Monthly Archives: July 2012

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I am afraid of the truth, because sometimes it’s so ugly, heavy and dark. Change is inevitable, impermanence is one of the only things we can count on, reality is groundless and much of the time I can’t trust my perception of it anyway, there’s nothing stable to hold on to, and everything, all the time is coming together and falling apart. The world isn’t a safe place and really bad things happen, and I can’t stop many of those bad things from happening, no matter how careful, diligent, or perfect I am, no matter how hard I work or try. No matter how much we love someone, they will eventually die, we will be separated. All of our plans and insurance and hope can’t save us. Sometimes the truth of this paralyzes me, makes me so afraid that I am stuck, helpless.

2. Truth: I am afraid of the truth, because sometimes it’s so big and bright, full of love and amazing. Yesterday on Facebook, Raam Dev posted this: “Unless you’re prepared with the courage to receive it, what you want won’t come to you.” I am afraid to be loved, to live my dreams, to open my whole heart completely to my life. I am afraid to believe that I am basically good, innately wise and compassionate and therefore powerful. I can’t face how truly brilliant and precious I am. I fear the full measure of my true light is too big, will destroy me, burn me up, that I won’t be able to handle it, I am afraid I’ll ruin it, screw it up, not do it right, that I have access to so much good but no skill or courage for manifesting it. I’m afraid of the responsibility that comes with that power, that light, and am unable to face it, to look directly at it, to connect with it, to embody it.

3. Truth: Understanding that I am afraid, I open myself to the truth, to life, willing to be broken, inviting love. As Susan Piver so often reminds me, all I have to do is show up with an open heart.

I am basically good.
All beings possess such goodness.
Knowing this, my heart opens.
When my heart opens, the world changes.
~Susan Piver

One Wish: That even with our fears, even with the blinding light and brutal weight of the truth, we can continue to show up with open hearts and try.

God Speaks

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Something Good

we have tomatoes!

In putting together today’s list, I am going back through about 150+ old emails that have accumulated over the past month to find the good stuff I can share. The good news for me is that by the end, I’ll have caught up with my email, for about five minutes…
 
1. This quote from Pema Chödrön: “When we practice meditation we are strengthening our ability to be steadfast with ourselves. No matter what comes up – aching bones, boredom, falling asleep, or the wildest thoughts and emotions – we develop a loyalty to our experience.” The month we were gone, I relaxed my meditation practice, wasn’t sitting as often as I typically do (I try to maintain a daily practice, even if all I can do is ten minutes). Now that we are back home in Colorado, I am trying to get back into my normal routine, and quotes like this help, reinforcing my intention, my reason for practice: to develop a loyalty to my experience, to myself.

2. In related good news, this quote from Susan Piver: “your meditation practice is the most helpful tool there is for finding your own voice. As you relax with yourself exactly as you are, insights arise and observations occur. You see how your mind works, what makes it open and what causes it to shut down. There is nothing you have to do to accrue such observations–except to sit, slow down, and look yourself–this precious, wonderful, brilliant, one-of-a-kind being–right in the eye.” This was from an email through the Open Heart Project, Practitioner level, which is also, with love and wisdom, helping me reestablish my daily practice.

3. The $100 Investment: How One Person Really Can Change the World by Lissa Rankin. I am still trying to decide what to do with the $100 I got at the World Domination Summit, and am loving hearing other people’s ideas.

4. When The Fires Came For Us by Laura Pritchett. Local author’s personal story about the High Park Fire.

5. Start small, but start from Patti Digh at 37Days. Such loving wisdom. Spot on. Her Thinking Thursday post this past week was also packed full of amazingness.

6. Anne Lamott has a new book coming out!

7. The Next Right Action on Scoutie Girl. More wisdom about getting moving, “you don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.”

8. “What is saving your life right now?” I am in love with this question, which I found by way of Lindsey on A Design So Vast, who was sharing something from a post on Saray Bessey’s blog.

9. Two good posts from Life is Limitless: Be honest, be true, be you and What writing can reveal.

10. Maira Kalman on Identity, Happiness, and Existence on Brain Pickings.

11. Shedding a Little Light on Carry It Forward. Especially this part:

It’s easier, of course, to hate. So much easier. And as we are human beings living in a fast paced, stress filled world, easier often wins.

Bringing love and light to the world is hard work. It involves courage, bravery, and standing on your own two feet. Not easy.

And yet? In the end, it’s what will lead us out.

Amen.

12. 3 Bear Cubs Rescued from Dumpster. You most likely already saw this, but just in case, I don’t want you to miss it.

