Uncategorized

Hello

Posted on

This is me in the car the other day–no makeup. You can see where a bit of concealer or foundation might have done a little something for my chin and above the lip area where a remnant of a boo boo gives me a teeny tiny Hitler mustache shadow. These days, that might earn me an instant MAGA following.

Yikes.

Covid-19 is out of control and so is the virus of bigotry, fear, ignorance, and hate, both fomented, flamed, and fed by that thing in the WH and his rabid, pathetic, sweating, castrated band of co-conspirators and enablers.

I’m sorry–was that outloud?

I HATE THEM AND ALSO HATE TALKING ABOUT THEM BUT ALSO HOW CAN WE NOT?

How can we close our eyes to what is happening everywhere? How can we look away from Portland?

I snapped this picture on my way to the studio where I pushed myself to paint because I need to connect to what gives me buoyancy in this sea of terror.

That day, it was my outfit. I love the mustardy yellow with the black and white stripes and my legs, they were definitely bringing the ginger. 🙂

A few days before, it was a pair of fake eyelashes.

A few days before that, it was two nights in a tent by a Cape Cod pond where I sat quietly on a little patch of sand, trying to read.

(Why can’t I read anymore? What’s wrong with me?)

A scene:

I look at the book but even Denis Johnson with his trance-inducing prose about desperate lives and ragged coastlines, desolate beach communities, sheer cliffs, rolling fog, and hairpin turns can’t keep me for more than a few pages.

An iridescent purple dragonfly lands on my chartreuse bathing suit.

He flies away.

I turn back to the book.

A tiny peeper hops across my orange and yellow towel. (So small!)

I reread the paragraph I just finished.

A fat yellow and green caterpillar undulates along a piece of beach grass.

I sit up and look out at the ripples the wind makes across the clear pond’s surface.

A cormorant comes into view, chasing small fish into the shallow water to my right.

I rest the book on my thighs. A horse fly lands on my forearm with what appears to be an insect-size fork and knife.

I slap it.

I miss.

Kids turn their floats upside down. Laughter rips through the air and then a fight:

Papa said don’t do that!

Papa’s not here!

I’m gonna tattle on you!

Stop yelling! The world is listening!

Why am I saying all this? Am I headed toward an insight? A realization? A suggestion, an inspirational quote?

Am I moving toward a metaphor? A micro moment that helps put the larger picture into some sort of manageable focus?

Nah.

I’m just sending this out to all y’all like leaving a rambling voice message on your phone.

Hello from another person tossed about by this tumultuous time.

Hello from someone who didn’t used to be afraid of the mail.

Hello from a human who’s nostalgic for the adventure of a trip to the second-hand store, trying on someone’s discarded possibly stained or even smelly clothing in a dusty dressing room with a funky latch and a million empty hangers strewn on the bench and floor.

Hello from a gal who misses hugs and standing close enough to those outside my ‘circle’ to lay an innocent hand on a shoulder.

Hello from a woman, grateful and unmoored, grounded and quivering, hopeful mixed with fear, anger, and grief.

Hello.

Uncategorized

Don’t You Know?

Posted on

How are you doing? Are you hanging in there? Are you finding some islands of peace, of ease, of rest, of love in the middle of this shit storm?

Do you have a small list of reminders when it feels very dark? A few encouraging words like tiny ants marching across the notepad?

A snippet of a poem?

A picture of you as a toddler being unabashedly you? 

A snapshot of a place that took your breath away?

A piece of music that bypasses your mind and lands you smack dab in the middle of your body?

What got me through this week was this woman on The Twitter who inhabits such a free and joyful expression of body positivity, I just could not stop watching her. 

Google tells me Body Positivity is:

“…a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race or appearance.”
 
RIGHT?
 
Who wouldn’t get behind that
 
Who wouldn’t want ALL human beings to accept the bod pod they’re in?

Some might say, well, if they aren’t healthy, they shouldn’t accept that. If they’re obese, they shouldn’t accept that. If they aren’t in shape, the most fit and fabulous they can be, they shouldn’t accept that.

No.

We change from love, from deep acceptance, from opening to right now. 
 
Because if we don’t accept what is, if we see it as bad or wrong or dangerous, we do the opposite: we reject.

