What to Do When the News Is All Bad

I’m standing in the dark, but I can hear the daylight.

In my neck of the woods, as autumn becomes more frail, cicadas mark the daytime—around midday, they awake and begin their daily song. Then, around sundown, they are supposed to recede, and the crickets preside over the darkness, humming until daybreak. And yet, sometimes, they overlap.

I’m standing in the dark, but I can hear the daylight.

If I listen closely, threaded throughout the din of crickets, I can hear the rebellious hum of cicadas refusing to go gently into the night. And here’s the thing: if you listen closely, a bunch of insects can teach you about how darkness and light really work:

Always, darkness and light overlap.

mindfulness

Photo Credit: Spaxia (Bigstock)

There is, it seems, darkness everywhere right now. Charlottesville and hate, hurricanes and devastation. Earthquakes in Mexico, a massacre in Vegas, wildfires in California. The darkness of political and racial division everywhere, even on a gridiron. Data breaches and the dark web and the unfathomable darkness it harbors. Terror and trafficking and more terror.

If you read the headlines, it is easy to believe darkness reigns.

But the truth is, the news is called the news not because it is common, but because it is rare. If my kids came to me and told me they had big news and I asked what it was and they told me they’d just gone to the bathroom, I’d tell them that’s not news. News is the exception to the rule. So, when the news industry reports on the darkness, they are flooding you with outliers. That’s their job.

The truth is, there’s not enough server space in all the world to contain the very, very common light in all the world. The good news is so common, there’s not enough channels on television to contain it all. In fact, the good news is so ordinary, it’s not news at all. It’s just life. And it’s happening right here, right now, all the time, in the midst of the very sensational darkness.

Always, darkness and light overlap.

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Week 2: Rest Is Revolutionary [Loveable003]

Welcome to Episode 3 of The Loveable Podcast! Join us, as we read and discuss Week 2 of Loveable’s companion book (which is available nowhere else). It was another great conversation, this time about why most rest isn’t very restful at all…

loveable podcast episode 3

This week’s episodes includes:

  • A conversation about last week’s mindful breathing practice.
  • Resources for honing your breathing practice and making it a habit.
  • A redefinition of rest as an inner condition, rather than a set of outer circumstances.
  • An exploration of the reasons we don’t take advantage of opportunities to rest.
  • Practices for resting in the quiet spaces of life.
  • Practices for cultivating a restful mind even amidst the busyness of life.
  • A crazy idea about how to dramatically increase the odds of restfulness in your home.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Replacing Suffering with Presence.”

Friends, these conversations just keep getting better. I’m thrilled for you to hear this one. Listen to the episode below, or on iTunes.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Loveable is available in paperback, digital, and audio and can be purchased wherever books are sold, so you can also purchase it at your favorite bookseller.

What Everyone Needs to Know About Chasing a Dream

There are two things, actually.  First, chasing your dreams will not eliminate pain from your life; it will simply give you a reason to endure pain. And second, you don’t get to choose your dreams; your dreams choose you

millenials chasing your dreams

Photo Credit: yobro (Bigstock)

He gets knocked down, grits his teeth, and gets back on his feet.

My nine-year-old son Quinn is playing in his first soccer game of the season. We’re down 1-0, and he doesn’t like to lose, so he steals the ball back. Three defenders stand between him and the goal. He dribbles around two, but the last one knocks him to his knees again. Yet, again, he refuses to quit. He hooks his foot out, steals the ball back, stands, and kicks it into the corner of the net.

As his father and his coach, I’m proud of him.

But not because he scored, or because the game is now tied. I’m proud of him because he got knocked down twice, got back up twice, and kept moving forward. I’m proud of him because he had a goal and he stayed focused on it, rather than his frustration and his setbacks. I’m proud of him because, in the real world, this is what dream-chasing looks like. 

