“Everything will be all right in the end”
I just made my deadline to pen my reflections down of the old year and get ready to welcome the New Year!
First things first … No apocalypse … the world didn’t end. Its still here. But I think the world as we know it, has been changing (for a while now). Maybe that’s what the Mayan’s were talking about.
What’s this year been for me?
It’s been full of tests!!
My ability to be patient, to wait, be present not knowing the future and still walk in to it. My ability to love unconditionally. My academic prowess and intellectual muscles have been stretched and pulled. I have had to learn to take position with critical judgment (hard for a Pisces like me, who is fluid like water). I have had to learn the strange lesson of learning to ask questions that I am scared to ask and also not ask the questions I want answers to. Been tested on having sticky, messy conversations, while researching the art of conversations!
Have I passed successfully? Therein lies the problem … I am learning that these tests are not one time tests. Just when you think you have nailed it, barely acknowledging that you have passed or without even a congratulatory pat on your back or ‘job well done’, life comes and dumps the next level in the test on you.
Sometimes I flounder and feel like I am drowning and at other times I feel like I am riding the wave with skill and grace. But the world didn’t end and neither did I and I share with you some of the hardest and strongest lessons.
Learnt a lot of clichés this year.
“Everything will be all right in the end … if it’s not all right, then its not yet the end”. Courtesy of the lovely movie with the beautiful Judi Dench and magnificent Maggie Smith ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.
‘It is what it is’.
“Whatever that’s happening is the right thing”
Can I say that while these clichés that have kept me warm on cold lonely and painful times, have also got downright annoying too. But there it is … clichés do this to you because they actually hold a grain of truth, sometimes several grains.
So I am learning to ride the wave of receiving what’s happening, being present with it, trying hard to let go of all the yearning and expectations and just being.
If I sound like I have attained some level of Bodhisattva level, please don’t be fooled. It is hard. I often fall. Had many frustrated ‘why me’, or ‘why not this or the other’ tearful moments. I have had righteous anger at the unfairness of some of the challenges or situations. I judge myself to be a good human in general. Surely life could be more fair to ‘good little ol’ me’?
On the other hand there are times I feel bliss, even amongst the turbulence of life’s challenges, when I am riding that perfect wave, perfectly. Even the adverse and hard times bring with it a certain poignancy. At some deep soul level, beneath the chattering, grasping, scared human existence, you know that this moment has come to you, with all good intentions that you will learn, and grow. The poignancy is in the joy of being present, being alive to be able to feel this pain, or loss or sadness. Because you feel it so strongly, it must be important. Because you feel it, you must be alive. Because you feel it, you must be human. Because you haven’t died from feeling it, it must mean that it has served you in growing you. Nothings ever wasted in life’s experiences … if you learn from it, apply it, grow wiser for it.
Patience is actually a secondary subject of unconditional love. When you learn patience you are practicing unconditional love for the situations you are in, of the people in them and also on yourself. Some situations, some people arrive in your life to test your resolve, your soul and your heart. And it teaches you, you are human and to love yourself despite your human fallibilities.
Unconditional love looks something like this to me. At some deep level I would accept the situation or love the person(s) without expectation. With open heart and open arms with joy of being able to give limitlessly, because love is a resource that doesn’t dry up. It is an unending gift. When I am in my rare Zen bliss moments I feel incredible joy at the abundance of love. To be able to love like that is truly liberating. While you hope the persons being loved are richer for it, you know you are richer for it. The one thing that you can give away freely and still get richer by, is unconditional love.
Once again, its easy to write this poetically, harder to practice in the every day reality of being human.
As a human being you constantly have expectations of how you want the situation or other person to be. If you are practicing unconditional love, you try to accept the situation and the person, as they are. And that includes how you accept yourself. You have to believe that you are more than the mistakes you have made or more than the success you have achieved. And you have to see others in the same light too. At this level nothing is black and white. Its all about perspective and framing what you are experiencing. When you do this you find ways to accept. You show your love and acceptance, regardless of the scared human ego that’s crying out for acknowledgement, praise and love.
A word of warning though. In many religions and spiritual traditions like Buddhism we are taught to love with compassion. But remember that even Buddhism you are first told to love yourself. Which means if you practice compassionate love on someone who in some way is harming you, you can do so, but you do not need to stay in harms way. You can wish that person well, understand with compassion the humanness of the other person and their karmic journey, but you must look after yourself and move away. I say this strongly for those people, who stay in violent and abusive relationships and situations. Be compassionate for their human struggle. But look after yourself. First love your self.
So I am being patient and loving. Everything that has arrived is a gift, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Embracing it. Being with it. Trusting that ‘everything will be all right in the end’.
