Category Archives: Reverb13

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.

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.

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.

Reverb 2013: Day 26

reverb13Project Reverb prompt: “Five Moments | Tell us about five moments you don’t want to forget from 2013.”

  1. When Dexter came out that last day. I was sitting on the back step, Eric was playing in the yard with Sam, and Dexter had spent most of the morning in his crate, not feeling good at all. He came out, tail wagging, and stood on my leg, wanting me to pet him, which he hadn’t really wanted earlier. It was a brief moment of peace in an otherwise awful day. The sun was shining and we were together. Everything was okay.
  2. Dancing to “Amazing” by One EskimO in Laurie’s front yard. Looking up at the sky and knowing.

  3. Reading my second dohā at a retreat with Susan Piver. A dohā is a “spontaneous song of enlightenment,” a poem that comes to you without planning. I wrote my first at my first retreat with Susan, a collection of lines I’d written down as I took notes over the weekend that on the final morning clearly formed a poem when collected together. I didn’t want to force it on that second retreat, even though I hoped it would happen again, and it did.
  4. Being called “obese” by someone who was supposed to be helping me. The surge of feeling that came in that moment, the deep knowing that she was wrong, the disappointment that she hadn’t seen or heard me, couldn’t help me, followed by the certainty that I knew what to do, that I was my own expert, that I’d save myself, aware that somehow I had always known that.
  5. The Blue Lake hike I took with Eric and Sam. Knowing I could hike ten miles, not because I’d been sure at the start but because I did it.

Reverb 2013: Day 25

reverb13Project Reberb prompt: “Covet | What did you covet this year? Are you working towards getting that or just admiring it from afar? Is it a tangible thing or just an idea? Tell us about what you’ve got your sights on.”

I covet a certain life, a specific kind of “making a living.” People like Rachel Cole, Andrea Scher, Laurie Wagner, Susannah Conway (etc., etc. — I could list so many others) are doing it, living it. Teaching, writing, making art, coaching — doing creative and healing work that eases suffering.

It’s a blend of process and offering that lines up exactly with what I value, my mission, what works for me. You show up, practice, are in the process, allowing whatever arises, staying curious and open, telling the truth, and out of that comes something useful and helpful and sometimes even beautiful. There is ease, but it also requires bravery.

I am absolutely working towards this, every day. I practice, I study and train, I keep my heart open. The parts I can see, am sure of are the Self-Compassion Saturday ebook, the book that will come after that, at least five ecourses that are in the works, yoga teacher training which leads to a particular in person workshop I have in mind, a new puppy, a trip to the beach, more healing, clearing space.

Maybe the biggest obstacle is patience. All these things take time, energy & effort, and require that I pace myself so I don’t burn out.

After journaling about this, I pulled a tarot card. In relation to what I’d written, it made perfect sense. Nine of Wands, “Strength, Stamina, Confidence,” a card that essentially says hang in there, don’t lose faith, all your hard work is about to pay off. It was also extra sweet that the image looks sort of like a Christmas tree.

nineofwandsMerry, Merry, kind and gentle reader. No matter how you are spending this day, may you find peace and know love.

Reverb 2013: Day 24

Project Reverb prompt: “Crazy | What one little thing drove you crazy this year? Was it unique to this past year or has it been buggin’ you for a while? How do you intend to get rid of it or resolve it in 2014?”

I’m not feeling this prompt, not today. I don’t want to talk what drives me crazy, what bothers me. Sure, I’ve got my list. I do a pretty good job of generating suffering for myself by resisting, rejecting, being irritated, worrying — maybe that’s actually the thing driving me crazy?

I’m more interested right now, especially today, in what’s made me happy, what I love, what is good in the world. One thing is this tree, one of three along the trail we walk most mornings. Every year, just after Thanksgiving, someone sneaks out and decorates all three trees. Once they are done, other people add to it. Just the other day, I noticed this tree now has strands of silver and red tinsel garland. I love the way we, in secret and without reward, do things to make each other happy.

Something else that made me happy is this poem, hand-typed by the brilliant Maya Stein, send to me by request of the dear Sherry Richert Belul. The end lines are my favorite, “I wonder if they, too, blushed at their resurrected beauty, this green they had believed long dead still whispering, unstoppably, inside them.”

mayatypedMore happiness: Eric washing my car while Sam sits in the back seat, a vet who gives you her personal email address so that you can get a hold of her if you need her over the holiday, the promise of babies and puppies. I love the way we take care of each other.