Hopeful Like Peter Bevan-Baker

A very open-hearted friend sent me Peter Bevan-Baker’s winter solstice post “Tried, tested, and tired but not defeated”.

It brought up two contrasting sets of feelings in me:

Joy and gratitude:

I admire leaders who invest themselves so fully and care so deeply.

Sadness and Shame:

What kind of leader am I if I pass on sending a year-end message when we all seem to need so much guidance and support right now?

And then it hit me.

I can go around feeling down or I can accept myself for feeling this way and see if I can shift.

Turns out, I do want to be generous, open-hearted and hopeful right now.

And I can do it simply by sharing some things that help me cope and even thrive.

I hope they help you.

On the paradoxical nature of generosity

It would be rare to find someone these days who doesn’t wish they could give or get more support.

What do you want to give of your time? Of your money? Of your things? Of your love? Get crystal clear and ONLY give those things.

Say no to giving things when you don’t have a full yes. Say no to giving because it’s what you “should” do. Say no to giving because you’re looking for others’ approval. Say no to giving what you don’t have to give. Say no to what you aren’t willing to give to yourself first.

Then watch what happens. My bet is that you’ll be able to be more generous than you ever have before.

On the gifts of being open-hearted

A simple practice has brought me some profound open-hearted connections. I ask myself these questions:

  • In this moment, am I in trust or fear? (Above/below the line for those who know)
  • What feelings are here now? Joy, creative, sadness, fear, anger or any combo?
  • Can I accept myself for feeling x?
  • Am I willing to reveal my feelings to another (even if it feels risky) as a way to connect?

Sometimes I can. Sometimes I can’t. When I can, 9 times out of 10, the rewards amaze me. 

On practicing hope

Lots of times between 2008-2010, I lost hope. Fertility treatments weren’t working, and I had to face that I might not become a mother.  My then therapist said many times, “It’s not because you hope more that you will be more disappointed if it doesn’t work. Go ahead and hope. In fact, you need to hope so that you can keep going.”

Hope is really a form of imagination and it’s critical to the quality of our lives. A friend sent me this excerpt from The Body Keeps Score.

Our imagination enables us to leave our routine everyday existence by fantasizing about travel, food, sex, falling in love, or having the last word—all the things that make life interesting. Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities—it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes come true. It fires our creativity, relieves our boredom, alleviates our pain, enhances our pleasure, and enriches our most intimate relationships. When people are compulsively and constantly pulled back into the past, to the last time they felt intense involvement and deep emotions, they suffer from a failure of imagination, a loss of the mental flexibility. Without imagination there is no hope, no chance to envision a better future, no place to go, no goal to reach.

Many of you know I practice returning to the present moment repeatedly to survive and ideally thrive.  At the same time, I want to remind you to dream, to hope, to envision a beautiful future. Let’s make this really practical too:

  • What’s something you hope for?
  • What’s not in your control? Let that go.
  • What is in your control right now? Take one small step toward what you want.
  • Every time you lose hope, repeat!

I’ll end where I started and share Peter Bevan-Baker’s words:

There is no end of broken dreams in our midst, with many recent reveries shattered by COVID, but it is indeed still a beautiful world. And PEI is a particularly special part of this beautiful world.

It’s one day post winter solstice and already we are returning to more light.

May you be generous, open-hearted and hopeful even now. And may it return to you manyfold this holiday time and all year.

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