Day of Rest: Open Space Practice

Even during this timeless time, Sundays maintain a particular quality. They are still a reminder to rest, to slow down, to recover — which is important, no matter what day(s) you choose to honor it. And yet people, including me, are struggling right now to find the balance between effort and ease. Some feel frozen, fatigued, stuck. Others can’t stop moving, struggle with the need to “stay in place,” feel agitated by the isolation, the restrictions. My husband, in high demand right now because of his experience with online learning, worked close to 60 days without taking a full day off.

As a contemplative practice guide, this time has both limited and expanded my opportunities. I can’t teach in person right now and don’t know when I’ll be able to again, yet still long to offer something to ease suffering. I knew I could offer practices online, could record things and share them, but I’d never done that before, didn’t even know where to start.

Then one of my students from the weekly yoga class I was teaching “before” called with a request. She told me how much everyone was missing me, and asked was there a way we could put something together for them, so they could practice with me again? I had already been considering it, and told her I’d put something together.

It took longer than you might expect, as everything seems to with me. First I had to sit with my resistance. I was grieving my opportunity to teach in person. I am used to putting my body in front of a room full of people, having them watch me move, watch me sometimes struggle to move. Old me, with all of my body issues, still lingers, sometimes cranking up the judgment, even spiraling into shame, but I overcome that, am buoyed by the connection with other humans, comforted by their effort and openness, and I know that when I teach, it’s not about me. Teaching on video felt like it would put the focus back on me, my body and voice, the way I move and what I say, centering me, isolating me in a way I thought would feel lonely, weird, uncomfortable. I needed to work through that.

I decided the only way forward was to lower the bar. I’d start with a seated meditation practice first, then a seated asana practice before I did a full Hatha asana practice. I also kept in mind this was not a project or a product, and it didn’t have to be perfect. I’d been thinking about creating some teaching videos before, so people who weren’t geographically close could practice with me, and this seemed like a low stakes way of trying that. Also, who knows how long “this” will last, and, not to be morbid, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be one of the ones to survive it, so this could also be something to leave for those who love me and might miss me later.

The next step was to find a place where I could film. This is harder than it may seem. Our house is only 1080 square feet, not “open concept,” so finding a space big enough to fit my mat and for me to move around but also where I could place a recording device far enough away that I could be seen standing or lying down wasn’t easy. And, Eric is working from home right now and is home most of the time. I did a “location scout” and there were two places where I could teach asana, one other I could use to teach meditation. This meant some clean up and rearranging of furniture and negotiating with Eric’s work schedule, but ultimately workable.

I spent a day cleaning up my practice space (so much dog hair and dust!), putting clean sheets on our futon and moving my yoga stuff into the garage, cleaning up the last bit of junk in the garage and putting a load of stuff to take to ARC in the car. I cleaned it up to use as a place to film meditation practices, but also just in case one of us gets sick and needs to quarantine ourselves. At first, Eric said that was dumb cause we’d probably both get sick at the same time so what’s the point, but I told him even if we could stagger it by a few days, so only one of us would be in the worst of it at a time, it would be better. I bought a humidifier, a pulse oximeter, acetaminophen, tissues with lotion, cough suppressant, chicken noodle soup, frozen orange juice, and Gatorade. Next I need to get a few folks to agree to take care of our dogs if we can’t and put together a file with our living wills and information so Eric could pay our bills and instructions about the dogs. I’ve been putting this sort of prep off because even though it will mean I’m ready, I’m so NOT ready, and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.

Finally the day came when I was ready to try and record something. It took some time to figure out the best camera to use and the placement that would allow the best view. I still had no idea when I started recording if I could do a longer video on my phone and if I could do it without a secondary microphone. I was nervous, did one short test video before recording the real thing. I was totally sweating (an unfortunate side effect of the Zoloft), they were working on a gas line right in front of our house, and Eric was waiting until I finished to take a shower because our main bathroom is right across the hall from my practice space. Even with all that distraction, I recorded the video in one take. Any time I felt distracted, unsure of what came next, I simply paused and took a breath. I fairly quickly and easily settled into “teaching mode,” imagined my regular students watching, there with me, and I felt okay about it, was satisfied with how it turned out.

