How to Show Up to Your Life

We traveled together, this young boy and I.

We were in the back of a hired car, on the way to the airport. I was scheduled to give a national radio interview the next day, and I was mostly looking forward to the adventure. Flying isn’t my favorite thing to do, but the weather was good and I had plenty of margin in my schedule for unforeseen delays and unpreventable problems.

But my little traveling companion was a mess.

inner child

Photo Credit: Koca777 (Bigstock)

He was worried about what might happen, what might not happen, and everything in between. I tried to ignore him for a while, but that seemed to make him more scared. So, I tried to convince him there was nothing to worry about, that nothing would go wrong. Nope. Too smart to be fooled by platitudes. My efforts were making his anxiety worse.

He was close to panic.

Then, I told him, no matter what happened, I’d take care of him. I told him he could relax, because even if things went wonky, I’d handle it. I told him it’s okay to be anxious, because when you’re a kid you lack control over almost everything and you pretty much can’t protect yourself from anything. But, I told him, you can relax if you want, because I’m in charge now, and I’ll make sure things turn out as well as they possibly can. I simply invited him along for the ride. And do you know what happened?

Slowly, he calmed down.

I embraced him and we walked through the airport together and got on the plane together and found the rental car together and checked into the hotel together and, believe it or not, we went on the radio together. The studio was a little intimidating for him, but I told him I couldn’t do the interview without him, because in a lot of ways, he’s wiser than me. Wiser in a way only kids can be. Once again, I invited him along for the ride. And he did great. We did great.

It turns out, we work really well together.

I wish I would have reassured him like that years ago, because that scared little boy has gone on a lot of adventures with me, always afraid, always wishing he could just go home and hide under the covers. But I guess I couldn’t really do that sooner, because the truth is, for most of my life, I didn’t even know that boy existed.

You see, that little boy is the little kid in me.

Continue Reading »

Week 9: What to Do When Your Heart Feels Like a Jungle [Loveable 010]

“Embracing your worthiness is up to you and you alone—we cannot truly receive love until we have embraced that we are worthy of love. However, we all need someone to walk with us as we do so. We don’t depend upon this person for our sense of worth, but we can lean upon them when the going gets tough.”

In Episode 10 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about what to do when the healing journey gets a little too messy to walk alone…

the loveable podcast episode 10

This week’s episode includes:

  • A conversation about how to learn from your pain, attend to your anger, and short-circuit your panic attacks.
  • A discussion about how emotional pain expresses itself in the body, and how practices such as yoga can help us to relearn our relationship to it.
  • Another way to approach prayer, especially when your praying feels unhelpful, or even counterproductive.
  • An encouragement about the cyclical nature of healing and growth.
  • Why asking for help is an expression of a sense of worthiness.
  • How to find a good therapist when you don’t know where else to look.
  • A helpful (pun intended) list of reasons we resist asking for help, and even resist receiving the help we’ve already asked for.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Why Shame Is the Beginning of Your Story (Not the End of It).”

Continue Reading »

Week 8: The Small Gate and Narrow Road Back to Your True Self [Loveable 009]

Emotional healing and spiritual growth are not about eliminating our pain; they are about approaching our pain. Rather than moving away from our pain, we learn how to move toward it, enduring it, learning from it, transforming it, and eventually moving through it, to where we find our true self.

In Episode 9 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about pain and playfulness and everything in between…

the loveable podcast episode 9

This week’s episode includes:

  • A case study of how to observe our thought stream, rather than getting swept away in it, and an example of how this can expand our experience of the present moment.
  • The connection between shame, playfulness, and our true self and how to use playfulness to disarm our shame.
  • How embracing our worthiness can quickly lead to becoming less lonely.
  • A better, healthier way to relate to “the future.”
  • The difference between reacting and responding, and how to cultivate wiser responses.
  • Suggestions for increasing the frequency and regularity with which you become mindful of your thought stream and practice observing it.
  • Reflections on how faith can fruitfully evolve over the course of a lifetime.
  • A discussion about why moving toward our pain rather than away from it is healing.
  • How attending to our pain can improve our civic discourse.
  • A practice for using your body to practice approaching your emotional pain.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “What to Do When Your Heart Feels Like a Jungle.”

Continue Reading »

This Is What Happens When Grace Wins

I’m not good enough.

It says it right there in the email I’m reading. It says the sales of Loveable are not strong enough to warrant publishing its companion book. And, though the voice of shame within me has gotten quieter over the last decade, it is seizing upon this opportunity.

