I’m fortunate that I work with and for leaders who inspire me. When I saw this post, it got me thinking about what inspires me about them and how that inspiration serves me. Or anyone.
I also wonder, is it up to our leaders to inspire us, or is it up to us to find inspiration within ourselves?
The leaders in my life inspire me to bring my whole self to the table because they bring their whole selves to the table. They inspire me to challenge myself because they challenge themselves. They offer me opportunities I don’t always feel ready for, but their faith in me encourages me to go for it. I’m encouraged to believe in my worth and capabilities because they believe in theirs and mine. They are honest and vulnerable. They’re not perfect and don’t pretend to have all the answers. They lean on the team and admit when they are mistaken. They are intelligent, humble, immensely competent, empowered women who show me how to be the same.
This kind of leader inspires me, but what if it doesn’t inspire the next person? Some people don’t like being thrust into the deep end, and some don’t enjoy a leader who shares their vulnerable side. Are we saying that leaders need to be mind readers, too?
So, IS it up to our leaders to inspire us, or is it up to us to find inspiration within ourselves?
Furthermore, yes, I’m lucky to have two exceptional leaders at work. But as I thought of those inspirational leaders in my life, I also thought of my coworkers, classmates, instructors, friends, neighbours, and family. I thought of my parents, my husband, and my children. And I even thought of myself.
All these leaders demonstrate how to be the kind of leader I want to embody. But also, through all I mentioned, all that I see in them, they show me that I don’t have to strive to be any different than I am. I have the opportunity to believe in myself since every single admirable quality or attribute I recognize in others lives inside me already. I see these qualities in others because I already possess them; this is what draws me to inspirational leaders: my desire and inspiration is being reflected back at me!
If we sit back waiting for leaders to inspire us, I believe we operate from victimhood. When we don’t feel inspired, we can point to our leaders and say it’s all their fault.
Ultimately, it might be up to US to inspire our leaders, too. To show them how great THEY are and can be. This inspiration deal is, in truth, a two-way street.
Reunions are typically between one or more people from our past and can be exciting, heart-warming, and daunting experiences. But who are we really reuniting with?
In April, we went to England and reunited with my husband’s family and friends. He hadn’t hung out with his buddies in probably 20 years. It was a thrill to watch him. He seemed to be reuniting with his younger, carefree, mischievous self. His English accent became slightly thicker and his laugh slightly louder, if that’s possible. While in England, we also reunited with his mum, whom he hadn’t seen in about eight years (our son and I saw her just before Covid). We even reunited with her lovely little house and the wondrously charming village of Englefield. So, it seems reunions can happen with things and places as well.
Then this weekend, there were two more reunions. We hosted a dinner for some old friends of my husband’s whom we hadn’t seen for 20 years. The last time was when our babies were babies. It was surreal to talk and laugh as if no time had passed. We knew each other but we also didn’t. It takes a bit of an adjustment to figure out how to connect with people after a long time apart, and it’s a little uncomfortable, to be honest. So, I just kept busy bustling in the kitchen. It helped that there were present-day friends at the dinner with whom I could ground myself. It was like a reminder: oh yeah…this is me today.
Stretching back even further in time, I reunited with friends from my air cadet days. Many of us hadn’t seen in each other for 30 years. What prompted it? The second Top Gun movie opened this weekend and since I saw the first one with these same people, it seemed fitting to see the second one with them. We met for the movie and then gathered at a pub afterwards reliving the hay days of our youth.
It strikes me in this moment that reunions are like time travel. We travelled back to our teen years through the stories that were told. I heard perspectives about me and others that I had either forgotten or didn’t notice from the vantage point of my lived experience. I got a peek into my past through the various narration of other people’s memories.
