Conflict, story and real life with Christiane Fröhlich

Maybe it seems unlikely that a Brooklyn storyteller and a German conflict researcher would find each other online and become fast friends, but that's pretty much what happened. Christiane Fröhlich has been one of my touchstones and anchors for many years now, and our friendship runs the spectrum from paradigms and theories to everyday life with work, partnership and parenting.

I am thrilled to introduce you to her today on Retrospective, where she shares the story of how she followed her areas of interest and magnetism and found passionate work that influences and informs politicians, educators and decision-makers throughout her country.

Click here to listen as she shares about:

  • seeking peace close to home
  • coming from a post-war personal family history
  • completing a PhD thesis as a new mother
  • building an urban community, and
  • pioneering a career as a freelance conflict researcher

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Liz Lamoreux on Being a Companion and more

Liz Lamoreux by Vivienne McMaster

Liz Lamoreux by Vivienne McMaster

In this week's episode of Retrospective, Liz Lamoreux and I have a candid conversation about our recent collaboration and more. 

Click here to listen for more about:

  • the difference between being a guru and being a companion
  • offering supports to share instead of trying to "fix" people
  • invitations versus sales pitches
  • the journey from idea to tangible object, and
  • what it's like to be seen all along the way.

NEW! The Gift of This Moment: Practices for Reflective Living is now available as a 3-month subscription for $45 USD/month.

Turning Points & No Regrets: Jonatha Brooke

From the archives--Photo by Susannah Conway, susannahconway.com

From the archives--Photo by Susannah Conway, susannahconway.com

I still think about those dark days a couple winters back when Jonatha and I left our respective hermitages and slipped out for a coffee here or a lunch there. How consoling it felt to be with someone who knew what it was to be burrowed in deep, someone who knew how rejuvenating even that small injection of company could be.

It was like getting hooked up to an oxygen tank before plunging back under water.

It's so different now to be together in the bright sunshine of July, with those hard times behind us. With the champagne joy of new work pulling us forward into the crazy scary places that bubble with vitality and life.

I'm so happy to share our most recent conversation with you on Retrospective, where we talk about her adventures in music and theater, turning points and the decisions she'll never regret. (You can also listen in iTunes.)

Navigating the Crumbly Days

Yesterday Liz Lamoreux tweeted about how the day after a launch felt even more vulnerable than the day before. It hits all of us at different moments, in different ways. We reach for different words in an attempt to explain what we're experiencing. Phyllis Mathis says, "This work costs something in soul." Liz Lamoreux says, "Putting from the heart work in the world feels like giving a piece of your heart."

It's a very specific kind of vulnerability to put not just your ideas into the world (Top 10 Ways To Blah Blah Blah) but work that holds the essence of who you are, the stories you carry with you always in the cavern between your ribs. The moments that made you who you are and continue to form you as you journey with them by your side and in your pocket.

You leap, and land. You say, See? That wasn't so bad. You're still in one piece. But then later--a minute or an hour or a day or two after--suddenly you feel all wobbly in the knees like your legs might give out on you. Your body doesn't feel like the solid structure that carried you off into the leap and absorbed the weight of your landing; now it feels like cookie crumbs shaped into a person-shape, held by plastic wrap. You worry that if someone bumps into you or looks at you unkindly, even for an instant, you might collapse into a pile on the ground. You put on clothes before leaving the house but it doesn't matter, nothing makes the naked feeling go away.

All those weeks and months of trusting yourself and what you knew you needed to do to say to make are suddenly drowned out by loud inner shrieks of the hysterical person on prison break in your mind. No one cares! No one wants this! It's going to make no difference!

The people who know you in your trusting and brave moments don't always know what to do with you when in the grip of crippling doubt. People forget to tell you that you're doing alright and that they love you and that it all matters deeply because they take it for granted that you know. And some days, you do. Just not these days.

I wish there were magic words we could speak to each other on these days that chases the doubt away like a very powerful spell. Or that we could wrap ourselves in some protective cloak. But the only magic and cloak I know is to wrap ourselves in love--the deep abiding love of those who are ever-present safety net whether we fly or fall. To try to take it in through our ears, our eyes, our skin. To ask to be embraced, held, listened to while we say the crazy thoughts out loud so we can hear ourselves how crazy they really are.

It is only because of this safety-net kind of love that I can ever take a leap at all. Everything begins there for me, and on crumbly days like today I remember that everything ends there, too.

Phyllis Mathis has been this kind of friend to me for over a decade. I'm so honored to have her as my guest on this week's podcast, as we talk about the way we are formed inside of friendship and conversation. Everything I do begins and ends in these deep soulful connections, but it's a relational form that feels on the brink of extinction.

Give it a listen and think about a safety net you could weave or strengthen in your own life, and the courageous leaps you could make as it holds you.

On Ugly Ducklings and Beautiful Swans

This is the final episode of The Emerging Icon Series. If you'd like to start from the beginning or let your friends in on the action, subscribe here and receive an episode a week in your inbox (12 episodes, all around 3-4 minutes each). I'll open up the comments today--if you've enjoyed this series, let me know.

The conversation continues.

I'm expanding the conversation of emerging to include the wisdom and stories of my friends and colleagues, now available as the Retrospective podcast. Subscribe in iTunes, where you can rate and review the series (all of which make a tremendous difference).

 

Are you ready to dive in deeper?

If you're ready to really pull into focus the forces that keep you quiet and hold you back, then the Finding Your Voice home study course is your next step. Designed as an interactive curriculum, it's self-paced so you can enjoy your bursts of velocity and also take time to simmer and absorb when that's what you most need. Reclaim your power--your voice--and unearth the courage to put yourself out there, over and over again.

Walking in the Snow

One winter night I was in line before a StorySLAM at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe with some friends. I really wanted a peppermint tea, and Ben wanted to find a restroom so we set off together to find a coffee shop. We wandered through the Lower East Side of Manhattan, past stoop steps and empty flower boxes and these snowflakes started falling--the big, quiet kind that make you feel like you've suddenly stepped into a movie. Snowflakes landed on our heads and our shoulders and I don't even remember what we talked about but I remember feeling this big, quiet kind of happiness that makes you feel that you are just where you need to be.

That walk through the snow is one of my favorite New York moments.

It was such a pleasure to sit down with Ben Lillie and hear about the journey that brought him to the Nuyorican that night. A former physicist at Stanford, now the director of Story Collider and a writer for TED.com, Ben is my most recent guest on Retrospective: The Podcast. Listen to our conversation here, or subscribe in iTunes.