Just Simply Be

Do we know how to just be?

My contemplative book club just finished Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and in the last chapter he talks about learning to just be.

He talks about how in old age in previous eras the elderly were respected because of their wisdom, but in our modern culture not so much. “Because in old age, the emphasis shifts from doing to Being, and our civilization, which is lost in doing, knows nothing of Being. It asks: Being? What do you do with it?”

My daddy knows how to just be. Yes, he’s always been a hard worker and has built and repaired more things than I can possibly imagine, but he also knows how to just sit and take in nature. You can find him sitting on his porch almost every day at some point marveling at the hundreds of hummingbirds that surround his feeders during the warmer months. We swear he puts a little extra sugar in the homemade nectar he fills his eight feeders up with every day. (Yes, they empty his feeders every day.)

Our world is so busy and noisy and moving at such a fast pace we have forgotten the wisdom of just being. We are rushing here and there and every where getting kids to their activities, pushing them to get their homework done, and on and on it goes. Why are we so busy? We’ve bought into the thought that if we aren’t doing something we aren’t successful. What are we sacrificing in order to be seen as successful?

Our spaces don’t encourage us to just be either. How many homes have front or even back porches these days? The farmhouse trend certainly is bringing the front porch back, but not near as many homes have front porches now. I am thankful my home has a back porch. I spend a lot of time on my back porch reading and just being.

I think learning to just be is a state of the heart just like I mentioned in my previous post about hurry. Our heart has to learn to just be. We have rebel against what culture and the world tells us to do. We have to stop striving and doing. Learn to be still. Learn to sit in silence. Learn to experience solitude. Practice Sabbath rest.

I’ve come to believe that it’s essential we take time to rest and slow down so we can hear God in our noisy and hectic world. When we learn to just be we will be more attentive and receptive to God. As we become more attune to just being we become more comfortable with the silence, and as St. John of the Cross once said, “Silence is the first language of God.”

What are some ways you can “Just Be?” What are some activities (like sitting and watching the sunset or others) that you do that bring stillness and being to your spirit?

Starting September 15th, I’ll be sharing a “Just Simply Be” challenge. I’ll be sharing 7 days of activities over on my social media that you can do to slow down and simply be. Subscribe to my email list and I’ll send you a list of even more activities to give you ideas of ways you can slow down and simply be. I’d love for you to join me as we discover ways we can slow down. You can follow Growth Essentials Coaching (@growthessentialsllc) on Instagram and Facebook.

Learning to “Just Be” is one of the things I help clients discover through Enneagram and life coaching. To see if Enneagram coaching is right for you, I offer a free consultation where we will discuss how you want to grow, what your next best steps could be, and if coaching is a good choice for you. Whether we work together or not you will have a better understanding of what you can do to move toward your highest potential with purpose and peace. Click here to schedule your free consultation.

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In a Hurry

I was on my way home from work one recent Friday & traffic was heavier than usual. The university students were moving back in after summer break before rush week. Public & private schools started back the next week plus the university’s summer graduation ceremony was happening that weekend. So a lot of traffic and a bit of a shock to the system when you’ve been used to the summer pace of traffic.

I was in the right lane and was needing to get over to the left lane before my left turn coming up. I put my blinker on and was just starting to shift lanes when in my mirror I saw this truck quickly speeding up in the left lane, almost out of no where, so I stayed in the right lane. The truck flew past me.

The first thing that popped in my head was the Alabama song “I’m in a Hurry.”

I’m in a hurry to get things done.

I rush & rush until life’s no fun.

All I really gotta do is live and die,

But I’m in a hurry & don’t know why.

I shook my head & wondered why he was in such a hurry. He didn’t have his caution lights on so I’m assuming he wasn’t rushing due to an emergency. And his tag said he was a firefighter. But here’s the funny thing. There was a traffic light up ahead, and when I got to the red light guess who I pulled right up behind? Yep. The firefighter in a hurry.

I have a friend who drives the speed limit. She never hurries when she’s driving. It’s one of the things I respect about her. Anytime I’m feeling rushed to get somewhere I think about her and slow down. I also remind myself of information I’ve seen about traffic lights before: that if you drive the speed limit you will hit most green lights. Sure you might hit a red light, but for the most part you will get mostly green lights. I’ve tried it. In Birmingham traffic and I have to say I hit mostly green lights. So I think there is something to it.

