Category Archives: Time

Just One More Minute

bed

I slept in this morning. I typically get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning, weekdays and weekends, but there are some mornings when I just don’t want to get up, and I don’t have to, so I sleep in. All I have to do is say to Eric, “I’m staying in,” and he turns off the light, hustles the dogs out, takes care of their breakfast and Dexter’s medicine for me. When they are done eating, Sam (the baby of the family, but maybe the laziest of us all) comes back and gets in with me. This, the comfort of a dog sleeping next to me, makes it even easier to drift back to sleep, to stay in.

From time to time I wake up, always thinking to myself “just a few more minutes.” It’s so cozy and nice, and I don’t really have anywhere else I have to be right now. This “just a few more minutes” typically becomes at least two extra hours of sleep. On days like this, I’ll tease Eric if he takes a nap, saying I already took mine.

After I got up, I was thinking about this “just a few more minutes.” I was thinking about all the other places this manifests. I remember every kid I’ve ever known begging for a few more minutes of play, just one more half hour of TV, just one more book, just one more cookie. I was thinking of the other ways it comes up for me, just one more bite, just one more page, just one more mile, just one more episode of whatever show is on HGTV as I ride the elliptical at the gym, just one more day. Grief arises as I think of those I’ve lost, how we both wished for more time, another day, another moment, just a few more minutes here together, how those lives were over too soon, how there was so much more living and loving to do, how hard I prayed that they be given more time, how angry and hurt I still am that it was denied.

fieldofgrass

This is where we live our lives, in these few minutes. If we are lucky, we have a succession of them, minute after minute, moment after moment, but our experience is only in this single, small measure of time. One breath, one beat of the heart, one flash of experience, one chance, one kind act, one moment of connection and compassion. We long for there to be another that follows it, but the wisdom that lives deep in our soft animal belly knows that we must savor this one, the one just now, to squeeze everything out of it we can, to really see it, to notice, to open our heart to it, because this is all we can be sure of. In this moment, we can know that we are here, we can be here, brave and open and vulnerable and tenderhearted.

What do you plan to do with your one minute, kind and gentle reader?

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~From Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day

Reverb12: Day One

reverb12Looking through all the Day One Reverb posts, I came up with a set of prompts I’m going to answer in this post. This has been such an interesting process already–reflecting and making lists and answering questions, considering where I’ve been, contemplating what might happen next. Ever since I turned 45, only a few weeks ago, I’ve had this lingering sense of curiosity and contentment.

Where did you start the year, 2012?

Here’s one place where my blog and journals come in really handy. I can look up the date, December 1st, and see just what I said, know what I was thinking. My blog post from a year ago was titled, Being Clear, Being Open, Saving Myself and Saving the World, and in it I said, “For me, giving in to my impulse, my aspiration to create, to discover and share what truth is for me, is the only way I know to save myself, and maybe help save the world.”

It was really interesting to see how even a year ago, I was struggling with having enough time to do everything I wanted, my paid work and my heart’s work, my living and my loving. I still struggle with the same, but I have much more clarity about what I want, about what living an authentic life, being healthy and whole looks like.

The first line of my morning pages from that same day was, “2011 is almost over.” I went on, after some complaints about an ongoing family struggle, to say “Compassionate visionaries have to exist,” (imagining myself as one), and to explain why:

We have to see what is possible, inspire, move people who will change the world… Art may not save the world, but artists who are alive and following the path of art might just save it, or at least have a small part in it… Art might not save the world, but it can soothe it, inspire it, open its heart, and it most certainly will save the artist.

art by hugh macleod

art by hugh macleod, from that blog post one year ago

Did I try anything new in 2012?

It’s pretty simple really, I showed up. I kept my heart open. I did things that I normally would have been too afraid to do because of a lack of confidence, because I was embarrassed or ashamed or felt unworthy or didn’t think I could do it perfectly, (and doing things perfectly used to be really, really important to me). In 2012, I risked failure, I took a chance that I might look foolish or make a mistake, that people might not like me. I trusted and loved myself anyway, most of the time. I tried.

