I’m Forgetting to be Small


On May 8th of this year, I stepped into my role as Wise Woman Elder Healer through a small ceremony or rite of passage. I aligned and embodied who I already am. Then life went on. Nothing really changed. I take care of my human needs. I continue my work day by day. I trust the process.


It’s now May 19th and everything has changed. I’m forgetting to be small.


I have lived my life in fear. I had an inside infrastructure designed to keep me safe. Every action taken in my life up to May 8th had been designed to keep me safe. Every conversation, every choice large or small has always been filtered through the lens of safety. I avoid spontaneity for it breeds possibilities I couldn’t prepare for.


Making a commitment has changed everything and nothing. I am who I’ve wanted to become. I’m noticing I make choices before thinking about consequences. I speak trusting my inner wisdom and am often surprised to hear my words. I didn’t practice beforehand. I stretch outside my box of safety without forethought. I have forgotten to be small.


In hindsight, I’ve dismantled a behavior that has kept me hidden behind a wall of safety. This dismantling did not happen overnight and certainly has been brewing under my awareness for years. The dismantling happened because I was ready.


One truth I acknowledge across the board is when I’m ready for change to happen it happens and not before. My mind is not in charge. My heart is.


The mind’s knowledge of peeling an onion is forcefully cutting away the outer layer. The heart’s version of spiritually learning and growing is a process of breaking open as a result of an event, and layer by layer we learn and release all at a pace designed for our highest and best good. Our mind is not in charge.


I remember years ago learning when asking for help to include the word “gently” in my requests. The idea dawned on me when I had too many experiences being knocked upside the head, and while I acknowledged every experience has a learning, maybe by asking for gentleness, it wouldn’t hurt so much. Change hurts. Loss hurts. Disappointment hurts. Learning and growing come from the breaking open from the hurt.


Life is about learning and growing through our experiences. The gentleness I asked for really comes from me, how I treat me through my process of learning and growing. I hold the hand that gently holds my aching heart.


Deborah McNamara

Sometimes, it takes a very long time to peel the layers of an onion. For some, a lifetime. For others, years. And still for others, each moment is like living in the center: a sweet and pungent core to make the eyes tear.


The truth here sears - you cannot pretend you are anywhere else. This center is like an exclamation point serving up the most aromatic dish.


Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so much for this, for sharing your journey and being such an example to us. I loved the phrase ‘I’m forgetting to be small,’ after you reached that point of intention of stepping into what has naturally evolved, the story of your life. You have quite a flock following you now. I thought about self-love leading into self-acceptance, accepting who I am and what I am called to. I was thinking about how do I know something is calling or nudging. There is a soft hum and it seems like if I go ahead and turn up the volume and listen closer, it’s a life-giving flow. And then at what point to give that hum action. It’s all very exciting to me. Thank you for your example.

  • Listening to your writing today makes me realize that, when I choose to follow my heart as a divine compass, it can feel a little wobbly. Only because it’s new to fully trust who I am and fully let my heart guide me and not the fear when it shows up. When you spoke of the pain and the disappointment, I’m in the question how do you integrate following the heart in the midst of the disappointments? I’ve had a long-time friend let me down and I’m trying to integrate standing in an open heart feeling my own feelings while this change happens. I used to love this person and I’m shocked at some things. When we’re following the heart, it does feel wobbly and it’s easy to go the rational mind and have an instant reaction of anger or listen to the excuses. You’ve raised a question for me about standing in the wobbliness and trusting the wisdom of my heart during time of being let down. I thank you for that.

  • Standing in the wobbly heart—I can so relate to that. And truly my heart has never let me down. It’s my mind running in circles. When I am aligned with my heart, it never lets me down.

  • I’d like to explore a little more about sensing the heart. For me, when I try to apply it, I think about times when tears come up in me and I don’t know what they mean. Then they disappear. Just trying to listen to my body cues that tell me something more about my emotions. I was realizing that while thinking about my process of moving and all the changes my spouse has gone through and my responses, the enormous loss and disappointment I feel, and how I attempt to manage that. I found your words about walking hand-in-hand very touching and meaningful to me. So when I think about the word heart, it’s an overused word for me, and I am losing the sense of what it is that puts me in touch with it. I know when it happens, and yet, I can certainly and often do override it. But it’s subtle many times. I’m curious about how other people think about the heart.

  • When you were talking the other day about aligning with your religious beliefs and honoring your daughter’s different beliefs, that honoring is an alignment which is being in your heart. Because it’s a truth. I felt that clearly when you said it and I hear it clearly when you speak. I think we are taught to override our heart by using our brains. We learn to override our hearts and use our brains and slowly relearn to feel our hearts. I think it’s called the aging process. It levels everything.

  • One thing about the heart—during these periods of transition, we have lots of emotions. We could have excitement and joy about a new situation, or even just awareness that of a new situation like the letting go of an old friend. Being in the heart also means grieving the loss of the old situation and give ourselves the space to do that. People say just let it go. Letting go is good but grieving the loss of what we are leaving is a good thing too. To take that pause, feel the feelings, and then let go. That has to do with being in the heart.

