Tag Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Everything has changed; everything is the same. The squirrels still treat our compost pile like a 24 hour “all you can eat” buffet. Spring is rising, things turning green and blooming, so many more hours of light. Every day the dogs get up at 5 am, eat breakfast, and go on a walk. I do yoga, meditate, and write. I hang out with Mikalina on Zoom every Thursday. I’m still burnt out and take lots of naps. I water the plants, do laundry, and put clean sheets on the bed once a week. I pay the bills, still love payday. I read in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep. And yet, the dogs “go to work” with Eric in the office at the back of our tiny house, the one that used to be exclusively mine. My office is the kitchen table. I haven’t been in a pool, sauna, group in-person yoga class, grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, movie theater, or bookstore for six weeks. We are going to cancel the reservation we had for 10 days at the beach, the longer trip we’d planned to visit family in Oregon this summer, and we can’t be sure when we’ll get to go again, when we’ll see them again. Eric and I are home together all day, every day, except the mornings I sleep in while he walks the dogs. When I take the dogs to the vet, I wait in the car while they go inside. I order groceries online and pick them up, never going inside the store. I’m better about using our fruits and vegetables before they go bad and get put in the compost pile. Some days, Eric and I literally forget to shower. I haven’t had to put gas in my car for weeks. My yoga classes are all on Zoom. I text my mom and brother at least every other day. It’s so hard to focus, get things done with the end of the word shadowing me. Sometimes when I first wake up, I forget the current state of things, but just like grief, I quickly remember and it all comes rushing back.

2. Truth: Some things I miss; some things I don’t. I miss the pool and the sauna. I miss teaching my yoga class, group in-person yoga classes, the way the light comes through the three tall windows at Om Ananda Yoga. I miss tea with Chloe’, laughing and crying sitting at her big dining room table covered with art projects, poetry and books, drinking tea out of the pretty little antique china cups she has with her sweet dogs nearby. I miss grocery shopping, going in the store with a list but also allowing myself to add things as I go. Bumping into people, literally bumping bodies, being close enough for that to happen, without worry, the apologies and assurances that follow. Hugging anyone other than Eric. Eating meals in a restaurant, sharing a meal, catching up with friends across the table. Having Jon and Chelsey over for dinner, or going to a movie with them, or even alone. Movie theater popcorn and fountain drinks. Meeting Carrie somewhere for coffee or a meal, working to solve all the world’s problems in an hour or two. Thrift store shopping. Food someone other than Eric or I cooked. Playdates with our dog friends. Not being able to meet new puppies or babies in person. Playgrounds, not for me but for the kids who would play on them. Live music. Poetry readings. Live comedy shows. Meeting with my therapist in person. Haircuts. MASSAGES — *sigh* Bookstores, the browsing, picking up books to read the back cover, flip through the pages, and putting them back on the shelf. Someone stopping to ask if I needed help finding anything. Watching movies with my mom. Walking on the beach. Shopping at the nursery for new plants for the garden. Lord help me, I even miss small talk. I don’t miss my old job at CSU, the way I would feel when I had something scheduled but really just wanted to stay home, missing Eric while he was at work, things that are loud, driving 1200 miles with two dogs in the car, the pressure to be productive, having to dress appropriately for “being out in public,” wearing things like actual pants and a bra.

3. Truth: We work towards a better world, even knowing we’ll fail. I’m realizing that there are always going to be assholes, always going to be obstacles and problems. As a Buddhist, I practice accepting that life is suffering — this isn’t just true, it’s one of the Four Noble Truths, the foundation of Buddhist philosophy. It’s a delicate balance though, a real brain teaser to be working actively towards change, to want to make things better, to right wrongs, and yet be aware that this goal will never be reached, that this is samsara, “the beginningless cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence and dying again…considered to be dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful, perpetuated by desire and avidya (ignorance), and the resulting karma,” (Wikipedia).

One wish: May we shift the goal, the intention, from some endpoint where everything has been made right to living with the reality that nothing is permanent, suffering is ongoing, and change is constant. And in knowing that we can’t fix everything, may we not give up trying.

Three Truths and One Wish

I got a new shirt

1. Truth: Things have gotten really weird. It’s not like things were calm and collected before the global pandemic, so maybe it’s more accurate to say that things are weirder, have reached a whole new level of weird. Here where I live, those who can are working remotely, all schools have moved classes online, yoga studios are offering exclusively online classes or closing altogether, the gyms are closed, all restaurants have moved to delivery or take out only or have closed indefinitely, the libraries are closed, therapists are shifting sessions online, my yoga class I teach is suspended until further notice, grocery stores have restricted their hours to give employees more time to stock shelves and clean and hopefully rest. I worry about those who are losing work and have no buffer to support them during this time, and try to help where I can, (like paying for my upcoming haircut appointment even though I’m going to cancel it or donating to the local food bank). I am actually so glad that I live somewhere that is being so careful, but oh how I’m going to miss my yoga class, and the pool and sauna, and the places that inevitably have to close down for good and teachers that have to consider other professions because they can’t survive the sustained loss of income.