Here it is, kind and gentle reader. “A short practice (including a body scan, calming breath exercises, a heart-centered loving-kindness mediation for ourselves and as an offering to others, ending with ‘breath of joy’) to cultivate a sense of well-being (safety, ease, comfort, joy, etc.) to counter the unpredictable and stressful nature of current times.”

I had planned on waiting another week to do another video. But then Eric decided to take Ringo hiking yesterday, so I knew I’d have the house all to myself, that Sam would spend the time quietly sleeping on the couch, and if I was going to do another video, it would be a good time. I already had an idea for a seated asana practice with meditation, so I set up in the dining room and stared to record. Again, I was super sweaty, like one long hot flash, and I felt more awkward than during the first video. At one point, during the meditation, I mistakenly thought the recording had stopped, got up to check my phone only to see it was still recording, so there was about 30 seconds I’d need to edit out before posting, and for some reason the camera kept blurring and refocusing so the visual quality overall isn’t the best. It also turns out I didn’t have enough memory on my phone for the full 40 minute video, so I was going to have to splice two videos together. After a day filled with frustrating tech issues where I learned a lot about what not to do next time, I finally posted a finished video.

Besides technical issues, I had some more personal issues with this video. Old body shaming voices came up as I watched what I’d recorded, the ones who five years ago would have convinced me I should never share the video because I was too disgusting to look at, that people were going to judge me. The judgment came up but it didn’t lead to a shame spiral, I didn’t smash myself to bits because of it. I didn’t act on that feeling, didn’t make a plan to change my body, didn’t accept that there was anything wrong with me or that my body needed to be a project.

Here’s that one. “Practicing staying open to what arises, even when it’s difficult. A shorter, seated asana practice that can be done sitting in a chair or on the floor, followed by a short meditation.”

I still have a lot to learn, especially about how to make something of quality but with ease. People who do this more professionally have all the equipment to “do it right” but I just want it to be simple. I hope I never have the need to monetize my teaching in this particular way, that I can just give it away for free or not do it at all. It might be a mess but it’s true, take it or leave it. May it be of benefit, may it ease someone’s suffering — at the end of the world, in the middle of nowhere.

Gratitude Friday

1. Working in the garden with Eric. I am so happy that Eric loves to garden as much as I do. We had to take a few days off because it’s been raining, but we’ll get back out there this weekend, keep at the weeds. It’s also getting close to time when we can put the seedlings he’s been tending into the ground. We still need to get Japanese cucumbers and basil, and I’d like more daisies and some chamomile, as well as some more bulbs. I also wouldn’t say no to more peonies.

2. Grocery pick-up. It’s not a perfect system, but so much better than having to go in. This week, I screwed up our grocery order. Let me explain: They do substitutions if something isn’t available, but it has to be a pretty exact match. For example, if they are out of the organic sharp white cheddar I like, they won’t substitute the Tillamook sharp white cheddar because it’s not organic, even though to me that’s an appropriate alternative. So, to “fool” the system, if I really need the cheese, for example, I’ll put both on my order, the one I prefer and the one that is acceptable, and in that way, I usually will at least get one of them, and if I get double, no biggie. Well, we had a hard time getting dish soap so in my initial order this week, I selected multiple options, never intending to leave them all in my cart. You can update your order up until midnight the day before, so my initial order when I reserve the pick up time is never the final version, but somehow this week when I updated the order, it didn’t go through so when we picked up Monday morning, we got a whole lot of dish soap and not much else. I tried again and did better. Fun fact: Dot’s pretzels and frozen pancakes and Caesar salad mix are my pandemic foods.

3. Online yoga classes. I miss being with people, in the same room as them, practicing together, but I am not complaining about being able to show up just a few minutes before class starts and still get a good spot, and being able to practice in my pajama pants and no bra because no one can see me.

