Sitting in quiet

It may not be easy to recognize but sitting in quiet is a kind of dare. It’s personal but deeply connected to our social understandings. When I sit in quiet – maybe stare out the window, or leaf through some printed thing – I am challenging my own impulse to ‘look busy.’ For what?! For whom?! I am at home on vacation with my teen and we are literally chilling out. And it’s not natural. Inside I’m holding onto all these ideas about time, productivity, domestic responsibility, and being an adult. It’s almost as if I’ve told myself that I am not built for rest, recovery and full relaxation.

In my late 30s and early 40s I invested a great deal of time, energy and money in developing my understanding of self and others. I attended a series of courses that usually extended over periods of 4-6 months at a time. Usually it involved 3 day weekend seminars with intensely interactive sessions which for me tended to be highly emotional and revelatory. These courses formed the basis of my later practice as a life coach. Above all, these experiences trained me to ask better questions of myself and others – questions that brought us closer to the core of a topic rather than dancing around the fringes. That training has served me well.

In a short post I wrote yesterday, some unusual questions emerged. Here are two:

Whose budgeted affections will we overextend to then regret our hasty indulgence?

Which personal histories are you writing today?

SOL Tuesday A Gentle Reckoning

When words show up like this I know that they have emerged out of my feelings, not my rational mind. Quiet time invites my feelings to show themselves. What I think of those feelings is rarely as pressing as what it is they are asking me to do: Back up? Slow down? Guess again? Let go? Hold on? Breathe? Quiet time is like visiting hours for all the disparate parts of who I think I am and who I might actually be to show up and mingle. If I’m lucky I’ll have a chance to write down a few things once the party is over.

This this.

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I’m at a conference; at the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference, held this year in the heart of Seattle’s downtown.

I’m also 9 hours away from home. I’m not sleeping particularly well or let’s say, not enough at the right times. That said, my head and my heart are on fire. I am here for a feast.

I feast my eyes of the multitude of beautiful skin tones, the bounty of hair textures, styles and expressions. I feast my ears on the stories we share with one another as colleagues of color, as parents of black and brown and multiracial children, as aspiring leaders, as conference veterans, as old friends, as trusted allies, as people who need each other and who desperately need all of this.

Which this?

It’s the this I cannot draw well with my words because language falls short.

It’s the this that keeps me writing in my head as I listen and digest; that compels me to look around whatever room I’m in and sigh with a satisfaction that says, “Yes, just this…”

It’s the this that makes me reach out with both hands to shake the hand of someone I’m meeting for the first time. It is me saying, “Thank you for reminding me that I have a place here and a purpose. Thank you for confirming my belonging.”

It’s the this when we open up with each other in ways that defy the logic of individualistic and competitive norms we experience in other contexts. We bring our whole selves to the conversation because, for once, here, we can.

It’s the this in acknowledging each others’ accomplishments and ambitions with encouragement and pride. The way we rally around each other and also hold each other up when we have to contend with our demons.

It’s the this in being accorded a fundamental benefit of the doubt about my competence, my expertise, my positive intent and willingness to learn. It’s in being valued and seen as valuable.

It’s the this of being warmly welcomed and in turn extending that same welcome to others; a deep abiding kindness that permeates this whole space in its incredible mass and complexity of moving parts.

So much of this.

Here for it,

here for me.

Thank you, #NAISPoCC.