What happened internally was strange and a little discombobulating. I got this sense of drifting in and out of being me. During all of the reunions, there were moments of being myself fully. The Me I’ve come to know today: I’m 48, a mom, a wife, and a friend. I love and am loved. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I know I’m more than this body, my job, or anything else external. I’m rooted in a knowing and an unknowing of my true nature. Then there were also moments when I was 15, 17, 20, 25 years old again. And I FELT that age again; I felt the old embarrassment, pride, insecurity, jealousy, excitement, or the butterflies of an old crush I had from that time. I had to consciously return to the present, letting go of old paradigms.
It is strange to be pulled back and forth through time, through old versions of myself. I felt powerless to it, as if the time lords were having their way with me. Powerless and yet what a trip! Perhaps that’s the gift of reunions.
I WAS wondering what the point was of gathering with people whom I had spent my teenage years. After all, they are like strangers; I have no idea of their interests, desires, values, or preferences, which is really no different from any other stranger I might meet.
Except they aren’t the same as any other stranger.
These lovely people are an important part of my formative years. During those teen years when I tested out who I was and definitely who I wasn’t. We were all doing that then. Experiementing with what felt right and what aspects of our personalities felt true. Collecting data, not all of it pleasant. Evolving into adult versions of ourselves. Different yet the same as the little ones inside of us.
All our emotional reactivity stems from the unresolved patterns of youth. Therefore, there is a maelstrom of information to be found in those years. People from the past could hold precious keys to the inner working of my psyche for all I know. Now isn’t THAT a load of pressure to put on someone from the past?!
No. Now that I think about it, it’s more likely that I uncover the precious keys myself as I revisit those times.
However, it’s painful to revisit my younger self since I felt so insecure during my teens and twenties. I used to morph and squish myself into what I thought would make me fit in. While that pull isn’t so strong now, I have to admit it’s not entirely gone either. It seeps in now and then.
During these reunions, I had a sense of my young ghost standing next to me. I could almost see her sheepishly and, at times, connivingly standing there, ready to jump in and take over.
There was a time when I really didn’t like her. Go away, I might think. I’m not you anymore. I’m better now.
Better. What a judgement on my young self. As if there was something to fix then. Something to fix now. It would be easy to shame her. To label her as wrong or bad for her misbehaviour in the past. Or, in some ways, label her as better for her youth and vibrant physicality. I notice that it’s easy to compare today’s me to yesterday’s as better or worse, as superior or deficient.
But I could also join with her. I could see her as beautifully innocent, trying her best to walk through this life intact. I could forgive her for her confusions and missteps, and I could applaud her bravery. I could comfort her heartbreaks. And I could soothe her wounded feelings. I could bring her onto my lap and assure her that I won’t abandon her, that I’m here with her and for her.
We could reunite.
I could reunite with those parts of me that I left behind in the name of maturity, growth, improvement, and evolvement. I could invite her on the journey rather than leave her behind. She has wisdom I’ve forgotten along the way. I can be so hard on the me of today based on judgments and beliefs of how I should be. Was my young self as jaded and refined in her beliefs? In some ways, perhaps.
The truer truth is that there was nothing wrong with me then and there’s nothing wrong with me now.
According to the online Dictionary, the definition of a reunion is “the act or process of being brought together again as a unified whole.”
These reunions were a unification. Three reunions with precious people from my life; three different me’s in space and time, reunited, also.
I’m sharing this story again because it’s important to spread the word. And I have a slight follow-up…
As I wrote about in my previous post, it was the employees at Save-on Foods (a grocery store) who saved me. It took THREE of them to get me to stop and not purchase $3000 in gift cards because I was so certain on my mission (and confident that *I* would never get caught by fraud).
When the first two clerks kept saying “this sounds like fraud,” I promptly sluffed them off. I had my card laid on the counter to pay! The manager is the one that finally woke me up when he asked, “Have you actually spoken to your boss?” Yikes.
