Do you write? I don’t mean journal, I mean create something with words with the intention of letting someone else see it. Something with abeginning, middle and end.
I know, me too. When I’m running fifteen directions at once and am completely fried by the time I actually stop, it’s a joke to try to squeeze even one drop of comprehensible language out of my overworked brain.
For the past few months I’ve been agonizing over getting these newsletters written. I know I’ve promised some of you a post every other week, but lately it’s been pulling teeth to come up with anything every 3 weeks or more.
I feel like I’ve just been making stuff up as an excuse to get the other newsworthy information out to you, and generally speaking, that’s not how I roll.
I really enjoy coming up with the basic idea of a post, or a sentence, or simply noticing a story unfolding in my life that I want to expound on. Normally it’s not a problem, but I’ve been stumped. Tired. Overextended. Fried.
Today in Portland has been a stunner of a day. Despite bone-aching fatigue I’ve managed to have an extremely productive day. I did a lot of tough yoga this morning, followed by my Oneness Blessing group (Oh! You should totally come to it!), followed by a bunch of copy writing for a new event coming next month (check it out below) did some hooping and cleared out the beds in the front yard.
At the end of it all I decided I really wanted to get a walk in, because I haven’t been on one in so long. I set the cat food out to thaw and hit the road.
And suddenly I was writing this post in my mind. Like God handed Moses those ponderous slabs of granite in days of yore, it was like I was being handed a topic, a story, and several themes to back it up. “Thou shalt have thy next newsletter out on time.”
And I used to walk all the time….the way I used to be inspired all the time.
Of course, when I’m busy it’s really easy for me to blow off things like taking walks, especially when it’s 42 degrees and raining. But I used to walk, even then. And I was in a blogger’s creative paradise.
Today I gave myself permission to take the walk as a treat. My husband is sick today (which, unfortunately, is why I got so much done) and my original plan had been to take one with him, so it wasn’t that indulgent to let myself do what I had already planned to do.
But still, I felt a little guilty. I had already been through a rigorous yoga practice and done some hooping and gotten plenty of exercise. Was taking the stroll just greedy?
I justified it by reminding myself that I’m spending all the sunny day tomorrow in a church basement helping to facilitate a leadership training (ask me about MACG sometime – it’s AWESOME) and I had to get all my solar bounty in today, so I just went for it, greedy or not.
But by a few blocks in it was work, too. Love and work and rest and motion all at once. And a little extra vitamin D never hurt, either.
- But why walking? What’s so inspirational here?
- I believe all these components are essential to what happens. Love. Inspiration won’t come unless your heart is open to it. I love to be outside, love the sun on my face, love to move.
- Work. Your heart has to be open to wanting the work to come through. Some walks I take are solely meditations on being present. I keep going until my whole being is taken up with seeing every flower, leaf, tree, cat, etc. Instead, today, I thought “I need to write something” as I started out, and that’s exactly what I got. My writing work was set as an intention.
- Rest. Your body and brain can’t live without it, and neither can your spirit. We have to integrate our experiences. We need to reflect. And often we don’t. I don’t anyway. That’s why a yoga practice always ends with savasana or “corpse pose.” It’s a physical means to energetically integrate an experience. If that makes any sense. We have to rest.
- We have to move. Moving the physical body is the only way to move the lymph. Same goes for chi. Chi is life-force-energy, right? If we don’t move the life force it isn’t really life. It stagnates and we lose our momentum, our desire, even our faith.
- Breathing, of course.
In the leadership training I’m helping with the importance of reflection is key. You must reflect on each organized action, each intentional conversation so that you know where it rests in you, what it brings up, how it moves you. It connects you to your personal story so you have a guidepost for where you are on your journey.
When we take time in between actions our brain can connect in ways it hadn’t before. With walking, not only may we take time out to reflect, we also help the brain by alternating the right and left halves of our body, thereby aligning the brain.
The whole mechanism works.
I don’t know if you’re a walker – some of you may not even be able to walk recreationally – but there’s something that can elicit a similar response. There’s something that gets the blood, the chi, the spirit, the inspiration going. As you know, I’m a fan of starting with the breath.
If you’re not a walker, try the alternate-nostril breathing exercise that came with Our Daily Breath which you received with your subscription (let me know if you can’t find it anymore; that can be remedied.) Breathing is key.
Try it now with me. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat as desired.
