Steal This Idea (I did.)

It’s radical (I’m about to demonstrate): Ask for what you want. From others. Directly.

Okay, I don’t think I have to belabor that, do I? Maybe it’s not such a radical idea for some people: management types, community organizers, politicians. But for us creatives, and for most people in a nonprofessional situation, making a simple direct request is challenging.

First, we have this idea that struggling to figure stuff out on our own makes us stronger. Second, we may not want to share the glory when whatever it is finally does happen. Never mind that that means we might miss out on “it” completely. Maybe it doesn’t matter that much. We’ll just struggle along, and if we get it, great, and if we don’t, no biggie. Third, we may not believe we deserve to have the thing we want, or that it’s impolite to ask, or that people should just know, or that we might jinx it by letting people know about it, or because, well, I don’t know. Never mind, I’ll just eat a brownie.

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 10.17.35 AM

What I’m learning is, when you reach farther than is comfortable and have goals that are bigger than you’re used to, you are going to have to have other people’s help and involvement. The good news, for us stubborn-headed DIY-ers, is that having other people along for the ride is enjoyable. For me, doing the kind of work that I do, it’s rather…essential.

So, that’s the big wisdom, applicable to just about anything. And it has a corollary, which is, ask without attachment. No expectation is what makes it possible for people to hear you and respond from an authentic place, doing what they can do and not doing what they cannot do. And too much ‘splainin’ kills the whole deal, but just a little helps the listener understand where you are coming from.

And Now (in honor of baseball season) Here’s The Pitch!

I am an business for myself. I depend on two things: my own wits and word of mouth. If you’re surprised I didn’t say people buying stuff, then read on.

Your kind words of support and your feedback and purchases have filled my heart and made it so much fun to embark on this journey. Without them I would likely have given up by now. If you are one of the people who have praised, encouraged, cheered, supported, and been excited with and for me, thank you!

Whether you have done any of that yet, if you’re interested in helping me reach a wider audience and achieve my goal of becoming a full time working author and inspirer and consultant, then please consider doing any of the following

6 Easy And Helpful Things

  • Visit and Like my Facebook Author Page. Then recommend it to 10, 20 or 100  friends who are into new age spirituality, healing and recovery, or who are aspiring writers, or are people who work with people in a healing capacity.
  • If you’ve enjoyed this post or have another that you’ve enjoyed, share a a link on FB, Twitter, or other social media where you spend your time.
  • Sign up to receive my newsletter (to the right, in the sidebar, or down below). If you already receive it, then forward it to 10, 20 or 100 people whom you think would be interested in what I write about, any of my books, meeting me in person for a reading, or having me speak to their group or club about any of my topics.
  • Host a book-signing, poetry reading, or Soul Message workshop in your home or as a group retreat or employee wellness program.
  • Write a review of my books on Amazon and post a link to your favorite social media. If you use Goodreads or another site to find books, let me know.
  • If you know of anywhere or anybody else on Earth that would love to find out about me, tell them about me and/or drop me a line. (Contact form is at the end of this post.)

My About page has a description of me and what I do. Even if you know me, give it a look. It might surprise you!

Thank You! If you’ve read this far, I appreciate your presence in my life, on my page and in my blog, and I wish you a warm and peacefully productive and surprisingly wonderful day! And my challenge to you today is to ask for what you want, of course!

© Phyllis Capanna
© Phyllis Capanna

by Phyllis Capanna © 2014 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna and joyreport. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2014 joyreport

Everyone Knows This About You

© Phyllis Capanna
© Phyllis Capanna

Were you ever told never to show up without a present for the hostess? Does it feel wrong not to have a “little something” to give when you go somewhere as a guest? This message wants you to imagine showing up with nothing but yourself. How would that feel? Naked? Ungrateful? Not enough? Getting in for free?

It is very good to see what comes up here. It is not bad to come with a hostess gift, but it is much better to do it out of love and generosity than out of a sense of making up for something that you inherently lack.

The Universe would like you to try showing up some place with just you, your big heart, and happy, appreciative presence. If you have been hiding behind doing or giving tokens to gain entry, know that you are the gift, when you are truly present. Do not cut yourself off from the real exchange of giving and receiving by fretting over tokens.

It really is okay to come with just yourself, at least some of the time. Think for a moment of the places you go without any conscious thought that your presence matters: the grocery store, a concert, a walk down the block. This message is reminding you that wherever you are, you bring the gift of you.

