Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

1. I am working to stay open, but I get overwhelmed. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), “a person having the innate trait of high sensory processing sensitivity.” This means that my starting point is raw and tender, no skin, every nerve exposed. What is a normal situation to someone else feels to me like I’ve shown up naked while everyone else holds a knife and yells. Everything seems too bright, too loud, too sharp. Add to that my practice of attempting to remain open no matter what, connected to reality just as it is, and you’ve got a pretty complicated situation.

2. I’m trying to figure out how to have boundaries, how to stay open but somehow protect myself, what it would mean to avoid practicing “idiot compassion” or what I might call “idiot openness.” In Buddhism, “idiot compassion” is essentially enabling, what Pema Chödrön describes as “the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering.” She says,

When you get clear on this kind of thing, setting good boundaries and so forth, you know that if someone is violent, for instance, and is being violent towards you — to use that as the example — it’s not the compassionate thing to keep allowing that to happen, allowing someone to keep being able to feed their violence and their aggression. So of course, they’re going to freak out and be extremely upset. And it will be quite difficult for you to go through the process of actually leaving the situation. But that’s the compassionate thing to do.

3. I’m learning new ways to soothe and protect myself, without numbing out, shutting down, freaking out and running away, or staying and allowing myself to be wounded. It’s complicated and confusing. I make mistakes, get it wrong, but I’m trying, making an effort. As Andrew Boyd said,

Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.

One Wish: That in this life which is such a mix of so much suffering and confusion and aggression, but also so much love and comfort and wisdom, we find a way to be “strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

Three Truths and One Wish

from our walk this morning

1. Today is my birthday. I am 47 years old, and it’s wonderful to be alive, awake, still here. I feel simultaneously older and yet so much younger than that number. I am not at all where I expected I would be, and my life hasn’t gone the way I imagined it would, and yet where I find myself is so right, so much better than I thought, while also so much more difficult. More than anything, I promised myself I would spend today being exactly who I am, loving and celebrating myself. It’s still morning here, and I think what I’ve given myself today might just need to be the way I live all the time.

2. Susan Piver is brilliant. Her latest video for the Open Heart Project suggests a simple question that she labels “a life changing question.” I finally watched it this morning and it was so perfectly timed, such a great way to start my day. Spoiler alert: the question is “who would I be if I took myself seriously?” It reminds me of what Rachael Maddox said recently, how “maybe the magic that was missing all along was the will to be all the way true to the call of your brilliant heart.”

3. I’m still grieving the loss of my Dexter. It’s been almost a year and a half, and I’m only just now able to touch the center of that sadness, which is very much alive, fierce and tender and raw.

One wish: That we take ourselves seriously, and that we celebrate and love and grieve fully, each in exactly our own way.

Three Truths and One Wish


firstsnow20141. Some things are both miserable and wonderful. My walk with my dogs this morning is a good example: 14 degrees, windy and snowing, so quiet. My glasses kept fogging up, I was wet and cold, and because the thermal shirt I wore is silky, it was slippery and kept catching on my coat and riding up over my belly like some nightmare winter crop top. The last trace of autumn lingered under the first blanket of snow, the gold still visible through the white. Other than having to stop and shake off the snow from time to time and wanting to go faster, the dogs acted like it was any other day.

babyblanket2. Some things are old and worn but still precious. My baby blanket is a good example: the flannel is so soft, and it has a satin edge that I wore almost to disappearing rubbing it between my tiny fingers and against my cheek. My brother had one just like it, with a light blue background and white roses and the same white satin trim. His is in much better shape than mine. Our mom made them for us, at least that’s how I remember it, the story I’ve told myself about them — (is that right, Mom?).

meanddressy3. I feel like I am finally returning to myself. Jilly Bean, Jello, Silly Jilly. Striped knee length overalls, pigtails, and bare feet. That little one knew exactly who she was. So precious and goofy and creative and smart and kind. I’ve denied and abandoned her, made her wait, told her to be quiet, broken promises, been such a bully. And yet, she is still right there, ready when I am to begin again, to forgive, to love with her whole heart.

One Wish: That we awaken to the light of our true being. May we know we are loved and precious. May we be free.

Three Truths and One Wish

notebook1. I’m seeking a direct connection to divinity, that which is bigger than me but whose true name or form I do not know, whatever it is that lifts my face out of the dirt. It’s something about wanting to give up, to let go, to relax — to surrender my illusion of control, my resistance, my confusion —  but still needing a soft place to land, needing to believe love and kindness are real, solid, and available to me, IN me. I’m willing to risk keeping my heart open, but I need to know I’m going to be okay, even when I’m not. I need comfort.

