Gratitude Celebration 13: Humor and Boundaries

Boundaries give us the space to take our time. Today, in my thirteenth post in my 60 days of gratitude for people in my life, I celebrate my brother, Jim.

Jim is my brother who is eight years younger than I.  Jim played a big role in a pivotal time in my walk of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. He lives within a few hours of the spot where I needed to get off the trail to take a week off for completing my training as a Radical Forgiveness Coach. He and his wife, Katherine took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, picked me up, and took me to the Richmond, VA airport. A week later, they brought me back, along with my husband, who was planning to hike with me for three weeks.

Other than that, I don’t have have many memories of doing things with my brother Jim!  What stands out is trying to get him to go to bed when I was supposed to be babysitting him as a teenager. I would take him upstairs, then hurry downstairs to watch TV, because that was the special privilege that I had when my parents were out. Well, of course Jim would have none of that and sneaked back down the stairs. I would hear something and go find him sitting at the bottom of the stairs. “Come on, Jimmy!  Just go to bed! That’s all you have to do, just go to bed!”  I laugh now at how ineffective I was as my brother’s persuader!

And it continues to this day! I can’t hold a candle to Jim’s arguments. He can always win with words, in my opinion.  And he is a master of wit, sarcasm, and word play. That used to bother me, but I now see it as Jim’s gift to me. Jim models the art of setting boundaries for sharing what’s close to one’s heart.

Jim said it best himself. “I prefer to keep my deeper feelings close so as not to have someone’s “big shoes” crush them like  a beer can.” That’s a reference to our dad who was the one with the “big shoes” – his heavy Vasque hiking boots that he wore all the time and he would threaten to step on toys that were left on the floor.

I can relate to what Jim says. I kept my feelings close as a child and young adult, except that I called it “not letting them get my goat.” That meant don’t let anyone see that I’m holding back my feelings and the words that I wanted to vent. I was told, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

In the fall of 2006, a door into a different way of regarding my feelings was flung wide open for me as I participated in Colin Tipping’s  “Miracles Workshop.” We were instructed to vent our feelings, really dramatically!  This was not to dwell on the words or their meaning, or even to validate what we were saying  – or yelling, or crying. What he was coaching us to experience is that feelings are actually energy that’s been stuffed down in our physical body.

All that stuck energy is what could be available for relating with others, or creating something purposeful and expressive, or for healing physical conditions, or dancing or hiking or any number of things we could be doing.  Instead, we’re focused on not saying things, or believing certain thoughts, or paying attention to a certain behavior or playing it safe.

This was a new idea for me, and frankly it frightened me terribly to be in that workshop room when others were expressing pent up anger and sadness and fear. It took all I had to not run out. But, when I finally allowed myself, in that safe and reverent space for feeling our feelings, to move that energy, it felt really good!  I did feel a lot lighter, and even a little morefree of the fear of having those feelings. Actually feeling the feelings instead of holding them down any more, like trying to hold a beach ball under water, opened a gateway to freedom.

Since that workshop, I’ve practiced feeling my feelings, especially in using other tools that Colin Tipping teaches in Radical Forgiveness, Making Room for the Miracle. I especially like how feelings are regarded in the board game, Satori. One of the squares players land on is “Blame Game” where you get to vent and have everyone else say, “You tell ‘em!”

What Jim showed me is that it’s ok for me to feel my feelings, but I don’t have to insist that others do the same. It will happen when the time is right for them.

If it’s the right time for you to open the gateway to freedom and power by releasing your stuck feelings, the best way I know to do this is by playing a game! That’s the board game, Satori, invented by Debbie Unterman and Deanna Hohnhorst at the request of Colin Tipping. It’s akin to a metaphysical Candyland where you journey on a path from Victimland to Awakening, transforming an old story of disempowerment to a new story of freedom, choice, and power. Come see how it’s played!


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