, I felt a little chill in the air sitting on the deck this afternoon. And I feel ready.

I said goodbye to my son this morning as he began a 1200-mile road trip on his way back to college. I thought I had done my grieving when he left last year, but it turns out the second time is just as hard. I got up early and wrote him a letter, and I’ve excerpted some of it for you here.

Maybe you’re not heading off to college, but I’ll bet something is changing. You’re moving or thinking of moving. Your children are starting school or leaving school. You’re changing jobs or roles, or you’re starting to get angry about something. You’re being healed or you’re getting ready for surgery, you’re looking for new friends or leaving friendships.

Whatever this season holds for you, here’s a little nurturing energy for you. I hope there’s something in it you can use.

Dear amazing son,

I remember hearing that the first goodbye was just prep for all the others. It’s true. However many summers or holidays you come home, I'll always be glad to see you, and I'll always be sad to see you go.

It might be the case that some parents feel the need to give their children advice at these kinds of life transitions. You know I often can't help myself from dropping pearls of wisdom (!!), but there's really not a lot of advice I want to give you. Every day, you astound me with how much you know about life and about yourself. And if you don't know something, you generally know you don't know it, and you'll find a way to start learning it.

So I guess the spirit of this letter is more about what I wish for you, the kinds of experiences or deep, inner knowing that I desire for you. You will probably figure all of this without any help from me, but I suppose it just helps me to say these things anyway.

So here are some things I wish for you as head off for your second year of college:

Health and well-being. This may seem so obvious, but we get this one body to use during our lifetimes and taking care of it is the best thing we can do if we want to keep learning, loving, and adventuring. I hope you get enough sleep, get out and skateboard or ride your bike, buy some fruits and vegetables during your weekly shopping, and use drugs and alcohol sparingly and not in an attempt to make yourself feel better. One of my mentors, adrienne maree brown, talks about how one of her rules for herself is to use weed and psychedelics only when she's in a good emotional space. She uses them to enhance her pleasure and joy in life, not to fix something. I think that's a good rule. (And that sounded an awful lot like advice. I guess I can't help myself!)

Awe and wonder. You and I have talked before about "awe and wonder" as one definition of spirituality. I think you practice this really well, and I love seeing you fall more and more in love with the natural world. When you step outside to look at the stars, take a trip to the beach, or hike in the mountains, my wish for you is not just that you experience the beauty, but that you somehow connect with the ineffable, a sense that the universe has your back, that you are precious, and that life knows how to keep living.

Music and books. I love, love, love to see how much you have made music and books part of your life. I hope you always have time to listen to music and read books. Even more, I hope you keep making music, and I hope you keep writing. There is something really essential about being a creator, not just a consumer, and the world needs what you have to give.

Love and friendship. As you know, love comes in so many forms. All of the great spiritual teachers tell us that we don't get the goods without risking vulnerability. It's okay to want and need companionship and intimacy, and it's okay to risk awkwardness and rejection to get it. In fact, there is no other way. At 48, I still get a little shy about asking a new person out for coffee or going deeper in my friendships, and that's as it should be. It’s all worth it.

Hope despite the odds against it. You and I share the blessing and the curse of living in reality and feeling it all. We know what the forest fires and dying coral reefs and overgrazed pasturelands mean, and we are profoundly sad about it. AND I wish that you continually find pleasure, joy, and goodness in this life. And that, if you feel like those things are elusive, you ask for help.

A wildly successful window-cleaning business. Or other venture that allows you to make good money on your own schedule. Dad and I have both pursued this in various ways, and it's allowed us to spend a lot of time being parents and doing other things we care about. It's allowed us to create lives that aren't only about work, and I love to see how you are already thinking about this. If the whole thing flops, you will have learned a lot that will help you with the next thing. And here is truly a piece of advice: DO NOT GET UP ON AN UNSTEADY LADDER. Slow down, make sure everything is secure, take your time, do one thing at a time.

Vocational threads to keep pulling on. Maybe the thing I'm most sure of is that one thing always leads to the next thing. Your studies will lead to some connections and other pathways you want to explore. Those will lead to other people and ventures, and one day you will look up and realize that you've stumbled into an absorbing, fulfilling life for yourself. I'm not worried about you working hard or getting bored. Just keep being curious and keep opening yourself up to what is next.

The skill to feel and express your emotions. You have a rich inner life. Unfortunately, our socialization (especially for men) teaches us that it's too risky and takes too much energy to really feel what we're feeling and to express it. I see you completely bucking that trend, and I hope that continues despite the many people you'll run into who are aren't skilled in this. You'll find your tribe--other emotionally intelligent people who also know how to have fun and think critically. They are out there, and they will be so lucky to find you.

Obviously, honey, I could not love you more, and I hope you see that without me writing a letter about it. I admire and respect you, I'm proud of you, I will miss you, I am cheering you on with my whole being.

--

And I’m cheering you on, too. Happy end-of-summer.

UPCOMING EVENTS
 

  • The Wild Within: Third Sundays September-December, 10:00-11:15am PST. FREE. Emily, Natasha, and I come together again to facilitate a drop-in space for you to learn to be at home in your own body, listen to yourself and others, and cultivate the inner knowing that gets us through hard times. You can register HERE.
 
  • FREE Book Club: September 21st 7:00pm. Carbon AlmanacCarbon Almanac is a collection of facts-by experts who care. The climate crisis is just one topic of many, clamoring for our commitment to change. If you’re like me-wondering where to start sometimes leaves me frozen. It’s hard to decipher how to participate in meaningful change. What we do know is that any meaningful impact will require us working together. This book-an example of collaboration-brings us facts, practical ideas, and leads us to connect with each other to take a step. Any step forward. 

    Join us to digest this collection and hopefully walk away with a few practical ideas of what you-and your community-can do. First two people to REGISTER with a friend get free copies of this book.
FREE DISCOVERY SESSION: Find a time HERE to connect with me. This short, 30 minute session will help both of us decide if what you're looking for is a good fit for what I offer.

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