Category Archives: Day of Rest

Day of Rest (NaBloPoMo Day Eleven)

“Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.”

~David Whyte, from “Rest: from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. © David Whyte & Many Rivers Press 2015

NaBloPoMo: Day Four (Day of Rest)

In artist Jessica Nichols‘s recent newsletter, she said “I learned two weeks ago that in Chinese medicine, fall is a season for grieving.” I feel this in the way nature shifts – the garden has died, the compost pile is working its magic on the flowers and food of summer gardens, and each day is the tiniest bit darker and shorter. This is also a time of year that I can’t help remembering the end of both Obi and Dexter’s lives, being in that space where any day could be their last, and still missing them so much all these years later. It’s also the official ramp up of the holiday season, one that I spend away from my people and their rituals, and that still feels strange, slightly off.

It’s a season that feels confusing in its conflict. On the one hand, culture is pushing us to speed up, to do more, consume more. Students return to school and another season of TV programs start, a time of new beginnings. It’s a season of multiple holidays and all the demands on our resources, energy and time that come with it. This year, there are elections too. And yet, there is nature calling us to slow down, showing us that there is wisdom and necessity in fallowness, in rest. It reminds us that we all will bloom and eventually die, it’s simply the nature of things.

As the wise Pema Chödrön reminds us, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Something Good

1. I am still processing this: Report alleges sexual misconduct by leader of Shambhala community and Shambhala Head Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Accused of Sexual Abuse in New Report. I read the report and I absolutely believe the women, and feel certain there are many more who have not spoken out but who were similarly harmed. I also read Sakyong Mipham’s “apology” letter and think it’s problematic af, not an apology at all. I am confused, outraged, shocked, and heartbroken. This is my Buddhist practice lineage, and I’m not sure how to react, so for now I’m just sitting with it, holding compassion and confusion and rage and grief in my heart simultaneously. A few other teachers have made posts, videos, and statements. For example On Shambhala from Susan Piver, Reflections on Shambhala from Ethan Nichtern, and Offering support to the Shambhala community from Lama Rob Owens (video). Lodro Rinzler posted on Facebook, “I am feeling a lot of pain around what is happening in the Shambhala community. I personally have clarity that it is time for me to officially exit Shambhala as an organization and no longer teach there. The Shambhala teachings are separate from the organization, invaluable, and will always be a part of me.”

2. In Nigeria, an 11-year-old artist is creating waves with his unique creations. (video)

3. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren visits a detention center. (video) “I went down to the border protection processing center in McAllen, Texas so I could see what’s happening there with my own eyes. They wouldn’t let cameras inside, but I can tell you what I saw.”

4. More racist nonsense: A family called the cops on this 12-year-old boy after he accidentally mowed part of their lawn (video), and Two first-hand accounts of the horror at the heart of Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy of separating children from their parents at the US border (video), and After 40 Days Apart and a Missed Flight, a Migrant Family Reunites on The New York Times, and These parents were separated from their children and detained by US border patrol agents, who suspected them of trying to enter the country illegally (video), and Immigration Lawyer Broke Her Foot When ICE Officer Pushed Her on The New York Times, and Officer In Antwon Rose Shooting Charged With Homicide, and Protests continue against the largest immigration detention center in the US located in McAllen, TX (video), and Trump Aims to Dismantle Protections for Immigrant Kids and Radically Expand the Family Detention System, and Businesses divest from Alison Ettel’s marijuana company, TreatWell, after viral 911 video, and Watch a mother and son reunite after being forcibly separated for over a month (video).

5. She raised her hand to help, and it made a beautiful difference in one man’s journey. (video)

6. Annapolis shooting suspect “wanted to get revenge,” lawyer for harassed woman says. Explain again why we need a wall to keep the bad people out when they are already here, white, male, and legal?!

7. Best highlights from #WhatTheFluff challenge part 2. (video)

8. Trans Woman Kicked Out Of D.C. Restaurant For Refusing To Show ID Before Using The Bathroom.

9. This minor league mascot recreated ‘Dirty Dancing’ — and it was spectacular. (video)

10. Cats are in a world of their own! (video)

11. Rep. Maxine Waters Goes On Live TV And Reads Actual Quotes Of Trump Inciting Violence.

12. San Diego’s ‘Aunt Debbie’ overwhelmed by donations.

13. A top House Democrat lost his primary — to a socialist.

14. Stop Condemning My Bitterness, Start Condemning The System.

15. Supreme Court finally condemns 1944 decision that allowed Japanese internment during World War II.

16. ‘This is not the land of the free.’ (video) “This imam experienced things at U.S. detention centers that he never even encountered at Syrian refugee camps.”

17. 20+ Hilarious Dog Snapchats That Are Impawsible Not To Laugh At.

18. 10 Reasons Why Coming to America Is the Best Black Movie of All Time.