Is this how it works for you? What’s your secret?
My first thought when the daphne budded up a few weeks ago was actually “not yet!”
I’ve never not wanted spring to come before.
As you know if you’ve read any of the last couple of newsletters, the past few months have brought hosts of new events and people. A whole new business, really.
Spring has always been a time of winding down for me. I’ve never really worked in the summertime. Summer breaks led straight into theatre, where we’re “dark” for 2-3 months at the warmest time of the year. Sure I had this-n-that kind of jobs during these months, but never anything too serious.
The past several years I’ve been self-employed, which means that I’ve had the luxury of viewing spring and summer as opportunities for cleaning out the basement, rearranging the furniture, working on the yards for days on end.
But not this year. I’ve just started two new events with another on the way, and the momentum is just starting to build. It’s Space Clearing season, too, and time to send the stale winter vibes packing. I look at my calendar and there’s just no room for anything else.
And I just want all this light outside to wait until I have time to truly enjoy it.
But it doesn’t. It won’t. It can’t wait for me or anything else.
You can dig up the tulip, you can pull the blinds, you can turn off the music, but it’s inside you as fierce as it swells outside. We glow!
Because so much is going on in my world, for once, I’m having to ride spring as part of my own inner, creative life instead of just something that happens to the weather. I have to let it bloom through me. Through creative pursuits, through connections with people, and yes, through stepping into my life’s mission with all the passion of a dandelion.
I can’t just stop for it. I have to embody it, or else I miss it entirely.That’s a lesson for me.
When we choke off the impulse to bloom we energetically jump right out of our skins. At least I do. Any obstacle leaves me somewhere about 2 feet to the left of where my body is, which is like driving a remote-control robot. Which is neither simple nor effective.
Resisting the truth that the world is turning with or without me would disconnect me from the experience of being a part of
it. We’re supposed to be in that flow. It’s the natural state, and one can’t prepare for it.
Back to that allowing place again, doggone it! (Ah, the breath…)
And if you want to harness the creation vibe, you have to let it drive. And you have to be here, in your body, on the planet.
So I’m making every effort to let go of my itch to stop it all, because I want to be able to respond when the force takes hold. I want to be able to shape it to my unique template with confidence and faith.
So I guess I’m still not really ready for the season to fly by, because that’s NEVER going to happen. But let’s say I can comprehend what’s happening within me. Spring won’t wait, but a different kind of spring is happening inside me, too.
And I wonder if you’re feeling it too – the opportunity, the ideas, the connections. Maybe not. We’re not the same person, after all, but if you are feeling it I would love to hear how you’re coping with the wellspring!
I’m practicing the discipline of listening.
It’s a new thing for me. I’ve tried all the techniques, and the reminders in my head, and yet I often get excited, and struggle to keep my attention on what my conversation companion is saying.
Like we do, I find myself racing to the next thought, the next comparison. Like all I want to do is connect the dots of what this person is saying with something similar I’ve experienced.
Friend: “So I’ve been taking this class and I’m really discovering
that I’ve really been holding myself back from letting myself perform…”
Darcy (interrupting): That’s amazing! I just had the same
experience! I took this hoop class last weekend and just
really connected, you know. Like I finally really get why
this is my thing…I’m sorry. What were you saying?
(silently beats inner self about the head and neck with a
rubber chicken for being so insensitive and self-
My colleagues swear that this behavior doesn’t bother them, or that they don’t notice, but I just feel this slime oozing out of me and I feel like the talk-monster, come to devour all that is relationship.
So I’ve started experimenting with curiosity about what the other person is saying. Follow that curiosity and ask a question or two and suddenly this thing happens. It’s like they’ve been asked to lead a tour in a gallery of high-end art and someone asks to know more about their artwork. Beautiful.
It hasn’t been easy to switch those gears, but I’ve discovered that it is, indeed, a habit, and can be adjusted.
What I’ve noticed is that people bloom when they’re heard. When people are witnessed they emit a glow. The relief at being known by another is palpable.
And deeply humbling.
I woke up today thinking about a couple of my friends on whom I’ve recently practiced this listening thing.
These friends are each from different quadrants of my life to whom I feel a powerful connection. In the past few weeks they have each expressed a deep appreciation for the time we spend together.
I had heard these same friends say this before, but in actively listening to them I received an unexpected reward. This time something new landed.
