I found this mushroom on a walk this week, a heart on a dying log.
Nature doesn’t make us work hard for metaphors, does it?
I don’t like to think about getting nutrients from decay, as mushrooms do - but of course I do. We all do.
Our marriage ends and we pursue the political activism our ex had no interest in
Our kids move out and with our newly free time we discover that we love tango.
We lose our job and admit to ourselves that we haven't liked our job in years.
I’ve experienced this growth after death, nutrients from decay. After my father died in 2006, my mother moved to my community. I went from seeing her a few times a year to seeing her regularly.
Years later, the sudden loss of my mother was devastating. Six months later, I signed up for life coach certification. Seven months after that, I started my podcast.
None of it is a silver lining. Of course I would give up being a coach and having a podcast to have my mother back. I would have given up that time with my mother to have her happily living in Florida with my dad.
No silver lining but sometimes, new growth after loss. Nutrients from decay.
We let go of one dream and, over time, find the ability to imagine a new one.
We create art out of sadness, make opportunities after crushing disappointment, fall in love years after heartbreak.
We don't need to try to find silver linings when things are hard. But we can remember other times when we were forced to let go of a dream or someone we loved, and, miraculously, something later bloomed. We carried our loss with us, becoming someone new.
Here too, I learn from the mushrooms, which send out thousands of spores and grow unpredictably. We too can't control the direction of our growth. We have to trust the process without seeing a clear path.
For us, the spores might be:
Let yourself mourn what you have lost. If you're sad that your parent isn't who they used to be, let yourself be sad. If you miss being married, let yourself miss it. If you feel useless now that your kids are gone, let yourself feel useless. Your feelings aren't a problem and you don't need to fix them.
When you are with yourself in all your feelings, you will make it safe to notice other "spores". You may find that something unexpectedly makes you laugh. You may find a spore of joy when you're in nature, dancing, or eating something delicious. You may find that your feelings are more nuanced than you originally realized.
And from this nuance, from these spores, something new will grow. A heart on a dying log, indeed. ❤️
It's not easy to let go of one vision for our life and to create another. One thing that can help is radical curiosity, which lets us meet ourselves anew. Rather than assuming that we know ourselves completely, what if we made a concerted effort to meet ourselves as we are right now, for the first time? This requires radical, relentless curiosity, and it's the topic of this week's podcast.
This episode is about the power of radical, relentless curiosity. Often we're not curious about ourselves because we think we know our skills, preferences, and capacities. We think we know who we are.
But what if we're wrong?
Radical curiosity lets us consider our life as an experiment to find out. Maybe there are things we liked in the past but don't like now. Maybe we've thought, "I could never . . . " but find that indeed we can. Maybe we've been chasing after something we no longer even want. Each one of these paths starts with radical curiosity about ourselves.
Rather than starting with something big, as we often do ("I'm going to change myself completely!") we can start by being curious about some of the smallest things about ourselves, including even how we take our coffee. And from there, radical curiosity can open up a world of possibility.
Take a listen and let me know what resonates!
P.S. I started writing this week's love note before war broke out in Israel. I want to be clear that when you are in an actively traumatic situation, it is too soon to think about "after." My thoughts in this week's love note are not intended for acute trauma, but rather for losses of a more chronic nature (eg, the end of a marriage, the decline or loss of a parent). Although I do not coach on trauma, if you need a technique to calm yourself, you might try box breathing, which can help regulate the breath, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and focus the mind.
P.P.S. I've started something new! An anonymous "Dear Rachel" form. Have a situation you want help with? Write in anonymously. (Hat tip to Dear Abby, of course). I'll answer the question on my podcast, love note, and/or social media (If you want me to email you a response, include your email). If I get enough questions, I might collect them on my webpage. Here's the link to write in.
⭐ I love being connected to you ⭐
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