Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

A friend messaged me yesterday to tell me she was quitting her job. She knew I would sympathize with her decision, and I do. I messaged her back and shared some of the things I’d learned so far, and realized I wanted to share them with you too.

1. Truth: I was more burnt out than I expected. I’ve shared this here already, but it’s a big one and worth sharing again. For the past four or five years, I’ve pushed myself so hard. My work at CSU kept getting more and more overwhelming, and it took a lot of energy to push back against that, to try and keep healthy boundaries. I also wanted more for myself, knew I had more to offer, and I tried to do that “on the side.” I got certified as a 500 hour yoga teacher and a meditation instructor, took lots of classes, did a lot of writing and some teaching. I raised a really difficult puppy into a slightly less difficult dog, and worked with the other to heal an injury while also managing my own chronic pain. Etc. There wasn’t the option to slow down or stop, so I just kept going until I collapsed. I’d take just enough time to recover and then I was right back at it. This summer, when I left my job for good and allowed myself to stop, I realized I was in full on burnout and it was going to take some time before I had the energy to start anything new. Every day has been focused on moving in ways that feel good and getting a lot of rest, along with letting myself feel what I feel about where I find myself right now.

2. Truth: Quitting CSU was like a breakup, but with a “thing” rather than a person. And let me tell you, that’s weird. When I feel angry about some of the things that happened in that relationship, or even when I miss it, there’s no real object to attach that to, no specific place or single person to direct it toward. It can feel really confusing.

3. Truth: There was no immediate sense of relief or freedom from quitting, being done. Maybe in part it’s because I have thought about it and planned for it for such a long time. Maybe it’s because anything you’ve imagined for so long can’t possibly live up to the fantasy. Maybe it’s because when you’ve waited for something for so long when it finally happens it doesn’t feel real. Maybe it’s a simple as I’ve had summers off for the past nine years, so it won’t be until school starts again in the fall but this time I don’t go back that it finally and fully sinks in.

One wish: That when we find ourselves burnt out, we allow ourselves the time and care it takes to heal, to restore and renew. That we honor what we need and pace ourselves, having patience with the process and being gentle with ourselves.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Just like the weather, there are so many things we can’t control. We can’t control other people’s emotions, other people’s actions, the economy, the traffic, politics, the state of the environment, our bodies, etc. Sure we can respond, we can offer support or help, we can ask for support or help, we can make some sort of impact but we aren’t in control. If it rains, how we feel about it and what we do won’t change anything. All we can do is respond — get an umbrella and accept that even so we will most likely get a little wet.

2. Truth: A shift can be the tiniest thing, so small other people might not even notice it, but it moves something. This is my first week “retired” and, as I tend to do, I had big plans for what I would accomplish, what I would work on first. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time doing what looks like nothing — burn out is no joke. This morning, before I meditated, I fixed the blankets on the futon in my practice room. They were all wonky from the many times the dogs have come in and dug it up and I’ve halfway fixed them — Sam because it’s the way he registers complaints with management and Ringo because it’s what he does when he’s bored (he’ll bark as he does it to let you know it’s happening). It was a simple thing, but as soon as I straightened it up, I felt a shift.

3. Truth: It’s absolutely okay to do things at your own speed, to go slow, to pace yourself. If I trace back the timeline of the last decade, it’s clear that the journey to now started in earnest ten years ago. I didn’t decide that CSU wasn’t the right place for me, get suddenly clear about what to do next and do it. The clarity about next steps came in fits and starts. I lowered the bar for myself over and over again. I built the bigger picture one found object at a time. I did the necessary work to build a stable foundation little by little over the course of years.

One wish: May you move the way you move, love what you love, and sustain your stability and ease no matter what arises.

 

Three Truths and One Wish

Me, Dexter and Obi

Me, Dexter and Obi

1. Grief is something you never get over, you just get used to it. Nine years ago today, Kelly died. Losing her is inextricably linked, in my heart and mind, to losing Obi and then Dexter — one big sticky sharp heavy lump of hurt. It’s been ten years since Obi and Kelly were first diagnosed, practically on the same day, and ever since then, I’ve carried around a deep sadness, a brutal tenderness, an awareness that not only is impermanence real, but it sneaks up on you when you aren’t expecting it, way before you are ready, (although, in many cases there’s no such thing as “ready,” ever). Yes, we all die eventually, but some of us go way too soon, and the hurt of that might dull but it never goes away.

2. The worst part of grief for me is the uncertainty.  I envy people who have strong beliefs about what happens after we die, who feel sure, who can comfort themselves with platitudes like, “they are in a better place” or “someday we’ll see each other again.” I don’t have this, and honestly the worst part of losing Kelly and Obi and Dexter is that I might NEVER see them again. Living with that reality is the worst part of the loss for me.

3. Grief is love unbound by form. Susan Piver is the one who I first heard say that. It’s absolutely true. We are used to having a physical target for our love, a tangible form we can reach out and touch. When suddenly our love doesn’t have that place to land, it goes wild. No longer is there a voice we can listen to, a hand we can hold, a face we can gaze at. It’s hard to know what to do. The love and even the relationship remains, but the body is gone. We love and we love and we love, but in response there’s only silence, emptiness, what feels like nothing.

