All Posts by Peggy Haymes

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About the Author

Counselor. Writer. Minister. Speaker. Never one to fit into just one checkbox, Peggy Haymes enjoys using a variety of avenues to help people create the lives they want to live. she lives in Winston-Salem, NC along with 2 rescue dogs and a rescue cat. She enjoys participating in triathlon, making music and cheering on various teams.

Jul 11

They laughed at “Hamilton”

By Peggy Haymes | Life well lived

It’s been a big week for lovers of the Broadway show Hamilton. Show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda gave his last Broadway performance as Alexander Hamilton. And on this day in 1804, Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehauken, NJ.

It’s a testimony to the musical’s reach and influence that this day is noted as somehow more than a dusty footnote. It’s a testimony to Miranda’s genius that people just cannot help themselves: they have to quote the musical in response to posts marking the day. (Everything is legal in Jersey.)

Hamilton is a force on Broadway and beyond. It won a Grammy for best cast album and brought home an armload of Tony awards. More than that, through its use of hip-hop and storytelling it’s turned kids on to this figure from long ago American history. One column advised parents how to survive their kids’ Hamilton obsession. This ten dollar founding father has made quite a splash. (See, even I’m doing it.)

But a recent appearance at the White House by the Hamilton cast wasn’t the first Hamilton sighting there. When Miranda was invited to the White House Poetry Jam in 2009 he introduced a new hip-hop concept album he was working on based on….

the life of first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.

Well, they laughed. Including the President and First Lady. They laughed, because what else could you do with such an absurd idea? 

Here’s the temptation of such a moment, to listen to the laughter instead of your dream. The temptation is to let the laughter sidetrack you and make you doubt yourself.

They didn’t get it. Maybe no one will. Maybe I’m just being stupid.

Have you ever let the laughter or criticism or doubts of someone else turn you away from an idea that was so powerful in your soul that it made you get up in the morning and made it hard to go to bed at night? Maybe it was something you wanted to write or to sing or to dance to to paint. Maybe it was something you wanted to do or a business you wanted to start. Maybe it was a need that you saw a way of meeting, even though no one else had.

What do we do when they just laugh?

The fact is, sometimes we are off track. And sometimes we’re just ahead of time.

But sometimes times that dream rumbling around inside is an important gift for someone somewhere. Even if that someone else is us.

Believe in yourself.

Believe in what you have to offer.

Like that ten dollar founding father, be a self starter…

Jul 08

The Fine Line Between Mother Teresa and Hitler

By Peggy Haymes | Uncategorized

Elisabeth Kubler-RossElisabeth Kubler-Ross was asked to lead her Life, Death and Transition workshops all over the world. I’ve been thinking about two of those workshops recently. (I trained with, staffed with and became friends with her former staff, and they shared these stories with me.)

One was in South Africa in the days of apartheid. Elisabeth agreed to come, but only on the condition that both white and black women be allowed to attend together (it was a women’s only workshop.) The organizers agreed, but the participants were unaware of this provision.

Whites and blacks lived in two completely different worlds but for these days they were going to be asked to eat together and to sleep together in one large room. My friend said that at the beginning the tension was unbearable, and some of the staff worried that the workshop may blow up in their face.

But then the women started to do their work. White women bore witness as black women told stories of rape and incest, and black women bore witness as white women also told stories of rape and incest.

On the last evening there was a talent show. The women, black and white together, came in doing a tribal dance. The tension was gone. They’d spoken the truth of their lives and been heard. They’d heard the truth of other lives.  Where color once divided them shared suffering and healing brought them together.

The second workshop was held in a maximum security prison in Ireland. Elisabeth had been asked to do a workshop with the inmates, prisoners guilty of the most heinous crimes. She agreed, but only on the condition that the guards participate as well. So, while some of the guards kept watch, others joined the prisoners in sharing their own losses. After a while, my friend said, it was hard to tell who was guard and who was prisoner. In  speaking and hearing one another’s deep pain and hidden shame, they found a common language and a common humanity.

Elisabeth used to say that there is within each of us a Mother Teresa and a Hitler. We can react out of our deep pains and fears and unhealed wounds and create more pain for ourselves and others. Or we can do the hard work of healing and risk having our hearts opened to others as they are healed.

In the last couple of days I’ve thought about those workshops a lot. Without a doubt, there are systemic issues in our country that need to be addressed. But there is also the responsibility of each of us to look deeply into our own lives. Where do our own wounds shape our vision? Where do our own fears of the unfamiliar determine our actions? When does our past shape the assumptions we make about the present?

It is hard work, but necessary work. Only as we step out of our own places of fear and shame can we make a space of hospitality in which we begin to try to understand the fears and shame and hopes and dreams of our neighbor.

And only as we create those places do we move from the destruction of violence to the creative power of love.