“I MATTER.” I heard myself say inside.
This time there was no echo of Yeah, yeah. But really people are just humoring you when you reach out to them. You frighten them, really. And you really do go on about yourself…
Instead, only yes, you do.
There was no doubt, no shame, no bafflement as to why they hadn’t seen through to my grasping, self-deluded, love of hearing myself speak.
In fact there was nothing but a delicious, warm glow in the center of my belly.
Naturally I burst into tears.
The glow I feel isn’t a radiating glow, though. It’s an inward-sucking, needing glow. A yearning that I recognize as the great gaping hole in me I try to hide from, I try not to expose.
Because what would happen if someone found out I couldn’t do it all myself? People would know I was broken…
Only this time “broken” was gone, and the need was sublime.
If I matter, then my needs can be met. I am not alone AND I matter.
And suddenly everything was alright.
I have paid lip-service to the notion that we are not meant to do things alone. I believed it, but I didn’t really know.
Now I’m going to get sixteen emails from people telling me how much I matter to them, trying to convince me all over again, but I know. I know. I matter now and I always have and always will.
The need for each other is there to keep us alive. If we were meant to do It alone there would only be one of us, and if you think you’re lonely now, just imagine…
We are here to reflect and share aspects of the divine with one another. We are here to be mirrors of the miracle. What we have to give is not anything we can come up with on our own. It’s a pure frequency, a complete and perfect aspect that only we carry and I know I thirst for it.
I know I need my RDA of your good stuff.
And if I need yours, you must need mine (if only we weren’t one and the same being, really…)
I knew, from the looks on my friends’ faces, from the tears in their eyes that the divine What-Is flows right out of me to fill that gaping hole and that fills me right up. And all I did was listen.
We are not. Meant. To. Do. This. Alone.
We are meant to need one another. So what if you can’t pay your bills, can’t walk, can’t drive, can’t afford a house, a car, don’t know how to cook, don’t know how to love yourself. It. Doesn’t. Matter.
You. Do. Period.
Take a breath.
We are taught that not being able to take care of oneself is worse than death, and in fact has led countless souls to take their own lives, or the lives of others.
But it’s a lie.
A lie that sustains us. Fears about money are often fears of having to rely on others for our well-being. And what if there’s no one there to catch us when we fall?
You matter. Breathe. You matter. You are loved beyond measure.
We’ve never felt safe being vulnerable. We’ve never felt safe in our need. We spend our whole lives trying to be “worthy” of the love that is already our birthright because we believe we will always need “fixing”.
I wonder if it’s so much easier in conversations to wait to say something that might prove to ourselves that we matter, than it is to just gently hold what’s being expressed, and in doing so achieve that very end.
We’re not broken. We’re needy. Breathe. And it’s not a bad word.
Because once you know you matter, you can
You matter to me. Utterly. I’m so deeply grateful to you for sharing your shining light with me.
I tried to incorporate it into my routine a couple of years ago, but it just never “stuck.” My friend Rae Minten of Believe in Movement Studio went to a lot of effort to create a practice for me, but I never felt like I had time to do all of it, and if I wasn’t doing all of it I was somehow letting her down.
So after a month or two I didn’t do it at all.
I tried a couple of classes at my gym, but they just weren’t cutting it. Gym classes tend to be about “working out,” requiring at least some form of abdominal crunches…what?
Understand, I had a very intense, daily Iyengar practice when I was 14 and 15 years old. I went to an independent study high school, and we were responsible for logging our own PE reqirements outside of the class curriculum.
Being from Ojai, CA, yoga was in no shortage, and once I tried it I was hooked. I went to class 2 or 3 times a week, and practiced at home, late at night, 90+ minutes every day that I didn’t go to the studio.
Savasana (corpse pose – just lying still at the end of one’s practice) became a deep and transformational experience.
I gained strength and endurance. I didn’t totally hate my body.
This daily practice was instrumental in keeping me sane during some of my family’s most challenging years, and when we actually bought a house I got to specify the flooring and paint texture of my own bedroom to accomodate my yoga imperative.
With the move, though, I was too far from a yoga studio to remain inspired, and my practice gave way to friends and boyfriends and theater.
Since then I’ve always meant to go back. I’ve found classes I’ve gone to regularly throughout the years, but never so that it stuck.
But a few weeks ago it occurred to me, I could just do a few minutes a day. I could just do some Sun Salutes, right?
