Just Show Up

“Sometimes the bravest and the most important thing you can do is just show up.”
Brene Brown 


Last month I wrote about training and getting psyched up to be part of a relay race across Lake Tahoe. The race took place on July 22nd and there were 190 teams consisting of 6 people each swimming the 10 miles across the width of the lake. I had been nervous about the cold (turned out to be “warm” – meaning I didn’t shake for an hour after I swam), and about swimming longer since we did the race with 5 people instead of 6 (no biggie – we all just got in the groove and swam more legs), and all the other variables that could go wrong (but nothing did – just fun and sun!). We had a great boat captain – Ian – who drove our boat and gave us a great course that resulted in us finishing the race in 5 hours and 29 minutes.
When we were done I reflected on how I felt the very first time I had done this race. After years of being a pool swimmer and just seeing the black line at the bottom of the pool, there was something so deeply satisfying at looking at the other side of the lake and realizing we had swum all that way across. When I got home I pulled out one of my scrapbooks and found a picture of my first Lake Tahoe swim team from 1982 (!) and realized I have been doing this swim off and on for 35 years! Longer than our 28 year old captain Ian has been alive! I started to feel really old until I realized that I have actually been living one of my favorite mottos: “Just Show Up.”  I have done this swim through the years with so many different kinds of teams – some were out to win, some just had fun, some were way to serious for me. There were times when I felt slower or faster, swims where the lake was like glass, and others when there was rain and eight foot swells. But I kept showing up.
Maybe that is what spiritual practice and life is all about. Just doing it. Just showing up to meditate, or pray, or sing, or listen to a friend, or write that book that has taken years to do, or in my case going to swim practice in the dead of winter when there is frost on the ground because I know in the summer I’ll be swimming in a cold lake and I want to be in shape to do it. It also means showing up for a friend when they need you, or pushing past the discomfort when there is something in the air that needs to be said, showing up for yourself in terms of your own self-care and nurturing. In other words: making the commitment no matter what the obstacles are, and pushing past the whining and negotiating of your “logical self” and just showing up. No matter what.I have always said about myself that I might not be the fastest swimmer, or the most talented singer or songwriter, or the most wonderful speaker or facilitator around, but I do know that I will keep showing up and always giving it my best…and for me that is what it’s all about.


Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

“So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards.
So this is how you pray.”
Mary Oliver

Well here it is – finally summer! Finally warming up enough around where I live to put on shorts and kick back a bit. Well, that is the idea…but I am in the process of recording my next CD, traveling to a bunch to fun gigs and retreats, and training for my annual relay race across Lake Tahoe in mid July. Yes, this is what I do for fun – swim in cold water. This year my team and I are all a little more nervous than usual because of the high volume of snow that the Sierras got this winter. While we definitely needed the snow, the subsequent snow runoff is making the lake a lot colder. This means that once again I am being given an opportunity to practice what I talk and sing about: your thoughts create your reality. Yes the water will be cold, but I have learned the power in that wonderful saying: “What you resist persists.” If I clench my teeth and keep saying, “Oh it’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold” – guess what? It’s gonna be cold! When I practice “leaning in” to the cold and breathing, accepting, surrendering, in a few minutes my body adapts and I am fine. Kind of a great metaphor for life, don’t ya think? I keep working on this one!

The truth is it’s so much fun to accomplish this goal of swimming across the width of this beautiful lake with my wonderful teammates who all share this crazy passion/hobby…and it’s a wonderful excuse to eat, drink, and laugh while supporting and encouraging each other.

Since it’s summer I am taking the time to play a bit more. I am actually having to give myself permission to play during those times when my “driver” voice says I need to keep working….so here is a song for you to join me in allowing yourself to get out and play! Happy summer!

I Am Open To The Possibilities

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”   Walt Disney
We have all heard that expression, “You teach what you need to learn.” Right now I seem to be living another expression that says, “Life gives you an experience whether or not you think you are ready!”
I have been facilitating women’s retreats for various churches around the country for years, but a while ago the seed was planted of producing one on my own. I remember when I was about to sign the contract and write the deposit check for my very own first Asilomar women’s retreat. That contract sat on my desk right up to the deadline when I was supposed to sign…and as I took the pen to sign my name on the dotted line – I couldn’t. I got scared. Who would come? Would I lose tons of money? I questioned my ability and doubted my worth. I felt like I was failing, but something in me just didn’t feel ready, so I called and told them no.
The next year, after facilitating more retreats, planning, and visualizing, this time I was ready. I was still just as scared but I signed my name to the contract, sent in my deposit money and kept affirming, “If you book it they will come.” And they did. I held my first Asilomar retreat last June with forty wonderful and inspiring women coming together to share an amazing time. I will offer another retreat there in October of this year. I’ve realized for myself that this is what growth is all about: taking baby steps until I feel ready and then I simply have to commit. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy, or that I won’t be nervous or scared about whether it will work or not – but I show up and say yes and trust that it will all work out.
         I find the need to exercise that trust muscle again as I prepare to facilitate a women’s retreat at a brand new facility in the Santa Cruz mountains in June called 1440 Multiversity. I was originally going to be co-facilitating with my friend Joan Borysenko, but she had a conflict and needed to cancel. So now once again Ye Old Universe is challenging me to up my game by filling the retreat by myself, trusting that my abilities as a workshop facilitator will still be a draw even to people who might not know me, working outside my safe and comfortable church community, and working in an unfamiliar place. Am I nervous about the unknown? Yes. Is my inner critic giving me all the reasons why I can’t do this? Yes.  Am I ready for this challenge? Yes. Am I willing to just show up and trust? Yes!
Every month at the end of Oprah’s “O” magazine she has an essay called, “What I know for sure.” Well what I know for sure is that even though these retreats are a stretch, every time I move out of my comfort zone and do them I find out new things about myself. As my chant says, “I am open to the possibility” – so I am open and willing to work my trust muscle, and know that whatever happens I get to learn more about myself.