What would happen if we were intentional about slowing down with everything? What if we slowed down and were very present in our work tasks. I know for me personally I almost always end up making a mistake when I’m rushing to get through the task. What if we stopped and watched the sun set or watch a butterfly flit from flower to flower? What if we took a deep breath and calmed our minds and slowed down?

You see rushing and hurrying aren’t going to get us where we need or want to go any more quickly in life. We will still get caught by red lights, literal & figurative, no matter how fast we are going. Maybe if we stopped rushing and stopped to take in the extraordinary moments that happen in our every day ordinary lives then those red lights in life wouldn’t cause us so much frustration. And who knows. We might not even experience some of them because we are not rushing around trying to get to some unknown moment in the future. What if we went the speed limit not only on the road, but in our actual lives.

When we hurry, we are rushing to a future moment and cannot be present in the here and now moment. Hurry is a state of the heart. It keeps us from seeing the people and moments right in front of us. It tempts us to look at people as nuisances instead of a person made in God’s image. It keeps us from seeing nature as God’s beautiful creation. Most of all, it deafens us to God’s voice. God’s voice is not in some future moment that hasn’t happened. God’s voice is always in the here and now, but we can only hear it if we slow down. We can only hear it if we are present in the now.

Why I Do What I Do

Do you ever feel like you are constantly struggling to hold on to your inner peace? Does it seem like the world is just spinning out of control most of the time. If you watch the news or commercials or scroll social media, the world is anything but peaceful. How can we find our own inner peace when the world is never peaceful. On top of that it seems like we have to keep striving and struggling and do more to “live our best life.” I seemed to always feel frustrated.

I have lived most of my life constantly struggling with the same inner frustrations that left me feeling anything but peaceful. These frustrations had me almost constantly questioning my faith.

I had learned about my personality through Myers Brigg in college, and it did make me feel like the authors who wrote the book about it understood me. But it didn’t help relieve those frustrations. Then I learned about my personality through the DISC system and then my spiritual gifts. And while this started helping me understand how God created me, it still didn’t help me understand WHY I was struggling with these same inner frustrations. The DISC and Myers Brigg showed me my behavior patterns and that there were other people like me, but that was it. It didn’t help me understand WHY. And everything modern culture and yes even Church told me to do, go to church more, read the bible more, pray more, volunteer more, didn’t help. It just led me to burnout.

These things along with the ever increasing noise and chaos of the world still just left me frustrated and eventually burned out. Where was that peace that passes all understanding Jesus talked about?

Then I started learning more about my personality through the Enneagram personality system. It helped me understand WHY I was continually frustrated by the same things. It didn’t just tell me “what” my personality looked like and the behavior patterns, it helped me understand the core fears and desires that drove my personality. Or rather allowed my ego to be in the driver’s seat. It also showed me what it looked like for me to be spiritually healthy.

It finally gave me hope and a vision for how God truly created me to be. Not how my ego wanted me to be.

A four year deep dive into learning about the Enneagram led me to a deeper understanding of not only why I still struggled with those internal frustrations, but the Holy Spirit also used this to show me how to let go of those inner struggles and find that peace that passes all understanding. God led me to learn more about spiritual practices that have led me to a place of peace and finding my purpose so I can live out of my highest potential instead of place of lack and fear.

It goes against culture. It means slowing down and doing what I call the slow & holy work. And it is so worth it.

This long journey has led me to where I am today. Launching my own Enneagram and life coaching program.

If you are in a place where you wonder why you can’t seem to get past the same frustrations or feel like you are constantly struggling to find your inner peace, I would love to help you. I am offering a free consultation call to see if coaching would be right for you. In this 30-45 free call we’ll talk about why your unique personality is your super power and how understanding your personality through the lens of WHY you do what you do can help you live each day not only in your purpose but with peace. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and live at your highest potential, I have 10 spots remaining for clients. During this free consult we can discuss the specifics of what that looks like for you and see if coaching is a good would be a good fit for you. Click here to schedule your free consultation call. If you don’t see a time that works for you, please comment below or email me and we will make it happen.

Expectations & Egos

I was talking to a friend today & she was sharing about a situation she was in the middle of between two people. These two people have to work together but they just can’t seem to get along. Both want to do their best & both want the best for the organization they are a part of. They just both have very different ideas of what that looks like, and they both think their way is best.

Their egos can’t get out of the way.

