Monthly Archives: December 2013

Reverb 2013: Day 30 and 31

reverb13Project Reverb prompt: “Relationships | Did you find a new best friend? Delve deeper into a relationship? Break up? Get back together? Tell us about who you added – or subtracted – from your life. Why?”

In regards to most other people, this seems like an awkward thing to talk about here. To share the ways in which relationships were strained, damaged or ended altogether doesn’t seem kind to anyone involved. There was forgiveness and letting go, and that’s what matters. And in terms of people I’ve gotten to meet for the first time in person, to know better, be closer to, I feel like I’ve already talked about that a lot. As for the people already in my life who matter, who have stayed, continue to support and inspire and encourage me, make me laugh, those people know. I’ve told them how much I love them, how grateful I am, and that seems to be what matters most. If anything, in the relationships that remain and are working, I’ve gotten clearer about what I need and what I can give.

The relationship most changed is the one with myself. The last resolution I made three years ago was to be a better friend to myself, and over time that has happened. Through practice, by showing up and staying, not abandoning myself, giving attention to both my hunger and my fullness, I have developed genuine compassion and appreciation for myself.

I also met my new best friend yesterday. We went to visit a litter of Cattle Dog, Blue Heeler puppies. I believe in rescue with my whole heart, have rescued three dogs and give regular support to our local no-kill shelter, and will most certainly rescue again. However, after much soul searching, and after three dogs in a row with some pretty serious health issues, we need a break from rescue, so we found a local woman with beautiful, sane and healthy dogs and are getting one from her.

puppypile04The way this all came about is pretty magic, actually, and I’ll certainly share more of the story at a later date. For now, I’ll just say that this pup feels sent directly from the Universe, God, Love, Dexter and Obi, like this is all happening exactly the way it should be. Yesterday morning, before we left to go visit the pups, I pulled a two of cups, which says “anticipate new love to be heading your way…the birth of a dear and lasting friendship…the connection between you will be pure, honest, and solid. Open your heart and get ready.” He’s going to be a therapy dog for my tiny little family.

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt: “When did you feel your most authentic in 2013? When was it? Where were you? What can you do to have this feeling more often in 2014?”

When I’m writing. A significant shift happened on that front this year. My own voice became familiar to me. I recognize it, trust it, can see it’s particular power. What a relief of after 30+ years of struggling with writer’s block, and yet there’s also part of me that is saying, “I told you so. I knew it!”

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt: “What was the most important, or potent, lesson you learned in 2013? Who or what taught it to you? How will you use what you have learned in the future?”

I can trust myself. I had so many teachers. Dexter and Sam, the doctor who called me “obese” and told me to go on a diet and do more cardio, the mysterious illness that sent me to the emergency room, my own body, my practices, my writing, my kind and gentle readers, sadness and grief and anxiety but also love and joy. Susan Piver and Laurie Wagner and Rachel Cole in particular were healing guides, each with their own specific method — meditation, writing, and hunger whispering. In the future, I will use this lesson to ease suffering, in myself and the world.

Project Reverb prompt: “At the finish | What’s next for you?”

Making space. The first step before I invite what comes next is to clear a space for it, let go of what is no longer serving me, forgive, say goodbye, and make room, make way.

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt: “What is your greatest wish for 2014? Anything you are hoping for? Wish to focus on? Put it down on paper to help visualize and cultivate it!”

The most fundamental wish I always wish, because it makes a path for anything else I could possibly desire: to ease suffering, in myself and the world.

Something Good

image by eric

image by eric

1. Good stuff from Patti Digh: your daily rock : give comfort, your daily rock : transform, your daily rock : you make a difference, your daily rock : you know the answer, and your daily rock : feel good now.

2. Write A House Is Giving Writers Free Homes In Detroit on Huffington Post.

3. A little preview for you, an update about the You are Beautiful book by Matthew Hoffman that I helped fund through a Kickstarter project. Can’t wait to get my copy.

4. Let Everything Happen by Rainer Maria Rilke:

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.

