Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

There’s a background story to today’s list, and I feel compelled to share it. I posted the above picture last week to both Facebook and Instagram, with the caption,

Midday snack cause my 2nd breakfast lasted a long time so I skipped lunch but won’t quite make it to dinner. Every time I eat a banana, I still think “fuck you, Dr. A.” (who told me I shouldn’t be eating bananas because they have too many carbs).

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ve heard the story of Dr. A.  You know that I was a disordered eater for 30+ years and had a long term abusive relationship with myself, and all the work I’ve done to heal those things. You know I’d rather be fat for the rest of my life than go back to living that particular hell. You know how I feel about the importance of fat acceptance and how strongly I believe in the Health at Every Size movement. You might have also figured out I don’t like being told what to do.

On Facebook, there clearly was one person who didn’t know any of this about me. I accepted her friend request on Facebook a few weeks ago because she is part of one of my spiritual communities. I almost ignored her request because even though we clearly share some practices and philosophical beliefs, she listed herself as a “weight loss coach.” I knew there was the potential for a problem, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t have. In response to the picture and caption above, she posted the comment, “How many carbs are in those muffins? That snack needs more protein.”

I wish I could say that I replied in a skillful way, one that was kind but made it clear I didn’t need her to comment on what I chose to eat, but I didn’t. I threw a little fit in my own mind, told her off in the secret space of my own head, unfriended and blocked her, and then deleted the comment from my page. What I meant to say was…

1. Truth: Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it directly. This applies to people you know well as equally as it does to people you don’t know anything about. It is true even if you just so happen to be an expert on a subject, particularly skilled or knowledgeable. Unless someone asks you “what do you think I should do?” or requests your help, stay out of it.

2. Truth: Unsolicited advice is at best rude and at worst an act of aggression. No one asked you. To get involved, assert your beliefs as right, true, and correct, to demand that someone else with a completely different experience comply with your direction — especially when you don’t know their whole story — isn’t helpful. In fact, you might actually be doing harm.

3. Truth: Don’t tell me what to do. People want to be heard, they want the space and support to figure out stuff for themselves. If you can’t help but go around telling other people what to do, maybe take a look at yourself, and focus on fixing what you find there.

One wish: May we trust other people to find their own truths, may we stay out of their way as they do their own work, and may we show up ready to help when we are invited.

P.S. I’ve written about this before.

Three Truths and One Wish

Moon over the Poudre River on our morning walk

1. Truth: This week has been a mix of good and bad. Amy Krouse Rosenthal died on Tuesday. A friend’s dog died on Wednesday. Sam got his teeth cleaned today, which meant going under anesthesia so now he feels weird and is whining and following me everywhere, making me sad for him. I’ve been able to go on the regular morning walks, started Pilates, and will start working with a new physical therapist tomorrow. I’ve felt extra tired all week too. I’m equal parts energized and worn out, both at ease and discontent.

2. Truth: I’d planned to get a lot done this week, but haven’t been able to do much. I’ve had to pay close attention to my energy, to balance my effort with ease. It’s practically Thursday and I feel like there’s so much left to accomplish — and yet I’m okay with sitting in the sun or taking another nap and not getting anywhere near “caught up,” whatever that even means.

3. Truth: This is how life goes. Ebb and flow, feeling at times on top of it and other times buried by it. I can’t stop thinking about what I read the other day, something that Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s editor said about her: “Amy ran at life full speed and heart first.” When I go, I want someone to say that about me, but I also know that to do that, I have to be smart, know my limits, take care, pace myself.

One wish: May we be gentle with ourselves even as we run at life full speed and heart first, and when we go, may we know we are loved and may our deaths be easy.

Three Truths and One Wish

Poudre River, from our walk yesterday morning

1. Truth: I push myself too hard, don’t know when to slow down. In fact, the only way I slow down is to crash, crap out, collapse. I just want so much, want to make things better, love all the things and all the things break my heart and I want to fix all the things. If I know of something that could help, I want to do it right away and not stop until it’s done. And I end up so tired and overextended, way before I even realize I’ve taken it too far.

2. Truth: I know I’m not the only one. So many other women, people I admire and respect and try to be more like, are also running themselves into the ground trying to be good, to show up, to be brave, to make things better. It’s so funny how wholeheartedly I can wish rest and peace for them but somehow not be able to give the same to myself.

3. Truth: Sunshine helps. Naps help. Sometimes sugar and tv even help. Yoga is good, so is more sleep. A glass of cold water is usually a safe bet. Getting told thank you and I love you and you are awesome is also nice. Focusing just on what absolutely has to get done right now and letting the rest go feels workable. Getting up and stretching, moving around is sometimes the key, but other times sitting or lying down does the trick. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am good, that it’s okay to slow down, to stop even.

One wish: May we rest, may we find ease, may we know that we are loved and remember that we are good, no matter what.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: It’s not good to get comfortable in knowing. Just because I know something doesn’t mean I should stop learning, allow that knowledge to become fixed, solid, unmoving. Getting comfortable with what I think or believe makes me stagnant and dumb. Things are constantly changing, as they always and will continue to do, and good people are doing research, finding and sharing new information all the time. I must stay open to this, curious, because if I stay stuck in my current state of knowing, eventually I will be wrong.

2. Truth: Resisting change generates suffering. Resistance to new wisdom eventually turns aggressive, violent. Holding on too tightly to what I want to be the truth, wanting it to remain even when its nature is to dissolve and fall away hurts. And depending on how tightly I cling, how violently I resist, I can become a danger to others too.