4. Preparing and eating food. I feel really lucky that Eric and I are both good cooks, and that we have the supplies we need to put together things we are happy to eat. He made me English muffin bread this week and I’m going to make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

5. My tiny family. Thank goodness we enjoy spending time together but also know how to give each other space in this tiny house.

Bonus joy: Being back in Laurie’s Wild Writing Friday morning class, figuring out how to make a meditation video and finishing it in one take (more on that on Sunday), hanging out with my aqua aerobics pal Janice, hanging out with Mikalina, singing with Ringo, cuddling with Sam, texting with my mom and brother, toast, clean sheets, so much good TV, good books, good podcasts, getting the garage cleaned out, laundry done and put away, stimulus checks, thunderstorms at night, how green our backyard is, dandelions, lilacs on my meditation shrine, naps, tacos, drinking a cup of hot half cocoa and half coffee while I write in the morning, tater tots, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep.

Something Good

It’s hard to see, but the ripple in the water on the right is a beaver

1. A situation vs a slog from Seth Godin.

2. Good stuff from Dances with Fat: International No Diet Day And The Life I Could Have Had and When Celebrities Lose Weight, because this:

…while people – including celebrities – can do whatever they want with their bodies, their choices have meaning and consequences. And choosing to participate in intentional weight loss, or to celebrate weight loss of any kind, supports weight stigma and perpetuates eating disorders by promoting the idea that a thin(ner) body is a better/more attractive/healthier body, which is at the root of fatphobia.

3. Judith Butler: Mourning Is a Political Act Amid the Pandemic and Its Disparities.

4. ‘Heads we win, tails you lose’: how America’s rich have turned pandemic into profit. The things that are “wrong” now, “happening” now, were actually already wrong and happening, it’s just that this crisis is highlighting it. It’s so simple: we have to do better or none of us will survive what’s coming, not even those sitting on a pile of money.

5. After the deaths, holiness from Rabbi Rachel Barenblat.

6. 10 Life Lessons Learned From a Decade of Blogging from Be More With Less.

7. ‘Double-Rainbow Guy’, Paul L. Vasquez, Dead at 57, most likely from COVID-19. “Yosemite, California, man became an early 2010s internet sensation with his ecstatic nature video.”

8. Castle Rock restaurant reopens to Mother’s Day crowds in defiance of statewide public health order. This is TERRIFYING. You hear how “we are all in this together” or “this virus is the great equalizer,” when clearly that’s not the case. There are both economic disparities and racial divides that mean some people are suffering more, have lost more, and are at more risk. This restaurant opening against orders, the people flooding in, smushed in there together with no one wearing masks, makes me realize we are experiencing this in very different ways, and there’s a large number of people who don’t take it seriously at all, some who even think it’s a hoax or that we are overreacting, that it is “just like the flu” and that the risk to them is small. This is what willful ignorance looks like, and sadly these people aren’t just harming themselves. The choices we all make have consequences, and some outcomes cause harm to others, even as those others are doing everything they can to manage their risk. Either you are helping or harming, and it’s clear the choice these people made. I suppose they most likely watched and believed this: Seen ‘Plandemic’? We Take A Close Look At The Viral Conspiracy Video’s Claims. They should have read this instead: The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them.

9. An 11-Year-Old Girl Writes To Thank Her Mailman. Postal Workers Write Back.

10. Not everything will be okay (but some things will) from Austin Kleon.

11. Write = right? from Paul Jarvis.

12. How ‘Anticipatory Grief’ May Show Up During the COVID-19 Outbreak. “There’s a lot to be grieving right now with the recent COVID-19 outbreak. There’s a collective loss of normalcy, and for many of us, we’ve lost a sense of connection, routine, and certainty about the future. Some of us have already lost jobs and even loved ones. And most, if not all of us, have a lingering sense that more loss is still to come. That sense of fearful anticipation is called ‘anticipatory grief,’ and it can be a doozy.”

13. Here are the top 10 coronavirus safety tips for groceries. (video) Most of these tips are related to actually going in the store to pick and pay for your own groceries.