Well, Sun Salutes and a twist. And I obviously need some supported poses. And wow, that’s tight! Better add a stretch there…
Suddenly I’m doing 30-45 minutes every day. Even when I’m in a rush I get in 5 or 10 sun salutes and that spinal twist. Amazing.
I have my body back in a way that I haven’t had in a long time.
And then last week I noticed something.
I noticed that getting up from my mat has become part of my practice. Rolling my mat has become a reverent act, done with precision and grace and gratitude.
It didn’t happen on purpose. It just is. It’s become a natural extension of what happens on the mat.
And effective rolling has everything to do with the balance at the start of the process. That first cylinder is everything. It’s at the heart of the project.
As the mat is rolled from this core, each side gets adjusted and balanced several times, to end in a firm pillar with fairly even ends.
Kind of like a yoga practice. Each side is a little different, a little imperfect, in need of constant adjustment.
Kind of like life.
I used to hate rolling my mat because I could never get the ends even. It would always spiral in one direction or the other. The same reason I hated rolling Marley flooring for the ballet when I was still doing stagehand work. I’d walk away in a huff, leaving the task to someone with more patience.
And some days are still like that, and the whole thing becomes a series of cones lumped on top of each other in an attempt to adjust, or I’m in a hurry and don’t care, and one side gets all pointy and the other concave.
These are the days that wind up unsatisfying and off-kilter, more often than not. Days when my yoga practice has been unstable and wobbly and I forgot to finish one side of my body or forgot to breathe or fell over.
The natural extension of my practice is sustained through the mundane task of putting away a strip of rubber, and I can see exactly where I’m at, no matter where that is.
And I’m fine with the lumpily rolled mat. It teaches me not to take myself too seriously. When I find myself really needing to get my mat right it usually means I’m not really centered, and so neither is it.
And it’s still wonderful, because it’s a mirror that shows me that I’m still here, and still pracicing, and still took the time to show up for this ritual of self-care.
Now the challenge is to continue to carry this attitude through my day. How do I brush my teeth? Feed the cats? Make the bed?
How do I greet my friends? Speak to my mother? Look in my husband’s eyes?
This daily practice is teaching me reverence for this existence, and harmony in the mundane, and balance. Beautiful balance.
And while I’ve found it in a yoga practice, these moments can be caught and honored in any day, for any reason, yoga or no yoga.
A good run (how do you stretch and feed your body after?), a productive day in the garden (how do your wash your hands and put away your gloves and clippers?), or how you put your child down for a nap (how do you pick up the toys and books and smashed peas off the floor?), and it’s all precious.
Each moment is a gift.
Which makes me curious. What about you? Is there something in your own life that instills grace and poise and gratitude?
How do you roll up your mat?
These words aren’t mine, and many of you have heard them before, but they’ve been echoing in my heart this week, bouncing around
like a labrador puppy in joy.
They make me want to roll in huge hills of autumn leaves, clutching fistfuls to my nose and breathing with both nostrils.
They tell me how I, too, may walk on still water and how I, too, can truly, viscerally, tangibly know peace.
These are the words I truly wanted to share with you this week. I’ll have more original material next time, but for now, drink
from this deep, still pool from Reverend Safire Rose…
She let go.
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of judgments. She let go of the
confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go
of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how
to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back. She let go of
all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how
to do it just right. She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t
journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made
no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t
check the weather report or read her daily horopscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call
her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or
congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one
noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good. It
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile
came over her face. A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
I’m taking a performance class right now. In fact, I’m writing this between my latest hoop practice at the gym and my class.
So far we’ve messed around with the Entrance and choosing music.
I’m dancing to a piece called “Beautiful,” by folk-rock songstress Eleni Mandell.
As a sideline member of the ubiquitous Alt-Bellydance scene I’ve desperately wanted one of my more creative dancer friends to perform to this song, but no one’s taken the bait so far.
Why not me? It’s under the 3-minute limit for the showcase next month. It’s a slow, sultry thing, drippy and a little bluesy…
“Today, you’re Beautiful,
Your everything is lovely…”
…and extremely vulnerable in its simplicity.
Hooping is a joyful dance. It’s self-expression and physics and spirals all spun together with glitter and gaffers tape. It’s dazzle and shine and bubbles.