 

 

rescue kitten
Jul 03

Missing the Kitten for the Treats

By Peggy Haymes | Lifestyle

I hadn’t planned to get a kitten.

At least, not yet.

This spring I had to put down my diabetic and so-done-with-this-life cat. It’s been over twenty years since I’d had a kitten in my house. I wanted one but planned to wait a year until the 2017 kitten season.

rescue kittenUntil I saw Buster. His picture popped up on my Facebook feed and well, that was that.

So I’ve been trying to introduce Buster to my eleven and eight year old dogs. Following the wisdom of the experts, I took my leashed dogs into the kitten’s room, one at the time with treats in my pocket to reward good behavior.

Things went well with my old dog Oakley. Raised with cats since she was a puppy, all she has wanted in this life (besides daily walks and no thunder) was a cat to be her friend. She has an eternal feline hope,

Ralphie was another story.

Things didn’t go poorly, It’s just that he was so fixated on the treat that he never knew that a kitten was right behind him, almost sitting on his tail. I kept trying to introduce him to Buster but he stubbornly stayed fixated on my pocket. Treats! You have Treats! I don’t think he ever realized that a kitten was in the room with him.

I’ve thought about missing the kitten for the treats, and how often we do it.

Oh shucks, I’ve thought about how often I do it. I miss the new chapter ready to unfold because I’m too busy looking at the old one. I miss the unexpected surprise because I’m too fixated on what I already know. I miss the opportunity because it means change and change feels like danger and threat and, at the very least being very uncomfortable. And I’d rather keep looking at the treats.

What’s keeping you distracted? One of the ways I distract my focus is by having none. When my focus is scattered all over the place – things to do, places to be, what I should have done yesterday and what I need to do tomorrow and where in the heck are my keys? – it’s hard to see what’s right in front of me.

Ralphie was focused. Just on the wrong thing.

What do you think? What keeps you distracted? What have you missed? Share in the comments below.

May 10

Mothers Day Without The Flowers

By Peggy Haymes | Grief

It hits me late in the day.

I didn’t get her any flowers. Everyone else’s mother will have had flowers but I didn’t get any. I never do.

Sometimes I feel guilty. I think about her stone, the one carved with both my mom’s and my dad’s names, barren of decoration while all over the cemetery other stones bloom with the gifts of more thoughtful children.

A friend suggested that perhaps at this point my mom didn’t care about such things. I hope she’s right.

It’s not that I didn’t love my folks. I did. It’s not that I don’t miss them. I do. Not being a mother and not having a mother makes Mothers Day a kind of weird non-event for me.

It’s just that although their bodies are buried in that cemetery, there is nothing of them there for me. That’s not where I feel their spirits.

If  I want to honor my mother and feel close to her, I work in my yard. She loved nothing better than digging in the dirt. Or I clean carpet, She also liked a clean house. If I want to remember and honor my dad, I stand in front of his easel and paint, sometimes unconsciously pursuing my lips or resting my chin in my head like he used to do.

For some people, going to a cemetery is a powerful experience of connection. If that’s you, by all means be there. For others of us it feels about as removed from our loved ones as we can be. If that’s you, find your own way to remember.

That’s the thing about grief. Despite what we sometimes think, there’s no one right way to do it.

Apr 08

Running with the Selfie Stalker

By Peggy Haymes | Lifestyle , Wellness

Anne LamottI knew she was a stalker.

I mean that in the best possible sense of the word. She wasn’t making life creepy for an ex. She was always stalking people in pursuit of the bucket list selfie.

I knew this because I saw the pictures show up on her Facebook wall every so often… Peter Sagal (host of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, the NPR news quiz), Garrison Keillor (are you sensing a public radio theme?) and Roy Williams, coach of the UNC basketball team (hey, it was her bucket list, not mine.)

So this week some of us went together to hear one of our very favorite authors, Anne Lamott. My friend ambushed Garrison Keillor just a week before in that same auditorium so she had the recon down.

Turns out we didn’t need it. All of a sudden her eyes lit up as she pointed to a group of women gathered in the aisle on the other side. “There she is,” she said. “She’s signing books! We’ve got twenty minutes – let’s go.”

You have to understand, this is not my natural inclination. I can be shy sometimes, and my default setting is to crane my neck to watch the others, wishing I could go, envying the ones who do go. But with my friend, there is no neck craning. Before I could waffle, we were on the move.

As we stood in the aisle I morphed into Ralphie anxiously waiting to see Santa in A Christmas Story, knowing that it was vitally important that I see this person but afraid that the store would close first.

Anne LamottAnne LamottAnd then, this happened. Anne signed my well worn copy of Bird by Bird and my friend got a picture of the two of us together and the bucket list I hadn’t allowed myself to have got a little lighter.