When we fight what we’re feeling, the thing we reject gets stuck.

Change happens once the situation is accepted exactly as it is.

The paradox is, once you’re okay with what is, it can change.
 
We don’t accept it TO change it. It’s not a strategy or a manipulation.  
 
It’s like the gift of self-compassion. We give ourselves tenderness and care when we feel bad because we feel bad, not to make the bad go away. When we do that, we find comfort, relief, even peace.

Our bodies are our homes.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to live in a peaceful home?

Dear Reader, whatever it is you are rejecting, click here and watch.

See if you can embody your version of Ka Msen.

See if you can say,

Everything is sitting where it’s supposed to be sitting.

Even my stomach is giving a little bit of ginger, a little bit of pepper, maggi, salt. 

It’s kind of amazing, right? Powerful? Liberating? Energizing?????

See if you can say, This–whatever this is–that belly, those thighs, that scar, these wrinkles, those magic arm wings–

It’s ADDING. 

It’s all adding. Your bod pod. Your home. Your miraculous human machine doing its best for you every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

Uncategorized

How’s your wild animal?

Posted on

“Your talent is like a wild animal that must be fed.” –Jerry Saltz

 

Replace the word ‘talent’ with ‘creativity’ and then I’m totally with this quote by Jerry Saltz.

Creativity must be fed.

You have it, that’s the first thing.

You are creative.

That’s a given. Let’s not waste any time on that one.

Are you alive? Yes? Okay. Then you are creative.

Next: Your creativity must be fed.

Are you feeding it?

I’m not going to define what that looks like that because it’s different for different people and even different for the same person at different times.

Are you feeding it? Even a nibble?

Are you stepping into the unknown, testing, failing, reaching, doodling, experimenting, day-dreaming, describing the morning sky?

Good! Now tell me how you are doing it because the well is dry over here.

Dry dry dry.

As a teenager, I talked on the phone for hours, the old-fashioned ones stuck to the wall with the ridiculously long curly cords. I’d be on the 3rd floor a million miles from the kitchen and if my friends was eating a cookie or something I used to say, Push it through the phone.

That’s how I feel about creativity lately. I need someone to push it through the phone.

I’ve been feeling aimless, flat, baffled by time.

I’ve done a little painting and no writing and the merest bit of gardening. 

I’m eating too much and streaming too many shows.

Last Friday, I spent hours on the guest room futon, my laptop propped up on my chest, the door closed. At one point, my husband knocked and I called out, “I’m working.” 

He opened the door and saw what I was doing and gave me the soft, Aw, honey face but before he could say anything, I cut him off.   

“I’ve really got to stick with this,” which, of course, was silly since I was at the end of an episode of Marcella and could easily have clicked the computer shut.

But did it? No. I did not. I let it slip right into the next episode, watching Marcella go undercover, trying to take down the mob without taking herself with them. 

I must be feeling undercover, in some way.

Should I dye my hair platinum blond like Marcella, and give myself bangs and a messy blunt cut? Is that the answer?

I don’t know. 

I don’t know much of anything these days and maybe that’s good news because UNCERTAINTY IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF INNOVATION (blah blah blah) and also, I amalive (if I’m to trust my senses) and so I must be creative (if I’m to believe my own self) and I do, somewhere under this aimless, flat, bafflement, feel like a wild animal.

A wild hungry animal. 

A wild hungry hard-to-reach animal. 

Push it through the phone.

(Help it get out from under cover.)

Sigh. 

But look.

I wrote this.

This counts. 

Sometimes that’s all it takes. A crumb. I prefer a scrumptious smoothie, a beautiful snack, a bountiful meal. But. A crumb counts.

How’s your wild animal, Dear Reader?

Hungry?

Hidden?

Happy?

How are you caring for it? What is it craving? Can you manage to scrape together at least a crumb?

What might that look like? 

Uncategorized

They Want Us Quiet

Posted on
They want us quiet.
Don’t be quiet

 

 

(Warning: swearing ahead.)

I haven’t the slightest clue what to write. 
 
I refresh The Twitter over and over and over and over, tracking the terror and tumult, filled with heartache and fury and also an undercurrent of hope.
 
It’s a mess right now out there in this country of ours.

