In today's SOLO show Lisa talks about her recent hip surgery, complex feelings and cognitive dissonance related to Thanksgiving, Grief and the recent Super Power U LIVE event, the delicacy of being human and the power of Community.
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It is Thanksgiving Day 2019 and I'm here recording this solo episode today because I did not want the day to pass without showing up. On a personal level, I'm doing this impromptu solo show because I have been a bit taken down from my regular life by a fairly intense hip surgery which I had last week after putting it off for a long time. I was definitely overly optimistic about my recovery having never had major surgery before. I kind of thought that even if I couldn't walk immediately that I'd still be pretty much back to normal quickly. And that has not been the case.
The experience has largely been an uncomfortable and unpleasant combination of feeling like I got hit by truck and feeling also a bit stir crazy from being immobilized for 8 days. I also feel tired and unable to get back to my normal work. My pizzazz is gone. So, instead of skipping the week's episode altogether I thought I would just show up and share a few thoughts on this Thanksgiving Day 2019 33 days before the end of this decade (not “century” which is what I said in the show).
Like my current state, they are somewhat random, although I did try to create some order before I pushed record and maybe a bit disconnect. We shall see.
First, I want to talk about Thanksgiving and how there is tension around the holiday. For those of us who are sensitive and even moderately aware, there's tension between the gratitude and traditions we love to celebrate related to family and gratitude…Those ideals are cherished by me and many people I know related to Thanksgiving. It's what we think of when we think of Thanksgiving. But there is huge cognitive dissonance too since we also know that many people don't have enough to eat, let alone enough to eat to the point of feeling stuffed. Veganism appears to be on the rise and yet the central association to the holiday is eating a huge bird. And then there are others who are estranged from families and might be alone on this holiday that is focused on the family. And because on some level, most of us know and this is one of the central pieces, it is painful and difficult to celebrate what we know on some level is the violent colonization of North America. There's not really any other way to put it if you actually look at the history of this country.
And this especially when right now there is still genocide of Native Americans in the United States and indigenous girls going missing regularly. There's so much sadness around the circumstances related to Native Americans and some of the old historical narratives surrounding Thanksgiving.
I read today that you can't cover atrocities with gratitude. And that is true. You cannot cover it. Gratitude does not make the past go away. And yet I maintain that in the complexity of all aspects of being human you can experience different and even seemingly contradictory feelings at the same time. The ability to feel and express nuance, the grays, the grey-zones of the diversity of human experience, the delicacy of all it means to be feeling beings — that is a uniquely human ability. One of the most poignant experiences of being human is that it's possible to feel sadness, anger, frustration, and heartache about the atrocities we human beings experience and those we perpetuate at each other's expense and at the same time also feel gratitude, love, heart-opening, and connection, too.
I read a beautiful post on Facebook today by a writing coach name Jena Schwartz that captures deeply and perfectly the complexity of my own feelings around Thanksgiving better and more fully than anything I've read before. I really recommend you read her POST on FACEBOOK.
The final line of the article is “May we hold gratitude and abundance alongside accountability and wakefulness.”
So when I was reading more about how people deal with this cognitive dissonance around this topic, I came across an article by Sean Sherman, who is an indigenous chef. He reminds us in this article that no matter where you are in North America, you are on indigenous land and so Thanksgiving is the perfect time explore a deeper connection to the traditional foods we eat which are essentially Native indigenous foods. He ends the article suggesting that there's no need to make Thanksgiving about the past false narrative related to the arrival of white settlers and the myths that have been perpetuated for a long time about the founding of the nation which has for most of our American history we learned which has been painfully devoid of truth of the genocide and theft and racism that is also inherent in that history.
As so many of us are aware of that, it's hard to integrate and so I found Sean Sherman's focus on using the foods that we eat as thanksgiving and as an opportunity to connect not only with our family and the possible future stories but also in celebrating the indigenous nature of those foods, and our connection to the nature from which that bounty comes.
I think so inherent in much of what is central to my feelings of today is the experience of grief and sadness and loss that so many of us feel and which I think is central to being a delicate human being.
A few weeks ago I hosted a Super Power U LIVE event all about grief which has been pretty central to my experience for the last 3 years when there's probably been more grief in my life than the previous five decades combined. We are going to experience grief and loss if we live and if we are human.
For me and for others it was a powerful night. Because there is a huge impact and connection in coming together in person to talk about, and to share, and to be witnessed in our human experience. And grief is a human experience on steroids. It's like, we get to be REAL. We have no choice but to get real. It's when life doesn't let us do anything else. It's when we have to look ourselves, our dreams, our failings, or losses and our Selves directly in the face. Sometimes it's even when we feel most alive.