Here’s the follow up: Today, I was at a different Save-on location and told my story to the clerk who was serving me. She was so happy for me and when I said it was the Save-on people who made all the difference, she told me a different version of the same story… The other day a gentleman came in to buy cards and wouldn’t listen to her when she tried to warn him. He was so certain and, his case, he actually purchased the cards. The clerk said to me: a lot of people just don’t want to hear us when we try to warn them.
BTW, there’s no returning gift cards.
We’ve gotten so comfortable communicating via email and text that some of us (as in me) think of it the same as talking to someone. And it’s not!
Why don’t we (as in me) listen to the grocery clerks who are trying to help us?! Is it arrogance?
Some of us (yep, me again) don’t even listen to ourselves.
I had a little voice inside saying, “hmmm, this seems weird,” but I so quickly talked myself out of paying attention and came up with some kind of reason to not listen. How many other times in my life have I done that? A lot, I suspect.
AND, in an effort to be gracious to me, this person (the fraudster) attempted to take advantage of my kindness. I wanted to help my boss. Which I will continue to do. I’ll just be more cognizant of how I go about doing that in the future. 🙂
I’ll try to never get taken in by fraud again. LOLOL
I say that knowing I’m still not immune. So, while I can’t guarantee I won’t fall for some scheme again, I will venture to listen to myself.
Knowing I will likely not listen again.
But perfection is not the goal here. Connection is.
I was almost defrauded out of $3000. ALMOST. That’s an essential part of the story so that you know, first of all, all is okay. The next, and probably the most important part, is that there are some really really great people out there. What happened to me two days ago PROVES to me that there is more good than bad around us.
A couple of days ago, an email came through my work address seemingly from my boss (spoiler: it wasn’t). The email asked for my urgent help since she was in a conference. I responded…of course!
She asked for my cel number. (Weird, I thought. She has it already. But oh well. Maybe she’s on a different phone.) And I give it.
The text came through immediately. She needed a bunch of gift cards in the next 30 minutes and could I go get them. Since I’m new at my job and eager to please, I hastily said YES and jumped up from my desk, whisking off to purchase the much needed cards.
In my mind, I’m planning my route and decided to go to Save-On Foods (a grocery store on the way to my boss’s office). On the way to the store, I listen to a podcast which happens to be about slowing down and paying attention in your life. (Ya. We need to do that more, I think to myself.) I proceed to the store with haste.
Once I’m at the store, I briskly walk to the gift cards. As I start counting out the cards, THAT’s when it hits me that this is gonna be three grand! Yikes! I better warn my husband – right after I texted my “boss” confirming that I was going to be reimbursed the same day.
There’s not enough cards here. So I ask a clerk if they have more somewhere. She immediately asked if this was a fraudulant purchase. WHAT?! No, I say. She says: well an elderly lady was defrauded last week. I respond: oh well. THIS is for work. (In other words, I’m way too smart to be taken in by fraud.)
I take the cards to the customer service counter and the cashier says: arrrre youuuuuuu suuuuuuuure? This seems like fraud. We see it all the time. And I say: Well it isn’t; it’s for my work. (Boy these people are freaking out, I think. My boss and I are going to have a laugh about this later.) I laid my card on the counter to pay.
Then the manager comes over. He says: Um. Are you sure this is legit? I say: Look. This is for my work. (I’m feeling impatient now.) And he says: did you actually talk to your boss? And I say: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
So, I phone my boss (just to prove them wrong) and when she answers, her voice is all casual and I think…fuck. Hey, I say: did you send me to get gift cards? She responds: ummm no. And the house of mirrors came crashing around me and the truth was standing there in a sleazy dress. I. Could. Not. Believe. IT!!!!!
I thanked the store people profusely and all but ran to my car feeling like a complete idiot. I felt like I could throw up and the self abuse came crashing in: How could I have been so stupid? What if I had gone through with it? OMG. What will my husband say? The store people must think I’m a moron. My boss will regret hiring such an idiot. And on. And on. And on. I wanted to run away and hide and never come out.
