In My Own (Crazy?) Way

By Andrea Chilcote

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman in September 2014 when Andrea was a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!


On Monday I joined some friends for coffee, friends who meet regularly at a time I’m usually on a plane or have some scheduled task. Since I’m not a regular member of this group, I was in for surprise.

One member, my friend Sheppard Lake, is a life coach. So at these gatherings, she regularly leads exercises designed to – well, coach us in life.

I considered excusing myself when the paper and pens were passed around. But I was intrigued enough to postpone the work I was supposed to be doing, and I stayed.

Sheppard asked us to write a letter to someone we admired, telling them what it was we loved about them. The first person who popped into my mind was none other than the CEO of an Arizona non-profit, Pam Gaber of Gabriel’s Angels. It was easy to list all of the things I admire about Pam, and I finished my letter quickly. It was fun to hear who others chose, when we read our letters aloud. Some picked famous people and one wrote a touching letter to her husband.

Then, we learned the punch line of the exercise. Sheppard dared to ask us to re-read the letters, this time substituting ourselves for the exalted one. What??

She asked me to go first. “I can’t do this,” I said, “because part of it, one word in the middle paragraph, would be a lie.”

She encouraged me to just begin. Amazingly, the truth was that many of the things I admire about Pam are qualities I at least strive to embody myself. (Okay, they are qualities I possess.) But when I got to that word in the short sentence in the middle of the page, I stopped.

“I’m in awe of your energy, organization and presence.” Which word would that be, you might ask?

“I am not organized,” I declared, oddly on the verge of tears. Immediately my friends began to give me examples of how they admired my ability to plan and organize, how methodical I was, how much I got done, and on and on. I was incredulous.

I listened, and considered the evidence they presented.

“In my own crazy way, perhaps,” I conceded. And as the words came out, I felt better.

In my own way.

Yes, while I have a nearly life-long criticism of my ability to order and structure things, the truth is that I organize things “exactly just right” for me. I have systems, processes and order that, while mysterious to some, work for me. It’s only when I try to do what others do that I stumble.

How about you? What’s “your own way?” that serves you, and – that others even admire?

I have an idea. I think I’ll stop comparing myself to others, at least for the weekend.

Release

 

Given all the flooding of late, we thought we would reflect back to August 2014 when flash floods gushed through Cave Creek, AZ. It is our hope that in a world that sometimes looks bleak, new consciousness is being revealed.

by Andrea  Chilcote

Did you hear about the rain in the Arizona desert? On Tuesday, a rapid-onset, torrential downpour wreaked havoc, as Mother Nature released a fury of energy in the form of flooding rains. It made the national news, and it made for yet another lesson in the form of a weather adventure.

On Monday of this week, I felt out of sorts. All day long. And “out of sorts” is not a usual state of being for this, um-mm, in-control sort of person. At any given time I might feel driven and productive or driven and agitated, but it’s not common for me to feel unclear, uncertain and a little bit sad. (At one point I teared up when I learned about the work anniversary of a mere acquaintance. Go figure). At the end of the day, it felt as though something was about to release – not just in me, but all around me.

The next morning, despite predictions of rain, I rose at 4:30 am to hike the dogs with my buddy Beth, before the temperatures rose. The atmosphere was heavier than I recall in 14 years of living in the desert. It was as if one could squeeze water from the air.

Beth and I cut our hike short as rain began to fall. Not long after arriving home, the deluge began, flooding the wash that crosses our road. No one was going anywhere – and I had to leave mid-morning for a flight.

Desert flash floods are so named because they seemingly come on in an instant. They also disappear quickly, as water seeps rapidly into the parched earth. So as expected, the 20 minute downpour was quickly a passing threat. But I sped up my preparations to leave, as another dark wall of rain was forming in the mountains to the north.

I don’t know if I should credit clear thinking, intuition, or luck, but we managed to leave the house, bound for the airport, just five minutes before the next enormous release in the Cave Creek area where I live.

Arthur still waiting to get through the wash and home three hours after taking me to the airport. Finally took off. Dogs and horse reportedly fine, thanks to Tracy. –Aug 19, 2014

This time, the flooding grew into rushing rapids that caused evacuations of people and animals from nearby homes. Thankfully, my family was safe and our home was spared of damage. My husband was stranded for five hours trying to cross the wash to get home, and my flight was delayed for hours. It was all a minor inconvenience compared to those who spent the night in Red Cross shelters.

Somehow, despite the stress of the day texting and emailing friends and family while traveling across the country, I breathed a sigh of relief as night came on. Release. I felt a release of pent-up energy that was both personal and shared. I slept soundly that night (albeit too short given my late arrival), knowing that the people and animals I love were safe and accounted for. I was safe too, with a renewed sense of calm.