5. This Man’s Wife Died 2 Years Ago. What He Just Discovered Last Week Is Indescribable. Get A Tissue. on Viral Nova.

6. The Five Things Our Dogs Want for Christmas from The Other End of the Leash.

7. Love from Be More with Less.

8. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte:

If you measure your success against someone else’s results, you will never be free – ever.

and

Do not give your past the power to define your future.

9. how to keep the spirit of christmas all year long from Positively Present.

10. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend post: Something small, every day, Sensitivity is Beautiful, 8 Kale Salads, and sit on a small wooden bench with yourself.

11. Wisdom from Robert Holden,

One new perception,
one fresh thought,
one act of surrender,
one change of heart,
one leap of faith,
can change your life forever.

12. the magic is in the mess from Brene’ Brown.

13. Good stuff from Marc and Angel Hack Life: 10 Ways to Stop Treating Yourself and 10 Gifts You Deserve to Give Yourself.

14. What Christmas Is Like For A Working Poor Family Earning $10,000 A Year (And How To Help) on Huffington Post.

15. No one reads a comic strip because it’s drawn well from Seth Godin. Something like The Oatmeal is proof of this, which leads to an interesting post he made on Facebook, which shows what an amazing artist he really is.

16. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.

17. Here Are All The Movies Expiring On Netflix As Of January 1st, in case you want to do some binge watching over the next few days.

18. Wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The most powerful step is when we move from “Ain’t it awful” to “Let’s make it not awful.”

19. Wisdom from Rumi,

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
As a fish out of water hears the waves …
Come back. Come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.

20. 12/26/13 on 3x3x365. Beautiful.

21. Maitri on Elephant Journal by Waylon Lewis, in which he says,

But it is also the essence of maitri. It seems to me in my experience and also in talking to other people that we come to a body of teachings like the Buddhist teachings or any spiritual path, to meditation in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. Some kind of comfort will come out of this.

And the truth is actually that the [meditation] practice isn’t about that. The practice is more about somehow this little child, this I, who wants and wants and wants to be confirmed in some way.

Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.

22. Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing on Brain Pickings, in which she says, “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.” Word.

23. How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More: Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love, a really great series on The Atlantic.

24. Give your brain a break… and achieve inner peace with our easy guide to meditating.

25. A Forest Year.

26. Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In a Van to Escape Loan Debt.

27. Mindful Writing Challenge – Jan ’14 from Writing Our Way Home.

Reverb 2013: Day 29

reverb13Project Reverb prompt: “List it | List posts are everywhere. Top 10 Ways to be Happier Today. Three Tips for More Energy. Seven Ideas to Stay Focused. Give us a list. Of anything. Your to-do list for the day. Your grocery list. A Buzzfeed inspired list. Anything.”

My favorite videos from 2013.

1. You are not broken and you don’t need to be fixed from Susan Piver.

2. Good Life Project. I love this whole project, but one of my favorites this year was Jonathan’s interview with Lisa Congdon.

3. Gratitude from Moving Art.

4. Kid President. I love everything he does, but this still is my favorite.

5. Draw My Life from Jenna Marbles.

6. Lose Your Little Mind, a video my friend Julia Fehrenbacher made with her friend Alia Indrawan.

7. Beloved by Amy Seeley.

8. Everything Changes from Hopeful World.

9. The ONLY diet you will ever need! from Kute Blackson.

10. Ze Frank. I love almost every video he does, but Sad Dog Diary was one of my favorites.

11. Humans of New York, the theme song, by Lois & Kat.

12. Bat Dad.

13. Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones, in which he explains ancient Buddhist wisdom, the most fundamental dharma without probably even realizing that’s what he’s doing.

14. Tonight You Belong to Me (Cover) – Me and my 4 y.o.

15. Potty Talk! [Original] 3 year old contemplates the effects of his diet on… You knew I couldn’t make a list of my favorite videos without including this one.

16. Chandelier Tree. So beautiful.

17. Pancakes make me want to dance.

Life Rehab Resources: Divination

liferehabresourcesI confess, when I realized this morning that it was Saturday, and that meant I needed to write one of these posts, I thought “oh crap.” Last week, I was sure I knew what I was going to tell you about today, but this morning it no longer seemed like the right thing, even though I was going to make myself write about it anyway if nothing else came up. Then when I was shuffling my tarot cards this morning, it came to me: divination.