It’s been a mess for a long, long time.

It’s been a mess since the very beginning, actually, this country built on a field of blood, formed from poetry and policy that promised things pretty much only for the white men. 
 
Was it some collective trance? Besides those enslaved and silenced, was everyone else cheering from the sidelines, just A-okay with the birth of a nation leaving them entirely out of ownership, governance, independence, power? Or were they muttering from the sidelines, this is still some fucked up shit.
 
I saw a tweet saying 2020 from here on will be synonymous with a crazy-ass time, like, Last night was 2020. My kids were straight-up 2020 all weekend. 
 
But hasn’t shit been 2020 from the start? 
 
Haven’t we heard things like this all along?:

You (Black people) aren’t human, and you (women) are property, and you (children) are labor, punching bags, and sex toys and you (Indigenous) take this crappy ½ acre of land from everything we stole and go figure out how to provide for yourself with no support, say, or protection, and you (immigrants) are the laborers we want scrappy and scared and subservient but also cheerful and grateful, and you (LGBQ+) hide who you are and live a lie and you (non-binary, trans), you aren’t real. And any of y’all step out of line, you’re dead.
 
People say, it’s time for change. 
 
Yes. 
 
And Wut? I mean, can’t we all agree that CHANGE IS WAY OVERDUE?
 
I’m here for it.

I’m here for the change. I’m here for the chaos, the dismantling of systems of oppression and violence, for the toppling of statues, the rewriting of our history to include stories that have been hidden, ignored, distorted, undermined, mis-attributed.
 
I’m here for the radical self-examination, for waking up and owning the story of racism and white supremacy and patriarchy and colonialism and capitalism and wrestling with what true reconstruction and reparation looks like. 
 
I don’t have any answers.
 
This is a becoming time, an emptying out time, a filling up time.
 
As I grieve and vent and cheer and donate, I feel a surge of energy, a fiery, creative, terrified, hopeful energy.
 
There is hope in this chaos. There is hope in this pain. There is hope in this sea of injustice. 
 
Whatever you are doing these days, whether it’s marching, calling, reading, sewing, organizing, sleeping, recalibrating, healing, petitioning, running for office or donating to one of the many, many incredibly important races across this country, make sure to prioritize your path to hope.
 
To the messy, raw, hot, terrified, furious, tender hope that lives in your heart and feeds your soul. 
 
We need it, Dear Reader, because we need you–the true, complicated, evolving you. 
 
 Sending so much love.
 

Uncategorized

We Need ALL Of Us

Posted on

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” –André Gide

 

I’ve started and then stopped writing this many times this morning.

I was going to tell the story of when my parents put my sister and me on a plane to visit our aunt when we were 9 and 7, respectively (alone! Can you imagine?) and how, at the time, I wished I could fly strapped directly to the wing while my sister was so terrified, she threw up into the homemade pillow in her lap.

I was going to mention that one afternoon we ran through the house calling out to this aunt (I don’t remember why–Could we have another cookie? Play with her make-up? Take money from her wallet?) when she sing-songed, I’m in here! from bathroom so we barreled in to find her soaking in the tub.

I remember being a little shocked. In my mind, it’s a little goof-ball moment with one of us stopping short and the next one crashing into the first.

Our mom walked around naked, sure, but we weren’t accustomed to seeing other adults without clothes. I didn’t say anything, though. We teetered this way and that, looking but also not looking and trying to be all casual while our aunt gave off this vibe:

I am a female human in the nude. There is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. If you see my breasts floating on the surface and a dark mound of pubic hair beneath the water, it is all very natural and okay. 

Uh, okay. Except that you seem VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.

We didn’t know it at the time. We didn’t know we were uncomfortable or that she was uncomfortable. We knew something was up but it was all humming low under the surface.

This Aunt, like our Mom, her sister, wanted to model the right behavior and attitudes about life and human bodies, about how to treat people and how to treat ourselves. But it wasn’t all completely resolved, if you know what I mean. It was like kelp strands undulating in the water not connected to the sea floor.

Their mom, my Nana, didn’t exactly talk about the hard or uncomfortable stuff and there was body shame and sexuality shame and many other kinds of shame and they wanted to do it differently.

