Daily Archives: January 1, 2016

2016: One Word

bestnineThere’s a website (2015bestnine) that will look at your Instagram account and make a collage of the nine most liked images from your account for 2015. The above is mine. I’m a little surprised there’s no pictures of dogs, and only one food picture, since it seems like those are the kind of pictures I post the most.

I’ve been doing lots of year end things like this lately. Crafting year end reviews, and cultivating new year intentions. Letting go and looking forward. In a meditation this morning with Adreanna Limbach’s 31 Days of Devotion program, I contemplated the suggested question “what do I feel devoted to this year?” I was surprised and not surprised by what came up. There was nothing I hadn’t expected, but I was caught off guard by the intensity of my devotion in regards to some of the things on my list.

  • Health and well-being of my body. The intensity of this one was so strong. The desire was deep to care for it, let it rest, give it lots of water, feed it good food, take it on walks, stretch it, do yoga, lift weights — to be rested, well-fed, and strong, to feel good.
  • Reading and thinking and practicing. This is both in relation to my Buddhist studies and doing for the simple joy of it.
  • Intimacy. This in particular to my relationship with Eric, continuing to explore the ways we can be closer, familiar and connected and content.
  • Joy. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m realizing that when I lost Dexter I let my joy go with him. I’ve been so focused on the bad things that have happened over the past decade, so caught up in preparing for the worst and working with the hard stuff, that I lost my sense of joy. I’d like to open some space for it, invite it back in.
  • Writing. For this blog, for the book I’m writing, for publication elsewhere, for the fun of it.
  • Teaching. Yoga, my Wild Writing Crazy Wisdom workshops, and some online classes — both in service to my students and for my own sake.
  • Simplified, beautified space. With our bathroom remodel, I realized how good it feels to have a beautiful space, beautiful things, and to get rid of what no longer serves us. I want all my space to feel like that — cleared out and full at the same time.

After having picked a guiding word for the past four years, I wasn’t sure if I would this year. Last year’s word didn’t turn out like I expected, and one didn’t seem to be coming to me. I signed up for Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word free class, but I put off reading the emails, doing the work. I thought maybe I just wouldn’t have a word this year.

Then I went on retreat with Susan Piver, and she talked about the necessity of our writing and meditation practices having a path quality to them. I’d been feeling a longing to deepen my Buddhist studies, having taken refuge vows a year ago, so the idea of cultivating a path quality in my life, in my other practices, was very appealing.

I kept coming back to “path” as a possible word for 2016. For the past few days, I was planning to work through Susannah’s emails to be sure, but after listening to Adreanna’s video this morning, practicing with her, listening to her talk about devotion, I knew path was right.

pathwithtextPath carries with it a sense of devotion — love, loyalty, and enthusiasm. It’s commitment, immersion, dedication, discipline, and joyful effort that springs from a place of love and attention. On a path, there’s a clarity of direction and intention, but also unexpected obstacles and surprising beauty. I show up, open up, stay with what arises without an agenda, thus sinking deeper into my innate wisdom and compassion, experiencing my life more fully. I encounter clarity and simplicity, ease and contentment, stability. It’s a good word.

Nourish: My One Word End of Year Review

nourish2015The last time I made a New Year’s resolution (the same year I started this blog) it was “to be a better friend to myself.” In the years before that, I was always resolving to lose more weight, exercise more, read more, watch less tv — all the typical ways of improving myself that never worked, and if they did, never stuck because at the heart of those wishes was the belief that I was broken, that something was wrong with me, that I wasn’t good enough already.

In the years since that vow, I have instead picked a word to guide my year. A mantra of sorts, a reminder of what I want most, what I want to cultivate. I have picked retreat, freedom, home, and this past year was nourish. As is usually the case, the year didn’t turn out at all like how I expected.

I picked nourish because of its double meaning: to feed and to cherish. I imagined a year in which I would reach some optimal level of health and well-being. I felt like I had a solid foundation, had done the work and was standing on solid ground. Instead, I spent the year in a cycle of illness and injury, some of which I talked about here and some of which I didn’t. I was laid low.

It was so confusing to me, considering my intention, my wish to cultivate strength and health. Instead, nourish for me meant feeding and cherishing from a much deeper place. Any one of my issues carried the threat of being long-term, even chronic and ongoing. I had to confront the impermanence of my body directly. The year was about strength, but rather than a kind that allowed me to do extraordinary things, it was the kind that enabled me to endure suffering, the kind that kept me from giving up, the kind that cultivated healing.

Gratitude Friday

IMG_07561. A whole new year. It’s good to start over, to get another chance, to begin again, to let go and come back.

2. Supportive (and free) practice programs, such as Building a Mindful New Year (BMNY), a six day program from Susan Piver and Lodro Rinzler that just ended yesterday in which we focused practice and study on the six paramitas. What a nice way to spend that weird in-between time after Christmas but before New Years. Today I started 31 Days of Devotion, hosted by a teacher from BMNY, one of my favorite teachers Adreanna Limbach. The focus of a contemplation we did during our meditation this morning was “what do I feel devoted to this year?” (more on that in a later post). Both of these programs — rather than being more content I feel guilty about, more noise, another obligation, another thing on my should do list, something else to beat myself up about — are actually things that bring ease and clarity to my practice, add something that simplifies matters and creates space.

3. Ringo and Sam. We are in the golden years with these two now. Nobody is old or ill or dying, and no one is a baby. They need our care and attention, but it’s at a manageable, enjoyable level.

IMG_0736IMG_07304. Eric. Buying me flowers, cooking for me, walking the dogs and taking them hiking, watching movies with me (we are going to see Star Wars today at the fancy theater), making me laugh, sleeping through the fireworks at midnight.

IMG_07165. Marionberry jam. And butter, on toast.

jam6. Walking. A whole year ago my foot started hurting, five months ago I realized it was a thing and I needed to get it treated, four months ago I started physical therapy, two months ago I went to a podiatrist because it was only getting 90% better and I needed to do something else, and two weeks ago I got a cortisone shot in my foot. My routine for the past four months was this: Every morning the first thing when I get out of bed is a series of stretches. Next I put on shoes with special insoles, even though I’m still in my bathrobe, and I wear shoes all day long until I go to bed. Three times during the day, I ice and stretch my foot. Before I got to bed, I ice and stretch my foot one more time, and when I go to bed, I wear a splint on that foot. Every other day I do a series of strengthening and stretching exercises specifically to help that foot. Once a week I go to physical therapy — a combination of needling (so painful), electric stimulation, ultrasound, and massage, finishing with kinesiology tape. Finally, finally, finally my foot is better. It will take some time before I can walk the full nine miles in a day (six in the morning, three in the afternoon), but I can go three miles with no pain and that feels like some kind of a miracle. Yesterday morning, I got out of bed and both of my feet felt exactly the same, like totally normal feet.

Bonus joy: my new laptop, bran muffins with dried raspberries inside, clean water, my new bathroom (yes, still), good friends, the internet, a $45 repair for my cellphone (so I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars buying a whole new one), heat, down blankets, wool socks, hot water, medicine, lotion, toothpaste, having choices, being able to say no, begin able to say yes, practice, writing, teaching.