Category Archives: Acceptance

Day of Rest

Today I find myself trying to maintain my awareness of impermanence without slipping into dread or despair. When we were walking the dogs this morning, Eric told me to turn around, to see where our four sets of feet walking together had left a path in the frozen grass. Our prints were so solid and clear, but I know that as soon as the sun warms this spot, they will disappear.

The change itself isn’t the problem — it’s fighting the change, fearing the change, not wanting things to be different. ~Leo Babauta

Because of the cold temperatures the past few nights, the Ash trees were rapidly dropping their leaves as they warmed in the morning sun. If you stood under one, they fell so fast it was like golden rain.

We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. ~Annie Dillard

So much about life is break your heart beautiful, but absolutely temporary. You could miss it entirely if you aren’t paying attention, or ruin it if you are holding on too tight. It’s why you have to stop, look directly and close when it’s there, and gently let it go when it goes. You have to open your heart and love what you love, forgetting completely in that moment to fear loss or anticipate grief.

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver

Day of Rest

It’s not about letting go of worry or getting over fear.

It’s about letting go of the idea that you can control everything, or anything.

It’s about making space for uncertainty and doubt.

It’s about surrendering to impermanence and getting past resistance to change.

It’s about “having the life you want by being present to the life you have,” (the subtitle to Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening).

It’s about confidence, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment,” (the brilliant Susan Piver said that).

It’s about paying attention, being mindful and present.

It’s about letting go of both hope and fear.

It’s about having faith in basic goodness, our innate and fundamental and natural wisdom and compassion, our essential and shared humanity.

It’s about risking heartbreak and failure, knowing that it’s so much better than being numb.

It’s about living a wholehearted life–“engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging,” (from Brene’ Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly).

It’s about refusing to smash yourself to bits, and not being afraid of yourself.

It’s about choosing vulnerability over safety and predictability, letting go of the longing for solid ground, for a life of nothing but happiness and security.

It’s about love.

It’s about having the courage to face your own life, show up, keep your heart open, and allow yourself to be seen.

It’s about being brave.

a winnebago parked in my neighborhood, the brave model

Who’s with me?

Book Writing Saturday (and yes, I realize it’s Monday)

Confession: This Saturday, I did not spend four hours working on the book I’m writing. I am still struggling to wrap my head around the idea that Dexter is terminally ill, that we are going to lose him. Some days, some moments, it’s all I have room for, can’t think about or do anything else. I feel stuck and small and sad and scared, and my voice sticks in my throat.

On Saturday, I developed a cough. My chest was worn out from holding my heart so tight, from the tension that surrounded every breath, from the struggle of suffering. I took a long walk with my three boys, did laundry, swept the house, paid bills, made a dreamboard, had a long talk with a friend, watched some tv, played scrabble on my ipod, rested, loved on my dogs, went to bed early, but I did not work on my book.

I accept that this will happen. I can set the intention to write this book, clear space for it and have faith that it wants to be written, but sometimes life will get complicated and there will be obstacles. I forgive myself. I surrender. I realize that while there are times I won’t be actively writing this book, I am probably still living some of it, so all I can do is show up with an open-heart, bringing my tender awareness, open to both the beauty and the brutality of my experience.

Something Good

this morning’s foggy walk

Today starts the sad countdown: this is our last Monday at the beach. Next Monday, we’ll wake up in Idaho and start the long final day of driving to get home to Fort Collins. The weather here at the beach the last few days has been foggy and rainy with very few sun breaks, and in a way, we are glad. A week of not so great weather at the end will make it easier to leave.

1. Reject the Allure of Stuff on Be More With Less by the badass Courtney Carver, (who I got to meet just last week). I feel right now like I need to read every word she writes, she’s so right on about everything I am feeling and longing for in my life, a clearing out and simplifying, a clarity of focus. Her “this over that” strategy is brilliant.

2. Flora Bowley has a blog! Already this morning, it made me cry twice. Her last two posts were amazing. She is doing some really good stuff right now, blooming big and bright and true, so I suggest you keep an eye on her.

Last week, when I was in Portland, I was walking to Kelly Rae Robert’s studio for a get-together pre-WDS, and saw a woman waiting for the streetcar holding Flora’s book, Brave Intuitive Painting-Let Go, Be Bold, Unfold!: Techniques for Uncovering Your Own Unique Painting Style, and told her “that’s a really great book.” Then on the main floor of Kelly Rae’s building, there’s a shop called Hunt & Gather that had lots of Flora’s paintings, so I was thinking about her, how amazing the book and how much I love her work, on the way upstairs. It was a magical surprise when I entered the studio and there Flora was! I hadn’t known she would be there.

