Tag Archives: Connection

Wishcasting Wednesday

Nurture-the-Creative-Within

On this Wishcasting Wednesday, Jamie asks, “How do you wish to nurture the creative within?”

I wish to provide her space, the time and room to slow down and stretch out, look closely and contemplate, expand and play, twirl around or sit still in a deep, quiet, safe place all her own.

I wish to give her love, an unconditional sense of herself, brilliant and beautiful, wise and compassionate and powerful, seen and valued, precious and protected.

I wish to balance her effort with ease.

I wish to offer her gentleness, to quiet the critical, mean voices, to stop the pushing and smashing, to silence any “should” or “have to” or “can’t” or “not enough.”

I wish to provide her mindfulness, to allow her attention to be fully in the present moment, hands and heart on the same task.

I wish to practice with her, to show up regularly, to maintain a routine, a way of letting her fully touch the work, to repeat and retrace and revise and remember.

I wish to pause with her, because sometimes doing nothing is the exact thing to do, sometimes staying still to stare at your toes or the sky, to feel a soft furry body against the palm of your hand, to notice your breath going in and out is everything.

I wish to soften to allowing, letting go of resistance or rejection or grasping or pushing or hiding, and simply surrender to what is.

I wish to give her courage, the willingness to be vulnerable and weird, accepting the possibility of being wounded, practicing being brave, showing up and being seen.

I wish her to know and attend to her hunger, to not fear or deny her desire and longing, even when it has teeth, even when it rages, even when it wants what is impossible, even when it wants to love the whole world.

I wish to open her to joy, pure feeling, heart wide open, full of light and love.

I wish to surround her with all the tools and resources she needs to do her heart’s work.

I wish for her connection and community, a tribe of understanding and love and support, a collection of artists and healers and teachers, those with big hearts and amazing ideas and the ability to make her laugh until it hurts.

Breathe In the Longing, Breathe Out the Wish

lastretreat

Breathe in the wish, the longing to take away the suffering; breathe out the wish to send comfort and happiness. ~Pema Chödrön

I am allowing myself space on this retreat. As I mentioned yesterday, I dropped the plan, and am instead seeing how things might naturally arise. There is wisdom, clarity that will emerge if you allow it room and time. I am trusting in this.

Today I was very aware of suffering, in the world and in myself. I was touched by the suffering of others, those dealing with illness, death, loss, grief, self-hatred, fear, abuse. I was softened by my own suffering as well, so similar, so much the same. I gently contemplated my regrets, my failures, the ways I’ve lived in the shadows, stayed hidden away and closed off this past year.

Rather than beating yourself up, use your own stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world.

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.

Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings. ~Pema Chödrön

I practiced Tonglen for all of us. In a video I watched, Pema Chödrön talked about how in Tonglen, we “relax into the outbreath,” and how the practice is about sending space, relief and comfort and ease, so that those who are suffering will know that their hearts and minds are indeed big enough to accommodate their discomfort, their fear, their despair, their anger, their physical or emotional anguish.

And today there was also so much joy and gratitude. I experienced compassion and comfort through the connections I’ve made in the past year, long conversations about important things, short exchanges that make me smile so big my face hurts from it, sharing our experiences, cheering each other on. So many brilliant and beautiful women who offer their support, wisdom, kindness, strength, and good humor, who fill my life with so much grace and laughter.

And later into the snow on a walk with my little family, I feel the cold air as I draw it into my lungs, warm it and release it. I feel the strength of my lungs and legs, the willingness of my whole body, my whole self to move. I revel in the company of my three boys, the beauty of the world around us, and wonder at my luck.

I live in a place where every year someone decorates a few of the trees along the trail. I live in a world where people open their hearts to each other, sharing our stories and our pain, a world where people offer each other support and help. A world where every day our hearts are broken, and yet once they are, we see that there is room for all of it, the suffering and the joy, that there is so much to love, to live for.

I’m so glad you are here with me, kind and gentle reader. Life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal–may we keep our hearts open to all of it, may we know that they are big enough to hold all of it.

Gratitude Friday

keepagreentree

Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come.

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. Holiday twinkly lights. During this season that is so dark and cold, I have so much gratitude for the cheer of lights, colored and white, blinking and still, single strands and layered strings, hung on houses and in windows.