13. Okay, confession time: I only made it through about 50 emails, but I need to be done now, can’t do this any longer (it is lunch time and there are dogs to be walked, week old unpacking that still needs done, along with some organizing and purging), so I will leave you with this adorable picture of my friend Theresa’s dog, Mr. Wilson. Theresa is a pet groomer with a great little shop in Stayton, Oregon, and if you live in the area and need dog grooming, you should totally go there: D’-Tail Pet Grooming. She’s one of the few people I know that is as nuts about dogs as I am.

mr. wilson, “stuffed chair”

Day of Rest

I’ve been feeling a bit shaky and unsure of myself the past few days. Do you know what that’s like? Wondering if anything you do matters, falling into sadness and comparison, feeling unworthy and disappointed, letting fear and uncertainty confuse you, unable to get out of your own way?

But in this tender and vulnerable state, there are reminders that I am fundamentally good, wise and kind and powerful, that I am capable of so much good and that so much is possible, and I am inspired to keep trying.

I’m telling you, the world is in short supply of truth-tellers. If you can be an authentic one, enough people will listen. ~Chris Guillebeau

What you do need, perhaps, is a freak point. A badass point of view. A particular aesthetic. And the ability to protect it from those who, for whatever reason, would deny it or fuck it up. ~Justine Musk

Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment. ~Susan Piver

My enoughness is infallible. unshakeable. unchanging. Even in moments when I feel not enough. I am enough, experiencing temporary disconnection from that truth. ~Rachel Cole

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön


And then, I’m also able to remind myself that numbers (stats and such) don’t matter if I am showing up with an open heart, telling the truth, and one single solitary person hears me and is comforted, feels less alone.

Let Go and Come Back

In meditation, when you get lost in thought or a daydream, or caught up in a strong emotion and forget to focus on to your breath, the instruction is to let go and come back to the practice. Let go and come back. The letting go isn’t harsh, there’s no rejection or pushing or running away or resisting, but rather a simple and gentle letting go. To notice, be with the thought, with the feeling, to acknowledge it, to watch and soften as it dissolves.

To feel what that feels like, clench your fist, hold it as tight as you can manage for a few seconds, and then let it go, relax your fingers and open your palm. Do you feel that release? How ease replaces tension? There is such relief in letting go.

As does so much of my meditation practice, this instruction finds it’s way into my life off the cushion all the time. I struggle with being a “better” person, with improving and becoming and doing. I get so focused on changing, on fighting with who I am now in this moment, on self-improvement, that I forget I’m enough already, and that who I am right now is the gift, that there is no destination, no goal, nothing to win and no finished or done. There will be no summit I’ll reach where I’ll finally and permanently be happy and safe and well. As Pema Chödrön suggests, we should just go ahead and “abandon hope.”

Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, not to run away, to return to the bare bones, no matter what’s going on. If we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death. ~Pema Chödrön

One place this instruction keeps coming up for me is around my relationship with food. I’ve mentioned it briefly before: depending on when you ask me, I am either a highly functioning food addict or a recovering one. It’s gotten so much better in the last year, the obsession and the smashing myself to bits. The swing between rational and compulsive behavior is relaxing its grip, my wisdom in relation to food and eating is developing into something that can often look like health, and I go for long stretches of time where I could even say I’ve left it behind me.

Then something triggers me, and I’m right back in the thick of it. The stress of being an introvert and highly sensitive person at a party, or in the presence of people I admire and adore, or in a room full of 1000+ other people, or having to go in to my paid work when I’m supposed to still be on vacation.

The month we spent at the beach left me feeling relaxed and hopeful. I was getting enough sleep, spending enough time resting and playing, and was feeling so good about the opportunity I had to clean up how I eat and take better care of myself, so happy about how I’d “changed.”

Then I had to go in to work for half a day. I had been getting lots of emails about what needed to be done, what was coming up, pulling me back into that space, rushing me into fall. The night before, after eating so happily and healthy for days, I got out a bag of caramel corn and my ipod and ate and numbed out until I made myself sick, first my stomach aching and then my head hurting from sugar and tension. I thought when I went to bed that night how much better I’d feel if I could throw up, but I’ve never been good at that, ever since in grade school when a friend tried to teach me how by sticking the eraser end of a pencil down my throat. Back then, no one talked about Bulimia, so I had no idea and told no one.

I don’t talk much about my food addiction, even with how open I am about everything else. It’s because I’m ashamed and embarrassed by it, upset that I can’t control myself, shy about sharing the details of how low I sink, how gross it gets. And there’s the added bonus that in a thin obsessed culture, where your worth is measured literally in terms of your size, that I get to also feel guilty and ashamed of the extra weight I lug around as a result. I love to exercise and eat healthy food, but coupled with this compulsion, they can only keep me from becoming obese, not overweight. Add perimenopause to the equation, and I’m screwed.