14. hi.this.is.tatum, a hilarious video compilation, a dog talking in the funniest voice.

15. Workers Are No Longer Heroes, Kroger Concludes. This is so disappointing.

16. Mom Shares 30 Times Her 6-Year-Old Boy Cleverly Stalled Her With Questions Before Bedtime.

17. 10 Books Recommended by Pulitzer Prize Winners.

18. Meet Magnolia, Gerber’s New Spokesbaby.

19. Comedy Clubs Are Closed, So To Reach Audiences, Comics Have To Improvise.

20. Two penguins at the Oregon Zoo, Nacho and Goat, went for a hike earlier this week. (video)

21. Fuck the Bread. The Bread Is Over.

22. Mom forgot to give her adorable son a kiss before she left for work. (video)

23. They are the most popular mariachi on TikTok. (video)

24. Nikole Hannah-Jones, Creator of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, Awarded 2020 Pulitzer Prize. In related news, ‘This American Life,’ Now a Pulitzer Winner, Is Once More a Pioneer on The New York Times. “This week, the venerable radio show and podcast received the first Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting.”

25. Susan Piver: Buddhist Wisdom to Meet the Challenge of the Pandemic on Economics & Beyond with Rob Johnson podcast. “Susan Piver—a writer on meditation and Buddhist teachings and founder of the Open Heart Project—talks to Rob about how Buddhist ideas of being grounded in the present can help us get through the uncertain times of this pandemic.”

26. Grocery Worker [of 32 years] Has Never Seen Shelves Being Emptied Like This.

27. The morgue worker who buys a daffodil for each body bag. May she continue to be safe and well.

28. 13 Ways To Stop Your Glasses From Fogging Up While Wearing A Face Mask.

29. Yoga alone, together. “The rise of at-home fitness made Yoga With Adriene a YouTube sensation. Then the pandemic hit.”

30. Humorist Lightens Depression’s Darkness By Talking (And Laughing) About It.

31. More interviews with poets by Laurie Wagner: Marie Howe and Lauren Fleshman.

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. It’s reached the time of year when we no longer need a headlamp, but not quite yet when we need to wear our sunglasses first thing. I sure wish my dumb foot would feel better so I could go more often.

2. Wild Writing, both with Laurie’s 27 Wildest Days (which is free and available for sign up until May 11th) and once again with Mikalina and Chloe’ in Laurie’s Friday morning class. Just like meditation and yoga, this practice is essential, both magic and medicine. I’m so glad to be practicing it regularly again. If this is the end of the world, this is one of the ways I want to spend it.

3. Lilac season, which also means flowers in the bathroom after a really really long time. Every year when I was working at CSU, I’d pretty much miss lilac season because it was also the two weeks of the year that were the busiest for me. It’s one of the things I was most looking forward to upon retiring, being able to really enjoy the lilacs with ease, to truly inhabit the moment. That is exactly what’s happening this year, although with the additional element of a global pandemic.

4. Practice. The routine of it each morning has always been a good thing, sacred, but now it’s also necessary, essential in a whole other way, an act of survival.

5. The comfort of cooking and eating good food. Eric and I can’t stop eating these pretzels. Last week I ordered two zucchini with our groceries because glazed lemon zucchini cake and ultimate zucchini bread with toasted walnuts. I also accidentally ordered THREE dozen eggs so there was also breakfast bake.

6. Yard time, sitting in the sun with the dogs.

7. My tiny family. There’s no one I’d rather be with right now.

Bonus joy: weeding the flowerbeds (I know, I’ve completely lost my mind), hanging out with Chloe’ and Mikalina on Zoom, texting with my mom and brother, how green everything is right now, naps, good TV and movies, good podcasts, good books, good music, people risking their lives to provide food and healthcare for the rest of us, the buds on my irises and peonies that will open into flowers, the worms working in my dirt, the honeybees, the hummingbirds, HIIT workouts with Eric, watching Antiques Roadshow with Eric, laughing so hard with Eric that I accidentally farted which only made us laugh even harder, cuddling with Sam, playing with Ringo, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, chewable vitamins.