But it's also hidden and feared in our culture so thoroughly that there are just not enough opportunities for us generally to talk about it. For many people in the room that night, it was the first time they'd had space they felt was safe enough to talk about the grief they were experiencing in their lives. But the thing is, grief is everywhere around us. And I've seen catchphrases recently that are profound in the reminder to be delicate with everyone you come into contact with because you don't know what's going in their lives. And you don't know what kind of loss and challenge grief and pain they might be dealing with because we keep on going through the patterns of our day…we keep on going to the grocery store to buy our food and getting in the car and driving our kids, and putting on our socks and washing our faces, and walking down the street, and answering the question of “how are you today?”
So wherever you go, I invite you to be gentle and remember that you don't know what's behind another person's eyes. Because of the time we don't have safety or the practice of sharing it in authentic ways and this part of the delicacy of being human. And yes, there is so much grief around right now. Is it these days? These times? This age? Maybe all of that. And the fact that grief does exist is so many ways.
In the past few months alone in my expanded circles, I've seen so many friends experience the loss of parents. That is partly the experience of my age-peers and stage of life. It's just what we are going to be facing…the aging and failing and declining and loss of our parents. And there are some who are suffering the daily and ongoing pain of losing a child which lasts for the rest of their lives. Others are saying good-bye to fur babies, processing the loss of a sibling. Experiencing traumatic injuries and chronic pain. Others losing their autonomy, movement, and speech. There's the loss of freedom, agency, safety in my circles. There is the loss even, of belief and hope.
In the end, it doesn't matter how much frustration and anger and fear and need for change that exists. Those things are all real. They are! I get it. And one of the profound experiences of being a human being is the power of the connections we have to sustain us and our ability to share compassion. One of the things I experience is that the more I share my grief, and the more I support others in sharing their grief, is that we either recognize our experience in others which gives us a deep feeling of connection, being seen and being supported. Or we see the experience of someone else that we might know ourselves and which might, therefore, increase our compassion for their human experience.
For me one of the hugest things I'm grateful for now; every day; every year, the connections, the friendships, the support, the close communities, the sisters, the soul sisters, the extended family, my listeners, my friends, my facebook followers, people that I know a little bit and a lot, for a long time and a short time, because so many people make a difference in my life in the smallest and largest of ways and so I'm so, so grateful for my connections and for my community and my friends.
And that's something to cultivate. It's something that I cultivate. It's something I'd encourage you to cultivate. Because in the end one of the Pillers of Artful Aging, the Piller I call “Gracious Acceptance”, is necessary when it comes to grief and loss and pain, which are inevitable.
One of the primary things that get us through is the relationships we have. So in the end, there's so much to be grateful for. There's so much to give thanks for and so I want to end this podcast episode with a mention of a beautiful film by Louie Schwartzberg, Louie is someone I met many years ago when I was doing a talk called “Living an Exquisite Life in the Face of Death” and one of his films was screened. And afterward he came up to me and said that my talk reminded him of my father and that he really appreciated it. And that has been a memory I've held dear for a long time.
The film is called Gratitude. It's beautiful. It's here:
One of the lines in the film is:
“I wish for you that you will open your heart to all of the blessings so that everyone whom you will meet on this day will be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch. Just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then it will be a good day.”
So I'm going to leave you with that. You can probably hear that I'm feeling a bit more delicate than is my normal state. It's part of my desire and my practice to share where I am right here and right now.
I want to share that I'm thinking of doing a free 5 Day Challenge the last 5 Days of the Year starting on December 27th. It will be a Wrap-up Reflection on 2019 and the planting of seeds, visions, and intentions for 2020. If this is something you'd be interested in participating in, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “I'm IN for the Completion Creation 5 Day Challenge”.
If you're local to me in the SF Bay area and a woman, there's also a very intimate retreat you can join that is being lovingly facilitated by Crystal Langen and me.
I will let you know about the details.
I'm going to leave it there for now. I send you so much love. I'm so grateful for you being here. And if there's anything you're struggling with on this holiday as so much comes up on holidays for so many people, I send you compassion and love. Please know that you're not alone and that nothing stays the same. That whatever it is will pass because that is part of the essence and nature of being human.
In the meantime, I send you compassion for what's true and what's real and
Feel it and honor it even as you know that it will pass.
I send you love and gratitude for your presence here today and always.