19. Marriage Equality Museum Will Defiantly Stand Against Hate. (video) “Three years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, this man wants to transform his brightly-colored Equality House into the first-ever marriage equality museum. The building sits right across the street from the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Westboro Baptist Church, making the museum a powerful symbol in the face of hate.”

20. 30 Ways White People Say ‘Black People’ Without Actually Saying ‘Black People.’

21. The past 72 hours in Sarah Sanders’s dinner and the civility debate, explained.

22. Stop Tone Policing My Outrage at This Presidency.

23. An Arizona woman needed a drug to induce a miscarriage. Her pharmacist refused.

24. I’m Reading 50 Books by Women of Color This Year—Here Are Some More of My Favorites.

25. 7 Myths about Cultural Appropriation DEBUNKED! (video)

26. I’m Not Political (Because I Assume I Will Retain All of My Privileges Forever).

27. ‘People Of Light’: New Campaign Seeks To Redefine What It Means To Be ‘White.’ I can’t even. You’d think this was an article from The Onion, but it’s not.

28. The Hate U Give movie trailer.

29. CDC lists oil of lemon eucalyptus as comparable to DEET for mosquitoes. I’ve used this for the past couple of years and have to agree with the findings. Plus, it smells delightful. Oh, and it’s not POISON.

30. Yoga For Stress Management from Yoga with Adriene.

31. In final episode of “Parts Unknown,” Anthony Bourdain discusses death and Buddhism in Bhutan.

Day of Rest

Half of the eggs in the robin’s nest in our lilac bushes hatched

At noon today, it was exactly half way through 2018. I don’t know if that’s accurate because I didn’t figure it out myself or hear it from an expert, but rather one of my friends posted it on Facebook this morning. True or not, it got me thinking. Just like we often do for the new year or on one of the solstices, it offers the opportunity for reflection. It’s as good a time as any to consider what we’d like to relax, let go of, surrender, and what we’d like to invite, seek out, cultivate.

I shared this with the yoga class I taught this morning. I wasn’t off to a great start — when I got there the downstairs door was locked, and it’s been so long since I had to open that one, when put my key in and it didn’t work, I panicked and assumed I didn’t have the right key and wouldn’t be able to get in. I finally got some encouragement to try my key again, and it worked, reminded me that back when I used to teach a 7 am class and was the first one there, the key was kind of sticky sometimes. It worked out, but the confusion had gone on long enough that I felt frazzled, off center. For the first few minutes of class, I couldn’t find the right words, had to try really hard to put together what I was trying to communicate, but eventually I softened and relaxed and was able to connect with the truth of what I was teaching.

When you feel yourself tense up, allow yourself to relax and you might float. This was a realization I had last week during my swimming lesson. If you missed it, I am 50 years old and even though I took swimming lessons as a kid, I never really learned. I was bullied and learned how to be afraid of the water and of people judging the way I tried. This summer, I signed up for private lessons with a teacher who had the right mix of skill, kindness, and humor. Only five lessons in and I am swimming on my own. Still terrified a lot of the time, but trying.

In last week’s lesson, my teacher asked me to float, first on my belly and then on my back. I confessed to him I didn’t know how, hadn’t ever done it before on my own, at least not that I could remember. He gave me some simple instructions and encouragement, and I tried it. First, I leaned forward, letting my face go into the water and my legs reach out behind me. There was a moment when I was tipping and my feet were starting to float when I felt myself tense up, resisting what was happening. I wanted to quit, to put my feet back down and stand up. The instinct is old and deep and sticky to “save myself” when I feel myself going under and the water filling the space around me.

Instead, I relaxed and let go. I surrendered to the water and the way my body wanted to rise to the top and hover there. Next, I did the same on my back. Later, I was on my back kicking my feet and moving my arms, swimming the length of the pool. My ears where covered by the water and it was so quiet. Even though my limbs were moving, it felt like I was gliding along the top without any effort — floating. Unlike when I was on my belly, my nose and mouth were out of the water and I could breath easily and normally. I felt utterly safe and content.

I keep thinking how this applies to life in general. When something scary or even just uncomfortable is happening, I tense up, start to shut down, withdraw, and maybe even run away. To float, you have to breathe past that moment of resistance and relax instead. Soften, let go, surrender. It’s only then that you can know the truth of what’s on the other side. I keep looking for the other ways I do this – resist instead of relaxing – and wondering what I’ve been missing all those times I chose to run away instead of surrender.

Day of Rest

emergency exit doorEric and I went out to dinner last night. I wanted to celebrate earning a Superior ranking on my annual evaluation for the 7th year in a row and getting the word from the radiologist that everything looks good, Sam doesn’t need surgery and we can start physical therapy.

I am very aware of my good luck and fortune. You can also call it privilege, and you might even say there’s a bit of good karma in there too. I have a job that would be anyone else’s dream job, and it affords me the luxury of being able to take Sam to the vet, buy him supplements and pain meds and good food and a new orthopedic bed, take him to physical therapy, and spend the time away from work that I need to in order for all that to happen.

