i’d like to buy a vowel….

I was never comfortable in my body. i liked it well enough, but it weirdly wasn’t natural to me. As my prefrontal cortex took over, the awkwardness grew and I came to believe I really was my mind, being carted around in this body who wasn’t very good at it. Not terribly bad, but just a bit off.

Last year I was re-learning how to walk. Tai chi had me coming to understand that I had some essential flaws in my movement which would obviously be contributing to my overall disfunction/autoimmune. When I would slow way down and pay attention to the distribution of weight, i had no limp. when i sped up, i may as well have a peg leg. But there was still a problem, and it went deeper than learning to walk. i had to re-learn how to stand.

Now, I am 50 years old. 49 when this came up, but that is a lot of years to be essentially tweaky in the way one holds one’s body in space. About 6 months ago, I could see my “dead spider” tai chi in my legs and finally switch to unbreakable leg. Big difference. Huge difference.  But it still wasn’t all of it.

I’m not sure this is all of it, but i’ve just learned an essential tilt in my hip that has been messing with my breathing MY WHOLE LIFE. I can’t tell you how many pranayama classes, protocols, exercises…. All of them close… none of them transformational (well, maybe all of them transformational in some ways, but not in the freedom of the breath). This tilt I can finally understand finally solves the breathing problems -so my guess is as I practice this more balanced standing, i will be relearning breath, too. and as i learn from my breath, i can re-learn all of the activities of my life, but now each of them stemming from the depth of my connection – instead of in search of it.

Practicing this new standing has made a whole bunch click into place, the foremost being the breath, but equally important my ability to feel the energy coming up through my legs and stabilize it for a really relaxed upper body. this has never been available to me. I can still only do it for a few minutes at a time, but because I have somatic experience of the alignment, I feel like I just got vowels. Like i’ve been living in a sea of consonants. I had a “y” so I could make some words, but geez. Suddenly 5 quick additions (or even 1 addition would be a big deal) and the world opens up. Now I know why i’ve been carrying all of these letters around. Oh, how I wish I had  been exposed to tai chi (gene’s version) ages ago.

Moose is one of my animal totems. Awkward elegance. People laugh, because lovely as I may be, I fall down a lot in winter and other, less explainable not-quite-at-home-physically. I really did figure that it was (and i am ashamed to even say this) “because I am so spiritual” but my body calling foul and demanding my attention really has been such an enormous gift I can’t even begin to fathom how crazy I would have driven myself had I continued what I now call “the chase.” This body is way the fuck smarter than I am. This prefrontal cortex started telling stories and may well have just spiraled into space. It had all my attention. Now that my body has my attention, all of life has my attention in a much deeper way. Stopping with the constant mental story telling allows life to unfold fresh and new in each moment, as an expression of life – of which you are part.

powerful stuff

Last month, our big opportunity for Josie to be out in the world having fun came to a crashing halt with the Cranston Fire that evacuated Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. Huge drag, she came home just 3 days into a 2 week journey. The school evacuated quickly, and the firemen were heroes, as firemen are. After 11 days, she was able to go back and retrieve her belongings.

I wrote to the head of school about a week after the fire explaining that Josie worked hard to come to Idyllwild and I was curious how they will be handling compensating for the aborted session. The head of school wrote back and said, “we’re focused on the property and children still in our care. i’ll address this next week.”

A dozen days later, I wrote saying, “I neglected to mention that Josie’s homeschooled, and this represented a huge opportunity to be with kids her age and with interest in the arts – this is why she spent 16 months working to be able to do it. She made an investment in herself through you, how are you going to handle it?”

They wrote back letting me know that they are assessing the events of the fire. Tell Josie we said hi.

I got emotional and sent back a quick “B-. I wonder how you’d like it if someone withheld a year’s worth of your salary without speaking to you about their intentions”

The next day I sent a demand for a full refund. They sent me a note saying if I purchased the travel insurance, i should be able to get something back, but they’ll send a check for the $30 in credit she had at the camp store.