Loveable Book

Photo Credit: Julia Sudnitskaya (Bigstock)

In fact, it’s doing exactly what I predicted in Loveable it would do:

When we embrace our worthiness enough to trust our voice, we begin to use our voice in the world. And when we begin to find our places of belonging amongst those who are grateful for our voice, those very same people encourage us to practice the passions that have been threaded into our souls from the very beginning. And when the practicing of those passions doesn’t go as planned, you find yourself back at what feels an awful lot like square one, as the voice of shame within you begins questioning your worthiness all over again.

The sales of Loveable aren’t good enough, so you aren’t good enough, Kelly.

The voice of shame within me is piping up again, telling me I was wrong all along, telling me to go back into hiding, telling me to go silent. So, I go silent for a few days. I get quiet and I contemplate giving up.

However, something else has also been happening over the last decade—as the voice of shame has quieted, the voice of grace within me has gotten bolder. So, as I do the bidding of shame and go silent, I hear the voice of grace all the more clearly:

The one thing you can’t let yourself do is go silent.

Continue Reading »

Week 7: You Are Not Your Thoughts (You Are the Observer of Your Thoughts) [Loveable 008]

“This is the promise of your pain: to relate to it properly, you must learn how to observe it, and as you learn to observe it, you begin, for the first time, to fully inhabit the soul within you that is doing the observing. This week, begin to inhabit your soul once again. Welcome home.”

In Episode 8 of The Loveable Podcast, we begin to talk about how to move through our darkness. And into the light…

loveable podcast episode 8

This week’s episode includes:

  • A summary of the first six weeks of the podcast and a context for what is ahead.
  • A reminder and encouragement about the cyclical nature of growth and becoming, as described in Loveable.
  • A helpful way to decide whether or not a job is right for you, especially if you are on the fence about it.
  • An encouraging reminder that your circles of belonging will likely shrink at first, as you begin to embrace your worthiness. 
  • Identification of a number of thoughts and phrases that can serve as “red flags” that you are experiencing, and perhaps even being guided by, shame.
  • Why a healthy mind and heart begin with a willingness to experience the full range of human experiences and emotions.
  • Why it’s impossible to stop your thoughts and what to do about that.
  • How the practice of observing your thoughts can make you a more light-hearted person.
  • How to embrace the rhythm of observing your thoughts, feeling a sense of peace as a result, and then falling back into old habits of identifying with our thoughts.
  • What it means to feel at home in our own soul.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “The Small Gate and Narrow Road Back to Your True Self.”

Continue Reading »

How to Feel True Thanksgiving in Just 45 Seconds

The pain stabbed me awake.

Near midnight, on an ordinary Sunday evening, I awoke to the feeling of someone inserting a very sharp knife under the toenail on my left big toe. The sensation lasted ten seconds, then subsided. Forty-five seconds later it happened again: ten seconds of exquisite agony. Then, forty-five seconds of ordinary living, followed once again by the knife. It went that way all night long.

Every forty-five sleepless seconds, the knife.

Thanksgiving gratitude

Photo Credit: Alatielin (Bigstock)

The merciless cycle continued with almost no relief for three days and two more nights. I’m feeling better now—the right diagnosis and some good treatment and my sciatic nerve has finally cried mercy, for now—but the whole thing showed me something about how to cultivate true thanksgiving, as we head into this Thanksgiving holiday.

It has to do with the ordinary threaded throughout the pain.

What I mean is, during the daytime, when I was distracted by all the demands of daily life, I only paid attention to my toe when the knife arrived, so it felt like I was being stabbed all day long. But at night, there was nothing to do but pay attention the whole time, so I got to fully experience the forty-five second gaps between the pain, as well. And this is what I discovered:

I’m deeply, deeply grateful for forty-five ordinary seconds.

We tend to think of gratitude as something that happens when pain is vanquished, when hardship and disappointment and loss are eradicated from the landscape of our lives. We tend to think of gratitude as an experience that arises naturally when the risk and fear and diagnosis and disease and grief are behind us, rather than on us or in front of us. We tend to think of gratitude as an extraordinary feeling that corresponds with extraordinary blessings and exceedingly good fortunes and a cookie that crumbles in all the right ways.

But the truth is, gratitude can happen in forty-five terribly ordinary seconds.

Continue Reading »

Week 6: Unbecoming Who You Are Not [Loveable 007]

“You already are what you are becoming. You don’t build what you are; you chip away at what you are not. We are, each of us, like blocks of wood, and becoming our true self is the gradual process of carving away the excess and steadily becoming more and more the shape of what we already are.”