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Week 1: Doing Is the Enemy of Becoming [Loveable 002]

This is Episode 2 of The Loveable Podcast, and the first week of our on-line book club! We got together on Facebook Live, read Week 1 of Loveable’s companion book (which is available nowhere else), and had a great discussion about it. You can hear it all in this week’s episode…

the loveable podcast episode 2

In this week’s episode, you’ll find out:

  • The secret to discovering your truest, worthiest, most loveable self.
  • The reason we forget who we are.
  • The reason we fill our lives with so much doing and activity.
  • A practice for creating more space and stillness in your mind and your life.
  • The challenges inherent in that practice.
  • How to give yourself grace as you seek to establish new and healthy habits in your life.

Friends, already this is the most helpful book club I’ve ever been a part of. Now, you can join it too, by listening to the episode below or on iTunes.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Loveable is available in paperback, digital, and audio and can be purchased wherever books are sold, so you can also purchase it at your favorite bookseller.

Whoa, That’s Deep!

When we moved from the suburbs back to my rural hometown, I thought we’d be trading the cacophony of Chicagoland for the quiet of the country. And, in a way, we did. The thing is, the countryside wasn’t as quiet as I thought it would be. In a really good way…

The Loveable Podcast

Photo Credit: David Clinton

On a spring morning, the birds twitter and tweet and make a concert of their morning song. On a summer evening, the cicadas crescendo in the crowded trees, until, in the small hours of the night, they finally quiet, and the crickets take over, with their constant hum. On an autumn afternoon, dry leaves rustle in the treetops, and they skitter raspy along two-lane roads. In the winter, a snowfall can lay undisturbed for hours, and the muffled world fills your ears with the tinny ringing of your own blood rushing.

Underneath the loud and frenetic world we’ve created is a world that’s been created for us, and it moves to a deeper, slower rhythm.

I was recently asked, in an interview about Loveable, how do we start the journey toward wholeness? My answer was…space. Space to rest, to notice and to feel, to contemplate and to question. Space to move deeper into the wholeness that already exists, forgotten and neglected, somewhere within the depths of us.

Depth.

As we live increasingly on-line, where depth is quickly going extinct, it can look like the desire for depth is dying, too. For instance, the comments section of a blog was once the place you went for meaningful conversation; now, it’s the place you go to troll people. Not so long ago, social media was where you shared content that stirred your thinking and your heart. Now, generally, social media is where you stir up controversy and conflict.

But the publishing of Loveable renewed my hope.

The desire for depth has not died and it has not even gone dormant. We simply don’t go to social media for it anymore.

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An Introduction to The Loveable Podcast [Loveable 001]

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Loveable Podcast. In this introductory episode, I give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse at my story, share details about the podcast, narrate the introduction to Loveable’s companion book (which is available nowhere else), and tell you how you can participate in future episodes…

The Loveable Podcast

The two deepest desires of every human heart are to love simply and live fully. So why do our relationships remain so complicated, and why do our lives sometimes ring so hollow? Because neither love nor life can be truly embraced until you, and only you, have embraced your truest, worthiest self.

In my book, Loveable, I explore how embracing our worthiness is the foundation upon which we can find true belonging and live a purposeful life. Loveable has been described as “a handbook for how to be human.” Now, in this podcast, I want to give you the tools for living fully into who you are and why you are here.

I’m excited to tell you all about it and to share with you the introduction to Loveable‘s companion book. Listen in!

What to Do When Your Path Is Covered in Darkness and Fog

I’m surrounded by darkness and fog.

Autumn drifts closer—the air is getting cooler, the leaves are getting drier, the crows are getting louder, and the days are getting shorter. Which means, if I’m going to get in my bike ride before the morning carpool, I have to begin in the dark.

On this particular morning, a fog has descended, reducing visibility to almost nothing, and I’m on a bike path, surrounded on all sides by forest. A small headlight illuminates the path ahead of me, but it cannot penetrate beyond a few feet.