2. Truth: I’ve been preparing for this for the past nine months, the staying isolated at home and the social distancing. I retired in May, and since then I’ve been dealing with a deep burnout. This and my privilege means that for me, beyond the gym closing and my yoga class not happening and not being able to go wherever I want when I want or see friends in person and my husband being home more and an increased anxiety about our health and that of those we love, not much has changed for me in terms of my day to day life. It does add a level of guilt to the process, as it seems like the theme of the day is to do lots of deep cleaning and home improvement, or to create content and opportunities, offering support for those who aren’t going out, and I just don’t have the energy.

3. Truth: I’m concerned, even scared, but my routines are helping me stay grounded. My husband has been making short trips to his office on his empty campus to do some of his work (as an online teaching “expert,” he’s been giving lots of support to those now having to move their courses online), and I spend that time meditating, writing, doing yoga, keeping up with what’s going on in the world, reading books, watching TV, listening to podcasts, cooking, napping with the dogs, doing chores around the house — pretty normal days, not too much unlike before things went off the rails.

One wish: May we be happy, may we be healthy, may we be safe, and may we live with ease. May we come out of this crisis more connected, recommitted to the values of a culture of care, and reminded of the importance of collectively cultivating our inherent wisdom and compassion.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. I keep waiting for my energy to come back. To be honest, I’m starting to worry that it won’t, that this is my new normal. And just when I start to freak out about that a little, I remind myself that healing takes time and I need to be patient.

2. My urge to teach may, at least in part, be me avoiding writing. I have so many ideas and plans for classes, and I realized the other day I was allowing them to take priority over my writing plans and projects. I’ve wanted to be a writer since the 2nd grade, when I realized it was a thing people did, a thing I could do, and I think now that I finally, finally, finally have the opportunity, I’m hesitant to start. I need to get out of my own way. This is helping: Elizabeth Gilbert’s free 10-step Writing Academy.

3. Every idea I have, my mind leaps immediately to how I can monetize it, share it, turn it into “something.” I have lost touch with my ability to create for the sake of creation, and it has me a little stuck. I need to simply make stuff for the sake of making — for joy, for insight, for release, for ease, for clarity…for nothing. Again, I need to be patient.

One wish: That we remember to rest, that we trust it takes time to shift things, that our effort doesn’t have to result in a particular something, that it can be nothing, that none of it has to happen quickly, and that our effort and ease don’t have to have value beyond our own experience of them. Be patient. Keep going. Don’t give up.

Three Truths and One Wish

A friend messaged me yesterday to tell me she was quitting her job. She knew I would sympathize with her decision, and I do. I messaged her back and shared some of the things I’d learned so far, and realized I wanted to share them with you too.

1. Truth: I was more burnt out than I expected. I’ve shared this here already, but it’s a big one and worth sharing again. For the past four or five years, I’ve pushed myself so hard. My work at CSU kept getting more and more overwhelming, and it took a lot of energy to push back against that, to try and keep healthy boundaries. I also wanted more for myself, knew I had more to offer, and I tried to do that “on the side.” I got certified as a 500 hour yoga teacher and a meditation instructor, took lots of classes, did a lot of writing and some teaching. I raised a really difficult puppy into a slightly less difficult dog, and worked with the other to heal an injury while also managing my own chronic pain. Etc. There wasn’t the option to slow down or stop, so I just kept going until I collapsed. I’d take just enough time to recover and then I was right back at it. This summer, when I left my job for good and allowed myself to stop, I realized I was in full on burnout and it was going to take some time before I had the energy to start anything new. Every day has been focused on moving in ways that feel good and getting a lot of rest, along with letting myself feel what I feel about where I find myself right now.

2. Truth: Quitting CSU was like a breakup, but with a “thing” rather than a person. And let me tell you, that’s weird. When I feel angry about some of the things that happened in that relationship, or even when I miss it, there’s no real object to attach that to, no specific place or single person to direct it toward. It can feel really confusing.

3. Truth: There was no immediate sense of relief or freedom from quitting, being done. Maybe in part it’s because I have thought about it and planned for it for such a long time. Maybe it’s because anything you’ve imagined for so long can’t possibly live up to the fantasy. Maybe it’s because when you’ve waited for something for so long when it finally happens it doesn’t feel real. Maybe it’s a simple as I’ve had summers off for the past nine years, so it won’t be until school starts again in the fall but this time I don’t go back that it finally and fully sinks in.