So why this, slow, buttery, naked piece of music?
Why indeed. As soon as I committed to the piece I began doubting my abilities as a hooper, doubting my technique, my transitions, even my style.
Everything that made confident flew out the window. I don’t know what made me think I was ready for this. Or that I was already good at it, anyway.
This song. This homage to feminine self-esteem just nailed me.
I tried to dance to it a couple of times at home and just started feeling like a dork. Like I couldn’t remotely pull this off. Like I would never be able to dance to this and still look people in the eye.
Not me. I’m not the woman in this song. They’ll never believe me. I’ll make a fool of myself.
Once I performed at a voice recital. I got halfway through my Purcell, burst into tears and ran out of the room. So I’ve had issues with the solo thing before. It’s not new.
But I know. I know. It’s a hula-hoop. How serious can it be? Isn’t it just supposed to be fun?
For a minute I considered using this very fact for not hooping at all. Giving it up. Who do you think you are? You’re not the fun-loving, Burning-Man-attending, 20-something who can just get over herself. You have more important things to work on right now, anyway…
And so on, like my adorable little brain does.
But I had committed. I trooped town to the gym, hoping that no one would be in the group-exercise room so I could actually give it a real whirl (pun intended) and see if all my self-talk was true, or at least to discover what lengths I would have to go to in order to get over it.
I drilled for a bit, just to get back into it.
Then just put on the song. And danced.
And it didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do with it. And I could feel into the music and I could extend and contract and turn and spin and isolate and crouch and jump and it was cool. I could beginning and end it.
Okay. Okay. This could work.
Each time the notes faded out I found myself shaking, little sobs wanting to roll out. Sobs of release and surprise, and I wondered why can’t I ever do anything gently? What’s wrong with half-assed once in a while?
I guess I’ll never know.
And then I overheard someone outside the door commenting that the machine she was on had the added advantage of being able to watch the show in the other room. Meaning me.
And suddenly there was the connect I needed. What I was doing was giving something back. Was making someone smile.
“You recognize the miracle…”
Because performance is in Service. When it’s done from the heart, with commitment and passion it lifts others up.
That’s the point of art.
Me, I’ve shied away. I’ve been backstage. I’ve supported the elevation, but never attempted to elevate.
But this is devotion. The mirror of the divine reflecting back on the audience so that they may see themselves reflected too. This is sacred play, divine tomfoolery. Beauty and a ring of plastic tubing.
And the song is making sense now.
“Today you’re beautiful,
Today you’re who you are…”
This is what I’m putting myself through this month, and I really want to stay open to the possibilities, because this could be big for my heart. It really could. The opening. The YES! Showing up.
We are all born to shine. While this is simple, it isn’t always easy. We were born to uplift, to connect, to work for and open to Joy at every step.
There’s an invitation here, to walk through your own experience, right here, right now, and notice where you’re holding back, where there’s a story veiling you (and the world) from your own brilliance…
Take a breath.
…And imagine what opening to that brilliance would feel like.
And breathe again. And take one step toward sharing it. Look someone in the eye and smile when they least expect it. Walk with purpose. Gesture with a flourish.
Can you smile? You can shine.
Let’s be brilliant together and light up the sky.
I’m on a mission.
I have a purpose, a reason-for-being.
This reason is not a vocation or an Ultimately Satisfying Livelihood. My purpose isn’t to figure out what I want to be
when I grow up and then be that.
It’s more than simply solving a puzzle.
My purpose for Being Here is about how I show up in my life.
How I love, how I laugh, whom I choose to help. It’s about how deep I go, how high I fly and how I relate to my center.
It has to do with reflecting the divine, with being a microcosm of the Greatest Macrocosm.
It’s about what I see in the mirror when I look at you.
It’s precisely how I scintillate.
Only I can shine like this.
It’s about how fiercely I love and how ferociously I create my dreams and to what lengths I will go to build the foundations
It’s about my capacity and willingness to do all of the above, not the end result.
I know a lot of people right now are struggling to find their path. Wondering what they want to do. Asking the heavens what
they’re supposed to be up to.
In recent years a lot of people have been forced, through hardship, to turn to their hearts for guidance about how to spend their time, how to earn their money, and how to be authentic and genuinely happy.
There has to be something more than this, right?
People are waking up to the notion that they have Work to do, and it’s passionate work and important.
