Little Stories

A bird in the mouth…

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Once upon a time my dog Beegu, the labradoodle, escaped from our yard and dashed to my neighbor’s where their chickens were loosely scattered, happily engaged in the industrious and vacuous pursuits of the chicken world.

Our gates had been left open (apparently) and it didn’t take long for Beegu to tear over there just as Mrs. Peepers was proudly pecking and scratching her way to freedom.

I must have been out in the yard myself, pulling weeds or rearranging the plants as I am prone to do, when I heard Miss Peeper’s screech. Terror makes an unmistakable sound.

I flew across the street to find Beegu, black as night, with Miss Peepers, white as snow, firmly wedged in her mouth. Feathers filled the air and littered the pavement all around them. There were spatters of blood.

NO! I sputtered. LEAVE IT DROP IT STOP LIE DOWN STAY!

I grabbed Beegu’s collar, pried open her jaw and released Miss Peepers. She fell to the ground in a heap. She’s dead! I thought. I’m too late!

Beegu stood stock still with a shock of feathers sticking out in every direction, like she was clutching a downy fan in her mouth.

A moment later, Mrs. Peepers stirred and staggered to her feet. She shook her head a few times, turned, and began to walk drunkenly back to the gate. But her trajectory was off and instead of navigating through the open space, she kept bumping into the fence over and over like a misguided wind-up toy.

Soon after, my neighbors came outside and scooped up Miss Peepers. They took her inside to look her over and clean her up, poor girl.  I walked Beegu home to rinse her off and give her a treat. I couldn’t punish her–she was only following her instincts. I may have even given her an egg (which means it was the only time I could actually answer the question, which came first?).

Mrs. Peppers’s injuries healed and she returned to the henhouse. She had to endure a few days of ill treatment from her clutch. (There really is such a thing as a pecking order and I’m afraid, she was temporarily at the bottom.) But in time, her humiliation was forgotten and she reclaimed her rank. Beegu never brought it up but I noticed she walked with more of a swagger. I may have intervened but I couldn’t take away the memory of what she had captured.

What’s my point?

I haven’t the foggiest.

Except maybe to say, maybe life is like that. Sometimes we’re Beegu and sometimes we’re Miss Peepers.

And sometimes we’re me, thwarting and rescuing at the same time.

Insights

Do you know where you’re going to?

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I woke up with this Diana Ross song in my head: Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know? 

It might be because I’m booking flights for an upcoming trip to California to attend a Kyle Cease workshop for entrepreneurs.  It might be because the metaphor of life being like a plane trip popped into my head the other day. It might just be because I’m old and often pop songs from the 70’s fly into my head in the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway! Do you know?

Someone told me that pilots don’t enter coordinates–ping ping ping-and then fly the plane straight there. They punch something into their panel of knobs and dials and then course correct the entire trip, adjusting for weather and other things. Sure, it’s a gazillion times more complicated than that but I like the idea of a calm, cool pilot sipping her black coffee as she punches in new coordinates to avoid the storm ahead or the flock of birds or a patch of choppy air. I tend to take things personally and start yelling, WAIT-WHAT? WHY? WHAT’S GOING ON AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

Planes don’t sit on the tarmac until they know EXACTLY what the flight path will be. They can only find their perfect path by flying.

You sense a metaphor coming, yes?

It seems to me that life is like a cross-country plane trip. Everyone on the plane is you, some aspect of you: the screaming kids, the terrified lady clutching her drink, the snoring disheveled guy who’s entirely out of it, the task-oriented lady clicking away efficiently on her laptop, the chatty one talking non-stop, the over-it-all one rolling her eyes at everything.  You don’t have to get rid of anyone before you take off. You don’t have to change anyone before you take off. Everybody gets to be on the plane BUT (and this is key!) not everyone gets to operate the controls. Only one person gets to fly.

I don’t think anyone really knows where they’re going to.

We think we know. Sometimes we love that and sometimes we hate that.

We love it when we feel good about our present, pretty clear what’s up ahead. We feel in control and on target. We hate it when we feel bad about our present, when it’s hard to see anything down the line except more bad news. We start to feel trapped and scared, sure our current circumstances arose from past mistakes–ours, other people’s, or the universe’s. We freeze or we run scared, trying to get away from the bad news even as we’re sure the future we dread is inescapable.

What we want is control. What we want is to know where we’re going to. And to like the things that life is showing you, er–I mean, us. (I wanted it to rhyme!)

I love feeling clear and confident as much as the next gal. I prefer a sense of ground beneath my feet, vision in my head, passion in my heart, and wind at my back. IT’S SO FUN! Look! I’m doing it! Life is working!

It is fun. And it’s also an illusion to think that I’m doing it ‘right’ when it unfolds according to my plan.

I love the Buddhist saying, The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.

Not knowing where you’re going to is actually the good news.

Our job is to punch in the best coordinates we can find at any given time and then GET INTO MOTION, course-correcting as we go, paying attention and responding to the internal and external information that arises.

🙂

Bon voyage!

 

Body Compass

Your Mind Sucks

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Okay, that’s not true. Your mind is amazing–it’s nimble and sharp, tirelessly scanning for patterns. But it sucks at this, the present moment. It’s all about what happened and what’s going to happen, what we did or wish we had done (or wish we hadn’t done) and what we will or hope to do (or dread doing.)