 

“here in these minutes that fell off the clock”

There are so few people I dare now hug—
our hands, our bodies dangerous—
but here in this house so still I can almost
hear him growing, here in these minutes
that fell off the clock, here I remember
how surely we baptize each other with touch.

~from “Quarantine” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I can be impatient with the healing process, with growth and change. Once the goal becomes clear, I want to skip ahead, push forward, plow through any obstacles and just be there already. What I forget is if it took a decade or more to get to where I am now, it’s going to take time, sustained effort, and patience to shift things. I was actively burnt out, depleted and desperate for over a decade. A few months isn’t going to heal that, even a full year won’t. “This is a marathon not a sprint,” as they say. This is about learning to be still, cultivating rest, being wholeheartedly unproductive, pacing myself, having the patience to wait until the time is right to move, until the right action is clear, sustainable. This is about love, about staying tender and keeping my heart open.

On the shelf, out of the way, put aside temporarily, postponed, inactive. For years, I avoided any activity that required wearing a swimming suit in public. I said I hated the pool, but it was more about my fear of drowning, looking unattractive, being awkward. I took swimming lessons as a kid, but they only taught me to be insecure and afraid, so I avoided the water. When I turned 50, my knees were cranky enough from arthritis and injuries, I had to give up high impact activities. I decided to try aqua aerobics. Turns out, I LOVE the pool, the feeling of moving through the water. That next summer, I took swimming lessons from the kindest teacher who helped me overcome enough of my fear to swim. For two years, I’ve gone in the pool at least five days a week. Now, the gym is closed, the risk too high, and my suits hang in the laundry room, shelved and waiting.

Small things on the shrine on my writing desk, little reminders. The rainbow pig stick pin I’ve had since grade school, a love note from Eric, a rainbow heart and rock and pin from a dear friend, the tiny talisman my therapist gave me after three years of therapy centered around my 30+ years of disordered eating, one of Ringo’s baby teeth, the smallest most powerful Ganesha (remover of obstacles), a Barbie poodle from when I was little, a jar with some of Dexter’s ashes, Eric’s baby spoon, feathers and rocks, a fortune that says, “Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself.”

Spending some time in the yard and sun with the dogs, I realized a heartbreaking truth: I am currently living the life I always wanted. Staying home, spending more time with my tiny family, reading, writing, practicing yoga and meditation, taking pictures, working in the garden, cooking, watching tv and listening to podcasts, posting to my blog, zooming and texting with friends and family, playing on social media, writing with two of my favorite teachers, taking long naps. I had reached over to pet Sam, was listening to the latest episode of “Do You Need A Ride,” the sun was warm and the wind blowing just enough, and I was aware of how content and at ease I felt — this, during a global pandemic, at what seems like the end of the world in the middle of nowhere.

I was talking with one of Sam’s vets yesterday. She’d remarked how tired she was, and I said everyone is extra tired right now. We are all holding space for two things that are true but also seem to be in conflict: life goes on and it might just be the end of the world. Bills still need paid, laundry has to be done, meals need cooked and dogs walked. We still wake up in the morning with a plan for what we need to get done that day. And yet, we are starkly aware of the shadow of death, hovering just next to and slightly behind us. We keep moving forward, but also must make a certain peace with the end. If we can stay with this moment, if we can stay tender and open, we can consider how we want to live, at the same time we contemplate our death.

Something Good

1. Poetry & Writing Archive at OnBeing. “Poetry rises up in human societies when official words fail us and we lose sight of how to find our way back to one another. It has moved to the heart of what we offer on the radio and in podcasts, in digital spaces, and in gatherings.”