One wish: That after loss, we can find something to hold on to, something that keeps us from giving up. At the very moment I wrote the line above about our love going wild, a tiny fat hummingbird hovered outside my window just to the right of my computer screen. That feels like love to me, like both magic and medicine, and for now that’s enough.

Three Truths and One Wish (NaBloPoMo Day 22)

The view from my front porch this morning

The view from my front porch this morning

1. Truth: Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong (article on The New York Times). “Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.” The innocent, feel good narrative of Native Americans and Pilgrims celebrating and feasting together is a fairy tale that obscures the truth about how we treated and continue to treat indigenous people. To ignore that truth and stuff your face, to rejoice about all the things you are thankful for, to rest and relax in the company of friends and family without taking even a moment to honor the harm that has been done to enable your good fortune and recommit to doing better is just gross.

2. Truth: The mistreatment of indigenous people continues. For example, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomed Pilgrims, but loses land on eve of Thanksgiving. There are so many more examples it’s an exhausting, overwhelming, unrelenting consideration. In this context, what does “Make America Great Again” really mean? What does it mean to have a day — a national holiday — where we celebrate ourselves, give thanks for all that we have but completely ignore all the suffering we’ve caused?

3. Truth: We can and must do better. Just some simple suggestions are: How to Support Indigenous People on Thanksgiving, and How to Talk to Your Family About Racism on Thanksgiving, and 5 Tips For So-Called White Allies This Thanksgiving, and Meditation on Gratitude and Joy.

One wish: May we fully know and face the truth. May we make reparations, strive to heal the hurt, turn our effort toward undoing the damage and easing the suffering. May we experience the joy of good food and good company without the taint of greed and oppression. May we experience the gratitude of doing the right, just, honorable thing. May we ALL be truly free to experience life and liberty, to pursue happiness.

Three Truths and One Wish (NaBloPoMo Day 13)

1. Truth: The way to do more is to do less of what you don’t want or need to do. I’m getting really really good at this. Of course, it requires a fully developed sophisticated sense of discernment and deep clarity about what I really want, because sometimes the choices I need to make aren’t obvious at all, and possibly complicated by external forces who want something entirely different from and for me.

2. Truth: Taking a pause before acting is usually a wise choice. I find if I act too quickly, I’m acting from a space of reactivity and possibly even confusion, rather than one of clarity, wisdom, and compassion. Of course, if something is on fire or someone is choking, there’s no time to pause, and taking immediate action can be the wisest choice in that case.

3. Truth: Rest is a necessary component of action, an essential counter. I know you might read that and think, “well duh,” but so often I seem to forget this. I go and go and go and go and don’t build in any time for rest and recovery. I go until I hit a wall, until I collapse and rest is no longer an option but rather is the only thing I can do, the only way I’ll be able to get back up, the necessary medicine and the magic.

One wish: May we have clarity about our path and know the right choices to make. May we act from a place of wisdom and compassion, clear seeing and love. May we pause and rest when we need it.

Three Truths and One Wish (Day Six: NaBloPoMo)

This bunny somehow made it to the third floor of the parking garage yesterday

1. Truth: Every human just wants to be happy and safe. However, people can get confused about exactly how to make that work. Some of the ways we try and get to happy and safe actually end up causing harm, to ourselves and others.

2. Truth: We all just want to be loved, but again people get confused about how exactly to make that happen or even what love means or looks like. For example, someone spewing something as ugly as racism may very well have been taught that racism is good, and therefore to be racist is “being good,” and being good is the way to be loved.

3. Truth: The real work is dispelling our confusion. None of us is ever going to be happy, safe, or loved if we keep going after these things from a place of confusion. It only generates more suffering.

One wish: May we continue to make every effort to cultivate wisdom and compassion, sanity and kindness, in ways that actually manifest as happiness, safety, and love, and benefit the most people possible.

 

 

Three Truths and One Wish

The view from my Eddy Hall office at CSU

1. Truth: What is easy for some is hard for me. Today I’m thinking in particular of how hard it is for me to simply relax into my truth, to give myself what I need without guilt or shame or anxiety or apology. Every choice I make, every hunger or longing, goes through an exhausting process of how it will affect others, what impact it will have, what other people will think about it and thus about me, whether or not I’ve “earned” it. It’s become a practice for me to simply want something and allow myself to have it, to feel ease or even joy, to relax with myself. It should be automatic, but I have to try, make so much effort to just be.

2. Truth: The turn towards fall feels so peaceful to me. You know how much I love summer, the garden with its blooms and fruit and vegetables and bugs and birds. The longer, lazy days, and all the light. However, fall is really my season. Dusk is also my favorite time of day and this season — the changing light, the cooler temperatures, green turning to gold and orange and red — feels similar, comfortable and calm. Like a dog sigh or the first sip of a cool glass of water when you are thirsty, permission to relax, a sense of relief and ease.

3. Truth: I feel myself slowing down. There were lots of things on the to-do list I made at the beginning of summer that haven’t been done yet. I still need to buy new bras and paint the house, and the new computer that was delivered weeks ago is still in a box. And yet, I know that I’ve spent a lot of years prioritizing doing and accomplishing over rest and contemplation, and that hasn’t served me. I’m tired. I long for rest. As difficult as it is, I’m going to give in to it.

One wish: May we honor our hunger, our longings, our need for rest, and may we thus find ourselves restored and open to ease and joy.