Where, how am I starting 2013?

Confident, in the way that the brilliant Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

As I am. Just me, right where I am and as I am, reality and love embodied.

Open-hearted. Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible. There is also basic goodness, an innate wisdom, kindness, and wakefulness, everything is workable. Knowing this, I am going to show up with an open heart, no matter how hard it is, and no matter how much it might hurt.

What was last year’s word? How did it play out?

retreatbuddhalilac

When I initially picked this word, I imagined it would mean rest, balance, practice, and transformation. I thought I would be removed from the irritation and distraction of life, that I would be away and protected, that I would experience ease and peace. This is how I envisioned the year, and holy wow was I wrong.

Yes there was practice, intense process and devotion that left me broken open, raw, exhausted, and sometimes completely confused and afraid. I encountered strong emotions, intense realizations, and deep struggle. I committed myself, studied with many teachers, read wise and sacred texts, extended concentrated effort and attention.

There was also transformation. I am not the same, and yet I am more myself. I know who I am, and I honor that as often and as ardently as I am able. I am done with denying, hiding, feeling ashamed of this brilliant mess that is me. I realize that the only thing I have to offer, my only power is my essential nature.

Balance and rest, not so much. After all the retreats I’ve done, how wrecked I always feel after, I’m not sure how I forgot that this was the nature of retreat, that in choosing that as my word, my theme for the year, this was what I was inviting.

What is this year’s word?

freedomthanksgivingcrow

I was so sure I knew what this year’s word would be: simplicity. I’ve been thinking and writing about it for weeks, was so certain. It seemed so right, so perfect, just what I needed for the coming year.

But then something magic happened as I was working on this post. I was making the above image, a picture I took from my front porch on Thanksgiving morning, where the crow flying across the sky was a happy accident. I added the word “simplicity” and it just didn’t look right. Font after font, different colors and sizes and weights and placement, and it still looked off, wrong somehow.

I started considering the qualities of the word. Freedom and ease came immediately to mind. Freedom. Hmmm. There was something about that, so I tried it with the image: perfect. That’s my word. Freedom: simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity. “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; liberty, independence; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; being physically unrestricted and able to move easily; self-determination, open, opportunity, play, joy.” I like how that sounds. No, actually I love how that sounds.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: The way to get more time is to pay attention. This won’t be news to some. I am sure it is ancient wisdom, something so many others figured out long ago, but it just came to me this morning. We took a different section of trail on our walk, Dexter wanting to go right next to the river instead of up higher. Even though that span is about the same length as our regular route, I noticed how much longer it seemed like it took us to get to the bridge. And then I realized why–normally when we walk, the same path as we do every day and have hundreds of times, I don’t really pay attention. I am spacing off, day dreaming, planning, complaining, prewriting, and I hardly notice my feet moving. But changing the route woke me up, I was connected to where I was and what we were doing, what was happening…and time stretched and expanded. When you are mindful, in the moment and present, you experience the truth, the full measure of every moment.

2. Truth: Three deep breaths reveals the truth of things. Yoga, meditation, writing, and long walks with my dogs–all of my practices do the same. It’s during these specific activities (except for the occasional mindless walking as described above) that I connect with reality, that my mind and body are in the same place, at the same time. Sometimes when I take three deep breaths, I relax and feel lighter, and other times, I start to cry; always, it reveals what is waiting, just below the surface, for me to notice. Learning to stay with it has been so difficult, yet so important. It is in those moments I am alive, awake and open. What else is there?

3. Truth: I don’t need to become something else, because I am already. Again, this is ancient wisdom, not news to many, but I am only now wrapping my head around the idea that what I am meant to be is already there, only needing to be acknowledged and exposed, embodied and manifested rather than collected or earned. I don’t need to change, to improve, to be different. Jonathan Fields wrote a blog post about this the other day, and I keep reading and rereading it. He says “the process of coming alive isn’t about becoming, it’s about uncovering” and

[W]ho you’re meant to be has always been there… the Work lies in reclaiming the ability to see it. In chipping away all the stuff that gets caked on as you go through life. The wounds, the limitations born of the desire to be accepted at any cost, the heartbreak-fueled shrinking away. The psychic grit that comes to form a barrier so opaque as to obscure not only your ability to see, but be who you are.

