One of my favorite fantasy series is “The Codex Alera” by Jim Butcher. The main character, Tavi, faces numerous challenges as he discovers his identity. One reason I like this series is that when Tavi encounters a situation that scares him sh**less, he proceeds anyway because he knows it’s for the good of all. As he prepares to face another challenge, his partner tells Tavi, “Fear is the enemy. Respect it. But do not let it conquer you before the fight has begun” (Butcher, 2008, p. 334).
I resonated with this advice, and wrote about my own approach to it in my last blog, “Who is driving the bus?” Over the last few weeks, while traveling, further insights arose. The first is about shifting my direction. The second is about my call to serve.
In interacting with my Mindset Makeover group, one of my team used the word shift to describe the changes she is making. The word jumped out at me powerfully. For many years, I’ve worked to change some aspect of myself to increase my self-esteem. On hearing the term shift, I realized that I experienced that word as a gentle direction adjustment rather than an about face, which is how I have viewed change. Shift reflected that I was already on the right path and mostly aligned. So, it felt easier to implement.
During my recent travels, I found myself repeatedly applying this metaphor. For example, when I heard about many flight cancellations and anticipated having difficult conversations with family, I was able to shift my attention from the fear that arose to my intuition and let go. Time and again, as small or large fears surfaced, I applied this approach. It felt so right, even if there were times that the outcomes associated with my fears weren’t as perfect as I hoped.
The second realization was about service. Through the Mindset workshop, I realized that in my studies over the last year, I erroneously thought I had to learn more before really being of service. Embracing the shift metaphor enabled me to see and respond to opportunities to serve in the most simple ways.
One of the most profound opportunities was with my niece, Maureen. Maureen has Down syndrome, at a level that is considered profound. As a result, she has limited ways to communicate. For the last 25+ years that I’ve traveled to visit my husband’s family, including Maureen and her parents, while I have shown her love, given her hugs, and so on, I must admit that felt a little stiff. I was fearful of doing the wrong thing with her. Both the shift metaphor and the reminder that the simplest way to serve is to love, enabled me to relax and trust my intuition. So, for this visit, I played with Maureen, held her hand, helped her move around her home, and just sat with her so her parents could attend to other things. It was delightful. Maureen was all smiles. It was such a treasured experience.
As you travel your own road to wholeness and service, perhaps the shift metaphor would be useful to you, and enable you to open up to opportunities that you might not have considered before.
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Butcher, J. (2008). Princeps’ Fury. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.