A new song for you: “The Silent Sea”

Hello! I’m very eager to share our new song with you today. Jamie keeps telling me that he thinks this one is going to be some people’s favorite one on the album. Let’s see what you think … 🥰  

In this step of the journey, we’re exploring how the act of LISTENING unlocks the power within us as we cultivate peace of mind and grab hold of our agency in difficult circumstancesHere it is:

“The Silent Sea”

WATCH the lyric video
on YouTube.

exclusively on Bandcamp.

Come listen, watch, enjoy, and share!

This album project …

… is all about exploring how to realize both serenity and the power to act in difficult circumstances.

To make this album, I’m giving myself a series of journal prompts that help me dive into concepts like coping, powerlessness, acceptance, courage, and agency. My responses to those prompts become the source material for each new song.

(The writing about “The Silent Sea” that follows here will make most sense as a sequel to my first six stops on this journey. If you need to catch up with where we’ve been so far, you’ll find the first five entries here: 1, 2345, and 6.)

“Where do I start?” 

I’m recalling the steps I’ve taken so far in this journey …

… NAMING the circumstance that is robbing me of my peace
… identifying my reactionary COPING mechanisms to the feelings this stimulus brings up
… coming to terms with the parts of the situation over which I am POWERLESS 
… ACCEPTING the reality of what is, and also the reality of what lies beyond my control
… choosing COURAGE to act in the areas in which I do have power.

Having done the work
to identify the monster under the bed,
to reject coping mechanisms that don’t serve me,
to identify the areas in which I am powerless,
to accept the things I don’t have the power to change,
and to choose courage to change the things I can …

… I arrive at this next phase,
where I’ll have the opportunity to ACT,
to actually do something,
“to change the things I can,”
with a whole lot of junk and mire cleared out of the way.

That. Feels. Great.
And I’m ready.

And yet …
… I find myself at the starting line
of this next leg of the journey
asking the question,

“How on earth do I know what to do?”

The answer — ironically — leads me to loop back to territory from a few steps back in the journey.
Back to the FEELINGS I’m experiencing in the midst of this circumstance.

But the difference is that — this time —
I’m aiming the new, clarified focus that I’ve cultivated
toward exploring those feelings in a deeper way.
A way that actually serves me.

Because those feelings contain something that I need:
a map that can help me figure out what to do.

And the key to deciphering the map … is the act of LISTENING.

Here are the prompts that guided my journey through this step:

Describe my relationship with feelings.

Do I welcome them? Do I avoid them?
Do I know how to sit with them? Do I numb them?
Do I know how to process them? Do I linger or get stuck in them?
Do I trust them? Do I fear them?
Are they useful for me? Do they define me?

How do I listen for what I’m feeling?

What are the practical things I need to do to be able to listen?
Do I need quiet?
To go for a walk?
To create something?
To write?

What are the things that get in the way of listening?

Other people?

Let’s practice.

Get myself into a space / environment / headspace where I can listen.
What am I feeling?
Can I connect each feeling to a specific need?
What do I need?
Which of these needs exist in the realm of “things I have the power to change?”
What am I going to do about it?

More practice.

Get myself into a space / environment / headspace where I can listen.
What am I feeling?
Can I connect each feeling to a value of mine, to something that matters to me?
What is it that I value?
What does this value tell me about what is the right thing for me to do?
What am I going to do about it?

The Most Powerful Force In My Life

There was a time, back in the days before I found 12-step recovery, in which my feelings were the most powerful force in my life … but very much not in a good way.

I had fostered a belief that my feelings were the definition of my existence.
I often felt like I was living at the loose end of a long whip,
with no agency to change my position there,
being thrashed around in my life by the force of whatever I was feeling at any given moment.

(And, in my codependency, those feelings were often directed by the vagaries of whether or not I was experiencing the acceptance, approval, and praise I desperately craved from other people.)

It was a terrifying way to live.
I was constantly fearful of experiencing the bad feelings, afraid of losing the good feelings.

Until I learned in my recovery that …
… first: I am not my feelings.
… second: my feelings don’t have to be labeled as being “good” or “bad.”
… and third: feelings can, instead, be extremely useful to me.

I learned that feelings are messengers,
like emotional morse code,
which can point me in the direction of what I need and what I value.

And if I can identify what I need and what is important to me,
then I can determine what actions to take in order to meet those needs and to act on those values.

What I’m saying here is:
my feelings can help me find my POWER.

That’s what it means to me to be empowered:
to know what I need,
to know what is important to me,
to identify the tools I have to address my needs,
to identify how I can live a life of integrity, in which my actions align with my values,
and to give myself the opportunity to do something about it.

That, for me, was the beginning of engaging with the experience of my existence
in a way that has — every day since then — allowed me to create a life that I want to live and am proud to live.

“… and she lived happily ever after?”

Ha! If only that’s how it worked.
The fact of this big, amazing, life-saving and life-giving discovery
that I (gratefully) stumbled into 17 years ago
does not mean that I don’t have the capacity — still — to fall back into old patterns.
I do, all the time. It’s just part of how I’m wired.

And that’s why maintaining my recovery, which includes the practice of working my way through the elements of the Serenity Prayer, like I’m doing here, is something that I do in my life on a near-daily basis.

It helps me excavate myself from the mire, and it points me toward my power.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

I mean … the entirety of the inspiration for this project, this journey, is the fact that — here in 2022, with a whole lot of big, bad stuff happening all around me — I’ve been finding myself failing to experience the peace of mind, failing to embrace the agency, that I know is possible when using these tools.

So … back to the beginning of this journey. I described the circumstances that have been robbing me of my peace. I named climate change and the rise of fascistic authoritarianism in our country. I dove into my feelings about those things, and I identified fear and anger.

What if, rather than getting stuck in the vortex of fear and anger, and allowing them to fuel self-defeating coping mechanisms, I instead used them to help me identify what I need? To help me gain a deeper understanding of what I value?

For instance, fear … can help me define my boundaries.
It’s a flashing signal that points to my need for safety.
It can help me to know what is okay for me, and what is not.
Then, I can determine and establish boundaries that protect my spirit.

And anger … can alert me to something that is important to me.
It’s a flare that draws my attention to injustice.
It reminds me that justice is a deeply-rooted value of mine.
Then, I can decide where and how I can act to promote justice where it is lacking.

Now that’s some tangible, helpful direction!
And I found it …
… inside of me.

That’s incredible.
And powerful.

Choosing to listen to my feelings like the messengers they are
sets me up to reclaim my internal peace and use my agency in powerful ways,
even as I continue to live in the midst of unsatisfactory and difficult circumstances.

So … to listen.

For me, it means getting still.
Clearing out distractions, like

  • input from other people
  • the “shoulds” in my own head
  • expectations I’ve placed on myself, or those that others may have of me.

Slowing my breath.
Closing my eyes.
Paying attention to how I feel in my body.
Concentrating my thoughts on the center of my spirit.
Opening my mind to whatever floats to the surface.

Sometimes it helps for me to scan a list of feelings words and noticing when one snags my attention.

Taking a pencil to paper and just writing, without thinking, judging, or editing.

Strapping on my shoes, getting on a trail, and staring at the water, or being with the trees.

Sometimes it helps to make a song.

The mechanism for getting there doesn’t really matter, as long as the result is that I’ve allowed myself to tune in to the bell of truth that rings inside my spirit.

I know it when I’ve heard it.
No one else can tell me what it sounds like,
because it is only mine:

This, here, is what you need.
This, here, is what matters.
Now go, use the power within you, and decide what it is you’re going to do.

Look at that: my feelings very well might be the most powerful force in my life. But in a good way.