I freaked.

I don’t usually freak. I don’t usually get So. Damned. Mad. about shit. But I couldn’t shake the anger. And sadness. Disappointment. Frustration. Wish for things to be different. Anger again. Pipedreams again. ARGH.  Do I have to sue them? Seriously?

So, I get home and talk to Tucker about it and I’m visibly agitated by the whole thing. He asks: Did you do a feminine power practice around this agitation?

I’d thought about it, but I hadn’t.

So I did.

And, I’ll be.

Over the next 10 minutes I could see the whole thing as a gift. My dear friend who I rarely see is a lawyer. I think she’ll help guide us, giving us a great excuse to get together with a little more regularity!

This semester’s electives for homeschool will be 1) the US Judicial System and 2) documentary filmmaking.

We’ll sue them and make a movie about it. Seeking fairness, Josie becomes a teenage activist. Right. Fucking. On.

We needed a project. I thought we’d have one come that was slightly more pro-everything, but we can’t always be pro-everything. sometimes we have to stop others’ taking advantage. sometimes we have to hold a boundary. sometimes we have to stand up and advocate for ourselves or others who are being treated unfairly. Life isn’t all roses.

But when those not-roses come, really addressing the feelings it evokes, getting curious and caring about what you’re feeling and what you need can turn things around in quite the jiffy.

Powerful stuff.

healthy attachment

I’ve been remiss. haven’t been writing so much (because I have been working on a da Vinci journal ala Barbara Sher whom I am very excited about, but that is another story).

My body goes in cycles. I mean, everybody’s body goes in cycles, but i have distinct cycles of rest and work, procrastination and bulk accomplishment. My body has periods when it *can* eat processed foods, and times when it is having none of it. Things I wish were permanent, and other things i just wish would go away entirely.  Then there are things like  journaling, meditating, juicing…. these are things I can do daily for years and then fall off the bus with. And then I’ll get another inspiration and move into the practice again. I am this mosaic of personal practices. and today a tile fell off.

About 3 years ago, during our trip, i found Tandy Guitierez who had what was first ‘pimp your mat’ then ‘mat and kitchen’ now ‘unicorn wellness.’ I love Tandy. What she provides is outstanding. She is a great pilates trainer, with exceptionally good cuing and balanced 30 minute workouts that she keeps fun to do and are real and powerful. I found her through the online autoimmune community and she was just the best solution possible, especially traveling. Being able to go to her website and “just press play” kept my range of motion, strength and flexibility better than I’d been able to do – and in a more balanced way than I’d been able to do – for some time. But, last August I had a flair up that I haven’t been able to get back on the mat. Not in the same way. I have PT, but my strength is shit and I don’t really know how to use my arms yet. I know that sounds ridiculous, but last year I had to basically re-learn how to stand and walk because I jacked my body up so weirdly throughout my life. i have these strange tensions and compensations… It’s weird. and, i feel i’m making progress, but i really don’t have it down.

So, a full year after I quit using Tandy’s awesome workouts, I just pressed the ‘cancel my membership’ button. and i feel awful about it. i love tandy. i love her so much, i’ve paid for a year of service i almost never used and I don’t even feel bad about it. i’m delighted to support her, and her service is a steal. but i can’t keep doing it.

to everything there is a season

and it’s really important to embrace the season as it arrives and to wave farewell as it retreats. this hanging on is bullshit. and expensive. and full of crap like guilt which is truly ridiculous and has no place in a relationship like this.

Being willing and able to give things up and not have it mean something, just gentle knowledge that it’s time.

i’m getting excited about things again

Several years of illness really harshed my mellow. But it also restored a much deeper and truer mellow from which I had unwittingly led myself away. I believe our bodies are on our side. And mine certainly made me stand up and do an about-face. a whole bunch of reevaluation. New habits, new practices. Getting back to really simple basics (my kids used to call my range of motion exercises “baby exercises” both because they looked so simple and some other reason i forget…) like re-learning to stand. Noticing all of this freaking tension I hold randomly in my body. Releasing it. Checking in again.

