Monthly Archives: September 2012

Full Moon Dreamboard: Corn Moon

From Jamie’s post: “Today we’re celebrating the Full Corn Moon, the beginning of harvest season, a celebration of the fruits of golden summer and a preparation for what is to come.”

What dreams do I wish to bring to fruition?

Maybe it’s because I am just finishing a weekend retreat, but when I thought about this question, my response wasn’t about projects I hoped to complete or accomplishments I wanted to realize or plans I longed to fulfill, it was about my life, the quality of my experience.

I want to simplify, a return to innocence, to quiet and stillness, to fully experience my life without all the clutter and the chatter and the crap.

I want spaciousness. I want freedom. I want peace–internal contentment and calm. I want clarity and kindness, pure wisdom.

I long to ease suffering in the world, including my own. I want to show up and keep my heart open, to know courage, to stay with the beauty and the brutality, the tenderness and the terror.

May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be free from suffering.

Achieve happiness and balance.
Restore. Simplify. Rest.
Follow your natural instincts.
True to life.

There is a map written on your heart
rivers of wisdom
mountains of kindness
oceans of love
every road leading to wisdom
space and sky
real, tangible, solid and true
waiting to be traveled, to be seen, to be noticed.

Follow the map, the path to your True North,
each letter, each step, each breath
leading straight to the center of your heart,
to the being, the deep middle of your life.

Day of Rest

Growing up, I attended a Catholic church. At a certain point in the mass, the priest would direct the congregation to offer each other “the sign of peace.” This meant turning to the people near you, one by one, and depending on how well you knew them, giving them a hug or shaking their hand and saying “Peace be with you.”

At my Sunday morning yoga class, my teacher ends with this: “Om Shanti, Shanti Om. May there be peace in your hearts, peace in your lives, and peace in the world.”

All of us, every mortal being wants the same thing: to be safe and happy, to have peace. Today, on this day of rest, it is what I am wishing for all of us.

Peace be with you, kind and gentle reader.
May there be peace in your heart, peace in your life, and peace in the world.

Book Writing Saturday: Retreat

Instead of my regular Book Writing Saturday this week, I am on retreat. I am practicing with my fellow Open Heart Practitioners, and we are being led by our shared meditation instructor and friend, the brilliant Susan Piver. This is a virtual retreat, in part because we are scattered all across the globe, even as we are connected and practicing together.

So instead of literal book writing today, limited to four hours focused on the book, I’m doing a retreat. And yet, it has everything to do with writing this book, is structured similarly to the in person writing and meditation retreat I did with Susan in April, (and the one I’ll most likely be missing in October). There will be multiple sessions of meditation, dharma talks, and time alone to read, write, contemplate, and rest.

My word for this year was retreat. And as a practice, it’s become one of my favorite things, powerful and restorative. There’s a plan for a full week retreat at the end of Susan’s book, How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life: Opening Your Heart to Confidence, Intimacy, and Joy. It begins with a weekend intensive spent alone and away, along with a focused plan for the remaining five days back in your normal weekly routine. I’ve been wanting to do that one, but need to wait for a time when I feel like I can be away from my little family for an entire weekend. With the huge question mark about Dexter’s health and future, I don’t way to be away from him for that long, don’t want to leave Eric alone with that possibility.

Susan has asked those of us participating this weekend to have a book to read,  “one that supports you on your inner journey. Use your judgment and select something that will challenge you to delve within.” I am reading Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly. Last night, we answered a writing prompt Susan provided, and as I said earlier, there will be other blocks of time for reflecting, contemplating, and writing–becoming still and quiet, sinking down, delving deep. I suspect there will be some tears, as well as epiphanies. There usually are, when you make space for them, when you show up with an open heart.

One thing I found interesting as I prepared for retreat is that suddenly all the things I thought were so important, that had to be done before this could begin, seemed to dissolve, to no longer matter so much, even though Susan had warned us about the opposite happening, about obstacles arising the closer the retreat got. I felt like I was moving differently, slowed down, stripped down to what was important and essential, relaxing. The only “obstacle” ended up being my struggle with any type of math: I got the time zone conversion wrong, added two hours to my time instead of subtracting, so showed up late, didn’t start the retreat in “real time” with every one else. D’oh!

