Week Two of my 100-Day Project
by Jeanne Savelle
(Atlanta, GA, USA)
Hubble Crab Nebulae
8. Today I sat in on a live coaching discussion with a group of about 20 international folks from around the world. The topic was Listening. The coach showed a two-minute video of pairs of people talking with each other. In each pair, one or both of the people, were not listening to the other party. One was offering solutions, another was dismissive, the other was talking only about themselves. It was curious to hear the conversation. Most of the women said that listening is not trying to solve anything but just hearing. The men mostly said that something to the effect about controlling the situation. Several others, men and women, were astute enough to mention intent, empathy, and creating a safe space or holding space for the other person to share their feelings.
9. I am leading a group discussion next month and have been wondering what topic would be relevant for the group. I think I’ll ask them if anyone has a compelling topic but what I am considering is talking about the nature of thought. How we infuse everything into our thoughts, try to manipulate them, change them, ignore them, compound them, and more. What we don’t do is see, really see, the true nature of thought. Thoughts are ephemeral, they come and go with little rhyme or reason. I like the analogy of the weather. The weather just is, whatever it is. We don’t and can’t control it, we don’t (well most of the time) judge it, we may not prefer one weather day over another, but we accept that sometimes it rains and sometimes its sunny. Sometimes we have useful thoughts and sometimes we have thoughts we don’t like.
10. Yesterday I listened to Michael Neill’s morning ramble and he asked this question: Are you an expert on wines (how things are) or on vines (how things get created)? What a perfect question for me because it brings together my two favorite topics: coaching and wine. Michael described some friends who were knowledgeable about wine but not about the process to create it. Being someone who appreciates wine, I was intrigued. My point of view is that if someone really appreciates wine, they will go deeper to understand how and why it was created. Making wine can be an extremely creative undertaking and the result can be magical. Most people just drink wine to enjoy it, which is perfectly fine. But those of us who truly appreciate wine want to go beyond the surface enjoyment, digging deeper into the inherent mystery of its creation.
11. Last night I watched the film Penguin Bloom with Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead fame (still one of my favorite shows.) This fascinating story about a woman who experiences a broken back and an orphaned bird who joins their family is based on the life of Sam Bloom. What an amazing human being she is and her husband Cam too. They have a beautiful life and partnership. What struck me during the film is that I tried to put myself in her place, emotionally. While I can’t truly understand what she went through, the emotions of fear, disgust, disappointment, rejection, anger, resentment, selfishness, and more were strong. Thinking about all my coaching and work on my mind, I wondered how I would handle an experience that so drastically changes your life. I have had some deeply emotional experiences with various outcomes but just watching this film shows me I have more work to do.
12. This morning’s quote from Michael Neill was this: "Seeing innocence is seeing that all negative, hurtful behaviors arise from insecure thoughts taken seriously in a low state of mind." - Dr. Judith Sedgeman. What an eye-opener for me and such a clear-minded look at our negative thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts, really neither negative nor positive, until we give them meaning. When we give them negative (or positive) meaning, we choose to take on those feelings. I look at the moments where I am negative, angry, frustrated, disappointed, whatever, and realize through Dr. Sedgeman’s statement that this is just my brain giving meaning to something that has no meaning. I am making up a story to suit some internal need or belief causing me feelings of insecurity or fear. And in all innocence. We don’t know what we don’t know, and we do these things from ignorance of how the mind works. Brings to mind the statement attributed to Jesus: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. If we only knew, really knew, we could make a different choice.
13. This morning I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. With two 100-day projects, a workshop, scheduling issues, client projects, home remodeling, everyday living stuff, the ongoing pandemic, I’ll stop. No need to go on. It’s just an indulgence of my mind. It’s Friday morning, and my mind wants to take a break. It’s resisting thinking about the ‘have-tos’ or even the ‘want tos’ – it may be time to just sit and be for a moment. Watch the sun rise, coffee in hand, listen, feel, absorb, reset. Just typing this makes me feel better. So, I took my coffee to the front porch with the cat. The overcast sky was lightening, and birds began their morning song. The birds were not thinking about their 100-day project, or their daily duties. They were singing in another glorious morning, being alive in the moment. A good reminder for my day.
14. I love to read and always have a book nearby. Last night I started to read Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories.” I was immediately delighted with a little ditty of five lines just before chapter one. It goes like this:
Z embla, Zenda, Xanadu:
A ll our dream-worlds may come true.
F airy lands are fearsome too.
A s I wander far from view
R ead, and bring me home to you.
The first line brings up early memories of my mind lighting up when I read Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. Can’t remember if that was high school or college but no matter. The feelings of mystery, fantasy, exotic places are visceral when I read that line. I love the second line about our dream-worlds coming true. Never had I realized in my past how true this is. We create our realities with our minds and our dreams can be brought to life. But we sometimes let our fears hold us back. We forget that the human experience ranges from dark to light. In the last two lines, he talks directly to me as the reader, because in the end it’s in the reader’s mind where the journey lives on.