Category Archives: Unravelling

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: The secret to flight, to freedom is to open your heart. For the longest time I’ve been gluing found feathers to my sleeves and in my hair, drawing ink outlines of wings on the skin of my back, buying angel wings intended to be used for Halloween costumes, reading books on the mechanics of flight, imagining that in this way I would eventually learn to fly. Flight–the journey through space, movement through time, escape from fixed ideas and expectations, freedom doesn’t happen this way. Instead I have to relax, let go, leap or float away, open my heart and let it all in, soar in a way that is entirely different than birds do.

2. Truth: Unravelling, being broken can wake you up, give you back your life. When this started to happen to me–trauma, loss, grief, suffering–I imagined myself a perfectly constructed sweater being unravelling loop by loop, stitch by stitch, falling apart, but it turns out it was more like a tangled mess of Christmas lights, usable and workable only after they were unravelled–only then could they be lit up, only then could they color the darkness. I lost so much, only to discover what was true, what was real, what mattered in the ashes of my life after the burning. At times, it felt like dying, but it was only after, shaky and raw, that I felt fully alive, broken open.

3. Truth: Courage and vulnerability are essential, the only way to stay awake. Courage is the ability to do something that scares you, to have strength in the face of pain or grief. To be vulnerable is to be exposed potential harm, to possibly be hurt, wounded. To love what is mortal, to open my heart and be present with whatever arises, to be fully alive, awake and present, to accept impermanence is to be both vulnerable and courageous.

One wish: May we be brave even as we are broken. May we keep our hearts open knowing that we are vulnerable, that we’ll be hurt. May we have the courage to unravel, to fly, to love, to stay awake to life as it comes, whether terrible or tender, beautiful or brutal.

Instructions for Living a Life

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
~Mary Oliver

This morning, walking the dogs with Eric, I saw: a huge tree that’s been dead for a long time finally fell down (and it was big enough that it certainly went “boom” when it did), a dead beaver carcass, two white tailed deer, one whose tail wasn’t quite working so it might be hurt, one massive turtle still looking for a spot to lay her eggs walking like a tiny dinosaur through the grass by the creek between Wood Duck Pond and the McMurray Ponds (same exact date we saw her last year, so May 31st is now officially Turtle Day), two mini Herons, one of which looked more like a Penguin as he stood on a log fishing (turns out they are actually called a Black Crowned Night Heron), one large Blue Heron in flight over the river that later was heard squawking and flying in the other direction, and finally, a bicycle parade.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Black Crowned Night Heron

I received gifts: access to workshops with amazing women at the World Domination Summit in July (yoga with Marianne Elliott, Writing with Susannah Conway, Book Content Mapping with Cynthia Morris, and Identifying Superpowers with Andrea Scher…holy wow, such amazing women that I so adore, my head/heart might explode), my Kickstarter reward from Danielle Ate the Sandwich arrived, along with her new album, which is every bit as good as I knew it would be, and I found a heart-shaped rock on our walk.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

I gave gifts: some were shared words of wisdom and kindness, others were scholarships for Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project Practitioner level, and finally there was my heART exchange project, which I finally finished and mailed to Australia today. I plan to write a post about the process (I didn’t just make something, I learned stuff) once my swap partner receives it.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

heART exchange project sneak peek

Tribe: it’s Tribe week in my Unravelling ecourse with Susannah Conway, so I’ve been thinking a lot about that, how we can be a tribe of one even. I spent a little bit of time being a tribe of one, writing and eating lunch while waiting for a friend to arrive so we could be a tribe of two and have a long talk about perfection, art, boundaries, dogs and trust. Then, I spent part of the afternoon having another long talk with another good friend, drinking mango lemonade and eating a blue flower cookie as big as my head. I have amazing women in my life, in my tribe.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Yay Turkey, Split Pea Soup, Root Beer, and a notebook at Red Table.

I’ve had moments of being wholehearted, with myself and others in my tribe. These two quotes from Anne Lamott remind me how wonderful and difficult that is: “The love and good and the wild and the peace and creation that are you will reveal themselves, but it is harder when they have to catch up to you in roadrunner mode” and “We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” I am reminded to slow down, stop doing so much and be.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

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. The afterglow of “Fearless Creativity.” It was magic, and it was medicine, and it continues to shine, to soothe me.

2. Photo Editing. This black and white from this weekend makes me look at least ten years younger, and editing makes photography doubly fun–first taking the picture, then playing with it.

3. Older Dexter. At almost nine years old, he is so adorable and sweet and gray, and so much calmer and complacent than he was as a younger man. I want to keep him forever.


4. Young Sam. He is equal parts cute and handsome, playful and calm. I want to keep him forever.

5. Confidence. After so many years without it, it feels incredible.

6. Seeing Eric. Between his conference and my retreat last week, over the course of seven days we only saw each other once, for three hours. Seeing him again was so great. I want to keep him forever.

7. English Department Retreat. I don’t think it’s news to anyone that I don’t always love my paid work. And at yesterday’s retreat, there were moments of eye rolling and tension, but for the most part, it was great to reconnect as a whole department, to dream together about how good things can be, to give support to the suffering that can happen along the way, and to be reminded how funny, smart, creative, and interesting we all are.

8. Ingrid Michaelson concert with a dear friend. My friend and I are both busy, don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like, and when we do, we don’t get to talk as much as we like, so this was a good chance to do that. And, the concert was really good. Seeing Ingrid sing “Ghost” live gave me goosebumps. Her voice is so much bigger and she rocks so much harder than I expected. And, there was a super sweet stranger who had his friends scoot over and who sat by himself on a step, on the floor, so we could sit in regular seats. Dude, wherever you are, I hope you know how awesome you are.

9. The surprise smell of lilacs. They are in crazy bloom right now, all over town, and I keep getting surprised by them, smelling before seeing.

10. Being told I have the perfect mix of comedy and insight.

11. People clapping when I talked about how important it was to value having a healthy whole life, not just “work/life” balance.

12. A message from someone I admire, saying it had been a delight to meet me in person.

13. Unravelling class started, and Telling True Stories continues. And, I have some serious catching up to do with them this weekend.