Silence

Not speaking and speaking are both human ways of being in the world, and there are kinds and grades of each. There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy; the sober silence that goes with a solemn animal face; the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts; the alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”; the musical silence that accompanies absorbed activity; the silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear; the noisy silence of resentment and self-recrimination, loud and subvocal speech but sullen to say it; baffled silence; the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos. ~ Paul Goodman: novelist, poet, playwright, and psychiatrist

Be still. A daily practice of silence bears gifts — a heightened sensitivity to beauty, deep inner peace, and a profound feeling of connectedness to all living things. ~ Cheryl Richardson

Let silence take you to the core of life. ~ Rumi

I suggest that just once in a while, you make a conscious decision to keep yourself to yourself. ~ Danielle LaPorte

Natalie Goldberg once wrote that while she was in the middle of writing a novel, she carried the characters around with her, wondering what they’d say or think or do in all sorts of situations she’d find herself in.

Writing for my blog affects me like that. After days and weeks of posting, I start experiencing the world through the filter of what would make a post you might enjoy; what might be an uplifting photo, a moving song, an inspiring poem. Then slowly, imperceptably, I start to feel like it’s a channel I can’t switch off. I’ll be driving along and instead of enjoying the moment, there’s a flash of frustration as I wish I had a notebook or a phone or a camera. I start to feel like I’m carrying a community around in my heart, in my head. Communing even when I’m not at my laptop, logged in.

Sometimes, channeling, distilling and filtering the world stops me from simply being.

That’s one of the reasons I take frequent and often abrupt breaks from my blog, even though I love it; I need to reconnect with the real world around me and rediscover the silence that feeds my creativity like an underground pool.

Sometimes, it’s just exhaustion after a tough time being a sandwich generation mum and daughter.

But this time? During our wonderful, rejuvenating family holiday in Greece, we were heartbroken to learn that the referendum result meant the UK would be leaving the European Union, something most Scots would rather not do.

The day after we got home, a beloved friend told me she’d been diagnosed with cancer. So many phonecalls like those in the last few years.

Shock and grief always make my husband and I recalibrate, determined to create, to enjoy loved ones, details and moments. Last summer we threw ourselves into creating a new patio and building a cheap but pretty summer shed, a new perspective in the garden to enjoy the birds, the plants and views of nearby hills.

One of the blackbirds from a family who was born on our bathroom window ledge had become so tame, he’d tap on the kitchen window for food, or sit beside us and clear the scraps from our plates. My dad, 92 now, was absolutely mesmerised and started to sit in the garden casually eating strawberries, just in case…

The blackbird kept my son and me company while we dug out turf; his wee friend, a scrawny robin, stopped us working as he ate worms next to our spades.

We were inspired; my son, home from university, worked alongside me in disbelieving silence, stopping every five minutes just to enjoy the birds’ antics.

Every evening and weekend, I coped with my friend’s news by working on this new garden. I looked forward to showing you the before and after photos. My husband dug up old bushes and laid slabs, and working wordlessly side by side, we pruned, we painted fences and the grand finale was removing Leylandii trees that had become overgrown and hideous.

I clung to the daily presence of those birds like a talisman.

A few days after I took these photos to share with you, the robin and the blackbird disappeared. Distraught, I realised that by tidying up the garden, we’d destroyed their safe, messy, overgrown, cat and sparrowhawk deterring habitat.

I logged off, put away my gardening gloves and chose silence.

November brought the wintery news of Trump’s election, stunning millions of people into head shaking disbelief. My husband and I both got ill.

I lost faith, lost friends and Christmas came and went. I thought of you and almost shared some old year new year thoughts by candlelight and mulled wine but couldn’t summon the strength.

Last week there was a whisper of fresh warmth in the air and the days seemed longer.

The snow from yesterday’s storm is melting, and in every room, bright jugs of shop bought rainbow tulips have got me wondering whether the bulbs I scattered and planted last year will bloom.

And here I am again, spring cleaning my online home and listening for blackbirds.