The notion that we have Work to do often gets confused with having a job. Being gainfully employed. Since most of us spend much of our time earning our keep it makes sense that, when we think of our Life Purpose we assume it has to do with bringing
home the turkey-bacon.
What if it wasn’t about that at all? Not necessarily I mean?
What if it were just about how your feet hit the floor when you get out of bed in the morning? What if it were about how yougreet the hungry cat in the kitchen? What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about?
Do you put-your-whole-self-in? Do you shake-it-all-about?
I ask you this: What does your heart want to create in the world?
And maybe not for All Time. Maybe just this week. Maybe just this afternoon. If your heart could pick any flavor of ice cream in the whole wide world, what would it be?
What makes your heart sing?
If you can feel that, know that, get your 3-d mindset wrapped around that concept, then you’re halfway there.
Say “yes” and acknowledge that you are now an active and eager participant in your life’s mission. Say “yes” to accept your assignment, to hit the “submit” button on the screen. Say “yes” and surrender to the adventure.
Then you have to Show Up.
You have to act. Take one step. Make one decision out loud.
Send one email. Save one dollar.
Ask a question, make a phone call, research a venue. Book an appointment, put out feelers, make a commitment.
Out loud. Claim it. Say you did it. Say you will do it and when it will be done. Tell someone else.
Then stop. Listen. What’s next?
Because, as I’ve said before, this is a dialogue. A dance. This is the conversation we’re always having.
You were invited to dance when you showed up on this planet, and now you’re here in its embrace and the dance can be elegant or clumsy, ballroom tango or mosh pit, and it’s grace and the illusion of time providing the symphony.
Your participation is what’s required. Say “yes!” Show up.
You can still keep your day job and be living your Purpose. You can bag groceries and still inspire. You can mop floors and change lives with your smile.
Say “yes!” Show up. Engage your heart.
I’ll be out there on the floor with you.
Recently I sat in on a Western Nutrition class while deciding whether to pursue the program. As I sat in the back of the room the suggestion was made that the saying “You Are What You Eat” could be turned on its head, becoming “You Eat What You Are”.
Meaning that we eat for all the psychological reasons that surround our experiences of food, which in turn affect our physical well being based on the nutritive value of our dietary choices.
Many thoughtful hmms and head-bobs rippled through the classroom.
Me, I bit my tongue. I knew what they were getting at.
I think that notion is an interesting one. The holidays are a well-known time of challenge for the dietarily impaired. Which is a good percentage of us.
Cookies and fudge are everywhere. Everyone breaking the bank to bake for everyone they come in contact with, and everyone groaning and complaining about how much extra is everywhere.
We beg others to eat what we bring to work. We create it, then push it away at every corner, and yet plenty seems to find its way into the gullet.
Eating it doesn’t really feel good. It doesn’t gain us anything except a waist-size. So why do we do it?
So many reasons.
On the one hand, it’s finally socially accepted, nay, mandated that we give in to all the fears and self-doubts we keep in the dark. The devil on the left shoulder joins hands in a merry dance with the angel on the right. We’re allowed to cross that line.
But it still doesn’t feel good.
We’re around family, we’re in crowded shops, we’re falling behind in our work in order to shop for crowded families. Stress abounds, and it’s easier to pull the cookie blanket over the head at this time of year than it is to start a therapy program or work out our frustrations at the gym, let alone actually work through our family issues. Who has the time?
And then there’s guilt. Guilt if you eat the fudge and guilt if you don’t; Someone went through all that trouble to make something sweet for you at Christmastime. You owe it to them to eat it.
All of these emotional food triggers exist. They’re built into our culture, into the season. All of the baggage we’ve accumulated over the years gets bedecked with garlands and LED icicles and hey! Santa carries his baggage all around town and dumps it down our chimneys…
But is this really who we are?
We are not the sum-total of our emotional baggage.
This is all just stuff. It makes us feel terrible and we’re trained to take the easy way out and act out the baggage we carry with us. Sometimes that means eating all the rum-balls. Sometimes it means blaming Mom for our unhappiness. Sometimes it means we have no self-confidence and let ourselves play the victim.
But these are all just hats we wear.
We spend so much time and energy trying not to be these things. It’s what the whole “self-improvement” industry is all about.
The thing is, what we are is a divine blueprint. I am not my shoes any more than I am my fear of heights, my messy bedroom, the lie I told when I was seven.
