(Update: 4/5/17: As of 5 a.m, backers of the Gems of Delight Kickstarter Campaign have backed 140%! In less than 24 hours, this powerful tribe came together and knocked it out of the park!)
It all started in Mrs. Kostenbader’s third grade class. She introduced us to writing and “publishing” our own books. We made books out of cardboard, contact paper, and letter stickers. We learned about writing stories – from tall tales, poetry, mysteries, and adventures, to nonfiction and stories about friendship. That is the year I said to my parents, “I am going to be a leader and writer!”
That’s the awesome thing about third grade. It’s the year you still believe in yourself. You believe anything is possible. You aren’t comparing yourself to others. You believe you can do and be whatever it is that you want to do and be.
And back then, I loved four things: writing, be a leader, gathering with soulful people, and moving my body. Back then, I knew that I would publish a book. Back then, I knew I was destined to be a compassionate and inspiring leader. Back then, I so loved people and wasn’t shy about letting them know. Back then, I played soccer year round and moving my body was a spiritual experience.
But then, after third grade, that’s most often when young artists, scientists, poets, leaders, and writers start to compare themselves to others and start putting themselves into categories, “artistic” or “not artistic.” In fifth grade, we start to get practical and we are definitely conscious of how we are moving our bodies and what’s cool and what’s not! In middle school, well, if your middle school experience was anything like mine (and hundreds of you have told me similar stories), you experience cruelty and social stuff that rocks your world. And high school is all about working hard to get into a great college.
Even in all that, I continued to embody those four “first loves.” I carried my journal wherever I went – even to Guatemala and El Salvador and still do today. I would be asked to be in leadership roles throughout the next few decades. I became really great at welcoming in people to the communities I have been a part of and making people feel at home, and also building communities of soulful people where I teach and write. And I became a yoga teacher, studied spirituality of the body, and now, of course, I am a body-centered psychotherapist!
But still, it wasn’t until into my thirties that I started to share my poetry and writings with others. And I was hesitant to be in the lime light even though I felt a calling within me to be a leader and let the light within me shine.
At first, I only shared my writings with close friends and family.
But then, one day, my mom (moms always know!), said to me, “Lisa, why don’t you start sharing your poetry with the world? It’s time.”
I asked my mom, “Well, what would I call my blog?”
“How about Gems of Delight?” she said.
And I knew the moment she said Gems of Delight, that this would be the title of my first book.
That was over ten years ago. My whole life – and increasingly more over the last several years – people have asked me, “When will you write a book?!”
I stayed devoted to my love of writing, leading, being in community, and moving my body. And when I had babies and went through the trauma of healing from a tough pregnancy and c-section, and being a new parent, I knew that it was going to take awhile to write that book. The writing wasn’t the hard part. I wanted to LIVE what I was writing. I wanted to EMBODY what I was “preaching.”
And so, in between tending to babies, resting, healing my body, healing from the trauma of birth, finding (and some big failings!) other mom friends, late night feedings, figuring out our values as a family and being committed to living them, and finding our way in this world of compassionate parenting…I’d write.
I’d wake up early and write.
I’d find pockets of sacred pauses.
I’d honor what was most sacred to me.
And, I trusted.
Yes, there were LOTS of times of frustration, doubt, and confusion. I felt lonely. I felt like my writing wasn’t “good enough.” But here’s the thing about a faith journey:
I believe there is a Voice Within us – the Voice of the Beloved – that is always calling to us. Maybe it gets drowned out sometimes by the pings and dings of distractions in our day, but….but…if we pause once in awhile and listen within — we hear that Voice.
And that Voice guides us.
“Just this next right thing,” I’d hear the Beloved say.
And I trusted. I trusted that by “just doing the next right thing,” the Divine had my back!
I trusted the calling within me: I KNEW that someday, I would publish a book that is all about creating a more compassionate world through my spiritual writings and poetry. I knew that I’d stand in my power and let the Divine shine through me. I knew that I’d lead people in soulful, embodied experiences and communities to connect to the Divine Within them.
And here’s the other awesome thing: MY EVERYDAY LIFE BECAME MY HOLY GROUND. And it held the stories from which I would share in my book!!! The very ordinary, everyday living was the ground for my writing!
I started to slowly bring my poetry into the workshops I taught for faculty and staff at Georgetown University. I remember the first day I read one of my poems OUT LOUD to a crowd. And I couldn’t believe the things people told me.
I started to share my poetry and spiritual reflections on my blog. And every so often, someone would take the time and tell me how much something I wrote touched them.
I started to weave poetry into the yoga experience/community that I facilitate at our parish. I started to give my poetry as gifts to people – wedding showers, baby showers, in cards and prints, on poetic wrist wraps. I started to share my poetry with coaching and counselign clients.
And people would say the most breath-taking things to me about my writings.
I kept hearing from the Divine Within me, “Lis, this is meant to go out into the world.”
I was often scared. Terrified.
But, that’s the thing about a compassionate and mindful way of looking at courage: you can still be afraid, speak kindly to Fear – even love her, and STILL decide to take the next bold move.
That’s what I’ve been about: just doing the next right thing. Just taking the next right soulful, divinely inspired, bold move.
I’ve risked looking like a fool.
I’ve risked sharing my inner world with the outside world.
I’ve risked honoring the Divine Within me.
And a few weeks ago, I gave my mom a print out of my manuscript. She held it in her hands, and she was beaming. “Bob!” she said to my dad, “Come look! Lisa has wanted to do this her whole life! And now she’s done it!”
The kind of “want” my mom is talking about is a holy “want.” It’s the kind that comes from a Call Within. It’s awareness and the Divine meeting up and saying, “This. This is what you were born to do.”
And now, it is time.
It’s time to let the light within me shine wherever it is supposed to shine – through my words, presence, and open heart. I have surrendered and I am so at peace.
And I am happy to share that today, we launched the Kickstarter Campaign for my forthcoming book, Gems of Delight: seasonal inspirations for moms to heal the hurry and embrace what is sacred.
It’s a beautiful book that honors the rhythms of the seasons with short, prayerful, and poetic inspirations that will serve as your daily sacred pause. And I can’t wait for you to have your own copy and soak in these nourishing Gems!
The Campaign will go for 21 days. Today, as I am writing this — it’s just after lunch time and backers have pledged over $2,500 of the $3,000!!!! I am blown away by the outpouring of love, generosity, and belief in the beauty of these Gems.
You all are helping this little third grade writer bring her dream to fruition — to write a book that would inspire a more compassionate world — starting in our own hearts and homes!
Dear Ones, “bold” and “courageous” are about taking the risk to answer the call of your heart…with focus and devotion.
Fear can be there, too. Don’t even try to get rid of her. Instead, love her and say, “I see you. AND we are doing this.”
It’s exhilarating. It’s liberating.
Say yes. Yes to your dream, what deeply delights your heart, what is most sacred to you, and what you were born to do. Big yeses. Little daily yeses. And daring yeses.
I promise that no matter how it turns out, an inner sense of freedom will arise within you.
Dare to dream.
Dare to shine.
Dare to follow what delights your heart.
And risk letting love lead you.