I’m surrounded by darkness and fog, and it’s a metaphor for everything.

purpose

Photo Credit: denbelitsky (Bigstock)

As my feet push the pedals on this dark path, I wonder if maybe I should have just stayed in bed, where it was safer. Similarly, while I’d slumbered the night before, the doubt had crept back in, unbidden—doubt about this passion of mine, this writing thing. Six years of words on a page. Three-hundred-some blog posts. A book. I wonder if my words and I should have just stayed in my heart, where it is safer, where blood, sweat, and tears may not end quite so badly.

In every life, there comes a dark morning when you question the path you’ve chosen—the decisions that have left your life decidedly undecided. It’s the kind of morning that can turn into depression, if you have too many of them in a row.   

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How Can You Trust a Therapist’s Authority?

Confession: the first time I went to therapy, I’d been a therapist for more than five years.

I asked a friend for a recommendation. He gave me the name of a therapist. I conveniently lost the number. Several weeks later, I asked him for it again, and he gave it to me again. It collected dust for a few more weeks. Then, one day, when the suffering within me finally outweighed the resistance within me, I made the call.

No one likes to schedule a first therapy session.

therapist naperville

Photo Credit: stockasso (Bigstock)

It’s hard enough to spill your mess in front of a perfect stranger. It’s hard enough to present your pain to someone you’ve never met. It’s hard enough to reveal your hidden parts to someone you have not yet begun to trust. But, ironically, it’s particularly hard in therapy, not because you don’t know anything about this therapist person, but because you think you know at least one thing:

You think they’re different than you.

They’re a therapist, so they’ve got it all together. They’ve figured it out. They’ve arrived. Whether by good fortune or good training or some combination of the two, they are on a whole different level of health and happiness. They may not be superhuman, but as you pick up the phone, you assume they are at least a little better human than you.

This, is baloney.

The authority of a therapist does not come from some big difference; it comes from just a little bit of distance.

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Why We’re Lonelier Than Ever (and What to Do About It)

In Chicago, at the peak of the eclipse, you could still see about 13% of the sun. That is, I think, about how much remains of our communal life, as well. This is what I mean by that, this is the damage it is doing to us, and this is what we can do about it…

lonely

Photo Credit: melis (Bigstock)

As the eclipse began to wane, I looked to my side and saw one other person on the hillside next to me. She too was lowering her gaze and removing her eclipse glasses. Our eyes met. We smiled at the same time. No words. Just a smile. I can’t be sure what her smile meant, but I know what my smile was saying:

In this space and time, we were enjoying the same experience.

We were two people paying attention to this one thing.

We shared this.

As I walked off the hillside, I wondered why her small smile had moved me more than the vast crescent smile of the sun shining around the moon. I think it was a feeling of connectedness—a sense of unity that transcends familiarity; a sense of belonging that can happen even amongst strangers who are sharing experiences in community.

But our communal life is going extinct.

And it is making us lonelier than ever.

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The Life-Altering Decision to Love Your Limitations

life purpose

Photo Credit: lbryan (Bigstock)

Around the time I turned 40, I became acutely aware of the passage of time.

Imagine that.

So, I’ve spent much of the past year trying to make the most of it. For instance, several weeks ago, I was planning to take advantage of a gorgeous weekend by camping out in the backyard with my kids.

Then, I got sick.

A summer cold that leveled me for most of a week. My throat hurt so badly I could barely swallow. I couldn’t climb a set of stairs without getting winded. The very idea of pounding tent stakes exhausted me. My body had reached its limit, and that limit did not include a night under the stars.

And it angered me.

It angered me because we are trained from a young age to believe we don’t have limits. We are told—in defiance of all reason and history—that we can be anything we want to be, and do anything we want to do. We are given all-you-can-eat buffets. We are given all-you-can-binge Netflix. We pay for unlimited data on cell phones, and we rent unlimited wardrobes on-line. We use oil as if it is limitless. We pretend houses can inflate in value without the bubble eventually bursting. We pretend the stock market can just keep on going up forever.

It’s no wonder we get a little angry when faced with a limit.

At first, limitations feel unjust, unfair.

We loathe our limitations.

While loathing them, though, we miss out on the opportunity to learn from them.

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