Mom’s style was overly thorough. We’d ask her an innocent question, like, What are hormones? And within seconds, she’d be describing various sizes and shapes of boobs and testes and the process of menSTRUation and we’d run screaming out of the room with our fingers in our ears.

AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Our aunt’s style was more the elementary school teacher version. Gather round, class. Today we’re going to talk about our bodies.

Listen. You gotta love them both for even trying to tackle this stuff.

I was going to use this as a clumsy metaphor for part of what’s going on across the country, for the need of all of us to dive into the water and take a closer look at what’s there, what’s floating around untethered, what’s anchored to where.

The bath is not the ocean but it’s a tonic to have a soak, to be surrounded by the gentle pressure of what I can control. This much water. More. Less. This temperature. Hotter. Cooler.

I was going to say, I’m all for baths! But this is a time for deep sea diving.

We must be willing to lose sight of the shore.

What do we need for deep sea diving?

Well, a deep sea.

We cannot deep sea dive in a tub. Or a pool. Or a lake. We must go to the ocean, down to where it is colder, darker, murkier than we might feel prefer.

And how do we do that, Dear Reader?

I’m sure you’ve been inundated with ideas, suggestions, resources.

I am no expert. I am suiting up for my own deep sea dive.

But I will say this: Don’t skip it, skirt it, or side-step it.

Don’t waste precious time with defensiveness or guilt.

We were all born into this system.

We need all of us to change it.

Uncategorized

Minds

Posted on

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” –Toni Morrison

A number of years ago I went through a patch of having very itchy legs. I didn’t have the dreaded poison ivy. I didn’t have an allergic reaction to anything I could pin down. I just had very itchy legs, shins, to be exact. It lasted a long time. Months. The itching would subside and then flare up again.

One night it kept me up. I scratched and put on cream and washed it off and put on different cream and then something clicked in my head, the whole room shifted, and my vision came into sharp focus. 
 
And suddenly I knew: 
 
There were bugs in me, teeny tiny bugs laying eggs and digging a trove of tunnels beneath the skin. 
 
I knew this had been happening all along. That they were now so entrenched, so embedded, this bug colony, that there may be no way to stop them. Maybe they were now in my bloodstream! Maybe they on their way to my heart where they would attack it any second!
 
By the time I had convinced myself of this, it was the middle of the night. I dashed clumsily through the house in a wide-eyed panic to my then-husband (fast asleep in our bed) and practically leapt onto his chest. 
 
WAKE UP WAKE UP I HAVE BUGS LIVING IN THE PORES OF MY LEGS WE HAVE TO GET THEM OUT WE HAVE TO KILL THEM SOMEHOW.
 
That’s the kind of mind I have. Everything’s fine until I’m being eaten alive by creatures burrows deep in my dermis. 

It didn’t really make sense.

But my mind, it seems, has a mind of its own. 

My then-husband turned on the lights, found a magnifying glass, reassured me that the things I saw were all parts of me and the debris from the scratching and the scabbing and the bleeding and the various creams. He talked me down and my mind finally released its talons and when I woke the next morning, I was fine. My legs are a little itchy! It will pass! My then-husband, however, was a bit shell-shocked having caught my mind-madness, staring into the dark for hours wondering if he could stay married to a double-amputee.

This mind-madness happens other times.

This person is mad at me, doesn’t like me, is talking about me behind my back.

I have nothing to say, nothing to offer, nothing to contribute.

I’m a complete loser. An embarrassment.

I’ve wasted my whole life.

I’m a liar, a phony, a fake.

Etc., etc..

Some people might say, there is a way to banish these thoughts, lock them out, put guards by the door. There are schedules you can make, regimes you can keep, affirmations you can say that will tone and strengthen your spiritual and mental and emotional muscles to ripple like washboard abs.

Some people might say our job here is to get happier, healthier, fitter, to heal, to recover, to become the bad-assiest version of ourselves! We can rise above fear, worry, envy, comparison, doubt, regret, insecurities!

I would say the only thing we need to give up is the notion that there is a way to insulate ourselves from, well, ourselves. 

I mean, YES! Let’s all keep moving toward what calls us, toward the activities and people and experiences and environments that feel right and rich and real, that are the deep (or shallow) expressions of our true US-ness. 

