On this last day of the year, it seemed like a good time to wrap up my responses to the Reverb 15 prompts. The Furns are my soundtrack as I write.
Prompt: Of Marshmallows and Trampolines. What small pleasures gave you moments of intense joy in 2015? What more could you cultivate in 2016?
Napping, with the dogs, and specifically with Ringo. It’s only been in the past six months or so that he’s calmed down, grown up enough to settle in to a real cuddle, to actually rest down and sleep. I am realizing that even though my tendency has been to forego the nap, to push through and keep working, my body really needs the extra rest, and my heart and mind don’t mind the break either.
Going on a walk. Because of my foot, I had to really slow down, could hardly walk or get out for almost four months. It was SO hard. I don’t think of myself as super active, but having to stay in and rest made me realize how essential it is for me to get up, get out and move, for both my mental and physical health. Now that I’m better and can start to build up the distance we go, there’s nothing I love more than going for a walk.
Reading. After graduate school when so much was required and I learned new habits like reading six books at a time, my way of reading shifted. And then when I started doing so many extra activities, reading got sort of lost in the shuffle. I still read here and there, but nothing like before. Oddly enough, getting a Kindle was what got me back into reading on the regular. It’s like having an entire library in a single place, one that I can easily take with me anywhere, and turn the light way down so I can read in bed and it doesn’t keep Eric awake.
Prompt: Magic and Beauty. Ancient alchemical texts are things of beauty – filled with allegory and symbolic language; things hidden in plain sight; and plain things promising transformation. If we were to peek into the book of your year, what might we find? What magic do you carry that people need to look a bit deeply to see?
I carry the ability to hold space. For people, for celebration and joy, for suffering and sadness, for nourishment, for creativity, for learning, for connection, for rest. I create a container where people feel safe, cared for, comfortable, and at ease. They can relax.
Prompt: Your Purple Crayon. Imagine one such crayon would be bestowed upon you on New Year’s Eve 2015: what would you draw to ensure 2016 had everything you need?
I would draw space (room in my day, schedule, home, heart, time for rest and contemplation and connection), a calendar that included only the most important and meaningful things (no filler, no energy sucking obligations), a map of all the places I’m going to walk and hike, a list of all the books I’m going to read, a picture of the garden we’ll have this summer, another of all the house projects done and us relaxing in a space that makes us happy, and another of our trip to the coast this summer where we’ll spend long days content and in love with all the things.
Prompt: Through The Doorway. Haven’t you ever been caught in a moment, a magnetic swirl of a moment, when you knew – just knew – that something magical was taking place? You might feel as if a portal into Something has opened at your heart to release a sort of energy into your own private universe, telling you, “Remember your magic…” Think of three important portal points – one in the past, the present, and one you hope to have in the future – and join them together into one powerful and personal gateway into 2015. Where will walking through this gateway lead you in this upcoming new year?
The portal in the past was having the awareness at about six years old that I was going to grow up and be a writer. The portal in the present was the retreat I just got back from (Fearlessly Creative, writing and meditation) where I wrote or edited 12,000 words and felt the book I’m writing so real and present that it was like another person in the room with me. The portal in the future, the powerful and personal gateway into 2015, will lead to writing this book. I’m not silly enough to say I’ll finish it this year. I’ve made the mistake of grand announcements like that before, only to disappoint myself. What I can say for sure is that this book is happening, that I’m writing it, and eventually, I’ll finish it.
Prompt: Max Power. So I invite you to consider: where could you (like me) consider turning it up a few notches in the new year?
Presence. Showing up, being fully in the moment, as I am, not shrinking or numbing out. I deny my own power by downplaying it, by diffusing it, and I don’t want to do that anymore.
Prompt: Space for Answers. Today, I invite you to think about the great unknowns in your life right now. Say to yourself this morning: “I am open to the answers finding me”. Then stay alert with as many senses as you can. In what form did the answers find you?
I’ve been taking part this week in Building a Mindful New Year Together. Over the course of six days, today being the last, two teachers per day talked about the six paramitas, translated sometimes as “transcendent actions.” The program is described this way, “In Buddhist thought, the path to a life of joy is built on taking six actions consistently: Generosity; Discipline; Patience; Exertion; Meditation; and Wisdom. Each day of this program will focus on one of those themes. Two different dharma teachers will guide two different meditations.”
I went into this six day study fresh from a conversation I’d had with a friend about striving. It made me start to seriously consider the question(s), “what am I trying to prove, and who am I trying to prove it to?” Something has been driving me this past year, and it wasn’t something that felt good, certainly didn’t feel joyful — (side note: I realized earlier this year that when I lost Dexter, I let my joy go with him). My realization is that I’ve been caught up in trying to prove I’m good, I’m worthy, I’m equal, and there is a very specific set of people I was trying to prove it to, and it felt like I couldn’t stop until I got their approval. I was working myself so hard, it was literally making me sick.
That answer, that I was trying to prove something and needed to stop striving, came to me in the form of the teachings of the Building a Mindful New Year Together program. No matter what the paramita, every teacher touched on the idea that through our practice, we move beyond the need to entertain or distract ourselves, move past striving (which is actually one of the forms of laziness, and thus an obstacle), that we instead stay and get to know ourselves, the way our minds work, and we are then able to relax into who we are as we are, enabling us to get on with the real stuff of life, tapped into our innate wisdom and compassion, into our natural power and joy.
Prompt: Your 2016 Manifesto. Your last challenge for Reverb15 is to write your manifesto for 2016.
No more striving. I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t have to wait for permission and I don’t need approval. The best thing I can do to help, to be of service, to be content is to sit with myself, stay with myself, allow myself to be exactly as I am, trusting in my fundamental goodness. Circling back to the year this all started, I’m going to be a better friend to myself. I’m going to show up, keep my heart open, be present with whatever might arise, without an agenda. When I get distracted or I make a mistake, I will be gentle, let go and come back — to my intention, my practice, my breath. I will allow space, settle in to my inherent wisdom, sink into my innate compassion. My effort will be joyful. Knowing that my authentic presence is the best I have to offer, I will remember what Michael Zavier said,
You want to be tough.
You want to be rebellious.
You want to be a bad ass.
Then show your heart to everyone…