One wish: That when we find ourselves burnt out, we allow ourselves the time and care it takes to heal, to restore and renew. That we honor what we need and pace ourselves, having patience with the process and being gentle with ourselves.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Just like the weather, there are so many things we can’t control. We can’t control other people’s emotions, other people’s actions, the economy, the traffic, politics, the state of the environment, our bodies, etc. Sure we can respond, we can offer support or help, we can ask for support or help, we can make some sort of impact but we aren’t in control. If it rains, how we feel about it and what we do won’t change anything. All we can do is respond — get an umbrella and accept that even so we will most likely get a little wet.

2. Truth: A shift can be the tiniest thing, so small other people might not even notice it, but it moves something. This is my first week “retired” and, as I tend to do, I had big plans for what I would accomplish, what I would work on first. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time doing what looks like nothing — burn out is no joke. This morning, before I meditated, I fixed the blankets on the futon in my practice room. They were all wonky from the many times the dogs have come in and dug it up and I’ve halfway fixed them — Sam because it’s the way he registers complaints with management and Ringo because it’s what he does when he’s bored (he’ll bark as he does it to let you know it’s happening). It was a simple thing, but as soon as I straightened it up, I felt a shift.

3. Truth: It’s absolutely okay to do things at your own speed, to go slow, to pace yourself. If I trace back the timeline of the last decade, it’s clear that the journey to now started in earnest ten years ago. I didn’t decide that CSU wasn’t the right place for me, get suddenly clear about what to do next and do it. The clarity about next steps came in fits and starts. I lowered the bar for myself over and over again. I built the bigger picture one found object at a time. I did the necessary work to build a stable foundation little by little over the course of years.

One wish: May you move the way you move, love what you love, and sustain your stability and ease no matter what arises.

 

Three Truths and One Wish

Me, Dexter and Obi

Me, Dexter and Obi

1. Grief is something you never get over, you just get used to it. Nine years ago today, Kelly died. Losing her is inextricably linked, in my heart and mind, to losing Obi and then Dexter — one big sticky sharp heavy lump of hurt. It’s been ten years since Obi and Kelly were first diagnosed, practically on the same day, and ever since then, I’ve carried around a deep sadness, a brutal tenderness, an awareness that not only is impermanence real, but it sneaks up on you when you aren’t expecting it, way before you are ready, (although, in many cases there’s no such thing as “ready,” ever). Yes, we all die eventually, but some of us go way too soon, and the hurt of that might dull but it never goes away.

2. The worst part of grief for me is the uncertainty.  I envy people who have strong beliefs about what happens after we die, who feel sure, who can comfort themselves with platitudes like, “they are in a better place” or “someday we’ll see each other again.” I don’t have this, and honestly the worst part of losing Kelly and Obi and Dexter is that I might NEVER see them again. Living with that reality is the worst part of the loss for me.

3. Grief is love unbound by form. Susan Piver is the one who I first heard say that. It’s absolutely true. We are used to having a physical target for our love, a tangible form we can reach out and touch. When suddenly our love doesn’t have that place to land, it goes wild. No longer is there a voice we can listen to, a hand we can hold, a face we can gaze at. It’s hard to know what to do. The love and even the relationship remains, but the body is gone. We love and we love and we love, but in response there’s only silence, emptiness, what feels like nothing.

One wish: That after loss, we can find something to hold on to, something that keeps us from giving up. At the very moment I wrote the line above about our love going wild, a tiny fat hummingbird hovered outside my window just to the right of my computer screen. That feels like love to me, like both magic and medicine, and for now that’s enough.

Three Truths and One Wish (NaBloPoMo Day 22)

The view from my front porch this morning

The view from my front porch this morning

1. Truth: Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong (article on The New York Times). “Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.” The innocent, feel good narrative of Native Americans and Pilgrims celebrating and feasting together is a fairy tale that obscures the truth about how we treated and continue to treat indigenous people. To ignore that truth and stuff your face, to rejoice about all the things you are thankful for, to rest and relax in the company of friends and family without taking even a moment to honor the harm that has been done to enable your good fortune and recommit to doing better is just gross.

2. Truth: The mistreatment of indigenous people continues. For example, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomed Pilgrims, but loses land on eve of Thanksgiving. There are so many more examples it’s an exhausting, overwhelming, unrelenting consideration. In this context, what does “Make America Great Again” really mean? What does it mean to have a day — a national holiday — where we celebrate ourselves, give thanks for all that we have but completely ignore all the suffering we’ve caused?

3. Truth: We can and must do better. Just some simple suggestions are: How to Support Indigenous People on Thanksgiving, and How to Talk to Your Family About Racism on Thanksgiving, and 5 Tips For So-Called White Allies This Thanksgiving, and Meditation on Gratitude and Joy.

One wish: May we fully know and face the truth. May we make reparations, strive to heal the hurt, turn our effort toward undoing the damage and easing the suffering. May we experience the joy of good food and good company without the taint of greed and oppression. May we experience the gratitude of doing the right, just, honorable thing. May we ALL be truly free to experience life and liberty, to pursue happiness.