While dropping the idea that any of it will innocculate us from mess, moods, mistakes, misunderstandings, and the full range of emotions. 

That’s how we fly.

Will it be easy?

No.

Yes.

Maybe.

Sometimes?

I don’t know.

Is it worth it? AB-SO-FUCKING-LUTELY.

Now. Can I do this? No. Yes. Maybe. Sometimes? 

Recently, I auditioned for a local on-line acting thingy. It did not go well. I’m not fishing for compliments here. I was self-conscious and tense, rushed my lines, moved my face so very close to the Zoom camera they may have all thought I was toppling over. What happened? I don’t know. That’s just the way it went.

When I was done, I walked around in a little shame puddle, damp with this mortification of having exposed my bad acting to not just the playwrights and casting director, but to all the other actors there on gallery mode. 

I shared about it with my now-husband, did the self-talk, had a glass of iced red tea, watched something fun on the TV, brushed up and went to bed. 

I still felt icky. I named it: This feels icky; something must be wrong. (There are bugs living in my pores.)

I remembered I am human. Sometimes humans feel icky. (I see with the magnifying glass that there are, in fact, no bugs.)

I spoke a teeny tiny prayer for myself, an inclination of the heart, if you will: May I be kind to myself in this moment. 

What about you, Dear Reader? Is there something troubling you?

I’m not going to say that it’s happening for a reason or that you should accept it or let it go.  Just this–can you be kind to yourself? 

Because you deserve it, this kindness, this love, this tenderness. Not to make anything go away, not to fix, change, heal, or rise above. Simply because you are here.

Uncategorized

How’s your body?

Posted on

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. ~  Jack Kornfield

 

How are you?

How’s your body? The one that’s dangling beneath your head? 

You may need to stop a moment and find out, drop in, take a breath, let it out slowly, do a little scan. That sounds like a lot but really, it doesn’t take long. I just took 2 slow deep breaths and timed it : 30 seconds. 

It’s always surprising how quickly and easily we can connect when we remember to do it. 

Our bodies are here with us, all the time, waiting, waiting, waiting and also invisible in a way until we remember to look and then *POOF* they appear. 

Oh, hi.

🙂

 We all have them, or should I say, we all ARE them, bodies with brains and minds and personalities, different shapes and sizes but really, all fundamentally the same.  

I did a compassionate body scan meditation in class a few weeks ago and it was so moving, like being introduced to the people who make my life possible, who grew my food, built my house, my car, paved the roads, invented plumbing, electricity, my tweezers. 
 
All these body parts–our feet and legs and arms and hands and torso and shoulders and head and neck doing what they do so we can do what we do, all the organs and systems continuously circulating, clearing out, repairing, sloughing, filtering, replenishing, healing, monitoring, without coffee breaks or vacations or getting fed up and walking off the job. 

It’s incredible, right?

We’re sort of walking miracles.

And I don’t know that we’re really nice enough to them, taking the time to get to know them, welcome them, make room for them, listen to them, give them what they need. We’re often reluctant or even resentful caretakers, as if we opened the door one day to find this body on our doorstep. We crane our head up and down the street, looking for whomever dropped it there. Oh, great, we say, bending down to drag it back inside. Now I have to take care of this damn thing.

But what if we saw our bodies as our lifelong companions, our partners, here to keep us company, be part of our team, like having a helper with you all the time that you can check in with, ask to dash in the other room and figure out where a weird sound is coming from–Hey, what is that? 

We can do that with our bodies. We can say, Hey, what is that I’m feeling? What do I need? Food? Water? Rest? Beauty? Do I need to laugh, run, cry, dance, stretch, get something off my chest?

Something else begins to happen when we remember to check in with our bodies.

The other day I was doing a shoulder stand and my top flopped down over my face and when I pushed it aside, I was staring directly at my belly, just the big old bowl of it round and warm and overhead like a skin moon and you know what flashed through me? Affection. 

It was such a lovely moment. Such a lovely thing to feel, this friendly response to greeting a part of me that I have often judged as too something or not enoughsomething. 

Hello, belly, I said, and patted it. 

