The “E” in SHINE

Expect life to support you.

Einstein said, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

“Miracle” is a strong word. Many years ago, it was a word I understood to mean that God magically intervened in human affairs in a supernatural way, sometimes even defying the laws of science. I’ve actually avoided the word since leaving strict dogma behind because I haven’t really known what to do with it in recent years. But lately I’ve been encountering an idea among evolutionary thinkers that has challenged me to ask whether or not I might be able to expect Life to organize around my success—perhaps not in ways that defy the laws of nature, but by small synchronicities, meaningful coincidences that might give me the sense that the universe is a friendly place.

I was already gnawing on this idea when we went to Chile. Absent of the familiarity of home, I had the perfect opportunity to attend to how Life might show up if I showed up as my best self into a fresh situation. I gave myself the task of watching for “gifts” from the universe, anything that I might justifiably feel grateful for.

The first evidence that Life liked me arrived as soon as we met Bill’s colleagues and students at the university where he would be working for three months. Though I would only be serving as a volunteer in his classroom, the whole English department embraced us both as if they’d always known us. For me—someone who thrives on contact with other human beings—having a ready-made, welcoming community was like heaven.

The next gift was coffee. Laugh if you must, but besides dogs, running, books, wine, and human conversation, good coffee is high on my list of things that make life worth living. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was fourteen years old and graduated many years ago from over-burnt, bottomless cups of Denny’s brew to freshly ground, shade grown, fair trade, gourmet beans. Coffee gives me a sense of well-being and makes me feel happy. Going back to instant coffee (which we drank for a few weeks at the beginning of our time in Concepcion) just didn’t seem like a soul-sustaining option. By word of mouth, we found what I think is the one and only coffee roaster (tostaduria) in the city—only a few blocks from our house. The coffee beans were perfect. And the business owner spoke English!

A week after finding the tostaduria, just when I was getting homesick for a long, meandering conversation with friends, we flew up to Santiago for a Fulbright meeting and discovered there was another US citizen who was at U de C on a Fulbright grant. Scott was in the geology department on another side of campus, so it was no wonder we hadn’t met in spite of being so near one another. He told us that his wife was a runner and she might like to meet me. To be honest, I would have made friends with Tania if she’d been a card-carrying, polygamist-libertarian who packed a pistol in her purse—I was longing that much for a native English-speaking friend. But to my delight, Tania turned out to be a soul sister. She was a bright, funny, wine-drinking, f-bomb-throwing runner! We met for coffee on a rainy day dressed in almost identical rain jackets and never stopped talking after that first moment. I knew I’d found a life-long friend.

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Now, all of these things might have happened whether or not I decided they “meant” anything in particular. But I am beginning to believe that it serves me (and you) better to EXPECT Life to give meaningful gifts often and without reservation. Like many people I know, I have at times gotten into the mental habit of thinking Life is small and stingy. When we think that resources (be they money or friendship) are scarce and that they are already being used up by other people, we hold our breath and wait to be disappointed. That’s no way to live!

Instead of expecting Life to hold back on you, what if you expected Life to really support you and bring you meaningful gifts? How would you position yourself differently in your relationships? At work? When you’re asking for help from someone?

Opening up to the possibility that Life will show up for you in a positive, generous way is easier said than done if you’ve faced serious disappointments or trauma. In my 7-week SHINE course, we’ll be talking about how to interpret deep, painful disappointments in new ways as well as how to cultivate the expectation that Life is generous and friendly.

Here are details about how to join in.

SHINE program details:
When: Seven Thursdays, beginning February 26. 4:00-5:30pm PST (with an additional 30 minutes afterwards for discussion applicable especially for writers).
Where: On the phone. Conference call-in numbers provided to participants.
What: Lecture, opportunities to be coached, homework assignments, bonus writing assignments.
Cost: $99

Other opportunities for us to connect:

  1. Therapy and Coaching: I am now seeing clients in Woodinville on Mondays and in Seattle on Tuesdays. Email me with questions and for fees. clostman@live.com.
  2. Writers: I’ll be teaching a course on platform building through Western Washington Extended Education: Publishing and Marketing: Strategies for Writers and Authors. Check it out.