Divination, from the Latin divanare, which is “to foresee, to be inspired by a god,” related to divinus, divine, is “the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of a standardized process or ritual, a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand.” It’s a way of making sense, uncovering wisdom, accessing insight, developing intuition, seeing meaning, finding patterns, knowing. It is an invitation to the Universe, the Divine, Light, Love, God, whatever you call it, a way of saying “help me out, give me a sign, show me the way.” It is part prayer, part practice, magic and medicine.

I love all kinds of divination practice — picking a random line from a sacred text, tarot readings, throwing I-Ching coins, Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards, Q-Cards, or any such oracle through which the Universe might send me a message. Opening a book to a random page and reading a line of poetry with the expectation that there’s a message for me, taking a walk and asking for a truth to be revealed — it’s a choice to trust in something bigger, to believe I am connected, can communicate with a deep and eternal wisdom.

I know there are those who consider it a dark art, of the devil, and it probably can be if that’s your intention, but I believe it’s a way of communicating directly with God (whatever name you use for this wise and compassionate energy). It’s like prayer, opening my heart and listening deeply for answers to my questions, a way of requesting guidance.

As I’ve said before when I’ve talked about this, go ahead and think I’m weird, but I believe it’s just one more way to get clear about where I am and what I should be focusing on. I think this is one of the ways the Universe sends me messages, because I open my heart and ask, and even if it’s just a message from my unconscious or random chance that doesn’t really mean anything, I find it a useful tool for gaining some insight on my current situation, whatever that happens to be.

Divination is something I practice every day, in one form or another. Some of my favorite practices, resources and tools are:

  • The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck. It took me 20 years to get another tarot deck, after losing my first. People I love and respect use this one, and there was just something about it that spoke to me — the dark hand drawn lines, the bright colors, the story of the artist, a business “founded on the belief that there is a place of wonder, gentle beauty, and clarity within each of us.” I’ve been working with this deck daily for about three months. Sometimes it’s frustrating, because it will keep giving me cards I don’t want, messages I’d rather not hear. Other times, it keeps giving me the same card, over and over, and it’s a little freaky to be honest. Then there are times where the card it offers me is exactly the grace I needed.

wildunknowneightofswords

  • Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards. In this practice, you get clear about your intention and pull a card. The resulting card is your Deva. Hiro describes Devas this way:

Every creation on Earth that serves an evolutionary purpose has a spiritual counterpart in the subtle energy realms. This counterpart is a being who holds the pattern or blueprint for the perfect unfolding of the life in its care. I call these pattern-holders Devas…a Sanskrit word that means Shining Ones…As you get to know them and deepen your relationship with them, you can choose to partner with them consciously, to create your life, your business, and the world in which you want to live…Because you are an incarnate soul, all of these soul qualities are already within you, as seeds or potentials. Some of these qualities may be well-developed and readily accessible to you. Others may need to be strengthened and cultivated, for you to experience and express them more fully.

  • Qcards. They don’t make this deck anymore, which is a like a light-hearted tarot deck, but you can still find the online version, where you can pick three cards that describe where you are now or your “longterm” forecast, or you can ask a question. I like these because they are sort of silly, have a sense of humor, but are not devoid of insight.
  • I Ching. I have my own set of coins and three books I use to help me interpret them: a copy of I Ching: The Chinese Book of Changes by Clae Waltham that was printed in 1969, The Buddhist I Ching by Chih-hsu Ou-i and translated by Thomas Cleary, and The Photographic I Ching, which is my favorite of the three.

I’ve pulled cards for myself, but never had someone else read for me. Rachael’s radiant, gentle presence in the world made me trust her to do so. Our reading began with her warm welcome, calm and comforting, opening a space that hummed with possibility and intention. She showed up, was wholly present for the process, allowing whatever might arise, a kind guardian of what came, never getting in its way. As she interpreted the wisdom of the cards, Rachael made the most compassionate offering, shining a light on obstacles and opportunities alike, leaving me with a sense of clarity and peacefulness that has stayed with me. I felt encouraged and empowered by the new insights, and am grateful for the ease and joy Rachael brought to the experience.

reading

  • The creative process, practice, is a kind of divination for me — showing up, being open to whatever arises. It also assumes a connection to divinity, embodies the intention to do sacred work, to be a blessing.