A Patchwork Post: Daffodils, Haiku and Chickens

daffodilsThe sun’s shining through rainy gales today, and I’m sitting in my kitchen, soaking up every last ray like a lizard on a rock. Shadows are dancing on the walls and I’m enjoying how the light blesses all my mismatched, brightly painted crockery and everyday treasures.

Sunshine makes every bit of living art in our homes beautiful, but shadows add depth and interest…to us, too.

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chickensOne way I welcome spring is to be open to all kinds of supermarket synchronicity. I fell in love with this range in the sales last week and brought some cheap and cheerful spring chirpiness into my kitchen. I’m always drawn to hearts and birds, but it seems the universe decided I needed a touch of whimsy, too!

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Those of you who’ve been visiting for a while will know I write poetry and lyrics, and am very fond of haiku and tanka. When I lived in Greece, I was fascinated by the changes in the wind, the tides and the sounds of crickets in the olive grove below the balcony where I wrote; I filled a lot of notebooks trying to capture the intensity of those moments and memories.  Most of what I wrote weren’t pure haiku but I liked their pared down essence so I kept some of them as poemlings in their own right.

I’ll be doing a mini series on ‘proper’ haiku next week, but in the meantime, here’s a fragment  from one of my Greek  ‘word-sketchbooks’ describing the signs of an impending storm, and a link to one of the best posts I did last year :  Haiku: Showing Essence, Shedding Skins.

a warm wind rises
whipping up dust
and dried leaves

sun umbrellas flap
a loose shutter bangs

the trill and pulse of cricket chirping slows
to silence
in the olive groves
before the skies
crack

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This weekend, why don’t you start a word-sketchbook and capture some life sketches in a few brushstrokes, ready to be re-lived and reduced to their essence when you get home.

Or try distilling the essence of spring (or antipodean autumn) into three lines, of 5-7-5 syllables, in present tense only, with no similes or metaphors…

What flowers or images add a touch of  spring or whimsy to your home?

Writing Snow

garden snow

We are not powerless specks of dust drifting around in the wind, blown by random destiny. We are, each of us, like beautiful snowflakes –  unique, born for a specific reason and purpose. ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

I was woken at an ungodly hour by the arrival of a text message; school was cancelled due to heavy snow. I got up and looked blearily out of my bedroom window to see two feet of snow. I padded into the kitchen and found it eerily bright as I trudged over to the sink to fill the kettle for coffee. Through the kitchen window I saw our ten-year-old laurels bowed down and broken by the weight of the snow on their branches. They’d formed the privacy hedge at my small back garden, and I felt suddenly exposed and vulnerable.

I grabbed a sweeping brush and rushed outside in my dressing gown, trying to save as many remaining branches as I could.

I thought back to old Coaching Moments posts I’d written, phrases I’d used. This is an extract from War of the Words, about the language we use with our loved ones:

I created this piece in my head as I stood at the kitchen window, watching the falling snow bend our trees in the eerie orange glow of a street light in the middle of the night. I’d gone to bed mid-argument, couldn’t sleep, my husband  came to bed, I got up, so I’d decided to go and make some camomile tea. I stood at the window, mesmerised by the swirling orange snowflakes and wondering how something as delicate as a snowflake had the power to bend and break the branches of trees. As I stood watching, I saw one supple branch rebel under the weight of the thousands of snowflakes heaped upon it,  catapulting its burden with surprising defensive venom. I went outside in my bare feet and dressing gown and gently swept the snow off the remaining trees with a broom, knowing it was too late to take back the thousands of tiny thoughtless comments I heap on my husband over the days, weeks and months until he feels he has to lash back at me about my lack of appreciation and my seeming obsession with perfecting details. I hoped I could at least save some of our branches.

In this extract, from Shaking off the Shoulds, I use a snow metaphor to describe the freedom we experience when we free ourselves from the burdens of self imposed ‘shoulds’, and learn to see the world and all its promise  and wonder through children’s eyes:

While I’ve been sitting here writing, it’s stopped snowing and some of the snow has thawed. I’ve just watched a laurel branch bounce back from under its burden of snow, launching it like a catapult.