We are not what others think of us. We are not our tax bracket or our lack of formal education or the holes in our blue jeans. We are not what others expect us to be.
We are not required to be anything other than pure, divine brilliance.
We are learning to make choices based on that brilliance, we are, but this is something that takes a little time and patience, and occasionally effort. It’s what life’s journey is all about.
In the meantime we probably will make choices based on the idea that because we were denied ballet class when we were four we will always be denied opportunity.
We make choices based on the cruelty of children on the playground who called us names.
We make choices based on Dad’s bad day when he threw away your favorite toy as a punishment, when really he just had a terrible headache.
So we learn. We re-educate. We allow the light back in when we notice that it doesn’t hurt to do so.
And that takes courage. It’s sheer bravery to try new things that seem similar to ones which have injured us in the past. And every time we cross that line in the sand and say “No! I will not expect pain. I will expect compassion and success and brilliance!” we build something new.
This is how we create. We cultivate a willingness to experience a new result. And then we act on that willingness.
And we do not “eat what we are,” if that means eating our baggage and our past perceived transgressions. Because that’s not what we are.
We learn to treat ourselves with kindness over the course of an entire lifetime.
We have to learn on our own how to truly nourish ourselves physically, emotionally or spiritually.
There are obviously going to be challenges along the way.
And sometimes those challenges come in the form of eggnog bundt cake.
And sometimes, for some of us, once in a while, that cake is the kindness that’s needed.
How are you going to treat yourself kindly in 2012?
It feels different to me this year.
Christmas. The holiday stuff. Y’know.
I know some of you don’t celebrate Christmas, and while I’ve been away from the churchgoing side of things for a while, I grew up with Christmas and I’m sticking to it. I celebrate with the American masses. I say “Merry Christmas,” and choke on “Happy Holidays.”
For years I never really decorated or did much of anything. Couldn’t afford it, and never really had any real ornaments or decorations of my own, so I just didn’t bother. Christmas, for me, was wrapped up in the package from Mom, with the Chex Mix and press cookies and the needlepoint stocking with my name on it filled with weird socks and underwear and lip balm from Avon.
I pined at Christmas, but that was it. I worked in theater, and 32 performances of A Christmas Carol was about all I needed.
For the past couple of years, and thanks to married life, I’ve started to get back into it. Creating a little atmosphere. A couple strings of lights on the porch, decorating the mantle. No tree – too much fun for the cats. Now we’ve gotten pretty good at it, although still no tree.
Sister now comes over Christmas morning to open presents, I make some fancy brunch and coffee and we watch Harry Potter or Return of the King or even A Christmas Story before heading over to his mother’s place for dinner.
At long last, I Salvaged Christmas.
So this year it’s been kind of surprising to me that, while I’ve taken all the Christmas steps, the decorating, the shopping, the failed attempts at gluten- and sugar-free baking, and even planned my first Christmas Dinner all grown-up style, I feel a little less attached to it all.
There’s just a bit less of a need for it to all turn out right. I wanted to do stockings and didn’t. And I don’t feel that familiar tug, that somehow Christmas will be less for my lack of effort, of spending, of caring.
I keep thinking I need to get just one more thing for this person or that, and then I walk around and don’t see anything, and the need just evaporates. I go about my day.
Don’t get me wrong, my time this week is entirely booked with holiday “stuff,” and I am serving my first C-day Dinner, but I’m just not all wrapped up in it. It isn’t emotional for me.
It doesn’t feel Scroogey, rather I feel like a witness. Like all the commotion around the holiday is happening around me, and I am a participant in that commotion, but only as in dipping in a toe, shivering, and putting my slippers back on.
It’s fun to watch, but it isn’t inside me. It doesn’t define me. It just is.
And I wonder how it will evolve in years to come, but I’m not worried about it. I just observe and enjoy the atmosphere and rest, knowing that the day will come and go and I will still be here writing another newsletter next week. I will be eating well again and the inflammation will subside and then the new year will come.
And so what if it is 2012? Christmas will most likely come again next year, and we’ll all celebrate it or we won’t, or we’ll flip out about the “end of the world” or we won’t, and I’ll still be wearing slippers and writing my newsletter and hoping that there is someone out there to read it in 2013, just like I’m counting on now.