2. The Annual Dell Big Crow / Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Holiday Gift Project and “my” Pine Ridge kids. This is my third year doing this. The first year, I got the names and lists of a boy and girl. On the second year, they selected those same two kids for me, randomly and magically. This year, I insisted that if they weren’t already assigned to someone else, that I get “my” kids, which I did. More about the project:

As you may know, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished and marginalized regions in America. While we seek to address the underlying causes of poverty on Pine Ridge, we also recognize the importance of building connections between people on and off the reservation. We work at Pine Ridge throughout the year with Service Learning projects, a winter coat drive, providing families with firewood, home repairs, winterization, and other sustainable development projects.

2012 marks the 7th year of our Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project! Last year, thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, families, hundreds of amazing individual donors, and our colleagues at Colorado State University, the Holiday Project provided gifts to more than 1,100 children and elders on the reservation! Donors like you forwarded the original project email on to their families and friends and we received responses from all over the U.S. as well as Germany, Australia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, France, Japan, Belgium, and Canada! We would like to invite you to contribute a holiday gift for a child or elder this year.

The project is very “grass roots,” since just two of us “Elves” volunteer and coordinate the project. Once again we are working with several reservation school teachers, counselors, community organizers, homeless youth centers, the Pine Ridge Veteran’s Emergency Shelter, etc. in order to identify children and elders with the greatest needs.

It’s really easy to get involved, and there is still plenty of time, still so much need. All you have to do is email Julie Ann Sullivan at julie.sullivan@colostate.edu OR Christine Bartholomew at forepineridge@gmail.com and ask for a name or two, or visit their Facebook page to find out more. I feel so grateful for all that I have, especially during this season of thanksgiving and love, and it is so important to give some of my good away to someone who might not have so much.

3. Magic opportunities, the sharing of good ideas, and genuine, openhearted effort and connection. I didn’t used to have the confidence to say “yes” to this, but now I do, and this past week I have, again and again, and I am so excited about the possibility of this coming year, so curious to see what’s going to happen.

4. Eric, who believes in me, loves me, wants me to be happy. He leaves me love notes, checks books out from the library that he thinks I’d like, celebrates my successes with me, takes care of me when I don’t feel that great, makes me potato soup and biscuits, and walks my dogs.

5. Warmth and shelter when it’s so cold outside. Warm hats and gloves, wool socks, long thick soft sweaters, big fluffy down blankets, a functioning furnace, two dogs who love to snuggle.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. He’s doing so good, has stuck around so long after he was predicted to be gone, that it’s almost easy sometimes to forget that he’s dying. Two months ago, I didn’t dare imagine he’d make it to Thanksgiving, and here we are, there he is with only two weeks to go until Christmas. Here’s a picture of him, from a Christmas five years ago, when he and his favorite big brother Obi were both young and healthy, and cancer wasn’t even something we thought about.

dexterobichristmas

Wishcasting Wednesday

picture from jamie’s post

What do you wish to make room for?

Myself. I am outwardly focused so much of the time (what I have to do for my paid work, what I want to communicate on my blog, what my tiny family needs, what I want to share, what my body requires) that I forget myself, deny myself, abandon and reject myself.

Meditation practice. It’s the thing that gets cheated in a day that’s too busy, when I’m overwhelmed, but it’s the thing that is medicine, a cure and comfort to those conditions.

My hungers and core values. This is an ongoing shifting and clearing to make room. I can get caught up in should and external expectations, in pleasing, perfecting, performing, and these important, deep desires get squashed.

Joy. This hurts to admit, makes me so sad, but I am caught right now in a cycle of dread, panic, and depression, and I’m not allowing for joy. I either “don’t have time,” am too tired, or am so focused on and upset about the bad stuff I can’t see beyond it, can’t see past its shadow. I wish to make room for laughter and light, for softening into appreciation, for joy.

Rest. I’m still so bad at this. I carry a mental to-do list with me everywhere, heavy and long, adding to it and updating it constantly, pushing and doing and going. I wish to make room for relief, relaxation, rest, time to do nothing, accomplish nothing, restore.

Connection and service. These are so deeply wed, so closely joined that I don’t even know how to wish for them separately. I wish to notice and be noticed, to help and belong, to offer love and be loved in return.

Grief. I wish to make room for this profound sadness, the heartbreaking loss, to open up to how big it really is, how vast, to allow it to fill the space it fills.

Uncertainty and impermanence. Instead of rejecting, trying to control, wishing things would be different, I long to open the door, make room for this truth.