That’s how I feel as I shake off the shoulds, the rest of my snow day beckoning me like our snow covered front garden, silently waiting to share its treasure when the kids come home.

And in this extract from a comment response I wrote, the snow becomes a symbol for overwhelm and despair as we struggled to dig  a way out for my friend’s car so she could get to her chemotherapy session.

Because of the snow, my friend has struggled to get into hospital for her chemotherapy. That’s helped me gradually regain my sense of perspective. One day, as a few of us were digging the snow from her drive, I felt that if I could just keep digging and clearing until there was a way out, somehow, it would all be OK.

I also used a snow metaphor in The Sound of Music to describe the period of my life when I lost my ‘voice’ and almost drifted into depression:

I sang my way around Europe when I worked as a language teacher and translator; my voice was a vital part of who I was and what I did.  After I had my kids, I moved back to Scotland and slowly, imperceptibly, I stopped writing, stopped singing, stopped playing the guitar and even stopped speaking the foreign languages I was fluent in. Silence gently settled around my soul like snow.

When I drifted into life coaching, on my journey out of what I now realise was low grade chronic depression, my passion to tell the whole world about it bubbled up, spilled over and finally gushed out in the torrent that helped me rediscover my voice.

Snowflakes are delicate, astonishing things. Every one is unique and fragile yet, silently, just sitting there side by side… still… simply being, their lives are extended and their power is immense.

The polar ice caps are the breath of the planet, a delicately balanced element in the health of the oceans’ currents and conveyor belts.

But snow can also devastate, crush, wreak havoc, block roads, bring down powerlines and sever communication.

Like stinging snowflakes in a blizzard, each unkind word spoken to our children and loved ones, if left unchecked, can pile up until something precious is broken under the weight.

Every sadness we accept with an unquestioning sigh can build up until, without realising it, our hearts are shrouded in drifts of silent, snowy depression.

Every lack of clear communication can lead to drifts of misunderstanding that ultimately shut down all channels of communication.

Every piece of junk mail we leave lying around, every book we can’t part with or memento we don’t know how to deal with can become an avalanche of clutter.

But snow can’t co-exist with warmth, and even if snowfall is inevitable, we can be prepared and vigilant, and take small steps towards doing what we can. I could have brushed yesterday’s first snowfalls off my treasured bushes and small trees. If I had, they might not have broken under the weight of last night’s gentle but consistent snow fall.

We haven’t had blizzards; it’s been snowing softly and gently. But it hasn’t stopped, and that’s the lesson I’m taking away with me today.

One kind word doesn’t build a kind, loving relationship.

One written word doesn’t make a great piece of writing. One post doesn’t make a great blog, nor does one article make a successful newsletter.

One essay doesn’t make a degree, one lesson a teacher or one training course a life coach.

One cleared pile of paper clutter doesn’t let your house breathe.

One beautiful memento doesn’t make a home, just as one memory doesn’t make a life.

But our uniqueness as human beings, the gentle consistent, accumulative power of every loving deed and word, every smile from a stranger, every supportive comment left on a blog, every small triumph, every tip that transforms a life, every photo that inspires, every little success, every step or decision that takes us in the right direction, – they do make a life. A good life. We’re not just snowflakes. Together, we’re snow.

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I’d love to be the kind of snow that makes children’s eyes wide with wonder and Christmas magical. I’d like to be as strong as the kind of snow that supports the Winter Olympics. Some days, all I can manage is grey slush by the side of the road. What does snow mean for you? What’s your unique strength as a snowflake?

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(Update: It’s still snowing, and for the second time in two months, we’ve had about thirty inches of snow. Miraculously, though, we still have an internet connection!)

9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent of Spring…

freesiasSpring is definitely stirring. Woven through the frosted days and chilling winds, we’ve had days of weak, wintry warmth and seen sneaky wee snowdrops peeking through the loam, smiling shyly beneath the bare trees and bushes. The tiny green shoots of brave, determined daffodils have pushed through to greet the first warm rays of spring, and it feels like time to do the same and welcome the season into my home.

