Last September I was invited by a good friend to go see Stevie Wonder in concert staged under a big tent on the banks of the Boston Harbor. We arrived early to enjoy a leisurely meal and build our excitement for what was certain to be a terrific performance by an American icon on the final night of his tour.
Despite our good intentions, this perfect evening did not play out at all as we had designed or expected.
It began with a two-hour “pre-show” …of us: Watching perfect mouth-watering dinners land at every table but ours, discovering that our waitress was MIA, racing to the food court to graze on limp leftover pizza, and taking our seats just in time, rattled but still determined to rock and roll like giddy teenagers.
It’s been decades since I’d been to a live concert—too long to remember that the sound systems are usually cranked up to that Spinal Tap volume setting of 11. No sooner had Stevie belted out his first note that my friend and I gave each other that painful, knowing glance that said I don’t think so…! Like in the movies where you know the ticking bomb is going to explode at any moment, we bolted, yet again, as far from the stage as possible… and our perfect center row seats.
From pumped up to punched out. It was a waking dream that featured the most delectable food I couldn't eat, and fantastic music I couldn't hear. I felt like a character in a Charles Dickens novel scratching the windowpane for a few measly crumbs from the revelers inside.
It was a Wonder night all right. Wondering what the heck happened with an evening that held such promise. As I sat contemplating this question the next morning, aspects of the experience that had otherwise eluded me began to rise to the surface like little thought-form bubbles: I remembered that the sky and the moon had been particularly clear and sparkly that night, and the breezes unusually soft and luxuriant. I remembered the two fold-up chairs that appeared to be waiting under the luminous sky, just for us, offering front row views of the harbor and a world-class city. I remembered an evening spent people-watching, eating ice cream, listening to Stevie croon in the background, laughing out loud at the absurdity of the situation… Nothing as I had imagined, or planned. It was livelier, and juicier.
Could the message be so simple: Shift the focus, let go of attachment to the outcome, and take nothing personally. Maybe you’ll discover something that you hadn’t noticed before. It might lighten your load, or reveal a pleasant surprise.
These longer nights of winter offer us a perfect opportunity to hang out in that in-between place I call “Not-knowing.” To ask those mystery questions. To observe what happens when you take your time. To notice what it feels like to detach and take yourself less seriously…
To invite wonder.
May this season and new year reveal many pleasant, unexpected, and wonder-filled surprises.
With best wishes for a joyful 2008!
Stephanie Bennett Vogt
Dialing Down... in Mexico
Last November I was invited to speak at a gathering of about 100 people at an event called the Author’s Sala in my second hometown of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. My audience was comprised mostly of Americans of all ages and walks of life who have done something most would consider unthinkable: They stepped out of their comfort zone to journey and settle—permanently—in Mexico.
It was a privilege to address this particular audience; to acknowledge the courage it takes to let go—big time. Besides moving to a country where the population doesn’t speak your language, the transition for many has meant selling a home, giving up many possessions, abandoning a successful career, walking away from a long-term relationship, leaving mystified friends and family (who think you’ve gone off the deep end)… turning a life inside out—to discover anew who you are and what makes your heart sing. When I asked if anyone in the room still questioned the wisdom of her actions, not one person raised her hand.
How does one process and integrate a life transition?
I used my hour to answer this question and read from my new book, which is designed to support anybody who is making or facing a change, or could use a change.
I will be in Mexico again this February to speak at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference, which, now in its third year, is on the map as a happening place to be!
To learn about my workshop and other presenters at this conference click here.
One of my most favorite workshops is the slow-simmer kind where people come together once a week for a period of several weeks to share their challenges and triumphs with clutter and clearing.
I love the “ Clearing Circle” format because it gives folks a very different—dialed down—experience of clearing that honors their process. People often come away from a circle gathering feeling lighter and clearer without having lifted a finger to clear at home! It’s pure magic that way.
Because I believe in the “go slow to go fast” model of clearing and the potent effect of people coming together to witness and support each other, I have incorporated the Clearing Circle tools into my book. Your Spacious Self provides everything you need to help you create, facilitate, and maintain your own clearing circle. It also outlines six sample agendas that you can follow or adapt to suit your weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly gatherings.
If you already belong to a book group or support group, I invite you to consider taking a six-week, or six-month “side trip.” Or ask some of your friends with whom you feel most comfortable if they’d be interested in joining you on a clearing journey.
Remember, clutter is not just physical stuff. It is also a pattern or a behavior that you’d like to change. All you need is at least one other person and you’re got a group!
To learn more about Clearing Circles click here.
To learn about my upcoming six-week Clearing Circle beginning on March 4th, 2008 [March 4, 11, 18 and April 1, 8, 15, 2008] click here.
To purchase a copy of Your Spacious Self on Amazon, click here.
Reader's Choice Award
for Your Spacious Self
I’m pleased to announce that my book has just received another award! Besides the Editor’s Choice and Publisher’s Choice awards that it has garnered already, it now enjoys the Reader’s Choice Award.
Here’s what a reader recently told me:“This book is a gem and a joy! I keep it on my bedside table.”
For those of you who haven’t heard about my new book, which was published last May, it is called Your Spacious Self: Clear Your Clutter and Discover Who You Are. In it you will find:
- New attitudes that help you shift your thoughts from worry and stress to greater clarity and ease;
- Simple daily practices that help you let go of the things that you no longer use, love, or need;
- Nourishing exercises in self-care that raise your energy and support release.
Your Spacious Self is available at Barnes and Noble, the Concord Bookshop, and on Amazon.
Stephanie in the Media
If you didn’t have a chance to see this article that came out in the Boston Globe about me and my book, click here.
(Adobe Acrobat PDF - 42kb)
Author photo by Daphne Weld Nichols
If you live in or near Concord, MA, I will be giving a talk at The Concord Bookshop on January 6 th at 3pm on the New Year’s theme of clearing out the old to make room for the new. For info, click here.
For info about upcoming events and workshops, click here.
Web Site: www.spaceclear.com
Clearing a path to your true nature—
one step, drawer, or moment at a time.
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