(Don’t) Try Harder

“Try harder.”

“Be better.”

“Do better.”

Do you recognize these mantras? Can you hear the menace that rumbles just beneath them? You are not enough. You are sinful-shameful-broken.

Listening to these try.harder.darn.it. specters, we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (again!) and determine to dive into 3 Steps to a Better Me, or Seven Easy How-to’s for Curing ThatUnforgiveableFlaw, or The 60 Day QuickFix for ThatProblemYouHave.

Too tired to click, cure, or fix

Can you feel the tension in your shoulders as you read those words? My jaw is tight just jotting this all down. Are you feeling worn out at the very thought of those easy steps and tricks and fixes? A little curious about how to get out of your (beautiful, creative, intelligent) head and onto a path of authentic growth?

“Curious” may not be the word you’d use.

Try Harder

You may be feeling desperate. There may be a longing in you to understand your Self truly, deeply, honestly. It can sometimes feel like we’ve tried everything in an effort to be the person that our significant other might love. We work so hard at being an exceptional parent and a good child and a beloved friend and a skilled employee(er). We’re not lazy. And we do try harder.

Until our Try Harder konks out on us. Weariness and desolation might kick in. We might feel something that feels like burn-out. Compassion fatigue. Simple exhaustion.

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Grief | Is Something Wrong With Me?


One of our group participants once asked, “Is grief a mental illness?” How might you answer that question? In your experience of loss, abandonment, loneliness, illness, death. ‘Your experience of the countless ways in which you may suffer unseen, un-named grief. In grief, it can feel like our minds (and hearts) have fallen ill. We are heartsick.

Layli Long Soldier‘s expression of this complex layer of human experience resonates. Beginning with the top line, “As we…,” choose a language path and follow it through to the end of the poet’s exploration

Obligations 2


(New Poets of Native Nations. Copyright © 2018 by Layli Long Soldier, as found at www.poetryfoundation.org)                                                                               As we

                                        embrace          resist

                          the future       the present      the past

             we work          we struggle          we begin          we fail

to understand       to find        to unbraid        to accept        to question

              the grief          the grief           the grief          the grief

                          we shift         we wield           we bury

                                    into light               as ash

                                             across our faces

What emerges in you as you spend time with this?

In the isolation of grief (you may know what it is to feel utterly, absolutely alone in your darkest hours?), may you find quiet heart. Quiet mind.

As you offer care to the ones you love in their stark and desolate moments, may you find quiet heart. Quiet mind.

The New You

So when you met the new you
Were you scared?
Were you cold?
Were you kind?

Yeah when you met the new you
Did someone die inside? (OK Go – Upside Down & Inside Out)

The New You

Today I went to Google in search of the new me. Happy news! A new new diet, new hairstyle, and a day at the spa and I’ll be on my way. ‘Turns out, my self-esteem just needs a little boost by way of a little positive thinkin’!

Maybe this version of The New You rings false? Hollow? Tiresomely trite in the face of your recent loss, loneliness, or overwhelm?

Lalah Delia says…


• Grapes must be
crushed to make wine

• Diamonds form
under pressure

• Olives are pressed to
release oil

• Seeds grow in

Whenever you feel crushed, under pressure, pressed, or in darkness, you’re in a powerful place of transformation/transmutation. ~Lalah Delia~

More than just a spa day

Is Lala on to something here? The “new you” may be less about polishing the surface and reworking the masks we hide behind. Could it be that transformation is a work of time, pressure, complexity, and healing?

And what if the “new” in this process is less about becoming something you are not, and more about returning to the Way of Being that you originally embodied? What if you are not flawed and in need of fixing? Could it be that the transformation we’re invited to participate in is a coming home to the one we were before life started telling us we needed a new personality, hairstyle, body…soul?

A day at the spa may be exactly what you need. Exactly. And there may be an awakening growing in you — a longing for a wholeness and restoration and rest that comes from deep within. Wholeness and restoration and rest that reach deep within.

Curious about the not-so-new new you? This may be a scary, cold, kind, and dying part of the journey. And you’re ready for it. If you’re here and noticing and wondering? You’re ready.

Do I Send My Child Back to School?

Did you ever imagine you’d find yourself contemplating home schooling your kiddos? With only 1 – 2% of North American children home schooled in the BeforeTimes, this option may not have been high on your priority list.

And here we are. 2020 and in the midst of a pandemic. “Do I send my child back to school?” has become the most pressing decision of the summer.

Confusion, overwhelm, outright fear

What arises in you when you face into this question with your family?

And do you have a process for discerning a way forward when emotions are high, information is confusing and even conflicting, and all you really wish for is a set routine? Something that feels normal. Familiar. Do you find that your thoughts run away with the what-if-s and how-to-s and I-can’t-even-s of the thing?

Making this decision may run along a gentler path than you’ve imagined.

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The Guest House

Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, is an invitation to mental health and self-care via a deeply spiritual path. The first time I heard it, I reacted strongly. I fussed and bothered and stormed about it for a long, long time. It feels so contrary to logic. And it felt altogether too out of control.

Some years have passed since that first reading. I’ve made friends with the out-of-control-ness of Rumi’s jarring invitation.

How does it settle in you?

The Guest House (~Rumi~)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

What happens in you when you read Rumi through? Can you picture your own interior “guest house,” and what it might be like to laughingly invite all who knock at the door?

Looking for someone to talk to?

We’re here to settle into conversation about some of life’s more confusing and complicated questions. What does it mean to welcome a “crowd of sorrows” into the guest house of our lives? And gratitude? For the “dark thought, the shame, the malice…”? How is that possible?

In spiritual therapy/direction we’ll be co-learners in wrestling with ideas like Rumi’s.

Sacred Inner Space

Do you recall the last time you turned your attention toward your Self? Does the idea of “inner space” have meaning for you? ‘The word “sacred”?

I’m sitting down to these wonderings on a day when my own inner space feels like Bilbo’s hobbit hole. It’s the night before a life-altering quest is set to commence, and I’ve been overrun with noisy, messy, bossy, hungry dwarves. They all seem to know something I don’t. They’re unbothered by the beauty and dangers and transformation that lie just outside my tidy hobbit hole door. They’ve charged the entryway, hunkered down at the kitchen table, and they’re eating every scrap of food I have in the house.

This inner space does not feel sacred. It just feels…feel-y. Disrupted. So, so messy.

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Reverent and Unresolved

“…have a reverence always for the immensity that is inside of you.”

John O’Donohue

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions themselves 
as if they where unlocked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language.
Do not search for the answers,  which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything. 
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, 
you will gradually, 
without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~Anais Nin~

I will not live an unlived life.

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit. ~  Dawna Markova

Listening care is intended for all. We welcome all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and abilities.

Listening to Your Self

“To listen is very hard because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements…True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, welcome, and accept.”

~ Henri Nouwen

What if you were given the invitation to settle in with a cuppa, a soft throw, and the opportunity to talk it all out? What if there was someone nearby ready to “receive, welcome, and accept” you as you are? Someone who believes that your deepest Self has wisdom and goodness to offer? You have found true listeners here.

Nouwen doesn’t stop there. His challenge is the quiet safety at the heart of our Still Lake Listening practice. He says, “Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories, and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit…

The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free….not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.”

Find that welcome – the safety of hospitality and compassionate listening – here. Contact us for more information on how you can connect with a listener.