This feeling bad about “failing” and what I look like robs me of joy. I get to go to this fabulous World Domination Summit prefunction party at Kelly Rae Roberts’ studio, with all of these women I adore and admire, and when I start to show up in pictures of the event on their websites, I can only feel happiness and gratitude for having been there for a split second before the disgust and despair kick in: “my stomach looks so fat.” I can’t even appreciate how amazing it is that I was at this event and there are pictures to prove it, on some of my favorite blogs even, can’t say “hey, look, there I am!” with any kind of excitement because all I can see is how fat I look, and am so sick in that moment that I actually think “maybe people will think I’m pregnant,” which is quickly followed up by a nasty voice that says “that doesn’t necessarily explain your arms or double chin.”

I can’t tell you–no actually I can tell you how much, how badly, how desperately I want released from this thing. Not the weight, but the obsession and confusion that is underneath, the self-loathing and despair that comes after. It’s not about the weight at all, it’s not even about food: it’s about hunger.

Rachel Cole did a reunion conference call for those of us who attended her Well-Fed Woman Retreatshops this past year, so I’ve been thinking a lot about hunger. Typically what is happening when I am obsessing about food or eating too much or making unhealthy choices, it’s not about food at all, certainly not about physical hunger. I am hungry for self-care, but I keep feeding myself food.

I was thinking about this in terms of taking a shower. It is important for me, unless I am planning to take the dogs on a walk or go to the gym, to shower in the morning as soon as possible. If I don’t, I won’t put on clean clothes, because I’m not “clean,” which means I’ll stay in my bathrobe or put on the kinds of clothes I wear to do messy chores, like painting or cleaning the bathroom, and this isn’t uplifting at all. These clothes, worn for that reason, make me feel depressed, dull and down, which leads to behaviors that are triggered by such feelings, like overeating or numbing out on the computer. I feel disorganized and discombobulated, stuck. Nothing sane or healthy happens and it’s hard to move on.

Taking a shower is one way to truly feed my hunger for self-care. Sometimes I am feeling unworthy, maybe my blog stats are low and I haven’t meditated for a few days and I’m comparing myself to others, beating myself up for not measuring up, comparing my blooper reel to their highlights. Sometimes it’s overwhelm, so much has to get done, so much I want to do. Sometimes it’s taking care of the should and have to work, the paid work, and the energy it takes, how much I’d rather be doing something else but can’t yet afford to leave that work, and that can lead to depression.

I have been feeding these real hungers with food, always with food. What are the real needs, what am I really hungry for? Physical tiredness needs rest and sleep, pure and simple. Unworthiness needs connection and a reminder of my basic goodness, of the real need for my voice, my light. Overwhelm needs to have permission to only do what can be done, and then to practice self-care, to rest and play, experience joy. Depression needs to exercise and reconnect with nature, be in the body and the world.

When you are in the grips of something so old and deep, sometimes you give up. You look back at the struggle and then ahead to your future, and you can’t imagine it will ever leave you, fear that you’ll be stuck in this cycle of obsession, swinging between control and crazy, gaining and losing the same 20 pounds forever, trying and eventually giving up on every new system, method, or plan, feeling the rise of hope and the sink of despair, like Sisyphus and his rock, never finding a way out. But you can’t divorce yourself, can’t leave or move out, get any kind of legal separation, split your assets 50/50 and wish each other well. You have to stick it out, are stuck, have to live with it, with yourself and your confusion.

When I really look at it, really think, trust myself, I’m pretty smart, pretty sure about what to do. I know the hunger, but still tend to feed it the wrong thing, still fall into the old habits, the discursive patterns, the way of being when I am tired, and I am tired a lot. But that’s okay, if only I can remember to let go and come back. This is what practice is, falling down and getting back up, falling apart and being whole, trying again, continuing to show up, again and again, time after time. This is what all of life is, isn’t it?

Let go and come back.

Gratitude Friday

our rocky mountain bee plants are gi-normous!

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Being home again. My garden, which is going crazy (see the above picture for proof), and my little house, and my backyard, and the park. I am especially in love with my bed right now. I forgot how perfectly comfortable it is.

2. Girlfriends. I am so grateful to have open-hearted, creative, funny, wise, loving, generous friends. I am especially enjoying catching up with a few of them this week after a month apart, and looking forward to connecting with a few I just met. I am also missing a few I haven’t seen or won’t see for a while. They are all precious.