The body, however, is a total badass at being in the moment. All we need to do it check in and notice. Most of the time, we’re dragging it around as if it’s superfluous, the string beneath the almighty helium balloon of our head. But the body, she is forgiving. The moment we stop and look her way, she has all the information we need to connect with the here and now.

I often forget how easy this can be, how immediate.

So, what are you noticing right now, in your body? Stop, close your eyes and take three slow, deep breaths.

What’s there? Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Is there some heaviness or tension in your back, chest, face? Can you rest your hand on your heart and simply ask, What would feel like love right now? Maybe it’s a cup of tea, a walk around the block, a call to a trusted friend. Maybe it’s three minutes of just this–a hand over your heart and nothing more. Maybe it’s putting on music and singing at the top of your lungs, or gyrating around the kitchen, or simply stretching out on the couch for a nap.

Whatever it is, thank your body for it, for always being there, for always holding this wisdom, and then do the thing. Even if you have no time. There’s always the power of the 5 minute-timer: Set it and see how you feel at the end of 300 seconds of quiet, of tea, of music, of staring out the window, of walking to the mailbox, of making a brain-dump list, of stretching, of dreaming, of shouting, of talking to your beloved, your best friend, of cuddling with your cat.

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Inspiration

Pick It Up

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“It isn’t going to write itself.”

We’ve forgotten that every one of us is here to make things.

We’re here to make connections, families, new ideas, raspberry pies, jokes, schools, shops, gardens, shawls, paintings, stories, music, ceiling tiles, sounds of compassion and recognition as we comfort a friend in pain.

We’ve forgotten that the world needs us as much as we need the world, that our only job is pay attention to what we love and then give ourselves permission to embrace it.

To choose something.

And have our own backs.

Protect our time.

And prioritize our pleasure.

Making things is an essential part of being and feeling alive. It involves periods of time when we don’t know, when we feel lost, when we mess up, when we fall flat on our faces.

It doesn’t matter what you choose. Any activity done with love and presence is a spiritual activity. It feeds our soul and gives us energy. It raises our consciousness and the vibrational frequency of our family, our community, our world.

I know. Things haven’t gone the way you planned. Time has passed. People didn’t come through. You didn’t do the things you wish you had.

That breaks your heart. It’s inevitable.

So, let it break your heart wide open. And see what’s in there.

Pick it up.

Be in the Inspiration Reclamation Business.

 

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” –Georgia O’Keeffe

Mindset

Clean Slate

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Regrets. I’ve had a few. But then again…

These vestigial thoughts stick to me like emotional skin tags. I don’t even believe in them but still, I bristle when I find them where I want smooth skin, a clean slate. Where would I be now if only I had (fill in the blank): stuck with acting, kept practicing the piano, finished my memoir?

Here’s something I wrote during one of those moments around six months ago:

I’m worried that I have nothing left to say. Does the world really need another book about raising a kid with Aspergers? About how I marched to the beat of my own drummer blah blah blah so that my kid didn’t have to survive a shitty school system or a bunch of shitty bullies or just regular shitty kids the way I was a shitty kid who didn’t really get or include or reach out to different or odd or unusual teens?

Skin tag.

What’s the remedy? Well, it certainly isn’t in going over and over the past. I won’t get anywhere new by driving in them old worn tracks. I need me some new tracks.

And so, I begin again.

Each new moment = clean slate.

“Nothing will make you feel better except doing the work.”

Creativity

Be like a scientist

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At some point, you have to let it go–the thing, the person, the belief, the situation that is dragging you down. It’s too burdensome, the complaints too tired and well worn, you can recite them in your sleep–all the things you say about not having the time, about what was or wasn’t given to you or what they did or didn’t do or say, about the endless ways you let yourself down.

Bleh.

Stop. Let it go. Drop it right where you stand. 

Know you will face resistance. It’s not personal. I mean, it’s not personal to you. It’s universal. Our brain’s are hard-wired for story. Even a bad story is preferable to uncertainty, to not knowing what would happen if.

As kids, we were never content to take someone’s word for anything. We had to get our hands on it, whatever it was, test it out, give it a try. Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that. We’ve gotten stuck inside rules we may not even be aware we are living by, rules that are running the show, stopping us before we even start.

The trick is to channel your inner scientist.

We knew how to do this when we were little but at some point we replaced that boldness and curiosity with a grim and certain, This Is What Works and This Never Will.

We need to drop all that and get back to experimenting.

Experiments can’t really fail, because as long as you do them, something will happen. Maybe not what you wanted or wished for, not what you expected but whatever happens will be 100% useful, even if it’s, Well, I’ll never try that shit again.

Start with something short: a 7-day challenge. 7 days of saying No when you mean No, doing 5 minutes of stretching or yoga, writing a daily haikus, wearing only your favorite clothes, taking a selfie, meditating before bed or when you first wake up, answering How are you? honestly, like, I can’t stop yelling about that asshole Trump or Actually, I can’t believe what happened to my neck, or simply, Pass. 

Do it not to do it perfectly or to accomplish something. Do it just to see what might happen. Do it with the heart of a scientist. Do it from a place of wonder.