In my post a few days ago, I shared lyrics from an Alexi Murdoch song:

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Besides writing, contemplating, opening my heart, and meditating, opening up to this awareness is my intention for this retreat–for the grace of god to be with me always in my heart, to know the truth inside me, and to find the strength to know that I am a part of something beautiful.

Gratitude Friday

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. Fall color and cooler temperatures.

2. Decaf salted caramel latte from Cafe Ardour. I only drink a half cup of coffee in the morning, so typically avoid any other caffeine throughout the rest of the day, which makes me sad when I visit a coffee shop in the afternoon, especially when it’s cold outside. I am not sure what took me so long, or why I never thought of it before, but any of those tasty creations can be made with decaf coffee–they have the technology! This first one I tried was so delicious, I can’t stop thinking about it.

3. Speaking of cool weather foods: tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

4. First Glee episode of the season. I know this show has its critics, but as a former theater geek, I still love it with my whole heart. This was my favorite scene (besides the goodbye scene between Kurt and his dad) from the first episode:

5. Rain. It was a bit bigger, faster than I would have liked it, but I am still grateful for it.

Bonus joys: moments of laughter, everyone in my little family home safe and sound, and retreat (I’ll tell you more about that last one tomorrow).

i love these boys

When Things Get Weird

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.
~Alexi Murdoch

The past few days have been weird. It started yesterday morning when I got to the gym for my yoga class–6:30 am and still dark out. There were police cars blocking off the road, and an ambulance was just pulling away. Apparently, a homeless man had been hit by a train. He was a known drinker, and he may have passed out or fell on the tracks, (sad postscript: his death has been ruled a suicide). I only mention his homelessness because that street is between a men’s shelter and a city park where many homeless people hang out during the day, and it’s not the first time there have been police and paramedics there, in fact it’s quite common. There are lots of fights and suffering and mess there, people without any where else to go.

The ambulance left without a passenger because it was a scene to be investigated, not a rescue. After yoga, people inside the gym and out on the sidewalk were trying to get a better look. The police had put up temporary barriers, but they weren’t hiding much, and if you looked just right, without trying very hard, you could see everything. I accidentally caught a glimpse of one tennis shoe and looked away. It’s the third homeless person to die in that area, in full view of the gym, in the past as many years. It always throws a shadow over the space, over the rest of the day, (as it should). Every time I hear a train whistle, sadness washes over me. It’s a pitiful sound anyway, but this death, lonely and needless and brutal, now adds to the melancholy.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

I left work a little early because the sky was turning dark and getting noisy, and I knew that big thunderstorms were predicted. Eric had emailed that he was taking the dogs to Lory State Park (there was a break in the weather midday), which I would have argued with because of the storms in the forecast, but he was already gone by the time I knew. I expected him to be back when I got home, but I pulled up to my house, with its empty driveway, just as the rain started.

And then, it started to pour, thunder and lightning, and eventually hail. The rain was coming down so fast it was spilling over the edges of the gutters, the downspouts gushing water and leaves. At one point, the thunder sounded for at least five minutes straight. The streets started to flood, and still no Eric. I did every stupid, mindless chore I could think of to distract myself–sorted, folded, and put away laundry, straightened up, swept, made the bed. All I could think of was him and the dogs stuck up in the park somewhere, exposed, Dexter unable to handle the downpour so reverse sneezing, nose bleeding, Eric struck by lightning, Sam frantic and lost–every awful scenario I could think of. Just as I was thinking “should I take someone with me or just drive up there by myself and try to find them?”, Eric called and said he was parked under a tree not far from the house, had to pull over because it was raining so hard he couldn’t see, that he’d be home in just a few minutes. The storm hadn’t hit up at the park, they’d only gotten a little rained on towards the end of their hike, and he was surprised how bad it was in town.

I was so happy to see them. To have everyone home and safe. Once the rain stopped, I looked outside, and there was a double rainbow.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Eric had to leave at 5 am this morning to drive to Pueblo for a conference. It was going to be a long day for me until he got back home, taking care of the dogs, working, teaching. On our walk this morning, in the darkest dark, there were people on the porch of a house down the road making weird sounds, ones that I at first thought were an animal. I thought they were fighting, then I thought maybe they were doing something nicer (and naughtier), but once we got close enough, I realized that one was really heavy, using a cane and possibly hurt, and the other was trying to get her in the front door, but having trouble. I couldn’t help because I had the dogs, but something about it stayed with me, made me think about all the private suffering that goes on in the dark, things we never know about, struggles and accidents we may never see. I worried for the thousandth time about Eric being on the road for three hours, wished and prayed that he’d make it there safe, make it home safe, in the same moment knowing so many others wouldn’t.