In the past I may have ignored it or pushed my shirt back over it or felt startled, like where did THAT come from?  Or doubled down (in my head) on ways to make it smaller or firmer or DIFFERENT somehow. It was so good to see it and not just let it be there but to feel a flush of warmth and then carry on with my yoga.

This friendliness begins to bloom when we partner with our bodies, a tenderness like what we feel with a very dear friend, a friend we adore even though they don’t have their shit together 100% of the time, a friend we accept even though they might drive you crazy from time to time, a friend we admire and champion even if we don’t necessarily love everything they love or want the very same things they want.

There’s a lot of room in how we feel about a dear friend. There’s history and care, hilarious stories, tender things you know about their past. We enjoy them, want the best for them, think about them when they’re going through a rough or scary patch. We see things in them, remind them of who they already are, who they sometimes forget themselves to be.

Let’s give that room to ourselves. 

I mean, after all, we’ve been with ourselves a long time (from the very start, I’d wager). We have a long history, hilarious stories, we know some very tender things about our past. Can’t we also then, check in from time to time to see how we’re doing? How we’re feeling (what we’re feeling?), ask ourselves what we might need and then, possibly,  give it to ourselves?

Here’s a good place to start.

But, look, it doesn’t have to be a whole thing.

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, your body, Dear << Test First Name >>, is right there with you, never shaming you or dissing you or giving you attitude. It’s innocent and open-faced, game and happy to be included.

Put a hand on your heart, your arm, your belly. 

Take a breath.

Feel your body standing/sitting/resting/moving there.

How does it feel? What does it need? 

Uncategorized

Sometimes it sucks

Posted on

I had big plans for May. My neighbor and I were going to plant a tree every day for the entire month. We were going to tend the soil, commune with nature, oxygenate the neighborhood, greenify a little patch of our world. 

When Covid-19 hit, it was clear we needed to improvise. 

So, early one morning we loaded up our bikes with trowels and gardening gloves and rode to the woods in search of white oak seedlings. 

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was bright and warm. I loved the feeling of heat and cool on my skin as I pedaled into the wind. I’m not a strong biker so I was pretty darn proud of myself out there in my sneakers and helmet, getting exercise, narrowing my carbon footprint, following through. 

Pretty soon we were crawling along the forest floor, digging up tiny trees. They were so adorable, reaching up through the dead leaves, their baby leaves still tightly wrapped around the tip of their tender stems. 

We biked them home, mixed up a beautiful batch of soil, peat, vermiculite and compost, and lovingly, painstakingly transplanted all 20 of them to individual pots. 

We were so excited! And proud! I took a picture of them all in a line under the spring sun and posted it on Instagram. 🙂 Mission Accomplished.

The next day my neighbor texted me. Listen, I think what we did yesterday was lovingly painstakingly transplant 20 poison ivy plants. (Frowny face).

Uhm. What?

By that evening, it was clear that is exactly what we had done. 

Now, I am highly allergic to poison ivy. I can get it just walking by a single leaf. I have a vat of Technu soap at home that my husband bought me so that every time I think I’ve been anywhere near the stuff, I can immediately jump in the shower and scrub every inch of my skin.

But I didn’t do that after we finished traipsing in the woods.

I didn’t think of it.

I didn’t think that not only might I have exposed myself to a bit of early spring poison ivy oil but that I literally sat bare-legged and bare-armed in a patch of poison ivy, digging up plants by the roots, carrying them to my bike, riding them home, and lovingly, painstakingly, transplanting them to their very own individual pots.

The rest of the week went downhill pretty fast.

It sucked. 

It sucked because, obvie, having large patches of your skin ravaged by a bubbling, swelling, throbbing rash that itches so fiercely you want to rip your skin to the bone does, in fact, suck. But also because there is a character that lives in me that says, Of course. Of course this happened to me. Nothing I do works. Nothing I try gets any traction. No matter how sincere and grand my efforts, it always fizzles out or backfires completely.

This is just one of the many characters that lives inside me but she’s pretty scrappy in her morose defeated way, stomping all over the other characters that have cheer and hope and resilience and pluck and imagination. Sadly, she had some pretty good fodder for her Everything Sucks What Does It Matter All Is Lost global point of view given the increasingly monstrous behavior of cancer in the WH and all of his co-conspirators. 

