June 30, 2010

I know I’ve talked about this before, but lately the topic has been nudging me something fierce. It wants attention.


They can get you into such trouble.

Try an experiment — for a week, or a month, or a year, or from now on. Eschew expectation. Catch your expectations. Catch yourself reacting to someone because they didn’t meet your expectations. And then purify yourself — release your expectations, set them aside.

Do you expect your siblings to be reasonable? Let it go. Do you expect your lover to be appreciative? Let it go. Do you expect your grown children to make intelligent choices? Let it go. Do you expect your boss to be fair? Let it go.

Do you expect your siblings to be reasonable? Let go of that expectation, and then you become the very epitome of reasonableness — with your siblings and in every aspect of your life. Just try it. Let them be who they are, and you become what you desire from them.

Do you expect your grown children to make intelligent choices? Let go of that expectation, and use your own intelligence to acknowledge that you have no idea whether their choices are intelligent or not. You have no idea where any particular choice will lead them, what path it will set them upon, what big-picture outcome it will engender. Let go of that expectation, and see how your relationship with your children changes.

Do you expect your lover to be appreciative? Let go of that expectation. Then, instead of ragging on him for not being appreciative, you practice being appreciative of your lover! You practice being appreciative of your life! You practice being appreciative of yourself.

And no, I’m asking you to become a doormat. I’m asking you to let go of your expectations. You may find that you love the way it feels to not be irritated because someone isn’t living up to your expectations. Let go. Try it.

Too often, we are offended when others don’t meet our expectations. Offended, disappointed, angered, saddened, outraged. Most of the time, letting go of those expectations is the best course of action. And please don’t say no it isn’t until you’ve tried it.

Just try it. A week, a month, a year. Give it a chance. I am willing to bet that you’ll find that you are happier; you’ll find that you are more like the person you want to be. When you let go of expectations you hold for others, when you begin to allow others to simply be who they are, it can be like a little miracle. You begin to be curious about the other, you begin to feel ease in your relationship, and you begin to feel freedom within yourself. Your expectations hold the other hostage, and your expectations hold you hostage.

As with everything, this takes practice. You’ll have to be diligent in order to catch them. You’ll have to be courageous to release them. But you can do it. Eschew expectations.

And please let me know how it goes. Share your experiences with me and with all of us.

And let’s not forget that you have expectations of yourself, many of them handed down from others, that are worth letting go of, too.



June 22, 2010

I feel lucky to be becalmed someplace where there is a recreation center with a pool. I swim laps pretty much every day, and I love it. I get into the water, and in no time at all, I’m smiling. I love swimming! I’ve always loved swimming — and that’s how I’ve always said it: I love swimming. Lately, since the disaster in the gulf, I have been intentionally loving the water while I’m in it. And now, instead of saying I love swimming, I say (and feel) that I love the water.

So too when I drink — I intentionally, and with great happiness, love the water. It’s easy to feel happy about water while I’m drinking it. (I seldom drink anything other than water, unless it’s wine, so I’ve been intentionally loving that, too.)

If all water is connected, including the part of me that is water, then my loving the water in the pool in North Liberty, Iowa, touches the water in the Gulf of Mexico. My loving water as I drink it, influences all water, everywhere.

Please remember that your intent can alter the quality of the water. I reminded you of these Breath and Water Newsletter issues once before (March 22, 2010 Tenacity Notes) and here they are again. They are about the influence intent has on our food, our drink, our life. Look them over.

*Imbue and Imbibe, #16
*Intentional Eating, #27
and Intentional Eating, #28
*Icky Rice #44



June 15, 2010

This issue is written entirely by a subscriber:

Jett, I don’t know if I told you about my going to a lecture several years ago by some old Tibetan Buddhist guy, who was talking about meditation and healing (he had been very ill, and is now healthy — I forget the details.)

One of the things he said was that fear interferes with clear thinking, so our best decisions are made when we are not fearful. That made sense to me, so when the question-and-answer period came I had a question for him:

My partner [I said] is going through chemotherapy right now, and we talk to a lot of doctors about her treatment and the decisions we have to make about her care going forward. Yet, every time we talk to a doctor, it seems like they try to frighten us with stories about mortality rates and the seriousness of cancer and so forth. And THEN we are supposed to make clear decisions. How to deal with this?