Freshly painted in soothing shades of jasmine white and linen, sea shells and sandy beaches, with painted wood cladding on the walls and a rustic wooden floor, my living room and hallway now form the perfect canvas for me to express myself year round.

During the winter months, shades of cranberry, rusty-red and Christmas green added warmth. I didn’t have the energy to be very creative, but that was OK. My Christmas decorations have a life of their own and all we had to do was to bring them down from the attic and they brought the cheery warmth and spirit of the season with them.

freesia stem with hyacinthsI bring in the spring by filling every container I can – teapots, jugs, teacups, treasured old mugs and vases  – with bulbs and spring fowers. I echo the yellows, cornflower blues and sage greens in my wall hangings and ornaments, cushion covers and garlands. It’s an easy fix, but one that lifts the spirit.

coffee table spring flowersI’m especially fond of hyacinths and freesias. I have hyacinths in the kitchen and freesias in a jug on the living room coffee table at the moment; the fragrance fills the house. I love the structural elegance of freesias, the way their stems arch and the buds along the stem open in sequence, guaranteeing perfume and flowers for days to come.

I’m enjoying being uplifted by the scents and sights of spring, the birds suddenly louder at dusk and the promise of longer, warmer days and brighter spirits.

quotebooksI’ve been writing again, suspending some commitments until I can go back to delivering quality, and rooting around in my files and archives, ready for a shake-up and a spring clean. I’m clearer than I have been in months about what I have to offer and how I want to connect. Most reassuring is that I’ve gone back to reading with a pen and quotebooks; after weeks of wondering when the tide would would turn, I feel a sea change coming.

If you’re inspired by spring to make changes but find it all a bit overwhelming and don’t know where to start, do what nature does. Grow and blossom a tiny wee bit every day. Fill a jug with spring flowers today, breathe in inspiration and share your gifts with us on an outbreath of joy.

I enjoyed this article in Christine Kane’s newsletter recently and thought you might find it useful.

9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators
by Christine Kane

Irony: As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go play one Sudoku game first.” I caught myself in the act and marched to my laptop.

People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.

Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s about fear. It’s about perfectionism. It’s about overwhelm. We all experience it, and there are some tricks to help you get moving again.

Here are 9 ways to break the procrastination habit:

1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something. I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it. Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea. Then they sit there. They wonder if it’s a good idea. Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Got an idea? Begin it now!

2 – All hail small chunks of time!

Lots of us complain about having no time. My guess is that we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your idea, your project, or your taxes? Stop waiting! Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

3 – Agree to do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up. Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear, than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

4 – Commit aloud.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next half hour working on my Law School Essay.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results. “I’m gonna get my office organized” is a lot like saying, “We oughtta do something about Global Warming.”

Most procrastinators have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

When are you going to do it? For how long? Which part of your office? The file cabinet? Or your desk?

Define the goal and acknowledge its completion.

6 – Install this System Upgrade into your Mental Hard Drive: Less is More.

Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.

Why?

Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.

Find out what it feels like to accomplish one thing instead of not quite getting to everything. Wow – what a difference this makes!

7 – Do it first.

My first coach made me write songs first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour chunk as my first activity upon waking.

Why?

“Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing you’re supposed to be doing.

8 – Avoid nose-bleed activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity. It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you. Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

9 – Don’t ask how you “feel” about doing the activity.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)

Change this pattern. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunch time.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.

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There. I did it. I wrote this article. And now, I don’t even want to play Sudoku! How about that?


Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 11,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

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What’s the weather like where you are? Do you have any projects stirring, waiting to blossom in the next few weeks? Is procrastination a problem for you? Let me know if there’s anything  I can do to help. After years of battling perfectionism, and the overwhelm that often accompanies prolific wide-ranging creativity, I  specialise in coaching creative folk who thrive when they take things one wee step at a time.

Berries and Birds

garden path2Our garden’s not very big but it’s brought me hours of joy over the years. There’s a scrubby lawn at the back where the kids used to play, and a narrow strip of path and garden outside the kitchen window. We planted laurels, rhododendrons and assorted evergreens to cover the fence, and they’re always teeming with birds.