I really was on a pretty intently-moving train of trying to “figure out” my health, the right formula, the thing that would make me “normal” again.

Oh, let’s face it. I never was normal to begin with.

Why on earth would i be becoming normal now?

It’s ok! I mean, No, thank you.

Normal is not the goal. Awake is the goal. Expressing love is the goal. Simply being is the goal. But if you absolutely must have a goal, facilitating remembrance of wholeness and relationship is the goal. Pretty good goal if you absolutely must have one.

This shift in focus (health was definitely a big part of the goal, spirituality was a big part of the goal, relationships were a big part of the goal) to a single goal (evolving! which has room for mastery in all the other goals!) certainly still incorporates inputs from all of the facets of my life. is my compassion growing? is my patience growing? or is my frustration growing? and if it is, at what cost? and which, of these many delightful tools might we want to use to turn back to God, to patience, to presence, to truth?

Evolving as an individual and as a collective is simply the most interesting thing in the world to me. None of the news of the day holds my interest, dramatic and invasive as it may be. Yes, the world is happening. Yes, infinite perspectives on things could have you quite mad or quite happy. But for what? What is that anger in service of? The fulfillment of what value does that happiness represent? These deeper questions, these essential questions, are the ones that bear the most fruit.

I have a lot of anger, and I am so grateful for it. It’s part of what spurs me on to really embrace compassion. I watched a comedy special that reminded me that my anger is necessary. Not to stew in, but to be driven from to make real my commitment to the sanctity of all life. Because enough really is e-fucking-nough.

 

(https://www.indiewire.com/2018/07/nanette-netflix-hannah-gadsby-lesbian-comedy-1201981484/)

armageddon

As I write this, another fire rages, this one just a few miles from my house. Important papers and favorite items are ready if we need to leave. Now, we’ve packed into a car about 100 times because of our trip, but it’s still never easy. And it is. All at the same time. Life is like that, I guess.

With all these fires, it’s hard not to think about the end times. and how often people have stood on soap boxes saying the end is near, and how often they are wrong. or are they?

i remember Y2K particularly well. i lived on a small lake with a wood stove and plenty of candles, so I wasn’t too afraid of a technology breakdown. A lot of dudes I worked with had bunkers and guns and MRE’s. I don’t like to work that hard.

Of course, the year 2000 came and went with no noticeable blip in services, but I’ve got to tell you, my personal life changed forever. That’s when I met my husband. I actually met him on July 2, 1999 and we began dating the following March. He was completely different from anyone I’d ever met, and through him my life changed dramatically. Few people who knew me would have predicted the change. For me, it was the kind of pivot everyone expected Y2K to be. So, in my life the prophecy was right on.

Same with 2012. Everyone wondered if some palpable shift might happen, or the space ships would show up, or *something interesting* and lots of people were very disappointed. I was not one of them.

On December 21st, my children finished their last day before christmas vacation and their transfer to a new school in the new year. Only, just moments before they got home, the new school called and cancelled. I was in bed with a flare up and had been already for maybe 10 days. I panicked. I jumped to trying to solve it and happened upon West River Academy, an unschooling umbrella school that basically soothed me in an instant. Speaking to Peggy calmed me right down. “Your kids will ask if they can do something, and you will say “yes” – and see how it goes. Public school will always take them back.”

after the holidays, i noticed my kids getting along better. And that our evenings weren’t spent with the sport/dinner/homework/bath series of arguments. It transformed our lives. It led to our big trip. 2012 transformed my life as drastically as 1999 did. Who could’ve guessed?

PEMS

One of my favorite and most important practices is called MAP and is a part of Perelandra. I need to do a post about it one day. But today, I’m just taking a piece. When I do a MAP session (called a “coning”), it focuses on four aspects of health: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. PEMS. I like it.