3. Truth: Not knowing is better. There’s a teaching in Buddhism, “only don’t know,” which recommends cultivating a state of not knowing, of curiosity, and resting there. The poet Rumi describes it as a field, “beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing” and says “when the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” Pema Chödrön says,

Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.

One wish: May we cultivate a state of curiosity, opening ourselves to new possibilities for compassion and wisdom, letting what we knew, what we were so sure of, so certain about, fall away without resistance.

Three Truths and One Wish

morningdarkwalk

1. Truth: I watched Birth of a Nation a few days ago. For as long as slavery went on, for how recent it is in our collective experience, for the ways that history continues to impact us today, there are surprisingly few movies about it, and even fewer good ones. This one had a powerful message, was well made with the potential to make a big impact. As soon as I watched it, I wanted everyone to see it, if for no other reason than I needed someone to talk to about it.

2. Truth: Then I found out the movie’s backstory. Apparently, the director who was also the lead actor, Nate Parker, was accused of rape, along with one of the writers on the movie. The story is heartbreaking. The woman who accused them eventually killed herself, and her brother said, “I don’t think a rapist should be celebrated. It’s really a cultural decision we’re making as a society to go to the theater and speak with our dollars and reward a sexual predator.” Even though he was acquitted at trial, Parker’s own statement about it makes it clear he knows he did something wrong: “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.” I haven’t seen Manchester by the Sea because of the sexual harassment accusations against Casey Affleck, so this is an issue that does matter to me, something that does impact my choices. I don’t want to give my money or time to someone who treats women badly, harasses or attacks them. As the victim of sexual harassment and assault myself, it just doesn’t feel right.

3. Truth: And yet, because I saw the movie first, was moved by it and saw the message wholly removed from the messenger, it’s hard to let it go, difficult to dismiss it entirely — and I don’t really know what to do with that. The same thing happened to me with my Buddhist practice. I studied and practiced and embodied the benefits of the teachings for six years before I fully investigated the head of the lineage in which I practice. What I found was a man whose behavior didn’t sit right with me, but his teachings and the community already did. It was difficult to work my way through that doubt and confusion and anger to find my way back to the dharma, but I did — eventually.

One wish: That stories of slavery and its impact continue to be told, and that the tellers be honest people we can feel good about supporting. In my future is Underground (a new TV series), Roots (the updated mini-series), and 12 Years a Slave (which I missed the first time around), as well as the movies on this list, 21 Social Justice Documentaries On Netflix To Watch. And books, so many books! (Any recommendations you have are welcome, kind and gentle reader).

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I’ve been reading a lot lately. Because of a bad habit I picked up in graduate school, where I was required to read multiple books simultaneously, I’m currently reading: And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK by Henry L. Gates and Kevin M. Burke, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, Anything We Love Can Be Saved by Alice Walker, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. (Do you see a theme in that list?)

2. Truth: Reading for me is essential. It’s one of the foundational ways that I learn. Because I’m an introvert and a highly sensitive person, it’s the best way for me to encounter new information, especially if it’s going to make me uncomfortable or confused. I need that space alone, just me and the book, (and of course, somewhere in there the author). Sometimes I think I’m a writer because I’m fundamentally, first and foremost, a reader, love books SO much that the only thing that seems worth doing, the only thing I want to do besides read them is give others something to read.

3. Truth: What we need right now are those with the courage to tell the truth. The ones who will keep showing up, no matter what. Those who will continue to resist, persist. In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin says, “From this void–ourselves–it is the function of society to protect us; but it is only this void, our unknown selves, demanding, forever, a new act of creation, which can save us–‘from the evil that is in the world.'” I think of those right now who are willing to risk going against society, who brave going into the void that is their own open heart — poets, water protectors, protestors, journalists, comedians (SNL, anyone?), teachers, librarians, park rangers, scientists, etc. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that these are the ones who will save us, or die trying.

One wish:  “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” May we persist, nevertheless.

Three Truths and One Wish

greenbridge

1. Truth: The past five days have been overwhelming. I shared a list on Facebook today that compiled what had happened just during the first four days of DT’s presidency, things he’d done and things he threatened to do. There were 36 things on the list, and they would have been too much if they’d taken the whole four years. People are resisting, but people are also so exhausted and overwrought that they are getting sick. Some are sticking their heads in the sand, running away, asking the rest of us to keep it down, and others are spending way too much time on social media, fighting or screaming until their throats are raw. And of course, there’s the crying. It’s a mess.

2. Truth: There are things I just can’t wrap my head around. One is that for a large number of marginalized and oppressed people, this is what it has always been like, what it’s always felt like — and I didn’t see them, I wasn’t helping. The other is that there are still people who don’t see what’s happening, and others who see it and just don’t care that other people are suffering. I keep wondering, with so much gone wrong, so much that needs attention, how do you figure out where to put your energy, your effort? I once heard someone suggest that if you want to know who you are here to serve, just notice what breaks your heart and you will find your purpose — but what if all of it breaks your heart?

3. Truth: I’m not giving up. That being said, I certainly need to start taking better care of myself. I need to make better choices, have more discipline and discernment. I have to remember that I don’t need to set myself on fire just to keep someone else warm. I need to figure out the balance between keeping my own shit together and helping. I want to remember what Pema Chödrön says, that “If we want there to be peace in the world, then we have to take responsibility when our own hearts and minds harden and close. We have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility.”

(More than) One wish: May we practice being soft and open, tender with whatever arises. May we stay with ourselves, with reality. With confidence in our fundamental wisdom and compassion, my we stay connected to our inherent power, be of benefit, help, ease suffering in ourselves and in the world. Yes, we will be vulnerable, at risk of being wounded, but we also in this way will know joy, experience love, encounter amazement.