3. Letting go of stuff. I am grateful to have such an abundance of things that it’s necessary to purge, happy that I’m able to let go, to allow those things to possibly help someone else who doesn’t have so much, and thankful for the newly cleared space and clarity that letting go allows.

4. Yoga and training. It’s good to move, to stretch, to get stronger, and to do so in the company of such funny, kind people.

5. Cucumbers and tomatoes from my own garden. Yum.

6. A safe trip home. There were hiccups–like spending an hour packing the car only to have the latch on the back hatch break right before we loaded up the dogs and left, so having to repack the whole thing so they could ride in the back seat, and Dexter panting the entire time in the car, two long twelve hour days, because that poor pup has decided at nine years old he does not like long car trips–but we made it home safe, happy and tired.

Bonus Joy: There was a fat raccoon in our neighbor’s tree right by our back fence this morning, (most likely rabid, hanging upside down some of the time and moving way too slow, so that part’s not so cute) and Dexter stood in the yard most of the morning guarding us from it. Not barking or making a big fuss, just staring and waiting, ready to fight it if he had to. He is one tough little dude and I love him like crazy.

Wishcasting Wednesday

What do you wish to share?

My light. I am learning bit by bit how important it is to be my true self, to offer that, to show up with an open heart. Chogyam Trungpa said that “Compassion is not having any hesitation to reflect your light on things.” I was reminded of this while at the store this morning. There was the sweetest man in line behind me, saying hello to everyone, helping arrange things on the counter, asking me about the things I was buying (“someone does a lot of writing, yeah?”–colored pens, I was buying birthday presents for my nieces), making things lighter for all of us with his kindness, so simple and yet so important, and not fake, not forced or pushy–you could tell he couldn’t help being nice, it was just his nature. Being genuine, trusting our kindness and our heart, following our basic wisdom and doing what is right and natural is what allows us to offer the precious gift we are to the world.

Do you cringe when I suggest that we are precious gifts, dear reader? I know, I do a bit too, think “who am I to say that about myself?” but I more often than not believe it, am trying. I believe it about you 100%.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory…that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson.

My joy. Just like the man at the store, I know that the more often I can share my sense of wonder, my happiness, my curiosity and amazement, the better. Joy seems to be contagious.

My gratitude. The same as joy, sharing this sends out waves of kindness. Every time I write an open love letter or say thank you, hearts soften and suffering eases. Telling someone thank you reminds them of their worth, and we all need that from time to time. From that sense of worth, they do better, they say thank you, sharing their gratitude, and the good continues to ripple out and grow.

My wealth. I don’t mean just money. I mean the abundance that is my life. The time I give, the help I offer, the happiness I spread. Whatever I can generate or have that is of use, especially the places where I have excess, so much more than I need, I want to share. I wish to be able to feel full enough, safe enough that I can easily let go and share.

My practices. Writing/reading, walking/hiking, dog, yoga, meditation, art, and love have all been of such benefit to me, and I want to share these practices with others who might find them similarly helpful.

My love. There is always enough to share, and I’m happy to give it all away.

My story. I just know in my gut that there are others out there, struggling like I have, who need a kind word, a gentle conversation, a deep sigh and a good laugh, who need some relief and some support, who could be helped by what I have learned, and it’s my deepest wish to share that with them, to help, to ease their suffering as much as I can.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Vacation gives you an important break from your regular life. Especially if you go somewhere, anywhere. You don’t have to mow the lawn or go to work. You can ignore your email and the phone. You can get up when you want, take a nap when you want, eat when and what you want. Spend all day in your pajamas reading a book, or go for the longest walk, find someplace beautiful and quiet and stay there. You can relax and slow down, rest or play.

2. Truth: Taking a break will give you new perspective on your regular life. If you take a long enough break, everything will feel new and strange upon return. Has the trash always been on the left side? How long has it been since I really saw that picture? You might find yourself wandering the aisle of your favorite grocery store in amazement. You realize how fast your internet truly is, how comfortable your bed, how lucky you are to be able to recycle and compost. You remember what’s important, and know for sure that if that specific chore doesn’t get finished today, no one is going to die, and that you can get by and be happy with so much less.

3. Truth: In the first moments, those initial days after your return, there is a magic opportunity for transformation. You have remembered that you can be or do anything you want, remembered who you truly are without all the trying and obligation, and that you are already fundamentally f r e e. Your regular life will stretch out before you like the gift it is, and you’ll barely be able to contain your joy because you know that anything is possible.

One Wish: That you give yourself this gift of vacation, retreat, reflection and rest, even if you can only manage it for a single day. That through this you remember that you are basically good, fundamentally wise and kind, and that you have the power to change things.