And, Marianne Williamson says “Now, in this moment, you are who you have always been and will always be. All spiritual practice — forgiveness, meditation and prayer — is for the purpose of training the mind to see through the illusions of a world that would convince you otherwise.”

One wish: That we can all slow down, sink in, show up, stay and connect with reality, with who we are and with what is. Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible–may we keep our hearts open.

Book Writing Saturday

When I first read this message from the Universe, via Andrea Scher (given to me at her Mondo Beyondo session at the World Domination Summit this past summer), I knew it was true. I had absolutely no doubt about it.

I brought the note home with me, carrying it from Portland to Waldport, and then to Fort Collins as if it were a precious gift, a sacred text, a magic object. I placed it on my writing desk with a collection of other important, inspiring items, right where I would see it first thing every morning when I sat down to write.

Before I start a new project, and every Saturday when I sit down to start my four hours of work on my book, I read a prayer, an incantation that includes “I am here to lovingly and gently manifest the basic goodness that is at the heart of all, to embody wisdom and kindness, to be a warrior with a brave and tender heart.” Whether I remember to read it or not, this is always my intention, with my work, my art, my life.

It was clear to me when I first read my message from the Universe, written in Andrea’s handwriting, that “the dream” was to write and publish a book, the book I’ve been living, carrying in my heart. This was obvious to me, no doubt and no confusion. I though the “space” I was to make was obvious too–clear out the space in your schedule, make time. More specifically, I committed to these four hours, Book Writing Saturday.

I still think making time, committing to that is right, but it’s not everything. There is more to “making space” than just making time. Space is freedom. Space is unlimited and boundless, but also the measurable distance between, unoccupied, open, available. Space is the gap, the blank, the breath, the quiet between words. Space is what occupies this moment. Space is where my voice echoes and sounds, takes shape and is heard. Space is open and vast, can accommodate and contain anything and everything, or nothing.

I need to open up space, allow for things to arise (and dissolve) naturally while I remain open and available. I need to clear out the confusion and clutter, quiet the chatter, to simplify, to surrender, to let go. The other part of the book that needs space is the part I’m living, losing the 2nd dog in three years to cancer. Losing Obi started this book, this life rehab, and here I am again. This loss, this letting go needs my attention, my time, my awareness.

I am here to lovingly and gently manifest the basic goodness that is at the heart of all, to embody wisdom and kindness, to be a warrior with a brave and tender heart.

Taking My Time

I’m in this strange space, this odd state today. It feels a bit like being hungover or jet lagged. I think it’s actually World Domination Summit love lag, a possibility hangover accompanied by waves of wonder and magic aftershocks that has brought about a sabbath, a day of rest that fell midweek.

I’m exhausted, existing in a whole other time zone, another reality. All I could manage today was walking the dogs, a shower, eating, and a long nap. This kind of day used to send me into fits. I’d power past the tired and overwhelm, keep working anyway, to the point of collapse or illness, chanting “have to, should, must, already wasted too much time.” I’d drag myself, push and pull and bully and smash myself to bits to get from this moment to the next, not stopping until I’d reached the goal, which I never did because I was always adding more things, having more ideas, creating more tasks for myself.

which way is up?

Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?
~Josh Pais (by way of Danielle LaPorte)

This goal thinking, this endless to-do list, this rush toward the real thing, the important moment, the big accomplishment, the grasping and reaching is exactly the thing that wastes time. It denies this moment, the one I’m in now. Denies my need for rest, to go more slowly, to ruminate and contemplate, to enjoy the ride. It says “hurry up” when I want to lollygag, fool around, dawdle. It rushes to get somewhere else when I long to be here, now.