3. Seventeen Magazine Gets Real by Liv Lane. Self-love, acceptance, and stepping into your own power.

4. Jen Lee’s conversation with Jonatha Brooke, Turning Points & No Regrets, from her Retrospective podcast series. Jonatha is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. In fact, just the other day, I was driving up HWY 101 with Steady Pull in the CD player having my own little dance party, flash mob of one. Both of these women inspire me, and together the inspiration was three times as powerful, (I never said I could do math).

5. A Profound Idea that Can Change Your Life by Jennifer Louden. This is a powerful post. I got to talk with Jennifer last week at WDS, tell her how much I adore her, thank her for all the good work she does. What I loved the most about it was that in person she’s exactly what I expected: full of energy, kind and generous, and so funny.

6. How to Not Care Too Much About What People May Think of You. I’m still thinking about the conversation Julia and I had about fear, how she said that at the heart of most fear is “what they will think of me,” so the timing of this post on The Positivity Blog was perfect.

7. Reflections on the World Domination Summit. There have been lots of really good ones, but some of my favorites so far are these:

8. A Letter from Your Calling by Tara Sophia Mohr on Tiny Buddha. “I weep for the joy you are missing out on. I weep because you aren’t getting to witness your immense strength and brilliance. I weep for what the world is missing out on too.” Yep, I needed to hear this, again.

9. Freedom on miss minimalist. Another one I needed to hear again. Between Miss Minimalist and Badass Courtney Carver, there’s hope for me yet.

10. Book Spine Poetry Vol. 6 on Brain Pickings. I absolutely love these.

11. Save the Lyric Theater Kickstarter project. You know how much I love Kickstarter, and this theater is near and dear to my heart and my home. I’ll be giving, and I hope enough others are compelled to do so as well.

12. Simplify from Leo Babauta on Zen Habits. It’s like the universe is sending me a message, a pretty direct and obvious one I think.

13. Things She Says: Things my Three Year Old Says. This project is awesome and adorable, and I dare you to look and not smile.

14. Movie Day with my mom. This is one of my favorite things, to rent three or four movies and spend all day watching them with my mom. We live 1200 miles apart, so I only get to do this about once a year, and tomorrow is the day. Woo-hoo!

15. And this quote: “The aim of all religions…is recovery of our real nature by awakening from the living-dream,” (Wei Wu Wei). I’m going to add that the aim of every life is the discovery of our real nature, our innate wisdom and compassion, to wake up to that.

Three Truths and One Wish

Affirmations are like screaming that you’re okay in order to overcome this whisper that you’re not. That’s a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper, realizing that it’s passing memory and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you’re not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine. ~Pema Chödrön

1. Truth: We all make mistakes. We harm, hurt, mess up, maim, wreck, break, smash, and ruin. We hurt ourselves, each other, our environment and everything in it. Nothing is safe from us. Even when we don’t plan or intend to, even when we don’t realize we are–we ALL make mistakes and do damage.

2. Truth: We are doing the best we can. In terms of being able to manifest wisdom and compassion, we are where we are. Some are trapped in complete ignorance, delusion, and confusion. Some are caught in aggression or attachment. Some are aware of their faulty behavior, their habitual patterns and discursive thinking, but are unable to stop, to interrupt themselves. Others do pretty good most of the time, but when they are tired or sick or distracted by strong emotions, even they falter. Some of us swing wildly between all of these experiences, within a single day, one hour, one single moment even. But whatever happens, whatever we do, it’s the best we could manage at the time.

3. Truth: We can forgive ourselves and others. We always have the opportunity to accept rather than reject what is happening, to let go and start over. We don’t have to remain locked in a battle over what was, what can’t be changed. We don’t have to struggle against who we are, reject and abandon ourselves. We can be gentle and come back, start over, begin again. We don’t have to give up, we can keep trying. We can approach every moment as an entirely new moment, a fresh start. We can keep practicing, and “when we know better, we’ll do better,” (Oprah said something like that once, and who are we to argue with Oprah?).

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

One wish: That we can be gentle with ourselves and each other, that we can relax into things as they are, and generate compassion and forgiveness for how messy, confused, brilliant, and precious we all are, and know that it is all workable and we are fundamentally sane.

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie’s post

What belongings do you wish for?

The three smaller things I’d been wanting have either arrived or are on their way: a new clip-on watch, brown Birkenstock sandals, and an iTouch (so I can use the instagram app).