I drove home and called a friend who, thankfully, pulled me back from the metaphorical cliff of self-condemnation. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Fast forward to today…I attend Tom Compton’s weekly group inquiry/meditation. He guided us through exploring the belief “This is serious.”
For those who don’t know, Tom faciliates a process called The Work of Byron Katie which is a method where we question stressful thoughts using four simple questions: 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3. How do you react when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without that thought?
So, naturally, when it comes to being NEARLY defrauded out of $3000, that’s pretty serious, right? I thought so, too.
What I learned is that it definitely sucks. It was even kind of scary. However, with the belief of “this is serious” on top of it, I also felt really shitty about myself. I’m hearing in my childhood memory one of my parents (or some other adult figure) say: what were you thinking Debbie?! This is serious. SMARTEN UP!
With the belief “this is serious”, I’ve got to be on alert. I have to warn everyone. I’ve even got to feel a little ashamed. I tell the story to others in a really serious tone of voice. I feel traumatized even.
Without the belief? I feel so much lighter. I feel relief. I have room to really feel grateful for all the people looking out for me. The podcast I was listening to, the grocery store employees, my friend…and my boss. Who was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sweet, by the way. So many things and people to be grateful for. I now know what to look for in fraudulant emails and it didn’t cost me a dime. I’ve learned to slow down and, maybe, even listen to myself. If I can, that is.
During the Tom class, I texted the fraudster (yes, I still have their number). I told the person that I was originally really angry and humilated but now feel grateful for the experience. They responded: lol Be happy. I replied: You too. (After I first said to myself, WTF! This was serious!)
Tom played this song for us at the end of our session. It’s a great reminder!
Someone says or does something and, in response, we feel hurt. Sometimes that hurt mascarades as anger, righteousness, or resentment but it’s hurt just the same.
But instead of owning our feelings, we push them down and out. Away from us at the one who perpetrated this hurt onto us.
Because it’s so damn painful. Those hurt feelings are confusing. We don’t even want to feel this way so owning them is kind of like giving in. And, after all, it’s the other person’s fault. They should be the ones suffering, not us.
So, we do the thing that we think will stop this hurt. We lash out. We yell or give them the cold shoulder. Or, in the digital world, we write a passive agressive post online about them hoping that they will feel an ounce of the pain we feel. They deserve it, after all.
This all comes from our own unmet needs. Most likely from childhood. Ya, it’s the old inner child gambit.
It’s okay if you don’t believe it. There’s a way you can test it out. The next time you feel that hurt, anger, or resentment, ask yourself:
How OLD do you feel..right now?
Inevitably, you will notice you feel young. Real young. Because that is where all of our hurt comes from. Every single time we’re hurt or angry, it’s a hurt or anger that was never resolved from childhood.
Again…it’s okay if you don’t believe me. Test it out for yourself. And then what?
That pain is an opportunity to meet the need that was never met. It’s the opportunity to listen to yourself in a way that you’ve never been listened to before. It’s your chance to be forgiven…completely. It’s your time to be there for the little precious one in you that was abondoned, overlooked, unaccepted, shamed, belittled, and abused.
Journalists have been enslaved by a system obsessed with selling stories, which creates journalists who become enslaved by seeking stories that sell. Trust in the news is waning, but I do not believe the fault starts and ends with journalists. News media is a business, and to stay afloat, stories must sell; if journalists do not toe the line, they get fired, as seen in the case of the firing of Emily Wilder from the Associated Press (Bastani, 2021, 1:31). The perception of the news as trustworthy is changing – for the worse. However, the degradation of trust is not only justified but is not a new phenomenon, despite the intention behind the concept of a “free press.” It is worth considering that if journalists are enslaved, who is perpetrating slavery?
Various techniques used by media agencies to manipulate the public are plentiful, and with digital advancements, they are becoming more sophisticated. As the consumers of news, we need to educate ourselves on the tactics, like those laid out in the article by Andrea Bellemere (Bellemere, 2019). We need to realize that our points of view are commodities that politicians and corporations abuse for their agendas. We must protect them with critical thinking for our sake and for that of society.