He smiled broadly and answered pretty much like this (translated from whatever language he spoke):

“Don’t try to change the doctor; he or she is just doing their job. The doctor’s job is to try to instill fear in you. Your job is to come to a place of fearlessness.”

I think he’s right, and his words just about knocked me over!

I think this is what you are talking about this week.

You have touched me deeply with your past two issues. Thank you, Jett!



June 8, 2010

One thing driving has taught me, is that you have to look in the direction you want to go. If I’m looking backwards while I’m moving forwards, I won’t be very successful. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Likewise in my life, in my relationships. If I’m focused on what’s behind me, I won’t be very successful in moving forward. If I’m focused on resentments, regrets, or unresolved hurts, I can’t move forward at all gracefully. I had best bring resolution to my history, because it is the very nature of unresolved energy to snare us and turn us backwards. When we are mired in the past, moving forward is at best a clumsy effort.

Let’s say I’m caring for my elderly mother, and she isn’t in a state to participate in resolving the past. (I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.) Maybe she has dementia, or maybe she’s just unwilling. Or maybe she’s dead. Her state really doesn’t matter. The energy of any unresolved situation keeps me looking backward and thus messes with my forward movement. I must resolve it. How?

It has something to do with acceptance. Accepting her for who she is, coming to terms with the truth of who she was. And it has something to do with expectations — with letting go of my expectations that she will love me, that she will be curious about my life, that she will have remorse, that she will (fill in the blank). Coming to terms with who she is, and releasing my expectations of who I want her to be, will allow me to have a relationship with her based on present time truth. It will allow me to move forward with grace.

This is true of any relationship — my spouse, my neighbor, my friend, my family members, my boss. If I expect my boss to be fair, and he isn’t, the sooner I can accept him for who he is, the sooner I can make thoughtful decisions about my job. Letting go of expectations allows me to see him for who he is, and stop lamenting who he isn’t. Then I’m facing forward, then I can move on.

There’s more to resolving my history than this, but accepting people for who they are and letting go of expectations is an excellent place to begin.



June 2, 2010

“The single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.” –G. Rubin.

Everything you do is practice. All day long, you’re developing an expertise. The question is, are you practicing being who you truly want to be?

When it comes to practice, I was lucky. In 1980, I got a job driving city bus in Minneapolis. I’d been a bus passenger all my life, so I knew that a bus driver could influence a person’s well-being – a friendly bus driver has happy passengers, a crabby bus driver has (creates) unhappy passengers.

I wanted to be the best bus driver, so I made a vow to myself: I would greet every passenger with a smile and a warm hello. Every passenger, even the ones who reeked of cigarette smoke or perfume; even the snooty; even the surly; even the wierdos – every one of them would get a genuine smile and a friendly hello from me.

I kept that vow, and I had happy passengers who thought I was the best. (Of course, I was a first-rate driver, and they loved that, too.) But, and this I hadn’t expected, that vow changed my life. As I practiced being the best bus driver, I became a better person.

Compared to who I was before I was a bus driver, it was like night and day. I went from being chronically judgmental, arrogant, antagonistic, and insecure, to being kind, and curious about others (although only marginally less judgmental). Eventually, after many, many more years of practice, I became a happy person, and truly less judgmental.

Even though it’s many years since I was a professional, I still practice being the best driver. Every time I get behind the wheel, I remind myself that I’m practicing to be the best, I hone my skills. Maybe that’s why I enjoy driving so much.

And I still practice being the best me. Every morning, I remind myself that this day is an opportunity to really be who I know I’m capable of being.

I had three years of intense practice at unconditional love. Every day, 5 days a week, I smiled sincerely at hundreds of individual people. Not many of us get such a profound practice intensive. Maybe most don’t need it as badly as I did. But we are all practicing to be the person we want to be. The trick is to remember that we’re practicing, to remember that it’s all practice.

Today, practice. Be the self you know you’re capable of being. Develop an expertise in being the best you.

Do you have a string for your finger?