The thing I most want to tell you about divination is don’t do it if it doesn’t feel right to you, if you don’t find it helpful or have trouble trusting it, (actually, I’d tell you that about just about anything). However, if you do feel the pull, keep looking until you find the right form for you, the best fit. These are my favorites, but there are so many others, and something else might work better for you.

Reverb 2013: Day 28

reverb13Project Reverb prompt: “Cry it out | What moment in 2013 brought tears to your eyes? Are you usually a crier? Or did tearing up take you by surprise?”

Duh. One of my dogs died this year, so yeah, I cried. But I’ve already told you about that, a few different times. The other time that comes to mind is when I was in California. It was my first trip there this fall, the first day I was there. I had made plans to meet Sherry for a ride on the ferry and dinner in San Fransisco. I thought I’d make it to my hotel with at least an hour to unpack and get settled in before I had to leave and meet her, but the way it actually worked out, I was late. My plane landed late, it took a long time to get my rental car, traffic was terrible, so all I had time for was to check in to my hotel, throw my bag in my room and get right back in my car and go find Sherry. It turned out alright, we didn’t miss the ferry and had a wonderful dinner.

I was pretty wrecked by the time I headed back by myself on the last ferry of the night. Sherry dropped me off at the station and I got on. It was a smaller one than we’d rode over on, but I thought that made sense because it was the last one of the night. I was tired, my nervous system fried from a day of travel and the rush to meet Sherry, and I was worried about getting my rental car out of the parking garage. Even though I knew it was totally irrational, I wasn’t sure where to validate my parking stub (parking was free if you did) and was worried if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to get out of the garage, or if I did, it would be for a ridiculously huge fee. I imagined myself stuck sleeping in my rental car in a parking garage in Oakland less than five miles away from my hotel.

As we waited to leave, another ferry pulled up. It was the same ferry we’d come over on earlier. This was my first time ever on the ferry, so I panicked and thought I’d gotten on the wrong one. Worse than having to sleep in a parking garage was the idea I might be on the Alameda ferry, so be stuck halfway between San Fransisco and my hotel with no car to sleep in.

I went over to try and talk to the two men running the ferry, but they were standing on the dock and not paying attention, so I had to unhook the chain they’d put up to block the entryway. As I did, they turned and saw me, and as I was saying “I think I’m on the wrong ferry,” they rushed towards me saying “whoa, whoa, whoa!” as if I was attempting to jump overboard or something. In that moment, I realized they thought I was drunk. It stung, in particular because I stopped drinking altogether almost two years ago.

As they ushered me back in, the other passengers started laughing. I was scared and alone, the employees were treating me poorly, and everyone else was laughing at me. It made me feel so incredibly sad, so alone. Instead of kindness, there was judgement, misunderstanding. I wasn’t safe and no one here was going to help me. All I wanted to do was go home, away from these hateful people. I sat down, pulled out my phone to pretend to be checking my email or something, and cried.

Yes, I’m a crier. I’m highly sensitive, empathic. I cry if something is beautiful, I cry if something is brutal. I used to view this as a problem, a liability, a flaw, to be so porous, so easily touched, so raw. Then I started to practice, and in all my practices the effort was towards being open, feeling deeply, developing compassion, being exactly what I was naturally.

As far as I can recall, none of the adults in my life ever once remembered to say, “Some people have a thick skin and you don’t. Your heart is really open and that is going to cause pain, but that is an appropriate response to this world. The cost is high, but the blessing of being compassionate is beyond your wildest dreams. However, you’re not going to feel that a lot in seventh grade. Just hang on.” ~Anne Lamott

I’ve come to realize that all those years when I tried to change, numb and avoid how I felt, armor up, that I was wrong because there were people trying, working hard at attempting to be as open as I’d always been. It was a gift, not a sign of weakness or brokenness. And as I practice more, I return to this state, and I cry easily. It doesn’t surprise me. It totally makes sense, this tenderness. It does, however, mean I get easily overwhelmed, that I suffer, and that part kind of sucks.