Our egos get in our own way sometimes. A lot of the times actually.

Here’s the thing though. Our egos are not who we are. Our egos are our false self. They are the mask we wear because we think that’s who we are.

And our egos would love nothing more than for us to continue believing that.

And our egos are what tricks us into thinking that our expectations are the end all be all and that if they aren’t met then we should be offended, judge another person, get angry with another person or situation, or that we are victim.

I’m just as guilty of this as anyone.

You often hear gurus, leaders, influential people, say that you want to set high expectations. That when you set high expectations people will rise to meet them.

Yes. And no.

Too often we attach worth to those expectations, to the outcome, to the behavior or success we have placed on those outcomes or success.

Because what happens when those expectations aren’t met? We become hurt or offended or angry or disappointed or etc etc etc.

What happens when we attach a person’s worth to the expectations we have of them? Of course we will say we aren’t attaching their worth to those expectations, but subconsciously we very well could be.

People are always, always, going to let us down or not meet some of our expectations. Always. It’s called life.
The key is to set those high expectations but don’t attach someone’s worth to what we expect of them.
And as my friend told me today, “that’s so hard.”

Yes. Yes it is. But it is so worth it if we will train ourselves not to attach someone’s worth to the expectations we have of them.

What do we do when someone doesn’t meet those expectations? Depending on the situation, it may be best just to acknowledge we were equating their worth to our expectations & then with grace let it go. Don’t wish for things to be different. They are what they are and spending our thoughts and internal energy on wishing the person or situation was different is just making ourselves suffer.

If it’s expectations of someone you lead and the expectations have to do with their job performance, then addressing the issue with grace and love is paramount. This doesn’t mean you don’t address it or help them understand what they need to do moving forward, but do it with the utmost encouragement and grace. This will go a long way in helping them do better next time. Most likely they will want to do better.

Of course when it comes to job performance there may be reason after continual issues to release that person, BUT it still needs to be done with love and grace.

After talking this through with a friend I came to the thought that really everything in life comes down with our ego and our expectations.

When we become aware of how our ego likes to take over and do the work to live our of our true self instead of our egoic false self, we can better begin to let go of the value we place on our expectations of others.

The Slow Work

It’s late afternoon/early evening. I’m never sure what time of day this is during the late spring/summer when it’s 6 p.m. and the sun won’t dip it’s head behind the horizon for another hour or so. I’m sitting on my back porch listening to the wind chimes and birds. Our sweet four-legged Maddy girl is on patrol around the porch and patio sniffing out any lizards that might attack us.

I’m looking out over my flower and vegetable garden. I started seeds indoors on heat mats and under lights earlier this spring. I planted them in the garden a few weeks ago. Learning how to grow seeds into seedlings and then when they can be transplanted, how to keep critters away, journaling everything I’m learning so I don’t forget what works and what to do differently next time, takes being intentional. I’ve learned to be okay with it if it doesn’t work. I’ll try again and get better each time. I can only do so much and then it’s out of my control. I have to learn to trust in the slow work of nature.

Starting my own sourdough starter and learning to make sourdough bread has been trial and error. It’s a slow process from feeding the starter to learning the process of making the bread. It takes time to learn how it should feel and look and when it needs more time, but not too much time. I know it will be a lifelong practice and learning. It’s observing nature and working with it instead of against it. It’s slow work.

I was watching The Craftsman on The Magnolia Network recently. He uses century old tools made before there was electricity and electric tools to carve and craft the wood for restorations of Victorian homes and furniture and other things. It’s slow work.

Learning about ourselves, being brutally honest about our core fears and weaknesses, takes time. We couldn’t handle all that God wants to reveal to us about ourselves in one pass. It would overwhelm us allowing guilt and shame to take up residence. Learning how we were created, what we fear, and what we long for takes work. Slow work.

When God created the earth and all that is in it, He paused after each of the six days and said it was good. Then He rested on the Sabbath because it was enough.

Allowing the slow work to happen means trusting. Trusting that God has given us enough. Trusting that God is who He says He is. Trusting that we are enough in Him. It’s surrendering our autonomy and our need to control and hurry to accomplish something.

I’ve come to believe all the best things and worthwhile things are slow work.

There is beauty and joy in the slow work.

We shouldn’t despise the slow work. We should welcome and cultivate it, because when we do the slow work will lead us to something holy.