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Federal Government Manager
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Senior Executive and Professional Coach
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author, A Theory of Everything

But You Also Eat Jello

By Joanne Hunt

There is a new voice that I am writing with these days. It is a voice that has a louder baritone. It has no falsetto. It is an unnerving new sound. Lower. Wider. Slower. I don't recognize it as mine yet.

I'm an Enneagram Four with strong preferences for drama, melancholy and romance. I have fabulous highs and can have wild low periods and I have mostly written from the intense rollercoaster of that ride. I have been broken and bloodied. Writing from that place is familiar and has had so much juice. It is also a powerful flame for living. Burn bright, burn strong, burn out, baby! This was the mantra of a corporate group where I worked during what feels, at the moment, like a different life. Was that really me?

The times are different now. A lower flame. Not so fierce. I am emerging on to a previously unseen mesa. Less rock and roll. More Tibetan flute. Less wildfire. More shifts in the weather day by day. Oh, the passion is still there but it has a different hum. There is more silence and sitting and equanimity. What the hell is going on?

My handwriting has slowed down. There is a deliberate, steady, quiet voice emerging. I watch feelings arise, see places where I long to crank it up, turn the flame up under the emotions a bit, and then I laugh and think, "Why?" It is just fine as it is. Right here. Right now. This is a little less juice than I'm used to and much more peace than I ever thought I'd feel in this particular lifetime.

I studied with Natalie Goldberg for a decade and during one writing retreat, she spoke with us about our sitting practice and that if we learn to sit with our darkness, we integrate it and then our writing becomes integrated too. She said, "You will always carry your darkness with you, but you will also eat Jello." I will always carry this passionate intensity in me wherever I go, and I am not only that.

We can tend to put ourselves into only one category saying things like "I'm so tired" but we may also be able to say, "and I am happy." Things are so busy, and I have five free minutes right now. Things are really difficult right now, and some things aren't.

Usually three quarters of the way through one of our Certification Modules, students are feeling quite stretched as they are expanding, growing, integrating, and embodying all that they are learning. Sometimes they start to identify as being "tired." Don’t we all, part way through something that is demanding that really matters to us? Students can start defining themselves by only that one variable. And I want to say to them, "You are tired. Yes, you are really going for it! And what else?"

It is in the 'what else' that we find other moments, all day long, when we don’t feel tired at all:

I woke up and listened to my darling softly breathing next to me.

The elevator ride this morning was a riot because someone had a freshly baked cinnamon bun and everyone could smell it and we all started giggling when one man in a brown bowler hat commented, "That smells good enough to kill for." An elevator ride of strangers laughing. I grinned all the way to my next meeting.

I had the best conversation with a really warm human being. I walked out of her office feeling so nourished.

Oh, and walking past a bus stop, I saw this little girl help her grandmother step down the last stair to the street so tenderly that it broke my heart wide open, as I heard her say, “I got you, Grandma.”

Yes, I’m tired, but I’m way more than that. Can I pay attention to the ‘more’ a little more often? Not to ignore the tired, as I would never advocate for that. We all need more rest. I want to widen the picture of the whole of my life.

And then I hold the whole of my clients’ lives differently too. Yes, she is a tired, successful, stressed-out Vice President, but she also loves talking with her daughter every night as they prepare dinner. Yes, he is an exhausted, over-extended Managing Director of a large non-profit company, but he also likes Oreo cookies dipped in a glass of 2% milk before bed each night.

Yes, you're tired, but there is always another perspective, a wider you, a more inclusive picture. What else are you? And do you eat Jello?


© Joanne Hunt

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