Do you feel a release coming on? Have you recently let go of some belief or habit that no longer serves you? I have, and this week’s rain served as a symbol of its departure, grounding it in the depths of the earth where it will transform as all energy does. Judging from the fury of nature, we are undergoing collective transmutation.

The rushing water is, for me, a symbol of power. Energy is freed upon its release, and much is revealed once it has passed over. In a world that sometimes looks bleak, new consciousness is being revealed. And that realization fuels me on.

Good morning friends. Look what last night’s rain left us… –Aug 22, 2014

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A Pack of Friends or One at a Time? (2014)

A Pack of Friends or One at a Timeby Andrea Chilcote

There’s a saying I love to share, just to watch the puzzles form on listeners’ faces as they try to decipher the message. It goes like this:

“One dog, you have a dog. Two dogs, you have half a dog. Three dogs, you have no dog at all.”

The point, of course, is that due to pack behavior, the closeness of a human’s relationship with a companion dog depends on how many dogs there are. When there are several, you don’t have one-on-one relationships — you live with a pack. My neighbor observes this behavior in her husband and his two grown sons, with whom he is very close. When they’re away, she has a husband. When one son is present, she says she has roughly half a husband and when all three are together, she laments (but with a smile), that she really has no husband at all.

Even though I work with people day in and day out, am socially adept and enjoy interaction with others, I’m an introvert by nature. That just means I get my energy by being alone or with one very close, significant other. I expend energy in my work and in social interactions, and need time in nature or with one close (and quiet) friend to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy by being with people. I often tease a strongly extroverted colleague about the time she told me, in all seriousness, that she couldn’t wait to relax on a Jimmy Buffet cruise with 200 of her closest friends. “200 close friends?” I exclaimed. I could not imagine (though this was before Facebook) having that many friends, let alone consider being with them all at once “relaxing.”

This introvert/extrovert concept is complex, because we need different things from groups than from our one-on-one relationships. In this world of never-enough-time, I tend to covet and protect time alone with special pals, even to the point of (I confess), sometimes resenting when well-meaning others join us. As an introvert, I tend to let the “pack” do its pack thing, with me on the fringes as a lone wolf. I can easily lose connection and drift away into my own thoughts while they carry on as a unit.

Susan Cain’s new bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking  does a beautiful job of helping introverts understand themselves a bit better and nudges their extroverted friends, partners and colleagues to consider a different way of interacting with them. Take her quiz to assess your own preferences.

If you need the absence of connection, the solitude of your choosing, to build the energy to connect with important others in your life, consider the choices you are making. Do you go along with crowd, later feeling exhausted or even resentful that your bucket is empty? Or do you make time for quiet, alone or with a quiet confidant? Honoring these core needs contributes to the quality of our lives.

“One of the ways you can tell if you are introverted is that you need time to recharge your batteries and decompress after you spend time with others.”– The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler

Becoming the Change

by Andrea Chilcote

One week in June I declared my mind a negativity-free zone. And given that it started in an airport, with a trip on an airplane, It worked out pretty well and I strive to continue the process.

What I am about to say feels a bit obvious as I type. Our thoughts and feelings lead to words and deeds, which carry an energy. Our actions then (and of course the thoughts that precede the actions) influence the energy around us. Ergo, if our own state of being is uplifting, positive and hopeful, we will attract similar conditions, making it very easy to respond in kind.

What if maintaining your own high frequency was all it would take? It is all that’s needed. We know this, right?

Throughout my life, I have tried to follow this principle: “She who has the knowledge has the responsibility.” So if I am to be true to this lesson, I must seek to put forth and consume only that which contributes to something constructive, vs. destroys. Oh, that doesn’t mean I approach a very difficult world in a Pollyannaish way. Quite the contrary. During that June week, I prayed and shed tears for seemingly senseless tragedies occurring in my midst. But I do not wish to contribute to senseless pain, and therefore I’m working, however imperfectly, to eliminate any hurtful attitudes and behavior from the choices I make.

Violence. I recall leading a dialogue skills course in the 90’s in which there was a model for a continuum of behavior from “silence”- the traditional “flight” behavior, – to “violence,” the traditional “fight” behavior. I never liked using the word violence in association with everyday conversation. It seemed excessive and exaggerated. Now, many years later, I understand it as expressed. Small acts of violence such as insensitive or spiteful remarks contribute to the overload of such, because they simply attract more of what we don’t want.

This attraction principle works another way, too. Think about the word “inspiration.” Inspiration requires one to “be the change they wish to see” or “be the person they wish to be in relationship with,” and its grand reward is that it requires another to see something attractive that they wish to follow.

What if real freedom was the ability to choose the frequency at which we resonate in the world each day? What if?

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.– Mahatma Gandhi