Yesterday I charted out what parts of PEMS are active to what degree in my life. Now, 5 years ago, earlier adulthood and childhood. I don’t feel like making a power point about it, so I’ll just describe it… Oh, geez. Now that I said that, I’m going to have to do it.

As a child from about 7, around the time I remember learning that I could not pay attention to my teacher, I could fantasize. It would let me leave the classroom and enter my imagination. By that time, I’d grown uncomfortable in my body (not being particularly athletic or coordinated) and already begun suppressing emotions due to difficult home conditions (standard stuff of being in a big family, for the most part, although that is also when my father was diagnosed with cancer). I give myself high capacity in spirituality because it is when I clearly remember 1) imagining that if everyone on earth held hands, what was in the center was god. and 2) that there might be a different planet for every option, and when I had to have PB&J when I wanted pizza, at least on some other planet maybe I got the pizza. So I was thinking about this stuff from a pretty early period…

Physical: 20% embodiment

Emotional: 30% embodiment

Mental: 90% embodiment

Spiritual: 50% embodiment

As I reached adulthood, I really got good at suppressing emotion. I also was really annoyed at my body, feeling it was just something to get my mind from place to place. My brain was still in high gear, though, and my spiritual reprieve my best escape…

Physical: 15% embodiment

Emotional: 15% embodiment

Mental: 95% embodiment

Spiritual: 60% embodiment

And then I got sick. Now, I was going to have to get into my body. And emotions. and quit with all of the rationalizing and defensiveness. And figure out what God might be trying to tell me….

Physical: 30%

Emotional: 60%

Mental: 85%

Spiritual: 70%

This helped very much. Even though i really sucked at it at the beginning. Now it has morphed quite a bit, and I would like to really explore my optimal ratio – but this one has more well-being than any of the 3 previous arrangements. Now it feels like this:

Physical: 80%. I am really learning to be in my body and listen to it and translate or intuit it’s needs.

Emotional: 50% After ramping up emotional capacity, I’ve developed enough strategies to process emotions, they feel pretty balanced and not suppressed or hijacking things…

Mental: 60% – I would like this number even lower. I’d really like this number to be 20% or something – where I’m typically in no-mind, but when executive function needs to pop in, it wakes up, does it’s thing, and resigns.

Spiritual: 90% – by no means am I 90% of the way “there” but my spiritual interests take up 90% of my time, and/or as 90% of the lens through which I am looking… I would guess I am around 3% of the way “there” but no matter. It is by far my favorite lens through which to interpret life.

Ideally, I want to be 100% spiritual and 100% physical, with a broad, balanced emotional capacity and mostly transcendence of the “thought stream”/mental body except when it’s actually important. Which is an eff of a lot less than my mind would like me to believe.

 

so much to say

I’m out of my depths with wanting to help someone and everything I do making things worse. So, obviously, stop. Or at least slow down, right?

It really is funny. Divine Comedy. the cyclical nature of things. how easily the thought stream can hijack a perfectly good day…

the wonderful thing about these practices… well, noticing I’m in my head (and trying to sort, strategize and solve) is now a cue to bring me into my body. And my body has a completely different opinion on the matter. My body is not worried at all. Not about me, not about those I perceive as struggling. Not one bit. My mind has this picture it would like to meet but my body has no such expectations. Yet, now checking in with my body, I notice areas of discomfort and I try to relax. and the more moments i can give to this part of my journey, the better the outcome will be. I’ve learned to befriend discomfort. I actually visualize myself sitting next to it, on a porch overlooking a vista, sitting in adirondack chairs, just being there together. That typically loosens things up. equanimity overtakes struggle, if only for a few minutes.

and then those minutes grow.

sometimes it probably works other ways, but for me this has become very effective. I wish I could sit down and go directly into presence. I am not so adept. Except sometimes. Right? We have touchstone moments. and we’d like to build our capacity to experience flow. But that too is attachment, and we’re back at the beginning.

