This morning I woke up with the phrase, “lower the bar” on my mind. 

I lay in bed for a few minutes, thinking about that. 

I realized that I need a special kind of permission today.

Permission to let go. Permission to step away. Permission to swim around in a big ocean of “que sera sera.”

So, after I grabbed my coffee and headed to my studio, I had an idea of how to give myself a little freedom. Instead of recording a brand new LoveGram, I decided that I would find an audio from a previous Sunday that spoke to ME today — and would hope that it speaks to you, too. 

Here’s the thing: Many of you know that I have a practice called Recording and Listening that my Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, started more than a decade ago. We make loving recordings for ourselves and listen over and over. 

These recordings are filled with love, possibility, and presence. So, instead of listening to ole Squawky Polly mind chatter about what’s wrong and what’s missing, I can choose to fill my head with love. 

It suddenly dawned on me that I have never gone back to re-listen to any of my previous LoveGrams. I was delighted that the idea dropped in to do so. It felt like a gift. Because, while I absolutely love making Sunday LoveGrams for you, today felt like it called for something different. 

Maybe you know what I mean? As much as ritual and routine can be calming and reassuring, sometimes they can need a momentary shake-up. Sometimes we want to break the rules, step out, do something different. 

It feels kinda giddy to “break the rules.” 

So, I randomly clicked on a few audios from Sundays a few months ago. The third one I listened to immediately spoke to me. Its theme is “Your Life is Not a Contest.”  

And that is exactly the message I needed today! 

Today’s audio LoveGram (Redux) includes some insights and permissions that I needed to hear. I hope they speak to you, too. 

What do YOU need today in terms of stepping out of contests, standards, and ideas-of-how-you-should-be?

As you will hear in a poem I read in the audio: “You do not have to be good…” 

You don’t! I don’t! 

We can give ourselves permission to be a little more free. 

I gave myself permission today to break the rules.

I gave myself permission to take care of myself.

I gave myself permission to follow the energy of the moment.

And where it took me was straight home to myself. 

I wish the same for you. 

We’re living in the midst of a pandemic that is filled with grief and hardship. We’re living in the middle of some very divisive politics here in the U.S. We’re missing our loved ones and our “normal” lives.

How do we remember to lower the bar on expectations, standards, and rules?

How do we let ourselves drop out of the contest and, as Mary Oliver says in the poem in today’s audio, “…let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”?

As I talk about in today’s LoveGram Redux, we can support one another in living lives that feel free from self-judgment and impossible standards.  

Listen. And let go. 

Seek celebration — even in dark corners,

xo Sherry

P.S. Recording and Listening is a powerful practice that has played a huge role in transforming my life. This book by Cheri Huber, “What you Practice is What  You Have,” is a great introduction if you are interested in learning more. 

P.P.S. On Wednesdays at 1:30pm PST, I facilitate an event for Mango Publishing called “Heart Wisdom During These Challenging Times.” This week’s topic is “On Being Glad and Grateful.” It is our Thanksgiving panel and I know these two authors will bring positive energy and joy. It’s free to join. Hope to see you!