I mean, it’s pretty bad out there, right? While some of us, the MAJORITY of us are getting up early to bike to the woods in the sunshine to help spread new life, greenery and health to this world there is this pernicious minority hell-bent on spreading a boiling oozing debilitating rash of despair. 

That sucks. 

I think it takes a special kind of skill to acknowledge the suck without going down for the count. It helps no one to aggressively paint a smiley face on the suck nor is it correct to collapse into the lie that it all sucks.

Suck is a part of life. It’s one of the characters in life, if you will.

Despair is a kind of suck that wants us paralyzed. It wants us to think nothing we do matters. It wants us to stay down, to give up.

The antidote is action. 

Now: Awareness is action. Compassion is action. Self-care is action.

And then, taking action is action.

I couldn’t do much this week. I applied many ointments and creams and gels. I scratched myself raw. I resisted the scratch. I complained. I hobbled around half-dressed. I finally called the doctor and got a prescription for prednisone.

It’s drying up but it’s still there, trying to keep me down, like the mindset that says It Won’t Work For Me, like the fuckers in power who want us feeling helpless and numb, who want us to give up and tune out, stick our fingers in our ears and say, la la la, I’m not listening.  

But we’re not going to do that. 

Are we?

We’re going to cultivate the skill of acknowledging the suck while not going down for the count. 

Because we must. 

Because it’s the truth. 

Because it’s what this time is calling for in all of us who are not completely lost in the cult of madness and greed and a deep sickness of the soul. 

How are you going to do it? 

I’m asking for real. 

I’m looking for inspiration.

I’m looking for ideas.

We all have different skill sets. And varying tolerances for stepping out of our comfort zone to add new skills to our sets.

We have different resources–outer and inner.

Some of us can make calls. Sign petitions. Write letters and postcards.

Some of us can go to virtual town halls and rallies.

Some of us can donate money.

Some of us can volunteer our time, deliver food, sew masks, paint thank you signs for essential workers.

Some of us can create programs, start a non-profit, run for office.

Don’t let the rash of injustice shut you down.

The antidote is action.

All of us can do something.

So, Dear Reader, self-care it up. And then action it out there in the world, in whatever way you can. Self-care. Action. Self-care. Action. Rinse. Repeat.

And tell me about it. 🙂 I’d love to hear from you.

Sending so much love.

Uncategorized

Me Will Eat A Cookie

Posted on

“Today, me will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant, in which case, me will eat a cookie. ”
–Cookie Monster

 

This is me during this TOC (Time of Covid):

Standing in the pantry, eating handful after handful of Cape Cod potato chips.

This is also me:

Working in the yard, shaping the dirt to make raised beds, flower beds, herb garden beds.

And this:

Scrolling through the Twitter getting more enraged by the second over the CRIMINAL INCOMPETENCE of this federal government: WHAT? Oh My God. I cannot. Fuck that. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? No. That is so sick.  

And this:

Sewing re-usable masks every morning to donate to various vulnerable people in my area at the jail, the retirement community, the VA, the nursing home, the hospital, the grocery store.

And this:

Staying up too late streaming somethingorother on the Netflix–literally falling asleep with my laptop balancing akimbo on the pillow BUT STILL TRYING TO WATCH.

And this:

Up early to walk the dogs with my neighbor, continuously forgetting to stay 6 (now 12) feet away even though I’m trying.

And this:

Puttering in the kitchen, slapping together whatever is on hand to make a nice dinner for the boys so at least I get 7 1/2 minutes with first-year college student son who is stuck at home and operating, apparently, on vampire time.

And this:

Panicking at the slightest physical thing—Wait. I don’t feel right. Am I warm? Can I still smell things? Am I breathing?

And this:

Painting.

And this:

Crying.

And this:

Trying to remember the last time I bathed…

I guess what I’m saying is: This TOC is crazy. I mean it, it is really CRAZY.

It’s the hardest, scariest, most uncertain time any of us have ever lived through.

It’s weird. Right?

I just don’t think ANYONE is talking about that enough—how very WEIRD it is.

It’s very weird.

On the one hand, we’re all shell-shocked. On the other hand, we’ve fairly quickly made the necessary adjustments.