And if I really let myself go crazy, with no concern for money or practicality or actual need, I could wish for: real wood book shelves, real wood bedroom dressers, a sectional big enough for two adult humans and two bigger dogs to comfortably lounge on, a black Ibex Shak fullzip jacket to replace the one I lost, a whole long list of books and cds, a white fine tipped Sharpie pen, a smart phone, a light but super fast laptop with lots of storage space, two new cars, a “real” stand up desk, a treadmill and elliptical, a house with an even bigger yard (and bigger kitchen that opened onto a family room, a basement, a two car garage, and an on-suite master bathroom), a custom designed wedding ring, and an entire wardrobe of clothes that fit well and looked good and were comfortable and well made and of good quality.

But the reality is, I don’t really need or want any of those things. My furniture is fine, new gadgets would be fun for a time but wouldn’t really change my quality of life, I love our little house and enjoy not having a car payment, and the simple band I wear on my ring finger is fine with me because my marriage is custom designed.

There are, however, a few things we probably need, belongings I could wish for: a new dishwasher, a load of top soil and some slate for our landscaping project in the front yard, a new toilet in our back bathroom, (ugh…I am so tired of having to hold the handle down until the bowl is completely empty for the thing to flush with any margin of functionality), and a good running bra.

My problem is that I don’t like shopping. I like looking at thrift, book, or office supply stores, or in a garden center, but most other shopping is too disappointing, too depressing. It robs me of precious time and money, and usually even if I can find something, it’s barely a match, a poor substitute for what I really wanted, and in the end, is only temporarily satisfying.

I actually wish for fewer belongings. I wish to unstuff, unload, simplify, declutter, live more with less.

What I’ve been thinking about these days are what belongings I’d save from a fire. I can’t help it, can’t escape the fire that’s burning out of control here, only 15 miles from my house. As of this morning, it was only 10% contained, has burned 46,600 acres, 118 structures (18 have been confirmed to be homes), and continues to grow, and while they hope to fully contain it in the near future, they believe they’ll be fighting it until fall. So you see, my mind right now is more on making a frantic mental list of the potential for loss.

I have many things I love and treasure: shelves and shelves of books, my purple sweater with the ruffles, my black Chaco flip-flops and Sanita clogs, multiple cds and movies, my favorite pens and art supplies, various down throw blankets, special coffee mugs, my favorite spoons, my computer, the teak Buddha that sits on my shrine, my Tibetan Mountain seat meditation cushion, my shell and rock collections, my stuffed monkeys, etc.–but these could all be replaced, repurchased, refound.

There are things however that are precious to me, that could never be replaced. They would be forever lost to me if they burned. My journals, old pictures that haven’t been scanned, love letters from Eric, my grandpa’s fedora, an afghan my grandmother knit, so many quilts my aunt made, the khata scarf that hangs over my shrine, Obi’s ashes and collar, the antique Asian panels by our bed, my baby blanket, letters and cards and pictures from loved ones, drawings and art projects my nieces made when they were younger, a vase and bowl that belonged to my great-grandma, and ice cream bowls we used at my grandma’s house when we were kids.

And yet, in the end, no thing truly belongs to us and everything will eventually be lost. I can’t quite explain it, but to me this is a kind of good news. It’s one brutally true thing about life, something we can count on–eventually, all will be lost. Throughout this changing and shifting, coming together and falling apart, there is belonging, there is love, and there is basic goodness, so my truest wish is that we can all experience that love and belonging and basic goodness, that we know it and trust it, and are able to let go of the rest when that time comes.

A is for Acceptance

I can’t seem to resist a 30 day blogging challenge. In October it was Blogtoberfest, NaBloPoMo in December, and Small Stones in January. This month, it’s the A to Z Challenge. I am starting a few days late, but I have enough left that if I post every day, I can do the whole alphabet. Everyone else is on D today, but that’s okay.

One of my favorite memoirs, for the writing and the title and the idea, is Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the author, describes the book this way: “It is a sort of alphabetized memoir…(my) life in encyclopedia form.” When I first read about the A to Z blogging challenge, I immediately thought about her book. So, the fact that I can’t pass up a blogging challenge and that this particular one reminds me of one of my favorite books in my favorite genre of books means I’m all in. Let us begin…

A is for acceptance. Knowing my limitations. Understanding that nothing more can be done, nothing else is necessary. Agreeing with reality, not grasping or rejecting. Letting go of wishing I were somewhere else or that things were different. The willingness to tolerate what is, to meet the truth where it resides, where it rests, to stay and rest with it. Experiencing the situation, connecting with it. Making no attempt to change, protest, reject, or exit reality. Seeing reality for what it is, wholly and accurately. Welcoming, embracing the genuine nature of things. Letting go, surrendering, softening, yielding. Relaxing into what is, as it is.

In honor of this challenge, to get started in the right way, I offer you one of the all time cutest videos, Kermit and Joey Singing the ABCs.