2. I know who I am. I don’t know why I keep hiding it away, or trying so hard to convince others of it, why it matters if they understand or believe or support or agree to it. I’m not sure why I care so much that I might be making someone uncomfortable or confused.

3. Sometimes the world is too noisy, too fast, too much. I’m still trying to figure out how to be in it, how to show up, but not get run over. My sweet, sensitive, tender heart gets so overwhelmed. My physical body gets tired, is unwell. I want to show up and stay open, but it hurts and it’s so hard. I’m looking for the way I can stay open and present but still protect myself. I want to be here and I want to be well. I want to be all in, to be all the way true to the call of my brilliant heart, but I worry I’m not as strong as I need to be.

One wish: That somehow we are all able to surrender, to let go of the things that bind us, to stop resisting and relax into the way things are, and feel some sense of peace, a little ease, the tiniest shift in our suffering, and that we let love find us, let kindness touch us, take notice of the ways that we are being supported, lifted and lit up.

Three Truths and One Wish

image by Eric

image by Eric

1. One of the best things about getting up early and having dogs that need a long walk is seeing the sun rise. This was the sky on Sunday morning. Eric and I kept stopping, standing in amazement and telling each other how lucky we were to see it. He had his phone in his pocket, so he took a picture, capturing how the light reflected off the surface of the river.

2. I’ve started making a more conscious effort to connect, to communicate directly with that which is bigger than me. It is called by so many names — Yaweh, Allah, God, the Universe, the Self, the Divine. In one of my favorite movies, Joe vs. The Volcano, Tom Hanks’ character addresses it simply as, “Dear God, whose true name I do not know.” I’ve decided for now to call it “Dear One,” and like to imagine it calling me the same. Even so, I have no idea what it is exactly, and am certain I will never really know, never fully understand it. And yet, I believe it has something to teach me about love, something I long to know, desperately want to learn.

3. The more I practice self-compassion, gratitude, and communion, the more I am able to not abandon myself. I can stay present with the hard stuff, keep my heart open, let go of blame, relax and rest. I can be patient and kind and gentle and loving. I can be who I am, be confident in the way Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

One Wish: May we all find someone to help and to love, along with some kind of peace, a little ease, some rest, a bit of comfort, even as we continue to try so hard.

Three Truths and One Wish

tinybook1. Sometimes I need to see myself the way someone else sees me. Sometimes that means I need to quiet my internal critic and see the way someone else loves and accepts me, listen to the way they honor what I do, feel their gratitude and kindness. Other times that means I need to interrupt my ego, its sense of my own importance and rightness, in order to see from someone else’s perspective the suffering I am generating.

2. It’s hard to be wrong. Especially when I try so hard to say the right things, to not make any mistakes, to be perfect. But when I’m wrong I have a choice. I can smash myself to bits or I can be kind, gentle, forgiving. I can try again, not give up, say I’m sorry.

3. “Every time I think someone has a hold on me, I realize I’m the one with the tight grip,” (Courtney Carver). The door to the cage is open, but I sit inside, not moving. In the most gentle way possible, I ask myself to relax, to let go. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

One wish: May we practice honesty but temper it with kindness. Where there is tension, may we release it with our breath, relax it with our willingness to surrender, to let go.

Three Truths and One Wish

image by Eric

image by Eric

1. This is my 1111th blog post on A Thousand Shades of Gray. There’s a particular kind of magic in that number. Some people say that it is “an invitation to open your eyes to the miracles all around that were already there that you weren’t seeing; an invitation to discover the infinite power and wisdom within you that is waiting to be tapped…a general invitation to move toward the inner joy and life fulfillment that’s possible for you.” An invitation to wake up, a reminder that you are inherently wise and compassionate, a request that you pay attention, a sign that you are not alone,

2. God is “whatever lifts your face out of the dirt,” (Elizabeth Gilbert). I find this incredibly comforting, so moving. It doesn’t let me entirely off the hook — it’s still up to me to get up, dust myself off, keep going, but in the moment when I am at my lowest, there is God, lifting my face out of the dirt, keeping me from giving up entirely.

3. I am capable of the deepest despair, but there is something in me that refuses to give up. I’ve never quite understood it, don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s always been there. No matter how hard things get, no matter how much I’ve been hurt, no matter how much I think about finding a way to escape for good, I keep going. It’s something stubborn and determined and certain. It believes that if I can just hang on until tomorrow, hold on for just one more moment or even one more breath, something will shift.

One wish: That when we are at our lowest, we experience the miracle of our face being lifted from the dirt, we know we are inherently wise and compassionate, we remember that we are not alone.