2. Thoughts on “I’m bored” from Seth Godin. Also from Seth, Forward.

3. Buddhist Teachings, Wisdom, and Practices for the Coronavirus Era from Lion’s Roar.

4. In a Pandemic, Is ‘Wellness’ Just Being Well-off?

5. Mapping Our Social Change Roles in Times of Crisis. “Identifying the right actions in times of crisis requires reflection, and it’s in that spirit that I’m offering a new version of a mapping exercise that helps us identify our roles in a social change ecosystem…This exercise can especially be helpful to re-align ourselves when we feel lost, confused, and uncertain in order to bring our fullest selves to the causes and movements that matter to us.”

6. Write Yourself Free: A Six-Week (LIVE) Online Writing Series for Women with Julia Fehrenbacher.

7. Writing Advice In The Age Of The Pandemic from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds. Also, Chuck posted the question “what was your weirdest or most embarrassing injury” on Twitter, and here are the responses.

8. Ways We Accidentally Continue To Participate In Diet Culture from Dances with Fat.

9. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: Nobody knows anything (the article he links to in this post is worth a read as well, Two Errors Our Minds Make When Trying to Grasp the Pandemic), and poetry is Language made special, and The calm of collage.

10. Wisdom from a recent newsletter from Jenna Hollenstein, “In the Buddhist sense, however, the word discipline has a completely different connotation. It is not about overriding our desires or rigidly applying rules despite changing conditions…True discipline is about coming back to the present moment. Again and again and again…Whenever we find ourselves lost in our anxious or controlling minds, ruminating on obsessive thoughts, criticizing our non-compliant bodies – we notice, we come back, we consult our present-moment bodies, asking ‘What am I feeling? What do I need right now?'”

11. My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? on The New York Times Magazine. “Forced to shutter Prune, I’ve been revisiting my original dreams for it — and wondering if there will still be a place for it in the New York of the future.”

12. It’s okay to be doing okay during the pandemic. “Stop feeling guilty. Start being useful.”

13. Still Lives on The New York Times. “In this unnatural state of isolation, photographers show us the things that bind.”

14. Joy Harjo Gets A Second Term As U.S. Poet Laureate.

15. COVID-19 News: Colorado Purchased 100K COVID-19 Tests From South Korea and ‘Kept It Under Wraps’ to Avoid Feds Seizure, Says Governor, and So You’ve Got Coronavirus. Now what?, and Coronavirus ‘reinfections’ were false positives, says WHO technical lead, and Gyms in some states are starting to reopen. Is it actually safe to go?, and Trump’s Response to Virus Reflects a Long Disregard for Science on The New York Times, and 5 lessons from the coronavirus about inequality in America, and Colin Kaepernick Launches COVID-19 Relief Fund for Communities of Color, and Why losing a loved one amid COVID-19 means a different kind of goodbye, and These reps say the coronavirus crisis has proven just how badly Americans need universal health care (video), and The whiteness of anti-lockdown protests, and Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide on The New York Times.

16. The Most Beautiful Flower Garden In The World Has No Visitors For The First Time In 71 Years And I Got To Capture It.

17. This daddy-daughter story time is the most precious thing we’ve seen all day! (video) In related news, another kind of music, This duet is everything you need to brighten up your day today. (video)

18. Baby can’t stop laughing at his playful dog. (video)

19. Beyond Harry Potter: 40 Fantasy Adventure Series Starring Mighty Girls.

20. Recipes I want to try: Roasted Cauliflower And Curry Soup and Fried Cornbread – Southern Cornmeal Hoecakes.

21. The Reclusive Food Celebrity Li Ziqi Is My Quarantine Queen on The New York Times. “In isolation, the D.I.Y. fantasy world of the Chinese YouTube star is a dreamy escape, and a lesson in self-reliance.”

22. Interview with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer by Laurie Wagner. (video)

23. If You’ve Always Wanted To Write A Book, Here’s How.

24. Americans Share How Much Their Hospital Bills Have Gone Down Just Because They Asked For An Itemized Receipt.

25. Land O’Lakes Took The “Butter Maiden” Off Their Packaging And Now People Are Having Meltdowns Over It. In related news, There’s another story behind that Land O’Lakes butter box.

