Mile high mind massage

I am currently in Denver for a leadership conference for school…and while originally I wanted to write about all the things that I have learned and that have come up for me here…and perhaps that will come later but what’s alive for me right now is the notion of commanding.

I’d been looking forward to meeting this scholar who studies mindfulness, attention, Buddhism, and leadership for the past month. I walk into her session and she is not there. Not physically, but she’s on a phone which is hooked into a speaker. Not hardly the same. Next we proceed to meditate to which people are coughing (my pet peeve, self admittedly) moving, shifting, coming in and out, etc. I just wasn’t into it, so I left. I thought to myself, “I can (and do) do this on my own and have a much more pleasant experience. That’s the point though.

See…my “work” in this life is to connect to others. I knew that, Jan Spiller reiterated it. And as I literally sit above a mile high mountain top as I did many lifetimes before, I have never hated “connecting” more than I did 20 minutes ago.

When faced with the abrasive reality against my polished expectations it felt so raw and displeasing I left. As I set meditating, whenever someone made a noise it felt as though a noose tightened around my neck. Literally choking the throat; the sound chakra, truth blocked by lies. So what’s the lies? Maybe that I used the noise as an excuse for my disturbed concentration. Maybe that I was connected at all. Maybe both. Or maybe I was annoyed at this demand being made by the noise makers for attention. How dare they ask to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be given attention?

Brene’ Brown said a lot of interesting things this morning but perhaps the most personally provocative was when she said we need to make a bid for connection. I tell my students all the time to say what they mean to say. Think of the answer you want, ask the question that beckons that truth. Its a difficult thing…to be intentional which requires asking yourself what do I want? What do I want in this moment?

What do I want? When I had to think of a word to describe myself yesterday I knee-jerk came to the word:POWERFUL. To be entirely honest I am not sure where that came from. What space or what place produced that? Am I powerful?

I had a conversation with a woman yesterday and she inquired how she might have been “playing small” in various areas in her life. Then today Brene’ iterated how she had previously purposefully engineered her career to stay small. Her viral popularity was much to her chagrin and she was not prepared for neither the negativity nor the positivity that came as a result of her vulnerability. She aptly professed, When [I] stepped into [my] power, [I] became a lightening rod.”

The thing I find interesting about that particular metaphor is that the rod is not the source, it is the conductor, but it attracts the energy of source power and likely outlets alike. Yesterday I was made an example of when describing how to “command presence.” Then last night, Nicole told me that I have a way of commanding attention. Rather than shrug off the attention, I found myself engaging in dialogue around it. I told her that I am learning to hear it, but I will not allow my ego to make this about me. Its really about the source, I am just a conductor. And really, I am not sure that I’ve fully stepped into my power, but I have more incentive than I did yesterday to do so.

And while my mind continues to wrap itself around this entire experience; what it means for my work, my Self, and my way of being I doubt it strays far from this thought. Make a bid for connection. Stop playing small, a beautiful lightening rod once said it does nothing to serve the world. And I am beginning to really think she had a point.


The local time is 10:58pm but it feels much later. Its been a day. I hesitate to call any day I am blessed to have experienced a “bad” day, but it was one where I found myself grasping for the goodness, the gratitude, and the grace.

I had almost arrived to Denver. Our pilot had previously made mention of turbulence we may encounter as we prepared to land but I figured, I fly often enough–I will be okay. I was wrong. We just kept dropping. My body was in panic. I shouldn’t feel that floating rollercoaster feeling on a plane. I looked at the window and saw the mountains and then the plane shook violently. The little Indian woman beside me was starting to fret. We dropped again. I closed my eyes and hot tears fell. I told myself it was fine, just air pockets. Or rough air. Or jet streams. I struggled for some meteorological explanation. But all I felt was the falling.

The mountains were so close. I could see the stream carved valleys and icy caps. Down we fell closer to them. I closed my eyes again. Telling whatever power would listen that I was grateful for this morning having spoken to my mom and my sister. I told them I loved them. At least I did that. And I suppose for those who have never experienced anything like this, I might sound a bit dramatic. But I’d left panic and found peace and in hindsight that’s scarier.

We shook and dropped and shook until we landed, very roughly. I wiped the tears and the man behind me rubbed my back. I just kept saying, “that was not okay.” I cried from the time it started until I was in the shuttle headed to the hotel where there was a debacle with my room.

As I sat in the lobby, growing more and more frustrated by the minute I sang to myself. I longed to play in my hair. My hair. It has always been a sort-of soothing thing for me. I needed some comfort.

I didn’t call my mom, because I did not want to worry her. I knew she would be concerned and I was going to be okay. I was just a little shaken up. When she saw my facebook status dictating an awful mood she knew something was wrong. Lots of people did because I rarely, if ever post negative things. Just not me. She, of course, went into mom mode and wanted to fix it and make it better. I recalled that awful flight and started crying again. It struck me that no matter how old, accomplished, mature, developed we get…sometimes we’re just little helpless beings in need of love, affection, and comfort. When Mo came, she gave me a hug, helped me sort through my hotel woes and I told her, “you should be a mom.” 

After dinner, I was calm. Ready to shower and wash off this day and settle into bed. I laid on the bed unable to locate the anger I felt so strongly only hours before. Instead I found the goodness in problems easily fixed and good friends willing to help fix them. The gratitude in a peer, a friend, a mentor who can laugh and cry with you with such ease, its as if it always was. And the grace…for a life where I am so incredibly loved. Even the problems I have show just how privileged I am.

And so, before bed I say my prayers. For my mother and my sisters. May they always know I love them. For good pilots and safe landings. For loving friends with nurturing hearts. And for the good sense to even in crisis, know there’s something more than this moment. Thanks to the divine, even for my anger.