There are many examples of false and misleading news stories learned to be funded by corporations. Barbara McLintock (2004) relays a tale of deception, funded bias training, and blatant corruption practices on behalf of the tobacco industry. In this example, after Philip Morris, a tobacco mogul, financially contributed to a school for journalism, he began what can only be called bias-training of impressionable journalists with seminars about second-hand smoke (para. 12). It is not surprising that graduates of this school later wrote articles supporting the tobacco industry.
The idea of news media agencies as objective fact-tellers is a deep line of disinformation. It is so deep that we have taken it on as a kind of ethos, just like those families who believed in the veracity of Alternative Math (Ideaman, 2017). As far back as the 1800ss, the news portrayed Indigenous peoples negatively using misleading content (Lisk, 2020, para. 8). Due, in part to the lie of objectivity, we blindly believed the typecasts like the “drunken Indian” (para. 8). It was part of a vast conspiratorial movement perpetrated on society to engender stereotypes and hatred towards an entire race of people, making statues like the Indian Act possible.
Maybe journalists are scapegoats for the failure in news integrity. Yes, they play their part since they create the content, but it is a deeper problem that, as critical thinkers, we must scrutinize. We must ask ourselves who is behind the agenda for the content. However, we also must look in the mirror. After all, if journalists are at fault for writing misinformation, what part does the consumer play? It would be all too easy to claim innocence, but we must own that we have far too long taken a back seat to our news consumption. It is time to break the shackles of enslavement and reclaim our power as intelligent patrons of the news.
Go to Tom’s website to find information on this and other events being offered.
Using exercises, sacred poetry, music, movement and group dynamics woven together to support us in honouring, seeing clearly, and stepping out of old paradigms that no longer serve us in loving Life as it unfolds.
Through The Work as meditation we can begin to bring everything within ourselves, heaven and hell, dark and light, into the “light” of conscious awareness and finally begin to meet it all with love and understanding.
These retreats are ideal for beginners as well as more advanced practitioners in The Work.
Discover for yourself how this Work can awaken an unconditionally kind and loving presence within you.
Cancellation policy Due to limited seating and Tom flying in: full refunds (less a $50 processing fee per participant) will be offered before September 15 if you have to cancel. No refunds after unless we are able to fill your spot in which case your tuition will be refunded, less a $50 processing fee per participant. If you do not send advance notice of your cancellation, if you do not attend, or if you leave the workshop early, your payment is non-refundable and non-transferable.
I have been attending Tom’s workshops for the last 10 years and no facilitator has impacted me more than Tom. Probably the most important learning for me was to realize that most of my stressful thoughts and beliefs are not actually true. They are stories I am telling myself to try and make sense of the world and to prevent me from feeling deep pain. In Tom’s workshops I have learned to question my beliefs and the judgements that come along with them. I realize that I am looking at life – big or small things – through my core beliefs around “right or wrong” and “good or bad”, rather than looking at reality and recognizing that things simply “are” – independent of what I think of them.
Besides using the tools of The Work by Byron Katie, Tom shares music and readings to underline his messages. This Rumi poem has become my favorite: “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing lies a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”
I am on the long journey to that field, on the journey to Love. When I asked Tom how to live without the concept of “right or wrong” guiding me, he suggested to tap into my heart, and to let Love guide me. I had no idea how to do that, or what that even means, until I remembered how I approached life when I was a young boy. I let my heart guide me to discover the things I loved to do, like building my Fort and climbing on top of things. I am grateful that I continue to feel more peaceful and more loving and accepting of myself, others and of all the crazy things that happen in the world. Tom has been a major influence along the way: experiencing his honest, loving approach to help me identify and deal with my stories and beliefs, watching him work with others and their life stories, hearing about his own journey and the work he has put in to living his life fully and with joy.