So, I dont know what I’m about to do. I’m starting to do something and I’m delighted to feel passionate and focused. I have so much to say, but at the same time, why would anyone listen to me? And, truly, I don’t know the answer. I have a lot to say because evolution is exciting, personally and collectively. A lot of people aren’t even thinking about evolution, but i think an evolutoinary mindset is the answer to many, many prayers. Evolving itself offers purpose. Being a micro life cycle in the larger play, what we ‘be’ really impacts the direction of ourselves and those around us. and evolving is the most natural thing in the world, so it’s easy. you don’t have to worry about failing. It gives us a container and then says: make the most of it!

It’s the plane ride from NY to LA. It’s happening. It takes some time, but it reliably gets there. How you enjoy the ride is completely open to your own decisions and interpretations of the process and activities around you. We’re on the journey and the end is inevitable. How can we offer as much love as possible? how do we tweak the experience to leave the earth better, spread love, celebrate beauty…

life’s greatest adventure

pretty bold title. infinite answers. multitudinous possible stories, all of them true. and today I add my voice to the people who believe, maybe ALL of the stories are true, and what, do you might think, is the common thread? Present Moment Awareness and Openhearted Engagement.

Present Moment Awareness and Openhearted Engagement just might be Life’s Greatest Adventure, expressed in infinite ways in each of us and all of life.

I really do have to quit making proclamations, but once again I’m only saying it because it feels so true.

I get really enthused about present moment awareness, about being fully in the present and open to evolve into the future (since it’s the most natural thing in the world and none of us can help but do it). I personally see the first step as slowing down because that was the first step for me. for many people, speeding up may be what they finally need to infuse in their lives. [Martha Beck says, for people who like to talk about their problems, Stop Talking and Start Doing. For avoiders/workaholics who just run from the problem, Stop Doing and Start Talking. I love that!] We each have our own way, and we can’t help but move by what calls us – and to me the question is what are we listening to and are we aware of what we are heeding. It’s the grail question: What master do you serve?

I am enthralled by the breath techniques and meditative practices and mystical teachings. I get that that’s pretty niche. It serves me in my life so deeply, i can’t help but be enthusiastic and maybe of single mind.

Watching someone caught in a story and ignoring an invitation is difficult for me. I am a “fixer” by nature, and really only an empathizer pretty briefly before wanting to move on. My nephew’s death taught me that I really can’t fix a damned thing that counts, but when I see great big flashing neon lights about something, I can’t help but try. It’s back to my “disappointment panda” disposition. And sometimes it stops runaway trains, which is enough to encourage me to keep doing it.

I’m working on compassion, but I can’t help but identify with this guy…

 

every day is new

If you read the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*%” you’ll remember Disappointment Panda from chapter one. Disappointment Panda goes around telling people uncomfortable truths, just because someone needs to tell you and few people ever do. I am such a panda. It seems to be my lot in life to bring up uncomfortable truths. mostly it’s just holding up mirrors, or being unwilling to pretend the elephant is not in the room. It’s uncomfortable work, but we can, so we do. We’re not telling you for any other reason than it’s there to be told. No judgment, really not much emotion at all. It may be emotional for you. We’re sorry. But we have to do it because we know the truth will ultimately set us free.

I make a lot of mistakes. I’m not certain my average is growing, or if just my awareness is growing and so i’m seeing mistakes I simply didn’t previously see. How I respond to my mistakes is sortof the question of the time. I am getting gentler. on myself and on others. still a lot of room to grow there, but directionally I feel I’m facing the sun.

i see a lot of people suffering. really tormented by their minds and thoughts. i can absolutely relate because i gave myself an extremely hard time for a lot of my life. this is why feeling your body during a few breaths per day is so important – it drops you out of the thought-stream if only for a second. that makes the reintroduction just a tiny bit fresh. and the more you drop out of it, the fresher your take on it can be during visits, instead of the servitude of its constant captivity.