Oh. So, everything is canceled? I don’t go anywhere anymore?  I stay home? I see no one? If I DO go out, I wear a mask and don’t touch anything or anyone? I wash my hands a gazillion times a day? I scrub every can and jar and box and blueberry in soapy water? And I do this for whoever knows how long because of the zero testing and second and third peaks and no treatment or vaccine and and and…? Oh. Okay.

Meanwhile, people, this is trauma territory. Even if you and your loved ones are okay. This is collective active daily trauma that we are all living through.

It’s intense.

So I guess my message today, Dear << Test First Name >>, is to simply remember that and to do your best to be kind to yourself, one little moment at a time.

Try not to let each snapshot of your day mean too much about you, about your future, your worth, your ability to handle a global pandemic.

We will eat too many carbs. We will create badass efficiency. We will experience lovely and surprising flexibility and innovation. We will fall into utter lack of self-care. There will be moments of grace and silliness and humor and surrender and those of fear, worry, and despair.

The sun will come out and disappear behind a cloud.

The daffodils will come up in happy hugging clusters and herald a new season.

We’ll get through this.

We will.

Sending so much love.

Uncategorized

How Not To Isolate in This Time of Isolation

Posted on

Who came up with the term mindfulness to represent being present? Is this the best word? Aren’t we trying to get OUT of our mind, ie, empty the mind rather than be full of it?

Isn’t bodyfulness a better word? Mindlessness? Wholefulness?

Okay. Anyway. Mindfulness is the word we have so let’s carry on.

I don’t know about you but I would like to have things figured out. Once I become aware of the unhelpful ways I react when I feel hurt or scared, unfairly treated or not supported, I would like to put in the correction and be done with it. La la! No more eating my feelings! Or yelling back at someone! Or shooting off a snide remark!

OR, I would like to be totally okay with the fact that I will never escape my imperfections until I have taken my last breath (and even then…I mean, are dead people that together?).

I would like to savor those gifts of imperfection that Brené Brown is always blathering on about, slap on my tall boots and slog through the messy swamp of my own foibles. Make ROOM for them. Forgive myself. Circle back and clean things up knowing full well that I will most likely make this same loop many, many more times.

Self-compassion is key.

Self-compassion is simply being kind to yourself, turning toward your own pain with tenderness. It’s not, for example, saying, What the fuck is the matter with you? You suck! I can’t believe you didn’t finish that! I can’t believe you never figured out how to have a career/a family/a waist! 

Self compassion is treating yourself as you would a dear friend. When your dear friend is in pain, you don’t pile it on. You listen. You make those hmm hmmsounds. You soothe, encourage, make them a cup of tea, and (if it’s not Life in the Time of Covid) you give them a hug.

You want your friend to know that you see them, you hear them, you get that this is how it is right now. That it’s okay. It’s human. You get it. And they are not alone.

Being mean to myself when I feel bad never helps. It never motivates me or gives me energy or a good idea.

BUT, what if I can’t help it? What if I KNOW THAT ALREADY and still I find myself doing it?

What then?

Pema Chodron says, “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”

I love this Northstar of befriending who I already am, of seeing anything I do as not about self-improvement but about self-embracement.

But I can take anything and make it perfectionistic,( ie, self-punishing).

I’m going to become TOTALLY accepting of ALL myself! I shall ALWAYS accept myself even when I am not accepting myself!  I shall accept my non-self-acceptance from this moment onward!

Ah, but it works on this, too. This part of me is who I already am. 🙂 I can use the practice of self-compassion as a path to the befriending of this adorably perfectionistic mess of a beauty that is me.

See, judging and criticizing ourselves always leads to feelings of separation and isolation.

Compassion brings connection.

It connects us to our human-being-ness. 

The self-compassionate voice is an ally and partner. I’m really feeling that lately. I’ve been saying, I’m right here with you, Kyra. I’m not going anywhere. We’ll get through this together. 

Mindfulness shows us our habits. Self-compassion brings some acceptance and kindness to what we see.

This is the good news.

You don’t have to fight it.

You don’t have to fix it.

You don’t have to fake it.

You can let go of the tyranny of self-improvement and open your arms to your own beautiful, wounded heart. Right here. Right now.

Sending love and compassion to you.