I often stand transfixed as I wash dishes, watching the robins and blue tits, blackbirds and swooping starlings go about their daily business.

But I’ve been avoiding my garden recently. Deliberately avoiding it. After weeks of benign neglect, it’s become an overwhelming wilderness, overgrown with weeds and covered in drifts of autumn leaves – but not the attractive russet, red and gold ones you kick up and dance around in. These are slimy and grey and slugs live under them.

Scotland’s green for a reason, but we had unusual floods this summer. And everything’s grown, I mean really grown.

Our outdoor furniture, which used to look trendily shabby and distressed, is now sprouting flat greyish green florets of moss. Decorative miniature trees have rebelled and shaken off their self-limiting beliefs. Rhododendrons that were meant to be two feet high have doubled in size and smothered two small euonymus bushes.

Grey-green and damp, it was a perfect summer for weeds and plants, birds and bugs. A few glorious days lured us out to bask in the sun, but unexpected tropical showers were never far behind.

I ventured into the back garden this morning to collect the seed pods from some shrivelled up nasturtiums that had faded from glory, unnoticed, in a terracotta plant pot. Depression loomed, heavy as a leaden sky, when I thought of all the autumn gardening jobs waiting to be done. A month of illness, overwhelm and exhaustion can turn the sweetest of daily tasks and rituals into an soul-sapping backlog of chores.

A gust of wind in the branches, and suddenly, I caught the scent of it all; moist, rich soil, a fresh green breeze, raindrops on leaves and the beautiful mossy breath of trees. It didn’t look like a garden, it looked like nature, a bit of wilderness outside my back door, overgrown, untamed and perfect for birds.

I suddenly saw the sunset-bright berberis berries, the dangerously dark and tempting laurel berries. Clusters like hidden jewels, and below them, still thriving, the flowers of some daisy-like thing I don’t even know the name of, something I just planted because I loved how the colour blended in with all the other mauves and violets and purples back in May. I rushed in and grabbed my camera.

I stood transfixed and smiled a small smile. Life longs for life. Our happiness, our planet’s existence, depends on the tiniest of details we often overlook or take for granted while we’re desperately trying to make sense of the bigger picture.

Trees, birds and bees don’t make a mess of things the way we humans do. They don’t create slave trades, mutilate their neighbours in the name of religion, knowingly destroy their habitat or create global credit crises. They don’t get stressed by trivia or moan about blogging roadblocks. They just get on with it.

The bees follow their bliss. Flowers turn to berries, birds breed, eat the berries and spread the seeds – the evidence of their small but perfect lives. The seeds grow into the lush bushes and towering trees that feed and shelter the birds’ offspring in years to come. Nature’s bloggers.

I’m part of all this: I live, I love, I create and I try to nurture what matters, but the beauty, the unstoppable, teeming life in a tiny stretch of garden humbles me. At best, I’m just a guardian and a gardener, an observer who appreciates. All I can do is try to spread the seeds of the moments that stun me into silent wonder and hope they grow.

Birds, Bees and Blogging

blackbird-in-nest-with-eggs3

We are part of the whole which we call the universe, but it is an optical delusion of our mind that we think we are separate. This separateness is like a prison for us. Our job is to widen the circle of compassion so we feel connected to all people and all situations. ~ Albert Einstein

Before I created my blog, I was a hermit bee, living, not in a hive, but in my own cosy wee writing cave, emerging to buzz away happily in other people’s blogs, reading, writing guest posts and cross-pollinating for pleasure in their comment boxes. All the writing honey from my life and my daily detail loving was saved for my coaching column.

When I wasn’t writing, every moment was a chance to gather nectar, the essence of moments spent in my home and garden.