Later in the morning, I noticed that Dexter had another hot spot, that he’d licked a patch on his leg raw. For four years in a row, this time of year, he’s done the same, but last year he didn’t. Last year was the year he started to sneeze instead, and now there’s the maybe might be probably but we don’t know for sure fatal nasal tumor. Something about the hot spot made me worry, but was also oddly comforting–this is what he does every year, this time of year, and he is doing it again–the same routine, one more year. And then Sam came into the kitchen, limping, holding up his right foot, hurt. Seriously?

But later, both dogs were fine, lying in the grass, the warm sun, relaxing. All morning, I kept thinking, “This too shall pass.” All of it–life, time, worry, panic, joy, all of it arising one moment and dissolving the next.

Later, in my office before I went to teach, I felt raw and sad and tired. I closed the door and stood in mountain pose facing my wall of windows. On the other side of the glass was a tree that had turned bright gold in the past week, behind that was fluffy white clouds and blue sky, and below, CSU people walking and talking and laughing and suffering. In the background played Alexi Murdoch’s song Something Beautiful. I stood still, but strong, broken but whole, letting the tears roll down my face, holding my heart open.

I don’t know what any of this means. I want to think that it means something, like maybe I am a part of something beautiful.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Wishcasting Wednesday

picture from jamie’s post

What’s your fall wish?

The lowercase “fall” changes this wish, doesn’t it? It’s not just about the season, but the quality and meaning of the word.

Verb: move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, from a higher to lower level.

Noun: an act of falling or collapsing; a sudden uncontrollable descent.

Drop, sink, go down, collapse, descend. Drop, autumn, downfall, decline, descent, tumble.

I wish to sink into myself this season, drop into my body and my center, to follow nature, to mirror it in this time of slowing down.

I wish to gather all my energy back into my core, pulling it back from the reaching out, the blossoming and growth of Spring and Summer, to descend into that which is essential and fundamental.

I wish to cease producing fruit, offering nourishment, and collapse my energy and effort into stillness and simplicity.

I wish to drop all my work and worry to the ground, golden and red remnants of my labor left to dry up, decay, and disappear, to act as mulch to the earth of my experience.

I wish to retreat, hibernate, germinate, relax, rest, let go, surrender: fall.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Fear doesn’t cause suffering, my resistance of it does. When I resist fear, I panic and run away, or stay and struggle with it, or grab something to help me numb out, deny and avoid it. When I can relax with it, stay with the feeling, experience all the ways it manifests in my body–the tension in my chest, the pain in my stomach, the tightness of all my muscles, and the shallowness of my breath–and notice all the ways it lies and distorts the truth, I can feel it arise, be aware of it, but also notice as it naturally dissolves.

2. Truth: Impermanence doesn’t cause suffering, my rejection of it does. When I reject it, it keeps coming anyway, continues to happen without my permission–things change and are lost, uncertainty continues, beings die. My rejection causes me to suffer, telling me lies about how I have control (or none) and choices (or none) and responsibility. When I accept impermanence, I show up for whatever happens, vulnerable and raw and brokenhearted, but also brave, with a naturally occurring wisdom and confidence. In this tender place, I can be gentle with myself. I can mourn the losses, experience the grief, but without losing sight of how amazing life is, how much courage and beauty there is amidst the brutality.

3. Truth: Love doesn’t cause suffering, my attachment to a specific idea of it, my denial of its true nature does. Love can’t be faked, forced, controlled, or contained. Love requires great courage because it invites loss and grief–things decay, change, and even die, and you will one day be separated from everything you love. Love requires both bravery and vulnerability because to experience it, you must open your heart.

One wish: That we let go of our resistance, stop rejecting our experience–what we feel and how things really are and even who we are–that we can surrender to our life exactly as it is, exactly as we are. That we can open ourselves to love, in all the ways it shows up for us, as well as in all the ways it leaves us.

Don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Move the way love makes you move.
Move the way joy makes you move.