The only thing that has effectively kept me out of my panicked mind is dedication to evolving. My ultimate dream is to be a clear instrument of pure love and creative responsiveness. That’s about as lofty as I can make it, I think.  That’s the purpose I put first and I’ve been toying with the way forward being through the body, so feeling into my body and deep intentional breathing is the practice – sporadically throughout the day and once or twice on the cushion. It is working. My body has less inflammation, my mind defaults to a smile and curiosity really frequently and that brings me such relief. I’ve spent my life figuring out the advanced math of society’s expectations and my own failings, how I might compensate for them and what exactly I wanted to express. Those things don’t have the hold they used to. I focus on a couple of things:

  1. What do I want to create? What do I want to create in this situation? What is my very best outcome and what is the impact on myself and others? How do I take a step in that direction?
  2. What part of me feels wounded? Having the most resourceful and mature part of my psyche ask and invite the wounded parts to have their say. Nothing we can necessarily fix, but being present to myself and my perceived suffering with compassion and full attention. And then reminding the whole self about what I want to create, and refocus attention on that.
  3. What is first? Putting evolving first, which is the most natural thing in the world, I know that i need to relax into that which is natural. Taking a deep, intentional, expansive breath and relaxing into my body is *always* the *very best* activity, the very best answer to the thought, “what’s next?/what should i be doing now?” Evolving is also loving, and expansive. That’s how I know if i’m turned toward the sun.

These three thought tools help me keep peace between my ears and a tender song in my heart. Every step isn’t elegant, but the direction is so encouraging it is a pleasure to persist.

biblical times

My daughter was evacuated from art camp last night. An arsonist set part of the San Jacinto mountain range on fire, causing the evacuation of thousands and yet unknown damage. What is with us?

I am delighted to report my daughter is safe. Indeed, it is now 2 days later and while the fire rages on and the devastation continues it really speaks to the difference the actions of just one person can make. This instance, to the detriment of society. Let’s explore how much you and I can influence it to the positive.

Any random act of kindness could spur a national movement. Could happen. Does happen from time to time. Let’s always be trying to start one by engaging in radical acts of kindness and lightheartedness. If it catches on, great. If not, no problem. Edison went through 10,000 filiments or something before catching on to the one that worked. I can spend my whole life trying. Seems like one of the best ways to spend it, actually.

Looking at the world, it really is going to seed in a lot of places. There is some effed up shit going on. There are so many causes I feel deeply about – things that outrage me at a cellular level. I’ve scattered my energy trying to figure out where i could have an impact when really it is grounding my energy in my own life and moment-to-moment experience that has an impact. Be the change.

These are biblical times complete with plagues and fires and creepy cloaked figures. The death throws of a humanity based in scarcity and greed. It could kill us (as a planet) but it also just might birth a shared humanity of compassion and harmony, where life itself is sacred and cherished, each individual’s wholeness and inherent value is unquestioned. Life is full of curiosity and expression, not fear and finger-pointing.

I am experiencing a shift. The end times have come for the part of me that operates from habit, the unexamined walls shielding the unredeemed fears of the past, trembling that they may be discovered. doing anything to keep up the ruse.

Don’t worry friend in the cave. I am here for you. I extend my hand and offer to bring you into the light. the light that Jesus described, the light that sustains all of life. the light that ignites the soul.

The more we can explore our inner caves and offer olive branches to the parts of ourselves we most want to deny – this is integration. This is being a responsible adult. It is the “Grow Up”. of Integral’s “Wake Up, Grow Up, Clean Up, Show Up” which I love so much. The acceptance of the responsiblity is Grow Up, and the action of taking the responsibility and actually doing the work of bringing the threads together, collecting the dangerous beads on the floor and being the silk that connects them into a necklace… that’s the cleaning up. And then, wow. then, we can be powerful. That’s who I want showing up. The best parts of myself, fully supported by even the uncomfortable truths. That’s authenticity.

I’m making proclamations. Always a good time to stop.