I work hard, too hard. I do my work, according to my evaluation, with a “high level of professionalism, competence, patience, and good humor.” I don’t get compensated for it like I should, and the work load keeps increasing even though it was overwhelming to begin with. I do this work under the constant shadow of anxiety that I’m not spending my time and energy the way I should.

These past few weeks, I’ve been watching the way I’ve handled Sam’s situation. Early on, it seemed pretty clear he’d need knee surgery. I did what I always do — a ton of research, consulting with anyone I knew who knew anything, made a plan for how we’d handle his rehab down to ordering an inflatable collar for him so he wouldn’t have to wear a plastic cone. I overthought and over planned, worried and was anxious, found it hard to focus on anything else, even though I absolutely had to. I made sure to practice every day so I didn’t completely lose my mind and I got extra sleep, expecting a time in the near future when I wouldn’t be.

Watching myself spin out, I thought about my habitual pattern of trying to control everything. I think if I’m prepared, careful, do my research, and am ready, I can handle whatever happens, fix whatever goes wrong. But that’s just the surface level stuff. When I dig a little deeper, it’s clearly anxiety about impermanence, which is masking the real fear — we are all going to die and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about that. The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that there was something below even all that — the real anxiety, the actual fear is that all of my effort means nothing, that I try and work so hard but it amounts to a hill of beans, (nothing against beans).

What I have to offer that I don’t have the necessary time, energy, or space for is facilitating experiences that cultivate compassion, ease, and sanity. That foundation then leads to a more sane and compassionate world, cultivating the necessary ground for social justice and change. This thing I have to offer is stifled, suppressed, silenced because my current focus (my work at CSU) is an obstacle — not only to the work but to my own health and wellbeing.

When I renegotiated my position from 12 to nine months, my intention was to spend the summers on my “other” work. I thought that if I had summers off to focus on my own projects, it wouldn’t be perfect or even ideal, but it would be workable.

Turns out, it’s not. I burn myself out in those nine months and need the summer to regroup and recover. The summers we go to Oregon, that’s all that can happen — the work of planning the trip, preparing, getting there, being there, and the work that has to happen once we get back. It’s a vacation but it’s also draining — energetically and financially — and by the time we get back, the whole summer is over and it’s time to go back to CSU, start the whole cycle over. When we stay here for the summer, we spend our time doing all the things we couldn’t get done during the rest of the year — cleaning out closets and the garage, doing repairs and maintenance on the cars and house and our own bodies. Neither version of summer has turned out to have the space for teaching an online class or working on a book or hosting a workshop or running an in-person class.

Turning 50 for sure causes a shift in perception. Two futures are not only possible but likely — either I am 50 and have a good 20 to even 40 years ahead of me and in that case have time to build another career, to get good at something else; OR I don’t have that kind of time, and if so I want to spend the next 5-10 years I’ve got finally, finally, finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do, trusting my own gut about what to do next, following my own True north. Working at CSU doesn’t fit with either option.

It’s become clear to me that there will never be a time when my CSU workload and expectations are workable. It asks way too much of me, at the expense of my health and wellbeing and just about everything else I want most for myself. Not to make it seem like I’m so sure, that I don’t doubt myself or feel confused, or that I’ve decided, but when the amazing Laura Simms posted on Instagram the other day, “Your work should support your life, not compete with it,” something in me felt very very sure that I knew what I needed to do.


Day of Rest

I’m typing this on my phone. I just wanted to check in, let you know where I am, what’s going on. I didn’t post for Gratitude Friday this week and my Something Good list is postponed until Tuesday. My only explanation is this picture, my grandneice Lia. I had to come see her and everything else has to wait.

Day of Rest

Clearing by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

In my Wild Writing class on Friday morning, Laurie used this poem for our final prompt. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that particular moment in time. I knew I would need to find it, print it out, read it again and again, let the meaning sink in and stick. It’s an answer to a question I’ve been asking. A question I’ve asked myself, trying to connect with my own internal wisdom, and a question I’ve cast out into the universe to see what might come back.

Maybe you don’t know this about me, but I am trying to save the whole world. A bodhisattva who vowed to keep being reborn, to keep coming back until there is no one left suffering. I think I was born with this promise already in my heart. Maybe I made the vow in another lifetime, or maybe it formed in my mother’s womb along with my fingers and toes. It seems to have always been there, the longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world.

The poem seems to answer the lingering, “How?” It’s an answer to my confusion about what to do next. It is a clarification of my bewilderment that time someone said, “think about what breaks your heart and you’ll know who you are here to serve,” and I responded, “but what if everything breaks your heart?”

“Don’t try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worth of rescue.” So worth of rescue. All of us, all of it, all of me.