STICKY MESSY CONVERSATIONS
As some of you may already know I am currently on a doctoral program on organizational change (at Ashridge School of Business, UK) … and my inquiry is about the ‘art of conversations’. This year I have had to turn my research upside down, and really look at what makes a good conversation. I am generally non-confrontational, so secretly I have been judging the quality of conversations on the basis of its ‘niceness’.
Now I know sticky, messy conversations are good too. They move situations forward. They give you good information. They maybe full of emotion, anger and tension. What matters is not how you fall in to them, but how you break open inside these conversations, how you pick yourself up, how you put yourself back together again and how you help the other to put themselves back together again. Maybe sometimes never to be as before. Sometimes things are just too broken. It means something new has an opportunity to be made. Sometimes you have been trying for a long time, for years and years, keeping the conversation going, stapled, and glued with well meaning words that actions couldn’t deliver. Then its time to end that conversation. Start a new one. Or just stop. Face the reality. End situations that you have been attached to for years because you don’t want to change, or you don’t want to hurt someone, or you are scared of the possibilities or of the unknown future. So these conversations don’t turn out like you envisaged them. But they change things, changed you or changed them. Here is another good place for to practice my lessons in patience and unconditional love. Acceptance. Let go. Let come. Let be.
In the next two years I will be looking more and more in to the different types of conversations, especially in organizations, and how they change or maintain status quo. So do keep a look out for my learning journey.
One sticky difficult conversation this year has been my feedback on my transfer paper (of 18 months work) in to the doctoral program proper. Ah, the feedback hurt. My research topic (or rather the gamut of it) was thought to be idealistic and naïve to be completed in 4 years. My level of academic engagement ‘masters like’ and not ‘doctoral level quality’.
When you want to be good at what you do, this is hard feedback. I was told I had to be better. Much much better. I was proud of my eventual response. After the initial horror of the delivery of the message and when I recovered from the punch to my solar plexus, I took a deep breath and looked at the content of the message. It was not misplaced. I am a practitioner and getting in to academic shoes is hard. It pinches, asks you to walk taller than you are used to, asks you to take bigger strides. Floating by or flip flopping your way just wont do. So I have my academic shoes on now too. Strangely these shoes are worn on my head while the practitioner shoes are still on my feet! So I am still very grounded. I feel myself growing intellectual muscles I didn’t have before. In a way its quite exciting despite the rather overwhelming feeling I often experience.
My lesson here is to take my self seriously in my studies and my work. Look for the message in hard sticky conversations. Don’t get too upset by the delivery and don’t shoot the messenger. Its just another situation to be patient with, and learn and take responsibility.
ITS NOT ALL HARD TESTS
If I sound as if this year has been just about hard tests. That’s not true. Its also been one of the years that I have finally arrived in to an age and time that my body, spirit and mind feels comfortable. I am embracing being a woman at all different levels and enjoying being here. This year has brought many many lovely moments with loved ones. I have felt deeply loved. I have had opportunities to show great love. I have had opportunities forgive and move on. I have found that I bounce back much faster from adversity than I ever did. I can genuinely have a good laugh at myself. I have had joyful moments of love and laughter and deep connection with others. I have enjoyed once in a life time moments that can be cherished for years to come. Life is good. Sometimes hard but joyful too.
I am blessed for the life I have and am choosing to live. I am grateful for all these different moments and for life’s abundance and love.
PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR
Lots of plans afoot.
I have the important job of taking myself seriously and developing more of my academic and intellectual muscles.
As I do this I have to deepen my practice for me to apply and learn from my research. So I will be working harder as a practitioner too. My clients will benefit more from my learning next year.
Next year looks like its will be about collaborations and new edgy stuff for me and for my clients.
I will combine performance arts in developing leadership skills and qualities! For this I will collaborate with the artful and playful Ruhani Perera from Floating Space.
I will partner with the adventurous and innovative Raajiv Dias-Wanigasekera from Adventure Dreams Sri Lanka, who will offer out door team building programs to supplement my team coaching and team development programs.
There is more to come, in terms of innovation and new people I will work with, so folks do watch this space for more information in the coming year.
MY NEW YEAR WISH FOR YOU
Looking back, this coming year too I still wish for you what I wished in the last year New Year Message
I add to this …
Wisdom to be patient,
Strength to stay the course,
Courage to change,
Mental and intellectual muscles to deepen and widen your knowledge,
Spiritual faith to be human and godly at the same time,
Wealth in health and good quality of life and lots of laughter and giggles with good friends and family,
Opportunities to love unconditionally, a child, parent, friend, a spouse, a lover or even a stranger,
Blessings of abundant love and acceptance from those you love,
And always the ability to practice grace and gratitude in all of life’s moments.
Wishing you a wonderful and joyful New Year
With love and blessings