It is time for you to know that you are enough. If you are still protesting that you give gifts because you want to, then try doing so without an occasion, anonymously, and let go of the need to always do a little extra.

photo: Robyn Deveney
photo: Robyn Deveney

The preceding post is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Soul Messages: Lavish Love Notes for the Soul. Except for sharing on social media with attribution to the author, no portion of this blog or post may be disseminated without written permission from the author/publisher. © 2104 Phyllis Capanna

For more Soul Messages, check out the whole deck, available here.

Coming Soon! The Soul Messages book! (Due date: March 15, 2014) Sign up for my mailing list (to the left or below) to receive the birth announcement and to get in on the festivities.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. Please leave a comment or fill out the contact form if you would like to get in touch with me.

To sign up for my newsletter, please follow this link:

by Phyllis Capanna © 2014 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna and joyreport. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2014 joyreport

Cleaning House

IMG_2484For better or worse, I am a natural organizer.  I can sort and categorize, chop it up, rearrange, toss and recycle madly, easily.  I can think like you think, then I can break it all up into something else.  I don’t usually know at the outset how long it’s taken you to build up your layers, but at some point pretty early on, the tearing down is complete, in my head — long before I’ve touched the first pile.

It’s too late to be chronological about my summer project:  I’ve already begun clearing out The House.  It’s the house my spouse’s (we decided against “wife”) grandparents lived in when Gram died, the house she was born in.  Her parents built and lived in it after they were married.  I have turned the first pile (compost metaphor intended), and it is accurate to say that neither Gram nor her mother, Helen, threw anything away. How the menfolk managed to live in among, down, behind, or through all that saving is beyond me, but they did.

The process of untangling, while not the reverse of the process of tangling, I’m sure allows me to experience what it must have been like to live it while it was happening.  How many days did I avoid walking through the parlor because the way was narrowed by the hulking presence and jutting handles of the back inversion-thingie?  How many closet doors have I opened, only to quietly squeeze them shut again, whispering to a future emptiness to come help me when I get to it?

Everything, as a rule, must be gone through.  Because alongside offers for free publications, magazines, file folders, empty ice cream cartons, a support hose, and a comb might also be the deed to a cemetery plot, or, today, a five dollar bill.  Legend has it someone found a diamond ring in the pantry between the samovar and a Band-Aide tin with Helen’s passbook in it. There are those who believe The House cannot be emptied. I’ve been working there for maybe a month, and I’m still discovering places where stuff is hiding.  The other day, just randomly, I found piles and plastic bags, and cardboard boxes full of whatever-it-was in a space that might have been a cupboard around behind a chimney, in the kitchen, that had not a door but a piece of wood covering it up.  I stuffed them into trash bags without even asking.  Like you would ignore spinach between someone’s teeth, or a nasty fart.  Whatever treasure may have been pressed between styrofoam trays was probably too mouse eaten to matter.

I could go on, but, really, it’s too easy.  It’s a writer’s paradise, a list-maker’s dream, a cataloger’s nirvana.  What does emerge, though, like the image in a photo mosaic, is a kind of story of their lives, and each artifact comes with a string of questions that threaten my tenuous hold on “the facts.”  How, for instance, did Helen’s perfectly preserved purse end up at the back of the top shelf in the front hall closet with nothing in it but her wallet, a 1967 dime, and a patient menu from the Mid Maine Hospital?  And was there a logic that placed it there with two neatly wrapped parcels containing (I’m pretty sure) every Christmas card she received in 1966?  Wacky alliances like this abound.  Questions like, “Who is this is a picture of?” just pale.

I have vowed a hundred times over that when I die I will have nothing left.  I will have already dispensed with my accumulations.  In fact, I am constantly resisting the tide that wants to pull stuff into my life and constantly piling things up by the door to take out.  I don’t want anyone pawing through my stuff after I’m gone.  I want to control what’s left behind.  Let’s face it, I want to be there when the box is pried open and explain it in my own words.  I want to tell the story the way I want it told.

I am aware as I dismantle their mess that these people threw it together without a shred of self-consciousness.  These were not to be bequeathed.  These were their lives, their living, the things they did and thought about, and all too plainly now, the things they didn’t do and hoped for, for later.  That being the case, I am humbled and awed at evidence of so much life crammed into physical space.  I am sobered by the unintended consequences, both burdensome and beneficial, of living our lives.  I am numbed by the meaninglessness and charmed by the minutiae, struck by the dailiness of it all. And as I have always had a weakness for people who wear their weakness on their sleeves, it’s okay to say that they certainly had their neuroses.  Gram was obsessed with health.  I think she thought she could get healthy by clipping articles about health and saving them in the bottoms of cookie tins.  Don’t get Gram wrong:  she didn’t eat sugar.  She probably bought the tin at a yard sale.  Still.  Here I am recycling articles about jogging and peripheral neuropathy, and there she is, dead.