How often do we talk ourselves out of getting out of our seats and going for what we really want? We book the same place for vacation every year because that’s where we always go, ignoring the part of us that wants to explore some place new. We don’t take the pottery class because we might not be any good at it. We don’t say hello to the interesting person we’d like to have as a friend because after all, why would they want to be friends with us?

We proactively disappoint ourselves rather than take a chance on life disappointing us.

In college I was asked to play trumpet in the orchestra. Excited, I said yes at first. And then the shy, not very confident person stepped forward again and I bowed out. I didn’t know if I could do it so I didn’t try.

I have regretted it ever since.

I’ll not lie. It helps to have a stalking selfie queen as a friend. But lacking that, sometimes we have to be that friend to ourselves.

What is that thing you really want to do, that place you really want to go? As long as it will not hurt anyone else nor yourself and you’re not likely to wind up in a North Korean prison, go for it.

The worst that can happen is that life will say no. The best that can happen is that it will say yes.

The Slow Down Diet
Feb 17

Slow Down Diet: Gone to Meddling

By Peggy Haymes | Eating , Lifestyle , Wellness

Better Deeper LifeThere’s a story about the preacher who preached on the evils of a various sins and vices. One of the old deacons encouraged him on, both with hearty Amens during the sermon and words of appreciation after the service. But then the preacher preached on the evils of tobacco and the deacon, a well-known smoker, sat stony faced though the sermon. After worship he had only one thing to say.

“Preacher,” he said, “now you’ve gone to meddling.”

That’s something of what I thought as I read The Slow Down Diet recently.

“I suggest you let go of all coffee for this week.”

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

The point Marc David is making here is that many of us use caffeine as a way to override our natural energetic rhythm. When we’re in harmony with that rhythm our metabolism works at its best.

I don’t use coffee as a means for keeping myself awake. I realized, however, that I’ve been using that afternoon decaf as a way of nurturing. Holding the warm cup, smelling the aroma, tasting the bite of the beans on my tongue… even the experience of getting out of the office to the coffee shop nurtures my soul. While I’ve not been eating less I’ve been starving my spirit and even the best latte is a poor substitute.

Early on in the book this quote caught my eye was

“The way we do food is the way we do life.”

Over the last few days I’ve realized that the reverse is also true: the way we do life is the way we do food. My life got out of kilter which then became manifest in my eating.

Injury has curtailed my workouts, although if  I’m brutally honest, that’s mostly an excuse. My road bike stays hooked up to the trainer in the guest room.  I could work around the injury. I don’t have to be waylaid by the snow.

I fell into the trap of letting my schedule be my excuse. I looked for reasons not to work out instead of ways to make it happen. I’ve been reminded again that exercise isn’t an option for my life (well, for any of us but that’s for another day.) While it exhausts me it also nurtures me. While it tires me out it brings me energy.

I let my schedule push out the other necessity in my life: creating. While I’ve been busy creating courses and webinars, I haven’t been just plain writing. If I go too long without playing with words my spirit gets stale.

And when these things happen, I don’t eat as well. Exercise connects me to my body. Creativity connects me to my spirit. And connection with both is needed for eating with awareness.

What practices nurture your spirit? 

 


This blog has migrated to its new home at peggyhaymes.com.

No house-warming presents are necessary.

 

 

 

Peggy Haymes
Feb 05

The Joy of Missing Out

By Peggy Haymes | Uncategorized

FOMO.

Evidently it's a thing, the Fear of Missing Out. So many possibilities. So many choices. What if I miss out on that one experience? What if I make the wrong choice? What if I miss out?

I knew it was time. For far too long I'd been paying far too much money for far too many cable channels that I never watched. When I learned that I could stream sports channels, I made the call to the cable company. After haggling worthy of a Middle Eastern bazaar, I'd done the deed. My cable TV was now "limited" to various streaming services and the cable "Starter package," or, as I like to call it, the channels I was perfectly happy to have growing up.​

I wondered if I'd get a side order of FOMO with the change. After all, I was used to being able to access whatever was happening or might be​ happening, just with a click of the remote.

But instead the oddest thing happened.​

I was relieved. I felt as if a weight was off my shoulders. I no longer had to worry about whether or not I was missing out. I could be satisfied with what was before me.

Sometimes we go through life like the perpetual party guest, always looking over the shoulder of the experience we're having to see what new experience might be in the room.​ And yet, there's a great joy in being where we are when we are there.

The first time I walked into a Barnes and Noble​ Bookstore  I wanted to sit in the middle of the store and weep. So many books filled with such interesting things. And I would never be able to read them all in this lifetime. The fear of missing out on many of them, however, hasn't kept me from deeply enjoying some of them.

You're going to miss out. I'm going to miss out. We are all limited, finite creatures. But, oh my, the things we may experience if we let go of the fear and embrace what is before us.​