Good morning, friends. Here I am.
I hope your week was good. I've enjoyed a few quiet days in my world. I indulged in an epic bike ride with my kids, a long hike and day of nettle-picking with my family, and lots and lots of quiet time to think. There has also been a ridiculous amount of sleep (which might just be my best medicine) and plenty of good and meaningful conversation.
And all through the week your comments poured in. (Along with your cards, letters, and emails.) I'm here this morning to say thank you. Your voice came through clear and true. I see your hearts and I hear your voices. And I feel such gratitude that you added your thoughts to the conversation. Thank you for your appreciation, sensitivity, and clarity. Thank you for seeing my intention.
As I read your words I stood here in amazement at what you shared. So many of you speaking here for the first time, and others saying things I never could have imagined. I had no idea how you have been touched by this space. I really didn't. Thank you for finding the words. It changed everything.
You see, I come here to inspire – and yes, challenge – you with new ideas. I don't come here to convert you and convince you to follow my one-right-and-true-path. I just come here to say "this works for me". Simply knowing that that my words or my worldview stirs up pain or anger for a few readers is difficult for me and made me wonder if it was worth doing at all. If my words cause one person pain I would rather have not spoken them. But hearing so many of you state clearly and passionately what those same words mean for your lives and your children meant that it is indeed worth it. More so than even I imagined.
Many of you spoke of the courage it must take to speak my truth here. And it's funny, but I am a little oblivious about the stir that my truth is capable of causing. I choose my words carefully and assume that you will read them at face value, as my truth – not necessarily yours. (On rare occasion I summon my courage to write, but it is truly rare.) Mostly I'm just talking about what I believe and how my family lives. Take it or leave it, be inspired or not. No baggage, no expectations.
I guess it's because I have never seen the world as a one-right-path-for-everyone kind of place. While I do believe in the universal power of love, respect, and kindness, we are all so different that what works for me might not work for you. It's so obvious to me – we're different people. We'll make different choices. In truth, it never occurred to me that my words would be read as talking down to someone walking a different path than I. And that speaks to my naivety. Maybe that's because for my entire life I've been surrounded by people with different values making different choices than me. And I've almost never felt like they think I've got it all wrong (that belief would unravel me), nor did I see it the other way around. I guess I've been different for so long that it feels normal.
Many of you have said that this is the only place that you've been exposed to some of these ideas, so therein lies the purpose of sharing what I do. New ideas are good for us, don't you think? They help us better understand what feels right in our own hearts. They help us filter and select and refine our vision. Because each of us is writing our own story. And we choose what direction it goes.
But we have become a painfully polarized society. I think we've become accustom to the idea that everyone must believe they have The One Right Answer – be it spiritual, political, dietary, educational, or parental. And with that comes the assumption that if I've chosen to do it a different way then I must be looking down on you for doing it your way.
But guess what… I'm not.
The truth is that I question everything. And that is why my life looks the way it does. (I talked to a friend about it recently in regards to this conversation on the blog. I said, "Tell me one thing I do that is normal. One mainstream choice. Anything. Name one." Nothing. I repeated the question to Pete and he just snorted. Because I am a relentless questioner. I always have been.) So every single decision that I make will likely go against the grain for 90% of the people who find their way to my blog.
And if you have faced judgement before when others have made a different choice then you, or if you are not confident in some of your own beliefs or choices, then I'm bound to stir up your stuff. And when a person (me for example) openly goes their own way, there can be an implied criticism that how everyone else is doing it isn't good enough. If I co-sleep, I must look down on you for your crib. If I homeschool, I must disapprove of your child attending school. If I don't shop at Walmart, I must shake my head at your choice to do so. I could go on and on. Spirituality, politics, consumer choices, food, medical and dental care…
Yes, I'm going out of my way to do things differently. But not because I believe I've found the Universal Answer to All that Ails Us. It just means I found what works for me. I trust others are doing the same.
Because questioning is quite simply what makes me tick. It's what makes me "me". It gives me joy to be conscious and mindful in every decision, right down to my toothpaste. And I understand that some of you do not share that gene or have the time, interest, or energy to question everything. As one friend put it, "At this point in my life I can't ask questions about [XYZ]. I use to, and maybe some day I will again, but right now I have too much on my plate to care."
And I suspect some of you feel the same. Which is a-okay with me. Because, again, we're all different.
And now here's another crucial piece of this conversation. My choices are made (are you ready?) by judging what resonates for me and my family. (It's that word we've all been dancing around – judgement!)
Yes. I judge.
While simply going with the flow (doing what has long been done in your culture or your family) can happen without judgement, consciously choosing your own right path can not. Anyone mindfully choosing A over B must exercising judgement to do so. "Which one feels right for me?" That is the act of judging. And I do it every day. Judge, judge, judge.
But all judgement is not equal. (Or more complexly: here is my judgement of judgement.) There is the "I see only one right answer for us all" sort of judgement and the "This is the right answer for me" sort of judgement. Know that I am doing only the latter.
And if my choices make you uncomfortable your inner voice saying is probably saying one of two things: either "Question what you believe," or "Walk away from this place." ("Get Out Here" as the sign above says, fifty feet from the churning rapids that are sure to eat both you and your canoe alive.)
Those are the only two answers I can come up with. If I'm shaking a bit the foundation of what you have come to believe, only you can decide if it serves you and if you want to stay in this space a bit longer to see what transforms. And if you've found your right path and yet you keep coming back here feeling irritated or inadequate or angry by the picture I am painting, it isn't serving you. Get out here.
Coming here and seeing all of my choices out on display, flapping confidently like prayer flags in the wind will inspire some of you and be overwhelming for others. And that's why this is an opt-in space. As you decide whether to stay or go, know that my making different choices do not mean that I am looking down on yours. If you feel a judgment when you read my words it might just be coming from within or from someone else in your world who is questioning the validity of your choices. I get to call the shots for me. And you get to call the shots for you. I respect our differences.
In truth, my choices are serving me. I'm happy ninety-plus percent of the time. Really, truly happy. (Okay, I am just the tiniest bit sensitive to criticism (ahem), but I'm working on what that's about too.) Yelling, arguing, struggling, and resistance are rare in my life. We've worked our way to this place by finding the choices that resonate for us. I encourage you to do the same. Find what makes you tick. Find your own happy place. Pete and I made sacrifices and took big risks to get to where we are. I don't regret a single step, nor do I apologize for our joy. I've bucked the norm and love where I landed. It's working for me. If my words can encourage you along your own version of this path, then hooray! It might parallel mine in some ways, and it might run in a completely different direction. But it only has to be a good fit for you.
If you choose to stick around and read what I have to share (and I do have so much more to share), then accept my words at face value. Filter out what serves you and discard the rest. And please bring your voice to the conversation. Your open, honest – and yes respectful – voice. (I will strive to hold a voice that is all three as well.) Talking freely and peacefully about our differences might be one the the most healing things we could do here.
I'm not ready to walk away from this place. I don't yet know what direction this blog will go, but I'll keep talking (and listening). Will you do the same?