I don’t know if you have noticed this about your meditation practice, but one thing that many people report is a kind of softening—to your own experience, perhaps, but also to the world around you. There is a sense of permeability, of walking down the street and receiving input in a more direct way than before…To be a warrior in this world, this kind of opening is necessary. However, one thing I have noticed in my own practice is that the more I cultivate this combination of strength and softness (aka compassion), the more I, well, sob. When you open up, everything can come in—not just what you desire and respect and long for, but also what you dread, reject, and find absolutely unworkable. The more you practice, the more joy you feel—and the more sadness. ~Susan Piver

Reverb 2013: Day 27

reverb13Project Reverb prompt: “Pee your pants funny | What was the funniest thing that happened this year? Was it funny when it happened? Or was it one of those things you laughed about later?”

This was already a prompt from Besottment, and my answer on that day was “Honestly, the last year wasn’t exactly a laugh riot. I know there have been multiple times when Eric has made me laugh, or I made him laugh, or Sam made us both laugh, or something else altogether made me laugh, I just can’t think of any worth repeating.”

The funniest video I saw this year, which I drive Eric nuts by reciting, is “Potty Talk! 3 year old contemplates the effects of his diet.” It makes me ridiculously happy.

The funny thing I have to actively avoid because it makes me laugh so hard I can’t breathe, get hysterical and start crying, is funny autocorrects like these from BuzzFeed, The 30 Most Hilarious Autocorrect Struggles Ever.

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt:What do you believe in? Is it the same now (today, in 2013) as it has always been? If not, what has changed? If yes, where did these beliefs stem from? This does not have to collate with Christmas if you do not wish it to – you can talk about what, overall do you believe in. Or you can have it directly relate to Christmas and what your beliefs surrounding this day are.”

I answered this one on Day Nine, the part where I talked about undergoing a paradigm shift.

I was also talking to Eric while we walked yesterday, telling him how I used to believe that if I just worked hard enough, was good enough, found the right system, adopted the correct approach, I would find the way of living, the way of being that would keep me in a safe, happy place. I thought there was a trick, some particular magic to being protected and content.

I’ve realized in the past few years that this isn’t how things work. The hardest realization was that really, really bad things happen in the world, all the time, to us and to those we love. There is nothing we can do about it. I understand that good things happen too, that there is beauty and joy and love, and yet I’ve gotten myself pretty stuck in the “bad things happen” part. The work now is to be open to all of it, to accept and surrender to what is, to be able to access peace amidst turmoil. The good news is, I know it is possible, because as Chögyam Trungpa said, “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.”

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt:How did you celebrate your birthday in 2013? Where where you? Who were you with? Did you get any presents? Make any resolutions for yourself for your next year?”

I answered this already on Day Six.

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt:What could you have done without in 2013? A bad trip? Experience? Heartbreak? Negative outlook on life? What was it, and why did it happen? Can you do anything to prevent it from happening in 2014?”

I could have done without Dexter dying. I could have done without the confusion, the suffering I generated. I could have done without the mysterious nature of Sam’s neurological issue, or whatever it is. I could have done without some family stuff that I don’t, won’t talk about here. I could have done without the parking ticket. I could have done without the trip to the emergency room. I could have done without the wind and the ice. I could have done without the extreme temperatures. I could have done without the anxiety, the sadness. I can’t stop any of that from happening, not really, so the trick is to figure out how to deal with it, to be okay with it, to not let it ruin everything else that’s amazing and wonderful and I couldn’t do without.

Besottment Reverb 2013 prompt:What did you regret not getting to or not doing in 2013? What was it? Why were you unable to do it? Why did you regret it? Will you attempt to do it in 2014?”

I am uncomfortable with regret. It implies an inability to accept what has happened, to forgive and let go, move on. I could say I regret losing Dexter, but how else could that have ended? I could say I regret not getting more done on my book or not offering an ecourse or two, but it’s not like I was sitting around watching TV and eating bon-bons instead. And whatever it is, whatever I didn’t get to or do, that moment is over, gone, it is what it is no matter how I choose to feel about it. So, I prefer to give myself a break, be gentle with myself, know that I did the best I could, and choose to believe that things are working out in a way that is just as good as anything else I could imagine or plan or try, that it’s all workable.