In Episode 7 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about how to do so, and it begins with answering three very specific questions…

loveable podcast episode 7

This week’s episode includes:

  • How to respond to the “gap” between who you want to be and who you are (hint: it has to do with grace).
  • How to handle relationships with people who are either unable or unwilling to connect with you or accept you for who you are.
  • What to do when you’re not quite ready to engage with one of the exercises from this podcast.
  • A concrete example of one way I’ve embraced myself by unbecoming who I am not.
  • How to know who you belong to (hint: it has to do with grace again).
  • A discussion about how to set healthy boundaries.
  • Permission for this process to take time.
  • All sorts of discussion and resources for navigating relationships between introverts and extroverts.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “You Aren’t Your Thoughts (You Are the Observer of Your Thoughts).”

Continue Reading »

Week 5: Letting Go of the Solution to All of Your Problems [Loveable 006]

What is the only thing worse than not getting what you want? Getting what you want. Because after you get what you want, you will probably realize it wasn’t the hoped-for solution to all of your problems. And then what? In Episode 6 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about our search for a solution that doesn’t exist, letting it go, and then what…

loveable podcast episode 6

This week’s episode includes:

  • A review of last week’s practice, especially the importance of adopting a word or phrase to be mindful of and to anchor us on our journey of becoming.
  • Why we search in our relationships and accomplishments for a solution to our shame that does not exist.
  • A totally new angle from which to view the creation story in the book of Genesis.
  • How to challenge the sense of duty and obligation that might be keeping you from changing old habits and patterns of searching.
  • How friends, family, and other places of belonging can hold us accountable for not searching for our worthiness in external activities.
  • The value of retelling your life story through the lens of your search for worthiness.
  • What will take the place of your search for worthiness, once you have called it off.
  • How to deal with regret about all the time you’ve spent searching.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Unbecoming Who We Are Not.”

Continue Reading »

The Only Thing Better Than Being Remembered

The waves will wash us away.

I’m walking along the beach on the West coast of the United States when I see it, carved into the rock: “S+H 4 Ever.” There is a heart carved around it, and a date: 9/2014. At first, my heart is warmed—it must have been hard to carve, a labor of love. But then, very quickly, my heart is chilled. Three years ago, “forever” was carved deeply into a rock, and three short years later, the crashing water is already eroding and erasing the letters. In those fading letters, I saw myself. I saw all of us.

The waves of time will wash us all away.

purpose meaning

At some level, each of us is aware of this. So, we strive for immortality, by carving our initials into this life—we try to make our mark on the world. We try to make a difference. We long to be remembered. We hope to leave a legacy. We fight to outlast ourselves. But the truth is, aside from the occasional address in a field at Gettysburg, or a speech on the mall in Washington, most of us will not be remembered for very long.

Someone once said, “Every man dies two deaths. The first is when he takes his last breath. The second is the last time someone says his name.”

Our time here is short and, for most of us, the waves of time will eventually wash away even the memory of our existence, no matter how deeply we carve our initials into the bedrock of our lives.

Like I said, the heart-warming inscription only chilled me.

Two days later, though, I’m back in the heartland of America, and I’m sitting beside another body of water—a river—on a colorful, brittle autumn day. The season around me is yet another reminder of how everything and everyone is always dying and passing on. As I sit beside the river, the image of the waves slamming into the shore continues to haunt me. But then something happens.

As I watch the world around me, I see that it’s dancing.

Continue Reading »

Week 4: Self-Acceptance Is the Foundation of All Self-Improvement [Loveable 005]

What if all our efforts to improve ourselves are actually keeping us stuck, because, sometimes, self-help is just cleverly disguised self-rejection? And what if, sometimes, self-acceptance is the most helpful, most transformative thing of all? Welcome to Episode 5 of The Loveable Podcast, in which we read and discuss Week 4 of Loveable’s companion book,  which is available nowhere else…

loveable podcast episode 5

This week’s episodes includes:

  • Me admitting that I woke up feeling insecure and anxious about recording the podcast episode.
  • A fruitful conversation about what to do when your shame decides to visit you once again.
  • The important distinction between our inward journey and our outward journeys.
  • Why our culture of inspiration is really a cleverly disguised culture of self-rejection.
  • The key difference between being inspired to change yourself versus being inspired to accept yourself.
  • How self-acceptance ultimately leads to wiser and more peaceful change.
  • The reason the first three weeks came before this week’s topic and practice.
  • A challenge to quit consuming self-help for at least one week.
  • A recommendation about what to replace self-help with once you’ve taken a break from it.
  • How to help thoughts about your worthiness descend from your head to your heart.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Letting Go of the Solution to All of Your Problems.”

Continue Reading »