26. The impulse to garden in hard times has deep roots.

27. Advice For Dealing With Uncertainty, From People Who’ve Been There.

27 Wildest Days: When the Virus Came

I started writing with Laurie Wagner eight years ago. When I quit my job last May, almost a full year ago now, I quit a lot of other things too, and writing with Laurie was one of them. I was in the process of calling all my energy back to myself, back to my core. I wanted to know what might arise if I slowed down, let go of all my projects, made space. In practical terms, I no longer had much of an income and wasn’t sure when that might change, so I thought it best to not spend any extra money until I was more settled into retirement.

The problem is that writing with Laurie isn’t a luxury, it’s essential. Once the world shifted, I thought I should get back to practicing with Laurie, but because she’s no longer teaching her classes in person, all the online sections filled. Luckily, she announced her 27 Wildest Days offering, “27 brand new videos that offer you a chance to create a daily writing practice on your own. Each day you’ll get a very short – under 10 minutes – video from me telling you something about Wild Writing, reading you a poem and giving you a couple of jump off lines. From there you will write on your own for 15 minutes. You don’t send me anything, it’s not a class, just a chance for you to lay it down and get real on the page.”

When I took my first class with Laurie, I posted an open love letter to her on my blog, which started with,

Certain people that you encounter in your life will change you, alter the way you experience the world in significant and long lasting ways. The impact of their light, their nakedness, their wild love continues to ripple and shiver and quake all corners of your life, sending out aftershocks that continue long after your focused time together, making things forever different, illuminated. Laurie Wagner is one of those people.

I just love her so much. And I’m so happy to be writing with her again. Even though she’s sending an email every day, and I could do the practice every day, I’ve been saving the prompts and videos, savoring them, wanting them to last a little longer. Here’s what I wrote in response to the day one prompt, which was essentially a reflection on “when the virus came,” and more specifically I started with “I wanna tell you about…”

Neighborhood grade school’s playground is wrapped in caution tape, recess is cancelled

I wanna tell you about how at the beginning of all this, the staying home, Eric working from home, it was clear that Eric needed projects, was restless and if that energy went on for too long without somewhere to land, he’d become irritated, frustrated, so I asked him to trim down the rose bushes in front of the house. They are climbing roses, but someone planted them directly in front of the big window in our living room. They grow tall, trying to climb but without anything to attach to, eventually blocking the light, so I cut them way back each year.

Said roses

I asked Eric to do it for me this year but we haven’t been able to find the clippers and now it might be too late because they already started to bud out tiny leaves, sending energy and effort all the way up the stalks I wanted cut down. And then, this morning, a robin sat on the very top of one of those stalks and it really seemed too late, like the moment to make the change had passed and now both the buds and the birds were making use of, even needing the things I wanted rid of.

I wanna tell you that just days before the first wave of shut downs, people still didn’t know much about the virus, weren’t taking it seriously, weren’t thinking about it much, weren’t preparing for it yet, but me, I spent four days in a row going to the grocery store, each day thinking of a few more things we might need, still only thinking in terms of two weeks, 14 days, and the third trip to the store, I bought two packs of toilet paper and Eric made fun of me, but just two days later, not only was the toilet paper all gone but also most of the paper towels, napkins, wipes, and tissues, and I had to wait in line for 45 minutes at the check out, how we all stood so close together.

That same day, classes moved online at CSU and FRCC for the rest of the spring semester. Two days later, group fitness classes at the gym were cancelled. By the end of the week, the gym was closed altogether, all restaurants had moved to take-out or delivery only. My yoga class I teach was cancelled indefinitely and the classes I took were moved to Zoom. My massage was rescheduled, my haircut canceled, Sam’s teeth cleaning postponed. We started to be more careful about using all our perishable foods, shifted to picking up our groceries without needing to go inside the store, wore masks, waited in the car while Sam went in for his physical therapy — which he was much better at without me there to distract him. Then it became clear we’d need to cancel our trip to Oregon this summer. My mom got a smartphone and learned to text on the Tuesday of the week everything shut down and I took my first dose of Zoloft.

I got a new shirt