Love. There could always be more room for this–the answer to every question, the true and deep longing underlying every other wish ever made.

Day of Rest

It’s not about letting go of worry or getting over fear.

It’s about letting go of the idea that you can control everything, or anything.

It’s about making space for uncertainty and doubt.

It’s about surrendering to impermanence and getting past resistance to change.

It’s about “having the life you want by being present to the life you have,” (the subtitle to Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening).

It’s about confidence, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment,” (the brilliant Susan Piver said that).

It’s about paying attention, being mindful and present.

It’s about letting go of both hope and fear.

It’s about having faith in basic goodness, our innate and fundamental and natural wisdom and compassion, our essential and shared humanity.

It’s about risking heartbreak and failure, knowing that it’s so much better than being numb.

It’s about living a wholehearted life–“engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging,” (from Brene’ Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly).

It’s about refusing to smash yourself to bits, and not being afraid of yourself.

It’s about choosing vulnerability over safety and predictability, letting go of the longing for solid ground, for a life of nothing but happiness and security.

It’s about love.

It’s about having the courage to face your own life, show up, keep your heart open, and allow yourself to be seen.

It’s about being brave.

a winnebago parked in my neighborhood, the brave model

Who’s with me?

Wishcasting Wednesday

Who do you wish to give (or send) a hug?

All the vets, techs, office staff, lab technicians, etc. who helped care for Dexter, and also for Obi and Sam. May they continue to have patience and practice kindness. May their skill continue to grow and manifest.

Susan Piver, for the support she provides, to my practice and to my tender, sad heart, when she is aware of it and even when she’s not. May she continue to be confident and brave, an open-hearted warrior, a kind-hearted and wise teacher.

All the people who’ve offered their good wishes and support as we navigate whatever is going on with Dexter. My they continue to keep their hearts open and to offer help where needed.

My mom, dad, brother, and nieces, my family far away, because living 1200 miles away means I can never do this as much as I’d like to. May they be happy and safe.

The people who first rescued my dogs and cared for them until they could come home to me. May they be rescued, cared for and loved in equal measure.

The women who have helped me believe I can write, who helped me to claim my life as a writer: Cynthia Morris, Anne Lamott, Laurie Wagner, Andrea Scher, Susannah Conway, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Cheryl Strayed, Susan Piver (yes, her again), Geneen Roth, Patti Digh, Jennifer Louden, Jamie Ridler, Cheri Huber, Tara Brach, my WILD writing group, my Artist’s Way group (with an extra big hug for Joyce, our facilitator), and so many more. May these women continue to tell the truth, to shine their light so I can see my way through the dark.

Anyone waiting for biopsy results, or other news that has the potential to change their life, break their hearts. May they be well.

Anyone who thinks they aren’t enough, who believes they have to earn love, who is smashing themselves to bits. May they know love, be filled with it, flooded, overwhelmed, and may they know that they are basically, fundamentally good, wise, kind, and powerful, and nothing can change that.

Anyone trapped in the confusion of their own thoughts and feelings, caught in a sense of being a victim of their life, feeling powerless, helpless, or cheated, feeling angry and hurt. May they wake up, become aware of their ability to choose, to let go of judgement, blame, and suffering. May whatever trauma is weighing them down quickly and easily dissolve.

Anyone suffering from addiction, stuck in habitual patterns and discursive, obsessive thinking that is poisoning them, their mind/heart and their body, their environment and those others in it. May they be released, set free, and may the poison turn to medicine.

Anyone who is convinced of complete despair, who is trapped, stuck, caught in darkness and depression. May they see the light and know joy.

Wishcasting Wednesday

What do you wish to create?

I wish to create a wholehearted life in which I practice self-love and self-care, balance work with play and rest, maintain a healthy body with ease, experience an abundance of gratitude and joy, embody love and kindness and sanity, am mindful and connected and open-hearted and brave.

I wish to create art that inspires and heals, that reminds people of basic goodness and helps to ease suffering in the world.

I wish to create resources (books, art, workbooks, webtexts, videos, podcasts, ecourses, classes, workshops, retreats, etc.) that act as a map for others who want to find their way deeper, to sink more fully into their heart and life.

I wish to create space where people can come together and safely explore what it means to live an authentic, wholehearted life, to practice such a thing.

I wish to create a project or a collective that helps advance health and well-being (clean water, food, access to medical care and education, and the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom) in places where this is the least likely, most difficult.