We’re still here in the infinite, alive in our physical bodies, experiencing whatever magnificent moment arrives for us from each to each. And I think I’m beginning to see a glimmer of how each day is just as majestic as the most perfect Christmas. And no chestnuts or hot chocolate or Santa’s Sleighbell will ever equal the simple experience of Just. Being. Here.
And I breathe that in. And then I exhale in offering to All That Is.
So I guess there isn’t a punchline this time. I’m just taking a step back and musing, and I’m wondering how you’re feeling about your holidays this year.
Don’t be afraid to tell me. Comments are welcome.
And I wish all of you the very best Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate. Or if nothing else, have a terrific weekend.
And a very Happy New Year to you all!
Are you a planner?
What I mean is, do you find your mind occupied with strategies? Dreams of the future, even a fairly immediate one get laid out like tomorrow’s school clothes.
Frequently these dreams and schemes come with an “if” or a “when.”
“When I lose 5 more pounds.”
“If I get that job.”
“If the house deal doesn’t fall through.”
I catch myelf in this mode once in a while, strategizing about “when the money comes” or “when the basement gets cleaned out.”
It leaves me running in circles, quite frankly.
Whenever I plan something carefully, and even stick to that plan, something always seems to come up that sends me right back to the drawing board.
Trips to the vet, a broken water heater, a friend’s illness. So many things to put the breaks on my expectations.
Do you know what I mean?
For example, what happens when the nutrition and exercise regimen you started in October meets up with the holiday feeding-frenzy we are immersed in every year?
Or when the vacation plans you’ve been saving for for the past six months are faced with an unexpected medical expenditure?
Or your brother splits with his wife and moves in with you for an indefinite time, thwarting your plans to really get productive with your oil painting.
Ugh. This can all feel like a dramatic roller-coaster. It also perpetuates the notion that our lives are somehow on hold while we wait for these off-list events to play out.
Which inevitably takes us back to the beginning, planning the Ifs and Whens again.
But what about right now?
Life doesn’t stop just because the action moved off-frame for a moment. Just because it doesn’t fit in within your own concept of where you should be or what you should be doing doesn’t mean it’s not a part of the greater vision of your life.
This IS your life. All this…stuff, whether you asked for it or not. Here it is, and you’re living it. You’re the star of the improv.
And, oh my goodness, it’s frustrating when it feels like the effort toward a goal is wasted or dissipated when the speed bumps and detours arrive. It’s painful when the hopes don’t turn out the way we expect them to.
However, these events are still just as much a part of our lives and of our unique paths as the things we work toward methodically.
Sometimes you fall off a ladder. Sometimes the tire store is closed. Sometimes there’s a hurricane. And you’re still you, and you’re still in the middle of your life.
The question then is, how do you show up when the change happens? How do you react?
Because there is a gift here, if we can take a step back, breathe, and allow it.
We’re growing and changing as we execute all our plans and dreams, and along the way we transform. Each unplanned event is a tremendous opportunity for us to experience what we are becoming by the choices we make, and the way we interact with our new situation, no matter how initially frustrating it may be.
Life is a call and response – a game even. When it’s your turn you plan, you envision your dreams, you take steps toward them. Then, as you breathe, life takes its turn. It has a chance to respond to your efforts in whatever unexpected way it will.
With a spirit of play, even a glimmer of it amidst the occasional frustrations, you can then respond to life’s offerings fully, and so on, back and forth.
But does it make sense to plan at all?
Yes. I think it does. There has to be a form. Without our atmospheric bubble we’d have no air to breathe. There has to be some kind of container. But it has to be flexible.
When things don’t go according to plan, the invitation is this:
1. Breathe. Really. Make sure you’re breathing. You can’t control anything by holding your breath. Let it out. It’s okay, I promise.
2. Stop, check the atmosphere around the situation and notice how you’re responding. Are you reacting based on your expectation, or is there room to discover? Notice what’s really happening.
3. See if there’s a gift to be noticed. Are you reacting differently than you would have last year? Is a diversion forcing you to slow down and rest? These kinds of little things.
As with anything, there is a choice involved. We can choose to blame or beat ourselves up when it doesn’t look like the picture in our mind’s eye, or we can see the new image emerging, and take part in its fulfillment.
I’m intending to maintain this practice (as best I can) while I walk through this holiday season. If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear your comments.
But mostly, I wish you joyous days of love and laughter.
Be gentle to yourselves. Be gentle.