  • It has its own time limit. When I went through the process with my daughter, I discovered the theory of chronic sorrow. It was developed by a neonatal nurse in her work with parents who came in day after day with their ill children. She would see the chronic sorrow over the years. She said chronic sorrow is like living with a loss that doesn’t end. It’s names a difficult process and it helped me accept the process of sorrow. Eventually, there is some sense of acceptance that moves up to something else. Loss can come quickly or it can drag on, as so many of us know because we live it. And finding our heart through that process is a journey. Our society does not covet the way of the heart. It’s not as accepted or talked about.

  • I’m thinking of rational and irrational numbers, and rational and irrational behavior. For a short second, I saw the heart along a timeline with the irrationals on one side and the rationals on the other. Irrationals almost bump into rationals on the number line but they never actually collide. The heart is a moving arrow running along the line, serving as the referee that guides us as to whether we need one position or the other in a given situation. Using the referee, we will know which serves the best end for the circumstance. Here, irrational is a choice, a uniquely important even if misunderstood approach. This awareness can be a recent discovery or even a totally new obscure yet enlightened way. We think of irrational behavior as a negative thing. But in mathematics and in science, the irrationals are some of the most useful and important numbers, like Pi and E. Sometimes we have to be irrational before we get there, but it’s driven by the heart. If the heart is in the center, we can move in the direction that we need to whether it be seen as rational or irrational.

  • The heart is really the guiding light. We have to journey through the pain and the joy. Either one, we can keep our eye on the heart. It’s just hard when our minds do what they do. I love exploring it through math.

  • I had an experience yesterday. I had been anxious about a meeting with an organization that hadn’t abided by the constraints of an agreement. I felt our money was wasted. In the meeting, they made excuses which I knew were skirting around the real issue. I felt anger in my body’s reaction. I told myself enough is enough. I spoke my truth and said that we had a lot of success stories with other organizations. I remembered the saying that it’s not what we say or do that people remember, it’s how we leave them feeling. I thought that even though I’m angry, this won’t be resolved and I have to calm down and be my loving self. I have to accept the loss of the money because it’s not that important. It was really hard. It’s about choosing my battles. Weighed down by the discomfort or staying in my heart.

  • Your reading today really touched my heart in a huge way, especially when you were talking about being small in your world. It has been an eye-opener for me to see how I’ve spent many years making my world very small building my walls. Mostly from a lack of confidence looking outside at different people and thinking I should be doing other things. I have not listened to my heart and following its message. I’m at this point in my life where I am knocking down walls, like a bull in a china shop. Somedays I feel good about it and somedays it’s scary because I had ideas of what my future looked like, and I’m not sure how it’s going to play out now. Somedays I feel strong about it and other days it’s very scary to think about. There’s a woman on Cape Cod, Alicia Mathewson. I love her voice and what she sings about. She’s been doing online chanting sessions. Her mother passed away and one thing her mother said to her was ‘an open heart is your best protection.’ I had to wrap my head around it. I love that whole idea and I’ve been using it.

  • Thank you as always. I’ve been in chronic sorrow for years. It’s not a term that is out there. I was trying to get life insurance and it’s tough at my age to get it. Depression is a high-risk for life insurance. It makes me angry, like who wouldn’t be depressed in the situation I’m in. I’m not a risk. The other thing I was thinking was how I love the way you’ve used the word ‘gentle’ all these months: what it evokes, what it means, the sound of the word. I love that you close with the word gentle. By hearing you say it over and over again, I think it’s starting to sink into my heart a little bit, for me to be gentle with myself. Today, I remembered the Mother’s Day reading. There were two thoughts that stood out for me: there’s so much pressure in our society to be the perfect mother. And I’m too tired to do better. That kind of helped me too; I’m only one person. It’s validating. The heart thing is interesting. That phrase “the open heart is your best protection.” I want to think about what that means.

  • There’s a blossoming tree in front of my window. It’s very fragrant and sweet. It hums with the bees in it.

  • Thank you. All your words touch me. I have images and thoughts blowing through my mind. What I wrote this morning about my hand offering me gentleness was a surprise to me. I heard it differently when I said the words out loud. I’ve been using the word ‘gentle.’ I’ve been living with the idea that gentleness is outside of me. I realize the gentle is within me; I give myself gentleness. That’s where the gentleness comes from because it’s all inside. It’s an incredible process. I learn as I listen to myself, just as you learn from your own words. We have our wisdom.

  • Thank you all for listening. Trust your wisdom. Trust in your heart’s wisdom and your life experiences. I hope you all have a gentle day. I treat myself with gentleness. And when I forget, I imagine a helpless being in front of me and I remember what gentleness is and I bring it back in. I forget because my mind takes over. With that in mind and heart, all have a gentle day. Thank you.

Recent Posts

See All