So for today, I’m allowing myself to take it easy, to go slow, to accept that even if it means I miss out on something, it’s okay. Because what I definitely won’t miss is this moment. It’s all there is, and that’s such a gift, because in this moment there is the sound of the ocean and bird song, sun and a light breeze, two soft and sleepy dogs resting at my feet, my boy on his way to the store to buy vanilla ice cream to go with the peach cobbler he made while I napped, the tap of my finger on the keys and words to string together, and you, dear reader, to tell all this to. There is love and there is time, and that’s more than enough.

I am enough.

what tired looks like

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Peonies. Can’t…get…enough…of…them.

2. Running. This is going to seem confusing to those of you who know how much I hate running. However, my friend Niight challenged a group of us to commit to 30 days of every other day either one mile of running or 20 minutes of yoga, and since I already do at least four yoga classes a week, and I’d wanted to start running again, this was a good opportunity to get some support for it. And it’s really working.

The plan is to run at least one mile on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (the dogs are very supportive of this idea). We have a Facebook group where we post our progress (or complain, or whine, or bitch and moan–but maybe that’s just me?), and it makes a big difference knowing you’ll be checking in. I told them yesterday that “I was met by resistance, reluctance, revolt, refusal, and rage this morning…did…not…want…to…run. But I did, and then, just because I did, I ran some more, almost an extra mile. Why? Because I knew if I didn’t run, I’d have to come here and tell you that, and that might lead to stopping altogether.”

3. Corn on the cob. We had our first of barbeque season this week, and it was so good! Eaten over the sink, no waiting, just like it should be.

4. Hard goodbyes. I had to do one of these this week, but I am comforted in knowing that it was hard because we love each other so much, enjoy each others company, and are sad that we’ll be seeing each other much less now. When it’s hard to say goodbye, that’s a good thing, something to be grateful for, because it means there is love.

5. Vacation. Time off my paid work to spend time on my own work, time to relandscape the front yard, to nap, to hang out with Eric and the dogs, to clean and declutter (okay, so I haven’t done much of that yet), to sit in a lawn chair in the backyard with a book, to stay in my pjs for the whole day.

Bonus joy: I got a spot for Susannah Conway’s book event at Kelly Rae Robert’s Studio in July. There were only 35 spots, so this is precious. And it almost makes up for not being able to attend her event in Boston hosted by the adorable Susan Piver.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: You can’t do everything. Knowing this, there are decisions to be made. At first, this was easy for me. I had accumulated a lot of unnecessary clutter, and a few too many toxic people. In those first innocent days of simplifying, it was really clear what to stop doing, what to get rid of, who to avoid. Getting rid of all the should, have to, obligation, pleasing and performing, striving to be perfect, being bullied, and negative energy was easy once I got started. It was clear when saying “no” was really saying “yes” to something else, something more important and meaningful. Like Austin Kleon suggests in Steal Like an Artist:

Steal Like An Artist - “Be boring”

image by austin kleon

It got harder when I had to start choosing between two things I wanted and loved, when I only had the time, space, and energy for one of them. That’s NOT so easy. Everything left after the first round of elimination is all desirable and loveable, worthy of my time and attention, but I can’t do everything.

2. There is enough time, and time is short. This seems like a brain teaser, and yet the truth of it is so clear. We all know exactly what it means. We don’t need to push, we can relax, but impermanence is real. This video is a perfect illustration of this truth.

Lotte Time Lapse: Birth to 12 years in 2 min. 45. from Frans Hofmeester on Vimeo.

3. Rest and relaxation are key, to balance out all the working and effort. I need to fully learn this, embody it. I need to learn to rest, to slow down, maintain balance. I am headed for a collapse if I don’t, and soon. I need to learn to use my brakes, stop and refuel. I need to pace myself, check myself before I wreck myself.

One wish: That we can all get boring and find the time, space, and energy for what we love most, and let go of what’s no longer working, and RELAX into what is, where we are, as we are, and never forget that gentleness is our superpower.