And, faced with the task of pushing a lot of stuff back out into the world, I am wondering, as in seriously questioning, if it has any usefulness left to it.  Yes, there will be sales.  Yes, there will be ads placed and ads answered.  But, is there a market for it, are people poor enough to want this, wealthy enough to collect it?  Who will I meet and what will I learn in doing this?  Is there a jackpot item here?  Have I thrown it out?

This isn’t the first time I find myself witness to the private lives of strangers.  I am generally trusted and trustworthy, but also, let’s face it, a voyeur and avidly curious.  I can usually walk the thin line by focusing on the task at hand and having a principle to work by that keeps my thinking from straying into the indecent.  I have my own neuroses, of course, not least of which is this compulsion to clean up messes. I didn’t ask to be like this, and I think that is the point.  Who we are is revealed to us through the actions we can muster in the face of our raw reactions and instincts.  Not in our stuff, the notes we take, the things we file away, the records we keep.  All the living associated with these pieces of paper has already happened. Now it’s my turn.  I’m the living, and here I am, standing amid piles and piles of what’s left.

I think I am right where I’m supposed to be.  We are a civilization on the brink of realizing that we are connected to each other and learning how to behave as if our lives depended on other people doing okay. We are at a time of standing witness to the consequences of our past actions, but only standing long enough to get it, then taking actions to remedy and create goodness in whatever ways we can, with whatever we are holding in our hands at the moment.  That is the resourcefulness we learn from having to live in hard times, close to the bone.  That’s what these people did, and that’s what I must do.  I hope that whatever unconsciousness they suffered can be reborn in me as awareness.  That evidence of their imperfection will lay the groundwork not only for celebrating who they were, but also for understanding who we all are.  I feel blessed to be witness to both the ephemera and the ephemeral.  I am holding them both in my hands today, and I am reveling in the richness and mystery all around me.  And, I can’t wait to see what this house will look like empty.IMG_2487

mastering the moment

Joy is…

She stands, head leveled at an unseen, felt, impending stirring, and she whines a little, nothing unusual. She whines a little more, and I look up to see her one front paw rising a little from the ground as if she’s trying out a new step or offering finally to let me clip her nails. I absurdly notice that her claws are clipped evenly, at about the same time that I see that she has started to tremble and that now her other paw is coming up, and now she is starting to flop for the door.

It’s like this when she has a seizure: She wants out. She paddles down the steps on her chest and belly, flopping onto the grass. I hold her barrel, her middle, her shoulders, while she steps and writhes, panting carefully, the seizure not taking control of her breathing.

She’s drooling now. Her eyes are unfocused amber lozenges, root beer, maybe, open. She knows instinctually to surrender to the waves and gyrations, and to allow me to hold her up, then help her lower to a crouch while the last small waves shudder out in a tremble.

I keep my hands on her, one on her haunch and one on her shoulder. “Mama’s here,” I murmur, “Mama’s here,” while she catches her breath and the focus returns to her placid eyes. I put my face close to hers and she licks my muzzle. I plant a kiss on her snout, leaving her to recover on the grass while I pick up pen and resume my writing, one eye on the page, one eye on the dog. She keeps one eye on me, too, then gives up a sigh as I pick up the pen. We are each exactly where we are supposed to be.

Soon we are bathing in Tuesday, wind a-swirl around us, all of life a-stir and unsettled. We two companions, take it in, doing that look-across-at-you-and-there-you-are-being-you-oh-goody thing we have shared ever since she barked and scolded her way into my car all those years ago. I often wonder if she had already made up her mind to end her days as a runaway, or if, like me, her life lived itself out through her, despite her intentions.

I don’t feel I’ve chosen anyone, the mother I was born to and now am helping take care of, or the dog I adopted who now has seizures twice a year. I don’t feel I’ve chosen anything about me, whoever that is. I feel I am as intimate with others as I can be with the moment we share, and as related to others as the items on God’s to-do list.

Everything works better with a minimum of drama and thought, when heart and hands are free to act on instinct, and nobody understands why or how, or needs to. This is what is meant by simplicity, not that there aren’t details to untangle and ramifications to understand, but that within the myriad eventualities and actualities there can be a still, calm center that does what it does in response to what is, then simply waits, ready for the next moment.

It’s why Honey-Bear can have a seizure one minute, take a nap, then be back to digging up chipmunk tunnels the next. And why I can pick up the pen and resume my encounter with the blank page.

The last thing I wrote was, “I think I love being conscious when I am and miss it when I’m not. I love the present moment more than I thought I could love.” Today, the freedom to live in that deeper, truer place, on the page and in the moment, is my joy and all the evidence I need of grace.