No is enough. It’s enough of an answer. For you AND for me. And I don’t need a good reason to say it.
Even if someone asks me why I’m saying no, no can be enough. I don’t need to justify my no to anyone.
Not. Even. To. Me!
If an answer of no becomes apparent to me, I can let that be enough. I don’t need an excuse. I don’t need to find the right words. I don’t even need you to understand. I can trust the no. I can trust me.
Something has been whispering in my mind for the last few years. I’ve yet to hear the words clearly. They are an idea. A hint of a profound insight which leads to freedom. They are about mothering, forgiveness, and the love that binds but also liberates. They’re like a dream; the more I try to grasp them and turn them into something solid that I can market or teach, the more they dance away. They’re on to my motivations.
Like an archaeological dig when one must painstakingly chip and methodically brush away sand and rock around the outsides of a hidden item, ever so slowly allowing the precious treasure to emerge, I must do so with this budding understanding. In the excavation, even as an item makes itself known, the finder is patient, continuously brushing with the lightness of a feather, waiting for the artifact’s whole story to reveal itself of its own accord. I’ve learned that a new realization of self and life must be treated thus.
When I think I know the whole truth after a mere glimpse or when I preach to others as if I KNOW the entirety of the wisdom being offered up, it’s as if I’m an archaeologist ripping an ancient treasure from the ground without regard for preservation.
There are realizations about ourselves we all experience. They’re the kind that when we see them for the first time, our eyes spread wide with awe and our minds alight with surprise, having us exclaim that we “haven’t looked at it like that before”! I’m learning that those are the ones to treat with reverence.
They need to be honoured, digested, and integrated. They’re precious and need to be sanctified, not disregarded or shared too soon. Even though I’m so eager to share. That’s my first instinct when I learn something new; I believe that people need to hear this! But this infant idea needs to be brought to my breast and suckled. I need to embrace and gift it fully to my own heart, allowing it to change the essence of my being. Instead of thrusting it out to the world looking for it to be verified before I can affirm its veracity, I can ask: What does this feel like…inside my body? And is it true for ME? Because that’s all that matters.What is true for me? And how will I let it change me?
So I will keep these whisperings safe for now. And you keep yours. And maybe we’ll meet one day to share our treasure troves with each other, venerating them with the esteem they deserve.
“The greatest thing we can do is help someone know that they’re loved and capable of loving.” Mr. Rogers
This speaks to my heart so deeply. When I’m in one-on-one inquiry or in groups and someone finds forgiveness for themselves or someone else, there’s a look in their eyes of possibility. It’s like I’m witnessing their heart opening. Their eyes relax and I feel a movement closer to complete love – without barriers or conditions. A love that includes everything. Perceived wrong doings and betrayals. Differences. Anger and hurt. Annoying traits. Addictions. EVERYthing.
Cutting ourselves off from love, even in the name of righteous justification, has the same result. A closing of our hearts. When we close to one person – even if the whole world agreed we’re right to do it – we close our heart a little to everyone and, of course, to ourselves. That’s just how it works. Closing is closing. Opening our hearts is freedom. For us.
An open heart can include saying no and expressing pain. This is a relatively new lesson for me. Saying no doesn’t require closing.
Closing our hearts to someone doesn’t really do anything to the other person. But it does do something to us. It’s painful and takes so much energy. It’s not our natural state. We have to be holding onto painful stories in order to be closed. Even a little. It takes effort, actually. It’s exhausting. And you see the effects if, you pay attention. Tight shoulders. Low energy. Resentments. Depression. Compulsions to drink, smoke, eat, use drugs, over watching Netflix. Short tempers. Insecurities. Stress. ALL a result of closing our hearts. To others and to ourselves. And to Life or God.
Closing is closing.
And opening to RADICAL COMPLETE NO HOLDS BARRED LOVE is freedom. All hail Mr Rogers who was a pioneer in radical self love.