I spent more time watching the birds outside my kitchen window, nature’s bloggers, living and foraging side by side: blue tits and chaffinches sharing the bird feeder happily; gangs of starlings swooping in and squawking loudly, chasing off other birds and swiping all the berry-filled fat, leaving nothing for the smaller birds; dunnocks hopping about in the bushes, silently feeding on the scraps left after the flapping frays, and the serene robin, sure of his territory, sitting on my fence, bobbing his head three times, choot choot choot, doing his business, planting the seeds of trees and bushes that will shelter his offspring someday.

March came and went in a flurry of blog-building, jury duty, illness, kids’ activities and shopping for my eighty five year old dad. I missed birthdays and deadlines, unaware that the weeks were flying by.

April and May settled into routines of burned meals, overflowing ironing baskets and piles of dirty washing.

Wet clothes were eventually dragged unceremoniously from the washing machine and dumped into the dryer. I no longer stuck my face into piles of damp line-dried laundry smelling of flowers and fresh air.

It reminded me of the first time I went for Step 2 of the IAC exam, obsessed and blinkered, neglecting all the other areas of my life. It came as no surprise that I failed first time.

But still I blogged, driven by the urge to create a community, to do something with my writing, to reach out beyond my garden and share more of myself.

I kept thinking, I’d settle into a blogging routine, but never for one moment did I realise that I was becoming worn out and weary right at the start of my journey, a journey I’d hoped to savour and share with all kinds of travelling companions for years to come.

My husband had a day off work last week and we planned to catch up on some neglected gardening. He went to run a bath in the family bathroom after the kids went to school and I found myself heading furtively towards the laptop, thinking I’d just do a quick ten minutes, when suddenly he bounded into the room.

“You’ll never guess what we’ve got on the window ledge outside the bathroom!”

“What?”

“A nest! With eggs! Four eggs!”

He sounded just like our young son.

We both crept to the back door like a couple of teenagers getting home late, wondering what lunacy had possessed a bird to build a nest next to our garden path, outside a family bathroom where our kids squabble loudly about everything from toilet paper to toothpaste.

We opened the heavy wooden door slowly and took a step out, as quietly as we could. And there she was. A blackbird, with a thin, sharp yellow beak and beady black eye. Aware of us, she didn’t move.

I sneaked in for my camera and stealthily captured the moment, scared that if we stood staring too long in awe at the magic of this little scene, that she’d get spooked and fly off.

The kids came home from school and couldn’t believe it, smiles wild and full of wonder.

That evening, while they were out with my husband, I started to worry. What if the wind blew the nest off the ledge, if cats came prowling, if a sudden noise from inside the bathroom spooked her. I felt I needed to do something, to help in some way, so I got some bread crumbs, opened the back door and gently scattered them on the ground in her direction. With a startled cheep and a flap, she flew off.

Horrified, I closed the door and stood, cursing myself for interfering, for having my own agenda, for doing too much and not letting things take their natural course.

For hours I was too scared to look. My husband and kids came home, asking if she was still there.

“I scared her off,”  I said, sadly. “I tried to feed her.”

“She’ll be back,” said my daughter. “She did choose us.”

“Yes,” said my son. “It’s a good place. Sheltered, and bricks absorb heat. She’s clever. She’ll be back. She knows we wouldn’t hurt her.”

I couldn’t bear to look. The hours passed and I couldn’t settle to anything. All I could think about were the little eggs, neglected, getting cold, because I’d overdone it. As usual.

My husband came into the living room smiling.

“She’s back. And there’s this little pile of crumbs next to her. It looks like she’s tried to spell out thanks.”

I threw a cushion at him as the kids teased me, asking if we should put worms on the shopping list and start a university fund.

I gently opened our back door and looked towards the bathroom ledge. As she sat there, her brown feathered body filling out the nest, she turned to me and fixed me with a beady eye. I pulled the back door shut, ever so quietly, and came back inside, smiling, trusting that everything would be OK.  Sometimes, we just need to sit still and do nothing but be.

Epilogue:

The father showed up, and together they raised four healthy chicks.

blackbird-mum-with-four-chicks1

proud-father-blackbird

This post originally appeared in my Coaching Moments column in VOICE, the monthly newsletter of the International Association of Coaching, edited by Linda Dessau.